Saturday, 30 April 2016

Wekkend in the garden

Today I was able to confirm that temp difference between outside and inside of the tunnel is about +6-7 deg. which is great.  I feel almost safe to move some of the starters and transplant into tunnel. 
Well, it is done, I transplanted tomatoes into new home this morning and seeded more lettuce.  Noticed that seed that we have put into ground last weekend started to germinate (that is outside garden).  My lettuce in old tunnel is growing like crazy another week and we will start to consume it.

 This is bit foggy due to humidity inside when I took picture.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Morning Update

Crispy morning today (-1 C) and my new tunnel in the morning sun.  Unfortunately, I was not able to check temperature as the temp gauge display faded (technical diff.), last night the difference between old low tunnel and new high double walled tunnel was ~4 deg.  Difference between outside ambient and new tunnel was +7 Deg C, so pretty significant.  I have to fix or get new temperature gauge, the one I am using now logs low and high temperatures, but due to high humidity exposure screen (LCD) stop working.  This weekend will be filling inside with transplant and seeds.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Tunnel got a skin(s)

I was busy working last night installing plastic over my tunnel skeleton, actually, two skeletons, inside and external one.  It was a bit more work than I anticipated, partially due to windy conditions and fact that I need to fuse two large sheets of plastics.  In the end we were successful, I mean I and my team (including dogs that try to be helpful),  Got some pictures take by one of my assistants, but need to transfer those into my account, and once this is done, will post these.  I still have to string plastic over the doors and finish installing handles, etc, and we will call it project complete.  I think we will focus now of partially seeding in the new tunnel and moving starters/transplant into it.  Uff, it would be nice to turn this project to "operations" LOL.

Here it is .. new "skin"

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tunnel Construction update

Today, or tonight will be the time to close tunnel construction by covering it with plastic.  This will be possible if weather cooperates and I will post updates in form of photo report.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Finally rain ...

Prayers were answered, we got some rain (4.5 mm according to my weather station) that will definitely help to green the grass and garden as well.  Rain this weekend also help to manage my time and finish taxes.
Brief update from my garden, lettuce is growing like crazy in the tunnel, might be ready for consumption in couple of weeks.  Onion is not far behind.  Sorry for  lettuce a bit out of focus, but used iphone to take photo.
This week, maybe on Tuesday, I will finish new tunnel and start transplanting some of the starters into it.
Left it open to capture the moisture  before closing it up.

 Rhubarb update, as you can see it is "wild" how quickly it grows (see below)

Friday, 22 April 2016

Where is the rain?

Thunder, lightning, well got my hopes last night that we may get some moisture  on the ground. The result not a drop on the ground, but 500 m to the South, puddles. Will wait for another day hopefully to see the rain.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Construction Update

Poly-strap back order has arrived and was busy last night installing it.  My new "high" tunnel is ready to receive its "skin" now.  Was a bit windy to attempt to do so yesterday, will have to do this either today or tomorrow.  Mind you, temp has reached 30 deg C at my place (reading from two independent weather stations that are about 250 feet apart) and it is really dry.  Forecast call for possible rain later on this week, so maybe I should wait for rain to bring moisture to the soil rather than watering it (once it is covered).  Maybe I will keep it open for few more day.  Given current temperatures, one may say why bother with tunnel, well, because overnight we still drop to below zero or just above zero (+2 last night).  Due to elevation there are large temp swings between day high and night low.  My neighbor told me that this is even more pronounced at our place and our growth season is about ten days shorter than Calgary.  Observing this for a year I must agree with him. My solution, garden hoop tunnel, in this case, double walled one.

This is picture of my "old low" hoop tunnel before poly was installed last year.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Green Update

 Here are some update shoots from my garden.  This is from inside of my old hoop tunnel and shows lettuce and spinach.

 This is outside and shows garlic breaking through.
This is my rhubarb, spring is definitely is here.

I have some new stuff waiting for place to be transplanted soon...

Monday, 18 April 2016

Lazy Weekend

Well, I was not so lazy, but it felt lazy.  I did put seed in my garden ~75% done.  Weather is amazing, the only component missing is rain, yes we need some rain.  I am still waiting for poly-fastener tape  (on-back order), so could not complete may new garden tunnel, but my old is very active and things are green inside (forgot to take pictures) will do photo update maybe even tonight. Garlic that we have planted last fall is coming through and looks very nice.  I did unthinkable, decide to plant potatoes that early as ground is very warm, and my sister provided me with advice "only plant potatoes when ground is warm", see if this was right decision (only did small patch).  We seeded bees, carrots, beats (red), radishes and lettuce outside, as weather definitely looks springy.  Yesterday my weather station recorded 25 deg C (in the sun), forecast call for 22 today (i guess will be about 25 again) but there is no moisture so need to water a lot.  Grass is in pretty bad condition on someplace due to exposure to south and slope, yesterday had to water patch as it was turning into desert.  No sign of rain until at lest ed if the week (so far only 30% chance on Friday), we will wait and see.

