Even on ordinary beds, a garden tunnel with winter cover can extend the garden season in the fall and speed it up in the spring. Also, by covering it with garden hoops, we defend ourselves against flying and crawling pests. But of course, a greenhouse is the best way to extend the garden season.
The book “Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long, 2nd Edition” could be one of the best books you will buy.
We want to extend the garden season as long as possible into the winter and thus preserve the source of local vegetables. The first place here is the correct sowing of plants at the right time, and together with garden hoops and winter cover, we can extend the season in the garden without a greenhouse. The cover can be laid directly on the ground or over the plants, even without hoops. Place the winter cover directly on the plants if they have just been sown or if they are growing low (e.g., cruciferous vegetables, lettuce, spinach…). The garden tunnel helps us, especially with larger plants over which it is not suitable to lay a cover directly (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, kale…).
Plants that thrive under hoops in autumn: chard, spinach, winter lettuce, radicchio, endive, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, collard greens, cabbage, onions…
Plants that thrive under hoops in the spring: cruciferous vegetables, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, early potatoes, kale, cabbage, onions, radishes, peas… and, of course, the fruiting vegetables that are transplanted in May freely.
Garden Tunnel on Standard Beds
We did it by unifying all the beds in size to 5 m x 1.1 m. For one such bed, we need 9 arches, which are 2.5 m long, and we nail them along the edge of the bed at a distance of 70-90 cm. 2 bows remain outside the weighting cloth. The bows are made just for this purpose and are made of special plastic that is resistant to cold and high temperatures. The plant cover for covering is about 2.2 m x 6 m in size. We use the so-called winter cover, which is thicker and retains heat better than, for example, a summer cover.
In addition to the hoops and the plant covers, we also need stones to weigh down the canvas (you can also use bricks). At least 10 stones are required to weigh down the entire garden tunnel. This also tightens the cover and makes it more durable against wind and snow.
It is good if you have beams of the same size because then the bows of the same size fit everywhere. ???? Rotation is thus significantly simpler.
Hoops and tarps are available at all farm/garden supply stores.
Caution Is Required at High Temperatures
However, high temperatures still occur in October or March. In this case, the plant cover is rolled to the side between the hoops during the day, and the bed is opened this way. Even better, we open the front and back of the garden tunnel to let the wind blow through. If the night temperatures do not drop below 10°C, these two sides can remain open without any worries.
Additional Reinforcement of Garden Hoops and Use for Counter Hail Netting
Garden hoops firmly planted in the ground are very stable, but snow can put them on the ground. We also started using the garden hoops as a support structure for the anti-hail net after an unfortunate event in May 2018 so that they also have to bear the weight of any hail.
We strung the string along the entire length of the hoops, twisted around each hoop separately, and fixed them at both ends. Either into the ground with the help of a pin or with a screw to the wooden border of the raised beam. Thus, the entire structure is much more stable and can withstand the weight of a small amount of snow and hail.
Arranging flower beds of the same size and purchasing garden tunnels were one of the better investments for us. We recommend that you get one set to start with, become friends with them, and then increase the number of garden tunnels according to your needs.