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Homestead High Tunnel

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

We've finally unpacked the big box in the back of the truck and started in on putting up the high tunnel. It's like a giant erector set, lots of pieces and pages of instructions.

Yesterday we spent the day driving in the ground posts, using a transit level and torpedo level to get everything lined up juuuuust so. Most of the posts went in pretty easily, but in one corner we hit a layer of pure clay that was a long time banging through.

Here's all the posts in position... the one on the nearest corner has the next piece inserted, for absolutely no better reason than I can't wait. LOL

Thumbnail by Jayryunen
Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Through a miscommunication, one post managed to get driven in too far. Naturally it was set in that clay corner, and nothing was budging it. We yanked and kicked, pryed, bent nails and broke bolts. Nothing. As darkness fell last night, we dug half way down, filled the hole with water, and went inside.

As soon as it was light enough to see (because the transit had to go back to the rental place first thing) we got out there and tried again. I bolted a board to it, put one end on a flat rock and a car jack under the other and slowly we cranked the jack up. And it WORKED! Nice and easy. Here's the set-up, if anyone ever needs to pry a stubborn something out. This picture also shows the hammers we used to drive the posts in... a #3 sledge and a maul.

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North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

Nice trick. Looks like you have a good start there. Keep those pictures coming!

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

You need a post driver. Will it have hoops from post to post?

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

The post driver... on the left of the jack handle... came with the kit. =0) I just didn't want folks to think they could put one of these suckers in with a regular carpenters hammer... oi!

Yes, it will have hoops. I managed to get what will be the inside of the tunnel some kind of flat for assembling them yesterday. Figured that would be a very dull photo. I've got all kinds of up-potting to do today, maybe seed another section of pasture, so it'll probably be a couple of days anyway before I can get back to this project. =0)

So it goes...
Jay

This message was edited Mar 19, 2009 3:17 PM

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

What is the object of the high tunnel? I have never heard of one.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I've had one for tomatoes for years. Last summer set up a couple more for various things.
They are nice for controlling temperature & wetness. Mine are a little more towards a greenhouse, as I have some fans in them.
Most things are grown in the ground just like outdoors. Less bugs & disease inside.
Bernie

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Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

That does look like a green house. Does it stay up year round?

Jay,
Will yours hold up with all the wind you get?

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Made a little more progress today; putting together the rafters. Here's the pieces to one laid out and ready to screw together...

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

One screw in each joint... the kit comes with the self-tapping screws and the driver bit...

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Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Well, that makes things a bit easier. Will yours be as tall as CG's? Looks like you did a good job with your leveling. This is an interesting project.

CG
It looks like yours has fencing around the bottom. Does it come with that or did you add it?

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Mine is going to be 10'6"... says the box. If I put the right ends on it, I could just drive the flat bed loaded with hay into it in the fall... not have to unload and restack. =0)

I'll be able to grow some monster vines... tomatoes to the moon! Jack's beanstalk. LOL

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Wow! That's tall. You'll have to pick your maters from a ladder.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Rockets! I'll use rockets... we've got a commercial spaceport here in NM, maybe I can borrow one of theirs?
LOL

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I bought all 5 of mine used. So we had to do whatever to get some the way we wanted.
The fence you saw was left over from trying to get yard long beans to climb. They never came up so that was a lost cause.
The fiberglass panels used to be the roof on an old homemade greenhouse. It was tore down to make way for the veggie barn. We use whatever works.
My total cash outlay for 5 greenhouses was $4550.00. First one was $500.00 about 15 years ago. Remember all were used.

This one is still used for bedding plants & potted Hostas & our veggie transplants. I was redoing the benches back in December.

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Great pics, Bernie. Love those tables. =0) And to find them used... what a stroke of good fortune.

Are you also a commercial set-up? What sort of plants do you sell?
Jay

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

How do the ends connect to the sides? That's a really nice setup.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

All ends connect different. Some come with special clips, others we just rig stuff up.

We sell plants at the Farmers Market.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Okey dokey... today the weather was perfect, the SO was feeling better from her bout of the cold, and I realized that I've got boo-coo tomato plants and nowhere to put them in a couple of weeks, sooooo...

framing day!

Here's the first arch up and braced. You can see our stuporvisors watching with great wonderment in the background.

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Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

How many hoops make the whole thing? Does it come with the cover and is the cover plastic like visquine (sp?)

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

It started off a lovely sunny day, and as we worked, the 'scattered thunderstorms' moved in. The valley over the hill looked like it was getting a little wet, but we got nada.

The arches get added one by one, the purlin (that's the pipe running along the top; it serves to brace and space the rafters) gets added in sections as you go. It took us about 2 hours to get the whole thing put together to this point...

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

This one, being 24' long, has 7 hoops 4' apart. This kit does come with the cover... it comes with darn near everything to set up and go. =0) I don't know what visquine is, but this cover is like an opaque woven polypro tarp, only about 3 times heavier. It has a 5 year guarantee, I think. There is a slightly less expensive version of this that comes with 5 year greenhouse plastic.