Friday, 15 April 2016


I notice something strange the other day.  Strawberry like plant growing in the container that did not have any strawberries.  Next container does have strawberries plants but not this one, wonder if someone dropped fruit last summer into  this container and plant has developed from the seed.   I guess I will wait and see what will come out of it as it is too small for now and leafs look like strawberry but  ... who know.  This  should unravel soon.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Propagating ...

So I decided to try to propagate some of the shrubs i.e. specifically, lilac by catting small branches and sticking them into ground.  Remember as a young child doing such think and getting actual new bush from such small branch.  Well, decided to try it as there is no risk and all rewards if it works.  Will keep updates  on this experiment.  Planted 6 branches, will see if this will work.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Windy City ...

It seems like everyday we have high winds, I mean "high velocity" and it makes it hard to plan doing my plastic film install over the new tunnel.  Usually wind pick up in the afternoon so after work, can't proceed as I need calm few hours.  Work will have to wait till weekend and hopefully it will be calm morning on Saturday to do it.  Will post upades on process and will post pictures of finished product.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Double trouble ...

Well, since I am building double walled tunnel I will refer to it as double trouble, as it requires a bit more of thinking how to make sure that design will perform as intended.  Based on my research, if 3" space will persist between two layers of plastic, the result might be reduction of heat transfer up to 35%, and this would keep temperature inside higher during low temp. times.  My external tunnel design was pretty similar to the one done before (except for its heights), but for internal I had to thinker how to ensure that it is air tight.  So, I did not include in my calculation initially enough of fastening channel and had to order more to be able to finish internal tunnel.  Well, it was my choice to use this product, as I could finished this using wood.
Hope to have this complete by the next weekend, including placing cover on the skeleton.

Update on my "old" tunnel. I have seeded spinach and lettuce  on Mar. 26 and is all germinating nicely, even yesterday lot temp of -5 deg did not do much harm.  Have some autumn spinach showing up as well, but rather scantly.  Planter bunch of onion bulbs inside the tunnel and on one of the containers  outside.  We have planted garlic cloves last fall and this weekend they all started showing up so it was welcoming sign of spring.  Today my weather station recorded -7deg in the morning, so typical for April.  I know I am bit impatient and want to start full garden season, especially when weather hits 25 deg (Friday).  patience and perseverance, that is the way to win in this game of gardening at high elevation and unpredictable  weather.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Spring Frost

Mornings in April start with negative temperature, mainly due to high elevation (1180m above see level) and my tunnel does not really offer much protection.  I am stuffing  one gallon containers (8 so far) filled with water in  ope that this will provide some relief form low temps in early morning.  Was thinking about creating some solar heat pump/collector and accumulator using the soil in the bed but my bed is not deep enough to placing pipes to heat the ground, maybe will have to come up with different process for storing heat during the day and increasing heat mass.  I guess, will have to do some research and experimentation in the near future.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Season Extenders

I live just outside Calgary city limits on the western foothills and have learned that my season is about ten days shorter than average Calgary location, primarily due to higher elevation (1180m) and opens space (acreage).  I love growing my own veggies so I decided to invest into season extenders.  Last spring i decided to build hoop tunnel (hoop hot house) by utilizing gray pvc electric conduit pipes (3/4") above my container box garden bed. (see below)

I covered it with woven poly 11 mil that is super strong and suitable for harsh conditions such as wind, snow, UV and hail.  Since I wanted to do it on a cheap, I decided to use standard length of 10' pipe ans as such my tunnel is about 5" tall.  This resulted in a bit of challenge as my kids are now growing and no longer fit standing up  (lol) and I must do some of the chores inside.  
It was struggle to keep it warm during early and late spring but results were great, bumper crop of tomatoes and lots of lettuce (variety) early in the season.

After gaining some experience and complains from work crew, made decision to build second hoop tunnel this spring, one that would provide access for fully grown person.  
Started the process and decided to build double walled (poly)  tunnel that would provide extra heat retention (limit heat loss).  For internal wall using standard cheap 3.5 mil poly, for exteranl same 11 mil woven poly.

This is still  work in progress, as I am finishing construction and need to build doors (double walled).  Season is warm and hope to start seeding in this one pretty soon.

I did already seed lettuce  (March 23) and spinach in the old (low) tunnel and seeds are already sprouting, have bunch of plastic jugs from milk filled with water to act as heat accumulators.  We have been blessed with very mild weather this year so my guess is that might go without adding heat source.
Will post pictures of final high tunnel once it will get completed.