KING GARDENS-PUTTING UP THE NEW HIGH TUNNEL
The King Gardens first high tunnel/greenhouse/high hoop took shape last fall. It's on the site of the Sumption family garden spot that fed family, friends, and neighbors for 50 years. This is not a starter with benches and pots. High tunnels are designed to grow plants to maturity directly in the soil under controlled conditions. Sides and ends roll up for summer ventilation. Low pressure drip irrigation is laid along each row to provide just the right amount of moisture.
Preparation of the site started with a visit from the "Michelangelo of the Bobcat", Franky Daudt. Franky leveled the north end of the old garden, carefully separating sod, topsoil and sand into separate piles. Then we roughly staked out the 26' x 72' footprint and he excavated 2 additional feet of sand inside the perimeter.
Next we laid 4" drain tile every 20". This isn't for drainage as the sand is plenty porous to get rid of excess water. The tile carries warm air into the soil to act as a heat source--extending the growing season on both ends--more on that later. Next, we backfilled the trench with the tiles and added a foot of topsoil made up of equal parts topsoil salvaged from the site, black dirt, and peat.
With that done, we started putting together the tunnel kit. Grant and Christy's expert advice and muscle power made all the tinker toy parts go together just fine. We set up the hoops and had the plastic on by early November.
Once the snow started to fly, we worked inside connecting the subsurface heating system. John built sections of the 70' air supply maniforld in the warmth of son Derek's shop. These sections were assembled in the greenhouse and positioned over the ends of the tiles on the south side. Air is pulled from the top of the greenhouse and fed into the manifold by a fan operated by a 1/4 horsepower motor.
The remaining mechanical task is to install a system of sensors to monitor soil temp and moisture content, as well as air temperature and humidity levels in several locations inside and outside. Data will be compiled in a computer to help us manage growing conditions and determine when various crops can be planted and harvested.
Now all that's left is the planting, watering, weeding and harvesting! We use only home made natural compost and organic fertilizers so our vegetables are the freshest and most natural. Watch here for King Gardens updates.
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John, from King Gardens