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The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

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The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  has55 on 10/31/2013, 2:23 am

Last year was another experimental year with developing a low cost way of having my plants provide food for our family and some friends in the DFW area. Our temp can get down to the 10 degree mark, but that usually last about 2 to 3 days, then we warm up to the 20's-30's with sunny days. We normally get scant amount of snow, but a hard dry cold settle in or it's icy rain. 

I found with row covering I could use the heat on sunny days to grow cool weather crops thru the winter.

I started with the basic white floating row covers 







and then advanced to various types of plastic covering models that I glean from the internet and from a friend on the forum . This addressed the harder cold periods. 
see picture below.

 
from my friend house-





I'm working on some new ideas, that are low cost, low labor, minimal time and winter resistance/proof, because I'm busy, but want safe, fresh, organic , home grown food. 
You need to find out what kind of person you are when gardening. I found that I didn't want to cover the hoops house with plastic and buried the sides or put bricks on the side, then remove it every time I needed to worked with the SFG beds. Basically, i'm kind of lazy.

so I try some ideas, see below.







Last year I used 6 mil plastic from Uline  at  http://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-11179/Plastic-Sheeting/12-x-100-6-Mil-Clear-Polysheeting  
the problem was the plastic sheeting that I received looks white in the box before it is unrolled and when it is unrolled it is off-white and opaque. The opaque plastic will work for now, but it filters way more sunlight than I expected or wanted it to. s you see from the picture on their site it very clear. Not!!!

i secured the sheeting with green snap clamps/clips  from http://www.creativeshelters.com/Canopy-Accessories/Fabric-Clips.aspx?ProductGroup=GripClamp&fnsku=GRIP03BX-A  ( these are UV resistant ), and learned how to make hinges for a cold frame at http://www.pvcplans.com/, but I adjusted  the plans for the SFG beds. Since I attached the hinges to the SFG beds they pop loose when the first hard freeze came, because I was trying the box method and trying to keep the cold out. The idea was to lift the lid and water, checked the plants, vent the excessive heat by lifting the top and harvesting the food. It was time consuming making the boxes. also the boxes blew away when the hinges came loose ( they stayed in the yard, but still embarrassing, but I quickly got over it. Hmm, about 2 mins).

I resigned myself to go back to the low hoop house method and made another adjustment using the ideas for frost protection and venting heat in a much simpler method from the Colorado State university at this site
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/722.html 










It work, but now I want to use some new Ideas that are in my head that would allow me not to use snap clamp and a better way for venting the heat. So I'm looking for a bargain based greenhouse plastic, if that is possible to initiate new winter protection for low hoop houses in SFG beds. I need it to be 12 ft wide and 100 ft long.
I'm open for any ideas. Thank you.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/31/2013, 3:11 am

That report is fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing it. We're trying to figure out how we're going to make a greenhouse inside of my greenhouse for extra protection and the space blanket with Christmas lights may just do the trick.

I will have to put it up and down each day when it's going to get cold enough, but I already have the lights from last year's mini greenhouses so I have 3 strings to cover a 10 x 10 interior space as low height as we can make it but clearing the larger plants we have growing. The got 18-30 degrees protection with a 4 x 5, it looked like about 3 foot high row cover + metallic space blanket + Christmas lights.

Our lowest lows are generally mid to low 20s so that would be plenty for us.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  sanderson on 10/31/2013, 3:56 am

Ditto. Great details. I bookmarked the PVC pipe fittings. Can't buy 3-way corners at HD, Lowes, etc. Just what I wanted!
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  has55 on 10/31/2013, 8:46 am

in the Colorado State university garden note they use a space blanket. It seems sturdy, I can't find it here in Texas. The ones I found are fragile. Does anyone know where you can find one like it?
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  meatburner on 10/31/2013, 11:58 am

has55, try the camping section of some stores.  Maybe they have the survival space blankets used for backpacking.  Good luck.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  sanderson on 10/31/2013, 12:33 pm

$1.99 through Mypatriotsupply.com or any "prepper" store.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  has55 on 10/31/2013, 1:18 pm

I'm sorry. I left out some vital info, I found that 12' x 12' sufficiently covers my  8 hoops houses on all sides. beside the problem of finding a strong space blanket, I couldn't find the width-12' x 12'. I noticed in the colorado report the low hoop houses were not cover completely to protect the plants to 0 degrees, which is exciting. But I also noticed these hoop houses were very low in height. 
I did find a couple, but these blanket were for welding, costing 290.00. 
I contacted them last year and they told me to go to anying camping store, but I been unsuccessful in finding the sturdiness and width in my area, thus I now journeying thru the net for an answer.
Can anyone help?
Thank you for all that have reply, taking time out of your busy schedule.  It's well appreciated.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/31/2013, 9:14 pm

The largest I found online last night was about 5 x 8. I don't know how tough the simple, light weight metallic ones are. I may buy enough to tape them together and make a large enough size for my aprox. 10 x 10 space I need to cover (not including draping). I'm going to try to make it as low to the ground as possible, but I have tomatoes almost 5 feet tall so it won't be as close to the ground as they showed. But then, it's already inside of a greenhouse and only zone 8a so it should work.

I'll let you guys know what I find out when I buy them.
audrey
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  sanderson on 10/31/2013, 9:56 pm

Easy in and out of the frames: there are stick-on zippers that can be added to the plastic covers. I bought one to try, but I haven't yet. The large binder clips are working well for securing the plastic to 1/2" PVC pipes, but I would like to get in and out the easiest way possible. Lazy.

