The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homemade high tunnel

Homemade high tunnel

Closeup of a homemade hoop houseOne of the first aspects to catch your eye at Abingdon Organics is half a dozen high tunnels.  Anthony Flaccavento uses these 150 foot long hoop houses to give his plants a head start in the spring --- his secret to having May tomatoes without heating a greenhouse.

The first high tunnels at Abingdon Organics were purchased for thousands of dollars apiece, but the newest hoop houses are DIY versions.  Imagine 4,500 square feet of protected growing area for just $900.

Anthony and his farm manager built the DIY high tunnels from locust posts, a steel purline, PVC pipes, brackets, and a huge sheet of plastic.  Clearly, the hoop houses are still being perfected, and Anthony noted that he lost two during heavy storms this summer.  Still, at a cost of only about 20 cents per square foot, his high tunnel design is definitely worth continued experimentation.

Mark ponders a smaller hoop houseMark's ears perked right up when Anthony started discussing homemade hoop houses, but I had to point out the negatives.  Like any greenhouse or other protected area, Anthony's high tunnels become breeding grounds for molds and spider mites.  Mark's rebuttal is that we could easily build a small, movable unit that was just used to give the tomatoes a couple of months' head start.  Clearly, cheap, DIY high tunnels are making their way onto the drawing board.

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Looking for an easy DIY project to make homesteading life simpler?  Our homemade chicken waterer kits can be completed in less than an hour.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Great thinking to build your own high tunnels! We're just getting our first up as part of the funding program, and are looking forward to the extension of our season for our CSA members and ourselves. If all goes well we may have to look into creating our own. Thanks for the thought!
Comment by The Farm of Minnesota Wed Sep 22 14:11:42 2010
I should have mentioned that our extension service (and clearly yours too) had or has a grant going around that pays all or most of the initial cost of a hoop house. We considered the program, but we would have had to make at least $1,000 off the farm each year for the last couple of years. I figured maybe chicken waterers counted, but I wasn't so sure, and I didn't want to get in trouble. So we skipped it. But anyone else who runs a CSA or even sells at the farmer's market should definitely look into the grant!
Comment by anna Wed Sep 22 17:53:12 2010

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