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Post  HDMama on 10/9/2013, 5:07 pm

Hello Desert SFG,

Last year I was able to grow lettuce almost all winter long.  We do get a few nights of freezing temps.  Has anyone found a good way to set up a quick greenhouse that can stand the desert winds?  I worry that the plastic won't make it and I am having a hard time finding a reasonably priced source for the thicker plastic. I'm in the high desert of Southern California.

Any hints or pics would be appreciated.

Thanks
HDMama
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Post  plantoid on 10/9/2013, 5:43 pm

I don't know if this is what your looking for ....


I used to live in the middle of nowhere in a place called EAST ANGLIA in the UK which was as flat as a pancake and nigh on treeless ,  it got very windy  come Nov to March each year , 60 to 70 mile an hour winds for several days at a time were not uncommon .

My poly tunnels were simple hoops of one inch dia  galv steel water pipe steel with tie bars to keep them apart , securing the sheeting was simple and very effective .

 Along each side of the tunnel I dug an 18 inch deep by 12 inch wide  trench and made the cover go over the hoops and drop into it on each side and come out like I was  lining the trench with the sheet. Then I shovelled a few shovels of soil back on the top of the sheet in the trenches  and gently eased the sheet back evenly on bith sides till it started to get taut . I filled in one side trench entirely  , there was about two inches of sheeting sticking  out proud , added a few more shovels of soil  evenly along the unfilled trench and pulled the sheeting even tighter till it was nice and taut then filled the second trench in completely  whith a foot or more spare sheeting left ove  . I folder this over towards the poly tunnel wall  and put some more soil on it to cover/hold it in place . it was good for over three years till we moved homes to a smaller place.
 Where the sheeting overlapped at the ends .  I allowed for it to be full length & two heights and an extra 10 feet , so I could make a frame for the door and back vent window & tuck some in a trench across the front & rear ends  .  This spare was neatly staple gunned to the secured frame and then a secondary lighter frame was screwed over the first every six inches to keep the sheeting clamped tight . I the used a craft knife to trim off the spare covering and made the window frame and door opening in the now taut sheeting , fitted the window frame hinged at the top with three hinges and the door with three hinges at the side . Then stapled more sheeting over the window and door frame  and again did a secondary screwed on frame to keep things held fast .
The door had a staple and hasp to keep it closed or held open by using the hasp on a staple set in a post so the door could be help open wide .
 I used two equidistant simple post and hole window stays to keep the window open or closed . used a rubber bungee off two screw in eyes on the major window frame to hold the stays in the open positions . 

 To get an idea of the width of things measure a hoop radius once it is all  set in the ground and add 10 feet if the trenches are 18inches deep by 12 wide   , this will give you plenty to play with & is far better than not having enough and spoiling things.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/9/2013, 8:05 pm

A cold frame would also be a good option for growing lettuce, plus there are lettuce varieties that can grow even at freezing temps.  If there is a window installation company in your area, you can often get throw away windows to make cold frames with.  

I bought a book called "Backyard Winter Gardening" by Caleb Warnock.  He lives in Utah and has seen temps down to -17 degrees and yet is able to harvest all winter long from his cold frames. One of the most valuable aspects of his book is the specific lists of plant varieties that can handle the cold and how to grow them for winter.  I recommend the book heartily for anyone wanting to truly enjoy fresh produce all year around.  "Backyard Winter Gardening"

Caleb give recommendations on how to build your cold frames for next to nothing and also mentions wind tolerance factors.  If I recall correctly he lives in a very windy area.

Here are Caleb's recommendations for winter tolerant lettuce varieties (listed in his order of preference from extensive testing):

1.  Parris Island Cos Romaine.  "It resists hard frost almost completely and does not begin to die until after the groundhas been frozen for several days.  Even when it dies back, it is slow to die completely and will begin to grow new leaves if daytime temps rise into the high twenties and will grow again relatively quickly."

2.  Green Oak Leaf.  "is the single hardiest variety of all the winter lettuces, which is surprising because this is also one of the most delicate lettuces in any garden in any season.  This variety is exceptionally hardy both in a cold frame and even in the open garden with no protection.... In open winter soil without protection of any kind, this lettuce withstands extremely cold temperatures, prolonged exposure to hard frost, and direct and prolonged contact with snow better than any other variety of lettuce, including Parris Island Cos."

3.  Grand Rapids Lettuce.  "This variety will last all winter in the garden without any protection at all, but it suffers from tip burn on the leaves and tends to become limp (but not dead) if bitter temperatures persist."
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Post  HDMama on 10/12/2013, 12:03 am

Thank you both for the information.  Love the lettuce recommendations.  I will check into both of these options and the book.
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Post  sanderson on 10/12/2013, 2:36 am

Audrey, Where did you buy the seeds for Oak Leaf? I bought a pony pack at Sierra View in Sanger. So light and mild.
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Post  CapeCoddess on 10/12/2013, 11:44 am

Thanks, Audrey.  I just ordered the book from the library and, since I already have lots of Grand Rapids seeds, I'm now I'm heading to the local nursery for the other 2 lettuce seeds.  

I'm planning on using 3 of my 6 ft trellis' up against the south side of the house covered with plastic as a makeshift greenhouse for winter growing.  Just have to wait for the maters, pole beans & sugar snap peas to finish up.  (It's so windy here that the two 4 ft trellis' will be covered with plastic also and used for windbreakers once they become available.)

This is so exciting! What a Face 

CC
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/12/2013, 12:11 pm

You'll have to share pictures over the winter with your lettuce growing!  My greenhouse is supposed to be completed this weekend.  We still have to drive the stakes into the ground and then I'm going to add 4-6 inches of wood chips over the gravel.  It's a tent style house and without a raised interior, I will have too much cold seeping under the canopy so we're putting 1 x 6" boards across the two ends to contain the chips and make it more weather tight.

Caleb Warnock, (the book's author) raises and sells seed as well as testing, preserving and writing. I bought quite a few of his seeds for the winter. Here's his blog: http://calebwarnock.blogspot.com/2012/08/calebs-2012-13-garden-seed-on-sale-now.html

Here's his seed website: http://www.mcssl.com/store/calebwarnock

Here's my main seed source, which is Baker Creek:
http://www.rareseeds.com/search/?F_Keyword=oak%20leaf%20lettuce

They do not have the other two lettuce varieties but a quick search on google provided these links:

http://www.amazon.com/Lettuce-Romaine-Certified-Organic-Heirloom/dp/B000CALUI4
http://www.highmowingseeds.com/organic-seeds-parris-island-lettuce.html

For Grand Rapids Lettuce:
http://sustainableseedco.com/heirloom-vegetable-seeds/l-pa/lettuce-heirloom-seeds/looseleaf-oakleaf-lettuce-seed/grand-rapids-lettuce-seeds.html

http://www.amazon.com/Ferry-Morse-1304-Lettuce-Rapids-Packet/dp/B0013KGDYI

HAPPY GARDENING!
AJ
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Post  jkahn2eb on 10/22/2013, 8:48 am

I tossed several shade cloths over the lettuce (2 or 3) and it seemed to trap in enough heat.  No need to monkey with hoops/PVC.
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