Now we're working on the baseboards... well, except right now I'm taking a break. =0)

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Visquine is a plastic. It comes in different thicknesses. Will the water go through yours or does it shed water? You have really got that thing going up quick.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

It'll shed water. That's why I've also ordered shade fabric to cover the tunnel; I'm going to pull off the heat retaining cover and replace it with shade fabric during the summer so the rain can get to the garden and I don't have to fuss with venting.

At least, that's the plan at the moment. =0)

I've been very impressed with how well this kit is designed for folks to put up themselves. The directions are clear, in good english not some bizarre (?) translation from the Chinese. LOL Only thing I wish they did was make recommendations for the baseboard and ribbon boards... no dimensions are suggested. I've used 2 x 6's for my baseboard. More on that when I download the camera....

=0) Jay

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

The shade cloth is a good idea for summer. No sense in not being able to take advantage of the rain.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

That's what I figure... =0) Now let's see if it happens! LOL

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

The only drawback I could see was a drenching rain storm but if your stuff was planted in the garden it would face the same problem.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

OK, here comes a whole slew of pics... this is for installing the baseboard. The baseboard helps keep the whole structure from settling any deeper, especially at varying rates. I'm using 12' 2 x 6 Trex board, a synthetic lumber made from sawdust and recycled plastic. It doesn't rot, it doesn't warp and it'll last forever. It's also pretty pricey, but for this it's worth the bucks to me.

Oh yes... the baseboard is not included in the kit, but the bolts are. =0)

Starting at one corner, I've measured down and in to make my first drill hole...

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Here I've slipped the bolt in and lightly attached the board to the ground post.

Note: The trex was varying lengths, which caused us a bit of consternation. I finally measured each one, matched a longer with a shorter, and then measured my ground post spacing because there was some variation there, too. So the short board went with the shorter spacing and the longer went to the longer spacing. There is a short overlap in the middle... this is not according to the instructions, it's just how it happened here on our place. =0)

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

As these are 12' boards, the other end extends to the ground pole of the middle rafter. I slipped a bolt in and scored the end of the board with it, to mark how far from the end the next hole should be...

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Next is to pull the board off, lay it down, and measure from the edge to where the hole will go. I just get it started, I don't go all the way through for this hole....

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Now I hold the board against the ground post (or rather my lovely assistant does) and drill from the inside of the tunnel. This allows for a 'custom fit' of the bolt hole. If you simply measured and drilled, many of the holes will not match up because... well, things just aren't perfect. There's a goodly amount of variation in spacing and angle of the holes in the ground posts when you set them. This way that variation is taken into account.

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

The first board gets lightly bolted into position and we move on to the other board for this side. Again I locate and drill the one corner hole, lightly bolt the board up and then we get the overlap at the center ground post lined up juuuust so and mark it on both boards. This will be our lap cuts...

Oh, ignore that hole in the bottom corner... that was a boo-boo made before we discovered that manufactured, imitation boards are not all standard length.

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

This just shows the mark for the lap cut more clearly...

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Boy, these pics sure take forever to load! I'm awfully glad the latest Small Farmer's Journal showed up in the mailbox today; I'm reading it as I wait...

Here's how to make a lap cut with a circular saw. The depth is adjusted to half the width of the board (in this case 3/4"), measuring from the flat 'shoe' to the end of the lowest tooth of the blade.

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I just read a letter from a guy whose 81 years old and teaching his g'son how to farm with horses! How cool is that. =0)

Now several cuts are made from the mark to the end of the board...

Drat! that's the wrong picture! =0(

This message was edited Mar 21, 2009 9:42 PM

Thumbnail by Jayryunen
Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

How big are your pictures. I had the same problem until I fixed them in Microsoft Picture Manager. I just went there & cut them down to roughly 1000 X 840. Don't ask me what that means, but when I load off my camera they are 3648 X 2736. They only take seconds to load now & show up faster when someone clicks on them.
I tried making them smaller on the camera, but lost sharpness.
Bernie

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

This is the pic showing all the cuts... the other shows using a chisel to break out the cuts. Always check the depth of the first cut, just to make sure you've adjusted the depth on the circular saw right.

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Sorry you don't like the pictures, CG. They're down to 640 x 480 already. I'm on a slow dial-up, that's why it takes so long to load.

All the cuts get broken out and the area cleaned up with the wood chisel. It's really worth it to keep your chisel sharp and be careful with the edge when setting it down or storing it.

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Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Once those are cleaned up and bolted back into place... lifting the outside board and coming through the previously drilled ground post and board to form the lap joint... then the rest of the holes must be drilled. Trex sags from its weight, so a little lift is needed to straighten it out for the drilling, again coming through the ground posts into the board to accomodate subtle variations... we used a shovel to get the lift... one person can eye the edge from end to end while another lifts to just the right height and holds it while holes are drilled and bolts are pushed through.

Thumbnail by Jayryunen

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