Also known as hoop houses or row covers, the tunnels consist of U-shaped metal or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) ribs draped by thin plastic sheets which are held on by Snap Clamps.
They provide shade for sun-sensitive crops, protect tender plants from frost, help control insects and boost yields.
Why build hoop houses instead of traditional greenhouses? Primarily because they don’t need artificial heat when temperatures drop.
Passive solar heat is enough to protect plants.
You can walk under high tunnels and many of the caterpillar tunnels, which resemble poly-covered Quonset huts linked end to end.
Being able to plant, harvest and cultivate even if conditions are bad outside is a huge advantage especially since soggy soil and frozen ground can delay these operations significantly in early spring.
High tunnels allow growers to get an early start, extend the growing season and even double the size of the harvest.
Using high tunnels is a relatively new development for home gardeners in North America but are expected to prove popular.
One of the things that has really helped open up this option is that the industry is starting to make small kits that can withstand high wind conditions, and there are some homemade options available. PVC can be used to build these type of tunnels and even do so at a minimal cost.
They also would make great cold frames or greenhouses for growing transplants in the spring.
The smaller the tunnel the less thermal mass it contains — meaning it heats up
and cools down more rapidly.
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