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The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

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Post  has55 on 4/1/2014, 2:20 am

garlic, onion, swiss chard and kale did well. some turnips. Lettuce did not do well. My cabbage did well. But I didn't use the survival blanket like  audrey.jeanne.roberts did, it just wasn't cost effective at that time, because of the size of my hoopd. Our temperature swing was drastic many days from 75 in day to 21-2 degree with wind chill at night time. this force me to run out to use the frost blanket. too much work. The is when I dream of audrey.jeanne.roberts green house. The plants grew slower. I thought my worm had died since minimal movement noted in the wide worm tube, but that changed last week when the weather warmed up, the tube drop 3 inches.
the automatic foundation vents worked very well. I recommend their use. It was nice to stay in bed and not worry about overheating. I use 2 way tape to attached the outer perimeter of the vent to the cut out hole in the green plastic. Next year I will use velcro. It works well in my experiments.


I plan to try a new type of low tunnel green house idea  next year that is burning in my heart.  I plan to use four 1" PVC pipe that are 1 1/2 ft long. I will attached to all corner of SFG bed with 6 inches in the bed and 12 inches above the bed. Then attached green house plastic to the outer perimeter of the 1" pipes. basically making a 1ft wall. the green house plastic is attached by snap clamps. this should prevent the side walls from collapsing and will be taut. I will be able to reach into and over the 1 ft wall to get my food.


 The top will be square shape consisting of 1/2" pvc pipe. there will be a center pipe with a handle. each corner will have a 3 way 90 degrees adapter with the middle opening pointing downwards toward the 1 ft pipes sticking above the bed. I will put a 6 inch long, 1/2 inch pvc pipe into the downward opening of the 3 way adapter. this will allow me to simply place the legs on the top into the 1" opening of the 1 inch pvc pipes that are attached  to the wall of the SFG bed. This way the wind can't blow the top off, because the legs are too deep into the 1" pvc pipe. If it does I will add sand for weight into the legs. 
when it get too cold I will use the survival blankets that audrey.jeanne.roberts used, since it only have to cover a 1 foot wall and that will not be expensive.  should be able to cut the blanket to be able to cover at least 2 sfg bed, maybe three.
I will use the automatic foundation vents for heat relief.
I will be able to remove the top with the handle and place it in a pvc built rack when I get the food.
If this work, it will be done very inexpensively and take most of the anxiety away from overheating or freezing.
we'll see. 
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 4/1/2014, 1:34 pm

Mark, sounds like a tough winter in your garden.  I think in a lot of ways it's harder for those of us that don't deal with those kinds of winter temps, as we just don't expect it nor know what to do about it.  Our North eastern buddies just put their gardens to bed and don't have any expectations for the winter.  

Has that sounds really workable and interesting, you'll have to post your really great pictures as you're making it.  I think I have it envisioned well.  

The survival blankets were awesome.  My greenhouse is 8 feet tall which is lovely to walk around in but not so great for keeping the air warm.  The smaller spaces were easy to heat and survived down to 22 degrees which is the bottom end we pretty much ever get.  I timed how long it took me to set up at night and remove in the morning.  7 minutes to put on and 5 to take off.  That was worth it for me and the blankets are as good today as the day they were put on.  They're very durable. I expect to get many years of use out of them so the cost will be defrayed over time.
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Post  Marc Iverson on 4/1/2014, 2:35 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:Mark, sounds like a tough winter in your garden.  I think in a lot of ways it's harder for those of us that don't deal with those kinds of winter temps, as we just don't expect it nor know what to do about it.  Our North eastern buddies just put their gardens to bed and don't have any expectations for the winter.  

audrey, it was my first ever winter gardening attempt and our coldest winter in 30 years, so I'm just glad anything grew at all, and lived as long as it did. That there were survivors at all through that kind of weather(including me!), like my elephant garlic and brussels sprouts and onions, makes me still excited about trying winter gardening next year.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 9/3/2014, 12:15 pm

Time to revive this topic as we prepare for the coming winter! What are you working on? What are your plans?