Audrey, Thanks for reminding me to buy some more Christmas lights. I'm hoping to find green bulbs so they won't influence growth. I don't want them to think it's daytime at night!
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/1/2013, 10:03 am

I have clear Christmas lights and in my humble opinion and experience, they don't produce enough light to impact the plants growing. Plus they're strung above so they're not close enough to the plants for growth anyway.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  sanderson on 11/1/2013, 2:50 pm

Audrey, thanks.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  Cajunsmoke14 on 11/1/2013, 5:00 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:I have clear Christmas lights and in my humble opinion and experience, they don't produce enough light to impact the plants growing.  Plus they're strung above so they're not close enough to the plants for growth anyway.  
I have a question: I am going to cover my 4x4 SFG using a hoop house. You use Christmas lights for added heat when it get really cold? The lowest it has gotten here in my neck of the woods is the low teens. It may get like that a night or two, but it normally runs in the 30's and 40's here. Would the lights help in that situation?
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  sanderson on 11/1/2013, 6:06 pm

Close to the same here for Audrey and me. Those super cold nights? Throw a blanket, etc. over the frames at night. Should work.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/1/2013, 11:19 pm

What we did last year was this:

1. I had mini greenhouse covers that were about 4 ft high at the peak. They were on table tops so they are more vulnerable to cold because of no ground underneath. The greenhouses let in a lot of air from the bottom the way they fit, so they were only somewhat effective.

2. We had 3 of them and each had a string of lights in them. Starting when temps were down to the mid-30s we would cover all three table tops with a heavy silver tarp, silver side in with the lights on inside the greenhouses.

3. When it got down below freezing and into the 20s we would turn off the lights and with the same cover in place, we would run a small electric heater set on the lowest setting. The double cover and the heavy tarp, held in the warmth and we didn't lose any plants. The lowest we got down to last winter was mid to low 20s.

It was a lot of work and by the end of the winter I was really "over" it. I found out later that most of what I planted would have done fine anyway as their tolerances for cold were sufficient. Hate being a rookie, LOL!

My feeling this winter is I'll set things up as best I can with the goal of keeping some of my summer type veggies growing through the winter. If they do, awesome. If I lose them, I'm just not going to heroic measures to keep them growing.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  Marc Iverson on 11/1/2013, 11:41 pm

Interesting lesson, Audrey. At least now you know what you can do, even if you don't want to do it. I'm lucky I live where I can take half-measures on my hardier crops, like using row covers, instead of having to go to using a greenhouse. Unless we get an unusually harsh winter, a layer or two of row cover should be fine out here where I live. Heck, in the month I've had it on, it's already proven to be a big growth booster.


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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/1/2013, 11:58 pm

One of the things to keep in mind about growing through the winter, is that it isn't just the temperatures that slow growth down, it's the lesser hours of sunshine.  No matter how toasty you keep the greenhouse, things aren't going to grow like it's mid-July.  Having realistic expectations is key.

The Backyard Winter Gardening book explains how seeds planted will not really begin to grow significantly until in Feb or so when the days begin to lengthen.

Oh, and I'm already seeing the effectiveness of the greenhouse in that I have some of the same plants growing inside and outside the greenhouse. The ones that are outside are noticeably starting to die off and they're still going strong inside.
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green house plastic

Post  2SooCrew on 11/2/2013, 8:24 pm

No Winter gardening for me in Zone 4b. - I won't start sowing seeds in side my home until Feb/March - then plant them in the green house in April.

I've placed a tarp on the floor of the green house to keep the moisture down. - seems to be working...


I bought green house plastic (6mil) polyethelene at Grower's Supply. (they will cut what you want too)
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  has55 on 11/4/2013, 10:33 pm

Wow, great info snd pictures. thanks 2SooCrew,audrey.jeanne.roberts,Marc Iverson and sanderson Awesome!!!!
I got an email from colorado state univ in response to the space blanket. they said the one in the picture is much sturdier and will let me know where I can find it.
We are now in the 60's in dallas.

Thanks everyone
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/5/2013, 6:18 pm

@has55 wrote:Wow, great info snd pictures. thanks 2SooCrew,audrey.jeanne.roberts,Marc Iverson and sanderson Awesome!!!!
I got an email from colorado state univ in response to the space blanket. they said the one in the picture is much sturdier and will let me know where I can find it.
We are now in the 60's in dallas.

Thanks everyone
That's wonderful, I'll be buying some too once you find out what they are.  Yay!  Saving me hours of research and potential disappointment.
Audrey
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/8/2013, 4:58 pm

DR (the machine people) sent an email today on items they're testing and considering carrying.  I loved this idea:

http://www.drpower.com/pages/pickill/accordion-greenhouse

It's a 4 x 8 greenhouse cover that is an accordion style on rollers so that it covers and opens in less than a minute.  It has 3 different covers to span the 3 seasons of growing, a spring 88% light transmission copolymer resin cover, a summer 60% light pest and insect cover that provides shade as well.  And an 80% light transmitting winter cover that protects agains frosts down to 26 degrees.

For my climate it would actually work for 4 seasons.  

It's really interesting to me, I hope they carry it.  I think I would buy one.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  sanderson on 11/9/2013, 1:23 am

The fancy PCV fittings from PVCPlans.com arrived today.  Has55 listed this company in the OP.  I hope to build a little 3 x 3 x 4' cold frame for some of the pots and salad trays on the back patio.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  has55 on 11/9/2013, 1:33 am

send some picture when you get it together.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  has55 on 11/9/2013, 1:35 am

Audrey, That accordion greenhouse is great. I hope they can get the price lower. I'm studying it now for new ideas.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  sanderson on 11/9/2013, 1:53 am

Has55,  I will.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/9/2013, 9:57 pm

Has55
Even though a little pricey, it's guaranteed for 5 years by DR and they have great customer service.  We have an ancient brush mower from them and when we need parts they're a dream to deal with.
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Re: The Winter Journey and greenhouse plastic

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