Saturday, March 7, 2009

High Tunnel - The Big One

With thunderstorms predicted for this weekend, we decided on a marathon dash to get the newest (and largest) high tunnel completed.  This tunnel is a different variety than the previous ones, it is called a "Colossal" and is nearly double the width of our previous tunnels. It measures a whopping 42' wide by 48' long by 15' tall. The ribs and top purlin had all gone in over the late fall and winter, so it was just a matter of completing the internal structure and skinning it.


In case you've never had the joy of installing a structure, the finishing and skinning can take the longest time and require the most specific weather conditions. Imagine lifting two 55' by 60' sheets of plastic over a domed structure in breezy conditions. You just can't do it. So we knew we had one shot yesterday and we pushed like crazy to get it done. Although "done" is somewhat misleading, as there is still at least a full day's work to actually finish the structure itself, we are covered and thus protected from precipitation which was the critical stage to accomplish.

As with past high tunnels, we were incredibly lucky to have the assistance of family and friends to get to this stage. Huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to said family and friends! Unfortunately, we were all so busy working that no one had the chance to take "work in progress" pictures, but here is a picture from the manufacturers website showing the completed structure.

For those of you who are mystified with the basis of all this "high tunnel" talk, a brief explanation...
We own two high tunnels #1) 26' x 48' and #2) 42' x 48'. They are structures that we use for season extension of our vegetable and herb growing for market and CSA. They are passive solar structures that allow us to grow certain varieties of vegetables in the ground year-round without additional heat or light. Here is a picture of our smaller tunnel complete with growing crops from December.
With the outside mostly complete on the Colossal, it is now time for me to start concentrating on the inside. There is much tilling and bed preparation to be done before I'm am ready to sow those new rows. According to my calendar, I need to be putting seeds in the ground in the tunnels by the 15th. Whew! Spring is coming fast!
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