I'm getting ready to cut back my cherry tomato plant. Does anyone know if they will regrow from lower branches if pruned or should I just pull it up and plant a new tomato while there is still time for it to grow here?

I have a "Snow Fairy" tomato variety that I'm going to grow this winter. It's good down to 28 degrees if no frost touches the plant.

Yesterday *might* be out last 100 degree day for the year (Please dear God!!!) We're supposed to begin dropping to the low 90s this week and the 80s the next. Hopefully we will get a long slow fall.
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Post  Marc Iverson on 9/3/2014, 12:54 pm

I've still got last year's row cover. If it looks necessary, I'll put it over lettuce, mustard, kale, broccoli raab, and chard. I may just drape it over the plants rather than using hoops, though last year I had some leaves get mushy where they were directly touching the cloth, so I'm not sure about doing that anywhere I don't have to.

I may also plant some more buckwheat on any open unused surface just so I can have the winter kill them off, leaving me with a little extra organic matter to work into the soil.
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Post  sanderson on 9/3/2014, 1:48 pm

This is a good topic to bump. While we are still hot, other areas have started fall with possibility of frost soon.

I already have PVC frames for my older boxes but I need to make more for the 2 new TTs. Monday I ordered 45* couplings plus some hard to find pieces, to convert what someone called "handicap rails" to nicer looking gable ends. Also, the rain will run off better, no pooling in the little dips. Because all the boxes now have 1" PVC holder in the corners, the frames will have to be trimmed to fit their new foot prints. The green house will still have the 4 x 4' base but the height will be increased so I can have 2 shelves per side (total of 6) instead of one (total of 3).

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Post  has55 on 9/3/2014, 7:43 pm

I'm preparing to submit new pictures for my new ideas for the winter, but it won't be posted till october due to hot weather. i'm going to glean some ideas from audrey in hope of having a much simpler process in growing my food under a low hoop hose.I need to bring the hoops back for the cover cloth.
 Sanderson, I'm going to get you. My wife wants TT now. This will be another project and don't know how well it will work for our winter and summers. Of course, the first test is winter. So many ideas and project inside of my heart. I still have to put my mulch down and makes some compost vertical tumbler. I hope the tumblers not a waste of time. I going to use a smaller container to provide the organic matter for the winter, to prepare for the spring.
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Post  sanderson on 9/3/2014, 9:04 pm

Has, we have similar weather: hot summers, cold winters without severity like northern folks.

I'll post the termite damage uncovered today. This on-ground box shows why I am so glad we are converting them at less than 2 years old. They are also safer for for me to walk around, like having hand rails for just a little stabilization.

Sanderson, who is hiding from Has.

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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 9/3/2014, 9:16 pm

@sanderson wrote:.Sanderson, who is hiding from Has.
LOL! I can picture you ducking under and behind one of your table tops, tee hee hee!
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Post  sanderson on 9/3/2014, 11:03 pm

funny post  
The PVC couplings arrived this afternoon.  After we finish raising the beds, that will be the next big project.

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Post  has55 on 9/3/2014, 11:31 pm

LOL. LaughingLaughingLaughing

 Look forward to your termite damage post. A picture is with a thousand words.
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Post  has55 on 9/3/2014, 11:32 pm

oops. just saw you termite post.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/8/2014, 4:18 pm

This is a good topic to look through if you're thinking about extending your season or gardening all winter long.

I had very good experience last year using information from this source (thanks to the original poster in this thread): http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/722.html

Using a greenhouse all winter and not using much if any power works best with the greenhouse within a greenhouse or a survival blanket over the top of your hoop house (see the article for details). In my garden I had large tomatoes all winter long, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, cilantro and onions (my salsa factory!), eggplant (though I won't repeat as they're not very productive), as well as more standard fall/winter crops.

