We are so excited about our new high tunnel! Wait, what? You're not really sure what a high tunnel is? Let me tell you all about it...
A high tunnel is a non permeant structure that is used for growing crops in the soil and/or raised beds. It's primarily used to extend the growing season by having a controlled growing environment. This new system will give Bardwell Farm the capability to grow a quality crop much longer.
As many of you know we started this project back in November as we were closing for the season. We started by laying out the demensions on the land where the structure was going to sit. This was a process of applying the dimensions, then grading and leveling the land to make it as flat as possible. It's important to build the structure level and true, it makes a world of difference and helps the building process go that much smoother.
After the leveling process we lined-up 4 foot pipes that would make the base of the structure. These were spaces every 4 feet in a row on each side of the field. The pipes were pounded about 2 feet into the earth to create the foundation for the high tunnel.
Frame bows were assembled off site then brought in to be put in place. The bows were so light three of us were able to pick them up and slide them into place. Once completed we tied the structure together using purlins, cross ties, and corner braces. These were all bolted together to make it solid.
This part of the project went up fast! We encountered some challenges with end wall design and bad weather hindering progress. It slowed us down a bit, but didn't halt our work. We decided to use 4X4" posts as structural supports to hold the end walls to the ground and structure. It's quite difficult working with round metal pipe and wood. We finally came up with the perfect design plan to build these end walls. The lower half is going to be shiplap boards and the top will be a polycarbonate double layer honeycomb hard plastic that will allow light into the structure.
Once the doors are mounted on to the end walls the next step is putting the plastic on the roof. This is a BIG TASK! We'll need a good size crew of people. A double layer of plastic will be added to the rough of the structure. One is an infrared plastic to capture sunlight and hold in heat. The top layer of plastic is clear to let sunlight in. Lastly, near the roof, a small blower fan will be installed to create an air gap between the two plastic layers. This is used to make an insulation layer to help retain heat inside the high tunnel during cold parts of the spring and fall seasons.
The last step is adding the irrigation system and horizontal ventilation fans to create the most efficient environment for growing our crops. I cannot wait to finish this up, we are so close!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for The High Tunnel Project: Part 2 coming end March.
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