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Alternative Production:
Season Extension Methods
Freezes vs. Frosts
Advective Freezes
Strong Winds Bring Colder Air
Sky May Be Cloudy or Clear

Radiation Frosts
Clear Skies & Calm Winds During Night
Higher Risk of Frost With Low Dew Point

Integrated System
Plastic Film
Drip Irrigation
Row Covers
Low Tunnels
High Tunnels

Costs & Management Time
Removal From Field & Disposal
Machines Expensive
Few Recyclers

Dirt on Plastic
UV Degradation
Cost to Collect & Sort
Lack of Reliable End-Use Markets

Used Commercially on Veggies Since Early

Helps Growers in Northern & High-Altitude
Climates Harvest Summer Crops

Extend Growing Season

Plastic Mulches
Floating Row Covers
Low Tunnels
High Tunnels
Cold Frames

Plastic Mulch
Numerous Benefits
Earlier Crop Production
Higher Yields
Cleaner Produce
Efficient Use of Water & Fertilizers
Reduced Erosion
Potential Decrease in Diseases, Insects
Fewer Weeds
Reduced Soil Compaction
Opportunity for Double or Triple Cropping

Requirements for Success

Level Beds
Tightly-Laid Plastic
Drip Irrigation

Restrictions for Certified

Organic Growers
Many Colors, Weights, Sizes
Black Most Common
Suppresses Weed Growth
Reduces Soil Water Loss
Increases Soil T
Improves Veggie Yield


Allows Greater Soil Warming
Used in Cooler Regions of U.S. or for EarlySeason Production
Weeds Grow Under Clear Mulch

White, White-on-Black, Silver Reflecting

Slight in Soil T
Maybe Helpful When Soil T Are High

Weed Control Like Black Mulch
Medium at Warming Soil
Brown or Blue-Green

Floating Row
Float Over Most Crops
Spun-Bonded Fabric Permeable
to Sunlight, Water, Air
Microclimate Similar to Interior
of Greenhouse
Protection From Drying Winds
2 to 8 Frost Protection
0.3 to 2 oz./sq. yd.
Heavier = Greater Frost Protection

Can Leave Covers on Most

of Growth if Crops SelfPollinated or Leafy
Can Get Hot Under Covers
Tomatoes & Peppers Drop
Blossoms if T Above 86

Must Remove at Flowering

for Insect-Pollinated Crops

Performs Like Black
Tomato Crops Average 12% Marketable Yield
If Environmental Conditions Ideal, Minimal Response
From Tomatoes
Less Early Blight & Suppresses Nematodes

Additional Colors
Each Reflects Different Radiation Patterns Into
Increased Yield for Some Crops
May Affect Insect Populations

Photodegradable Film
Similar in Qualities as Other Black or Clear
Buried Edges Must Be Uncovered & Exposed to
Not Allowed in Organic Production

Various Lengths & Widths

Wider Labor-Efficient
Can Be Laid Mechanically
Can Weight Edges With Rebar
Leave Slack in Cover so Crop to Grow
Row Covers Over Bare Soil Create Favorable
Environment for Weeds
Heavier Covers Can Last 3-4 Years
Lightest Covers Primarily Insect Barriers
Easily Damaged by Animals
Seldom Reusable
Little Effect on T & Light Transmission

Dennis Hatfield Photo

Can Use Cover Removal for Hardening-Off

Covers Removed Before Spring Crops
Covers Remain on Mature Fall Crops
May Result in Leaf Abrasion in Windy Conditions
Wire Hoops or Rods

Store away From Sunlight When Removed

From Field

Can Replace After



Slitted Row Covers

Low Tunnels

Pre-Cut Slits for Hot Air to Escape

Slits Remain Closed at Night to Reduce Heat

Hoop-Supported Row
Covers14-18 Inches High
Wide Enough to Cover 1 Bed
Growers Often Use 2 3-Foot
Wide Plastic Sheets Stapled
Together at Top for Trellised
Similar Benefits as Floating Row Covers

Punched Row Covers

Small Holes Punched About 4 Inches Apart
Trap More Heat Than Slitted Tunnels

Growers Often Use 2 3-Foot Wide Plastic

Sheets Stapled Together at Top for Trellised

Not Permeable to Air or Water

High Tunnels
Unheated, Plastic-Covered
Commercial Greenhouses
Cost up to $20/sq. ft.
High Tunnels Cost as Little
as $0.50/sq. ft.
Tall Enough to Walk in
14-30 Feet Wide, 30-96 Feet

Low Cost Way to Extend Growing Season

Improves Profitability
Increase Early Tomato Yields
Lettuce Through Fall & Winter
Higher Quality Produce
Most Passively Ventilated Via Roll-Up Sidewalls
End Walls Can Be Opened or Removed
Andy Read photo

Usually No Heat
Supplemental Heat on Cold
Nights or to Extend Season
Usually Single Layer of Poly
Provides 1 Hardiness Zone of
Row Covers Within High Tunnels
Provide Extra Protection

Crops Typically Grown

in Ground Beds With
Amended Soil
Irrigation Needed
Some High Tunnels
Erected on Skids
Weed Control Is by
Hand or Use of Mulch
Low Cost Drip System
Maximize Space