Add your ideas or things that have worked for you, we'd love to learn more!
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Post  yolos on 10/8/2014, 8:04 pm

I have a question about extending my season. 

The above article and others I have read seem to suggest that you can leave a row cover on during the day and the plants will not overheat.  If I am using Agribon 19 and cover my bed, that means I do not have to get up early in the morning before work and uncover the bed.  Is that your experience.  If the row cover will not allow the bed to overheat during the day, how does it stay warm during the night.  I would think it would let the heat out at night just like it does during the day.

Also, they said if you are using plastic, cut slits in the plastic to let the heat out during the day.  Well with slits cut in the plastic, how does it stay warm during the night??
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Post  Marc Iverson on 10/8/2014, 9:38 pm

I don't think there's a simple answer that will work for everyone with every fabric in every location and every season. My "unexpectedly hot day" that goes up an unexpected ten degrees and leaves the plants under a row cover at still only 38 degrees is going to have a different effect on yours if you go to 45, even if you're growing the exact same plant under the exact same cover. If I've been watering more or less than you, or have more or less direct sun than you, or am closer to something that radiates heat than you, like a wall or the house, I'll have to be more or less careful or use a different kind of care.

I've read of people who take their covers off every morning, or afternoon, or when it hits X degrees. Even when their stories are specific in some ways, they usually aren't in others that we'd need to know. You might want to ask someone who has had success in your particular area what they do. Sellers down at a farmers market often know a great deal about the vagaries of the weather in your area that nobody who doesn't live there would. And there are always your local Master Gardeners who might have that same area-specific knowledge and experience.

All of my stuff was doing great,. or at least staying healthy, last year under a single layer of row cover and then a double layer until we had a record cold snap, but after reading the label, I couldn't tell you what it was made of, how much sun it was supposed to let in, etc. So many variables, including ones I can't even pin down!

I think you're going to find a lot out through your own personal experience and simply using common sense, which I see you're already doing. If a cover holds warmth in during the night, it will of course also hold warmth in during the day.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/9/2014, 1:19 pm

@Marc Iverson wrote: I think you're going to find a lot out through your own personal experience and simply using common sense, which I see you're already doing.  If a cover holds warmth in during the night, it will of course also hold warmth in during the day.
^^^^^THIS^^^^^

All of gardening is an experiment!  I have a 10 x 20 x 8 high greenhouse, so I have a little more leeway on when I open things up.  However, the survival blankets block 100% of the sun on my plants and beds so it's "grab the coffee, go open up my beds" every morning.  My routine takes 5 minutes to  uncover, 7 to cover at night so it's not a big deal.  

Some things I was able to grow all winter proved not really to have been worth the space I dedicated to them - so on to the next!  Learn a little more each year and enjoy the process while you're doing it.
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Post  GloriaG on 10/10/2014, 2:26 pm

In our area of Texas, many winters have moderately warm days with the cold nights.  Plus the sun is quite direct so the solar impact is strong.

I use 6mm plastic to cover my hoop houses.  If I don't vent, or open the covers, the inside temperate can get into the 80's fairly quickly.  That causes too much difference between the day and night temperatures. Plus, it's much too hot for my fall plants.

So I tend to vent in the morning as soon as the temperature reaches about 40 degrees and close in the late afternoon when it drops to about 50 degrees, so I can retain some of the daytime heat.  No scientific reason for those temperatures, but it seems to work for me.
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Post  yolos on 10/10/2014, 4:38 pm

@GloriaG wrote:In our area of Texas, many winters have moderately warm days with the cold nights.  Plus the sun is quite direct so the solar impact is strong.

I use 6mm plastic to cover my hoop houses.  If I don't vent, or open the covers, the inside temperate can get into the 80's fairly quickly.  That causes too much difference between the day and night temperatures. Plus, it's much too hot for my fall plants.

