Vegetable Season Extension
If you would like to extend the growing season of your vegetables this year, planting fall crops in a low tunnel can be an effective method of minimal cost.
Low tunnels are similar in build as high tunnels, but on a smaller scale. Often times, plastic or metal gauged pipe is used as the support system for overlaying the tunnel cover, which can either be fabric or polyethylene plastic. This cover raises the temperature inside the tunnel, acting as a miniature greenhouse for your favorite vegetables through the fall, protecting them from damaging frosts in the winter.
It is recommended that plastic covers not be used until the winter. This is to prevent temperatures from escalating too high in the fall. It also helps to prevent snow loading on the structure during the winter months. Wire hoops are employed for short term use, but if you’re looking for a more long term structure, metal or plastic piping is recommended. Ten foot segments are bent into half circles and set 5 inches into the ground, 5 feet apart from each other. Tunnel length is up to each individual grower. Next, stretch the row cover over the frames and tie down ends on steaks.
Crops that are well suited for low tunnel planting in the fall (from August to October) include: Kale, Kohlrabi, Peas, Radishes, Spinach, Turnip, Leek, Mustards, Bunching Onions, and Garlic.
The county extension office and local farmers are helpful resources for building a high tunnel. At the Pocahontas County Farmers Market in Marlinton on August 23rd, you will have the chance to double your SNAP dollars, learn a new recipe, and ask local growers about their season extension techniques.
There will also be a season extension workshop at The Spring in Lewisburg on August 25th from 10am-3pm. The workshop will be hosted by The Value Chain Cluster Initiative, and the cost is ten dollars, which includes the workshop and lunch.
This story was written by Leah Turgeon, an AmeriCorps VISTA with Appalachian Mountain Advocates.