2nd Layer Provides Another Zone of


Andy Read Photo

Andy Read Photo



Caterpillar Tunnels

Make Hoops From Galvanized Steel, Electrical

Conduit or PVC
Can Be Pushed Directly Into Soil or Placed Over
Rebar Ground Stakes
Space Hoops 6 to 10 Feet Apart
Tie Rope From Hoop to Hoop to Form Purlin That
Runs Length of Tunnel
Tie Off Rope to Stakes at Both Ends
Pull Covering Over Tunnel & Tie to Ground With Pegs,
Sand Bags or Rocks
Pound Stakes Into Ground Between Hoops on Both
Sides of Tunnel
Tie Ropes Across Top of Tunnel to Stakes to Hold
Covering in Place

Much Less Expensive Than High Tunnel

Can Be Up to 300 Feet Long
Dont Require Flat Ground
Usually 5 to 6 Feet Tall at Center of Hoop
Easy to Build & Move
Provide Protection & Excellent Air Flow
Can Exclude Insects
Shade Cloth
Row Cover
Insect Mesh

Winter Production Is Possible But Restricted

Severity of Winter Weather
What Crops Are Grown
Availability of Supplemental Heat

Can Be Covered With Shade Cloth in Summer

30% Shade Reduces Air T 4 Degrees
Crops That Grow Better in Cooler T
Sprinkler Irrigation
Tomato Production Common

Cold Frames
Unheated Box With Bottom Open to Soil on
Which Frame Rests
Top Is Transparent, Removable Panel Exposed
to Sun
Passively Protects Its Contents From Most Severe
Winter Weather
Serves as Growing Chamber in Spring
Uses of Cold Frames
Hardening Off Seedlings Started Indoors, Seed
Sowing, Propagation Bed, Protect Marginally Hardy
Plants & Tender Bulbs in Winter, Store Bulbs or Plants
for Forcing

Gently Sloping Ground, Face South or Southeast
High End About 6 Inches Higher Than Low End, High
End Toward North, Sash Sloping Toward South,
Sheltered on North With Wall or Hedge if Possible
Can Create Temporary Windbreak

Keep It Simple, Use Recycled Materials, Plan to
Complete Project in Few Hours, Keep It Inexpensive,
3x6 Feet Standard Size But Smaller OK

Ventilation, Watering, Protection Against Extreme
Cold, Summer Shade

Similar to Cold Frames But With
Some Form of Artificial Heat
Soil Maintained at Warm and Fairly Constant
Great for Germination of Most Seeds
Great for Growing Wide Variety of Young
Seedling Plants
Plants With Short Growing Season May Be
Grown in Hotbeds
Can Serve as Cold Frame Later in Season


Manure Hotbeds
Dig Pit About 2.5 Feet Deep
If Earth Walls Are Firm, No
Inside Wall Needed
Start in Early March
Use Fresh Horse Manure
4 Cubic Yards Needed for Single-Sash 6x3 Hotbed
Pile Manure Near Hotbed
Turn Heap Every 3 or 4 Days
Place in Pit When Entire Pile Begins to Heat

Hotbeds With Wood Chips

Wood Chips Can Be Used in Deep Frames
Add Generous Sprinkling of Quicklime on Top of
each 6- to 8-Inch Layer of Firmly Packed Wood
Repeat Until Depth of About 30 Inches
Place Thin Layer or Leaves or Pine Needles on Top
to Prevent Topsoil From Washing Into Chips
Add Soil

Half-Rotted Medium Can Be Mixed With Topsoil &
Sand for Use as Excellent Compost in Garden &
for Potting

Spread Evenly in 6-Inch Layers

After 2 Feet Deep With Manure, Spread Thin
Layer of Straw Over Pile
Add 4 to 6 Inches of Seedbed-Suitable Soil
Insert Soil Thermometer so Mercury Extends Well
Down Into Soil
Sash Should Remain Tightly Closed
Thermometer Will Register High 1st Few Days
Hotbed Ready to Use When Soil TCools to 75F

Insulated Electric Cable May Be
Buried in Soil to Provide Uniform Heat
Dig Pit About 12 Inches Deep
Pit Needs to Be About 2 Feet Longer and 2
Feet Wider Than Dimensions of Frame That
Will Be Set on Top of Filled Pit
Fill Pit With 6 Inches of Gravel
Place Frame Directly on Bed
Add Soil Around Outside of Frame for
Place Layer or Burlap or Peat Moss Over Gravel
Spread 1 Inch Sand Over Surface

Lay Electric Cable on Sand in Uniform Loops

Need About 60 Feet of Flexible, Heavily Insulated
110-Volt Cable for 2-Sash Hotbed
6 Feet Square

Will Make 10 Coils Spaced About 7 Inches Apart

Connect Ends of Cable to Thermostat
Place Thermostat Inside Frame
Switch Box on North Side of Bed

Maintain Uniform Temp

60 75F Tender Plants, 50 - 60F Half-Hardy Plants, 45 60F Hardy Plants

Disadvantages of Hotbeds
Current May Fail Due to Severe Storm or Other
Higher Likelihood of Damping-Off Since Plants
Growing in Hot, Humid Environment
Plants More Sensitive to Sudden Fluctuations in
Be Careful With Ventilation & Watering
Harden Off Plants Before Transplanting Outside

2-Sash Hotbed Needs About 400 Watts to Provide

Adequate Heat in Zone 6 or 7
Around 1 Kilowatt Hour/Square Yard of