So I tend to vent in the morning as soon as the temperature reaches about 40 degrees and close in the late afternoon when it drops to about 50 degrees, so I can retain some of the daytime heat.  No scientific reason for those temperatures, but it seems to work for me.
We also have very wide swings in temps from morning to afternoon.  I have to vent the hoop covers about 7am (which is almost the low temp for the night) before I leave for work.  BUT I will be retiring August 2015 so next fall I can open the cover later in the morning.
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Post  CapeCoddess on 10/10/2014, 5:15 pm

Countdown to retirement, eh, Yolos?!  Me, too...4 yrs to go! rock on 

I have row covers &/or plastic windows that I'll use for frosts until the freezing temps click in.  But I'll only be growing cold crops so they won't care.  Once hard freeze knocks on the door, it'll be plastic over the row cover...cover, uncover, cover, uncover...until I don't want to do it anymore.  BUT, the carrots will come out BEFORE hard freeze this year.  Learned that lesson well and had the bloody knuckles to prove it.
blush 
I think our gardening instincts kick in and tell us what to do, and when, if we listen.

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Post  has55 on 10/13/2014, 2:05 am

@GloriaG wrote:In our area of Texas, many winters have moderately warm days with the cold nights.  Plus the sun is quite direct so the solar impact is strong.

I use 6mm plastic to cover my hoop houses.  If I don't vent, or open the covers, the inside temperate can get into the 80's fairly quickly.  That causes too much difference between the day and night temperatures. Plus, it's much too hot for my fall plants.

So I tend to vent in the morning as soon as the temperature reaches about 40 degrees and close in the late afternoon when it drops to about 50 degrees, so I can retain some of the daytime heat.  No scientific reason for those temperatures, but it seems to work for me.
Yolos, GloriaG is right about our winters and Marc I. is right about learning the variables for your area. I worked 12 hr night shifts and I'm not too keen in getting up early to vent the hoop houses in the AM on my days off and then cover them at night just prior to going back to work. On the days I work, it not a big deal to uncover the low hoop houses when I come home. I'm experimenting with a new idea AGAIN!!! for this winter.   I'll put up pictures of my new idea later this month when I complete it. Audrey is right, glean what you can from everyone for ideas that will work in your area.
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Post  has55 on 10/13/2014, 2:09 am

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:

Using a greenhouse all winter and not using much if any power works best with the greenhouse within a greenhouse or a survival blanket over the top of your hoop house (see the article for details).  In my garden I had large tomatoes all winter long, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, cilantro and onions (my salsa factory!), eggplant (though I won't repeat as they're not very productive), as well as more standard fall/winter crops.

I'm still jealous of all that green house winter food you had from last winter. Smile , but  you rock you rock
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Post  brainchasm on 10/13/2014, 4:00 am

My roll of 6mil clear poly is on the way, and I have the PVC from first season still, and it looks like it'll make nice hoop houses. Smile

Here I am, all planned for winter veggies, and now contemplating...fresh bell peppers in the middle of winter?  Could happen....

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Post  Turan on 10/13/2014, 11:23 am

I put auto open foundation vents in my cold frames and green house.  That does a pretty good job for those days that walk the line between too warm and too cool.  Here is an example at a big box store. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Master-Flow-16-in-x-8-in-Foundation-Automatic-Vent-in-Black-FVRABL/202067979

I got the idea from a video posted here long ago.

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Post  yolos on 10/13/2014, 11:53 am

I think I posted that video back in fall of 2011.  I bought the vents also but never made a bed with vents.  Another project for after I retire.  Hmm, I think I need to start making a list.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/13/2014, 1:03 pm

I bet my engineering mind hubby could figure a way to put those in our vinyl greenhouse.  One at the front and one at the back would work to create flow through ventilation with our natural air flow.  

Oh sweet, wonderful, adorable, brilliant, kind, helpful hubby!!!!!! ;-)
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