Articles, Blog

Cold Weather Gardening in the High Tunnel

December 1, 2019

Hi I’m Erin and this is Our Wyoming Life Gardening in Wyoming can be tough. We are a zone 4 with high elevation and a
wind problem. Average last frost date is May 22nd. This year Erin is hoping for her first vegetable
harvest on April 27th. This might work or it might not but we will
definitely learn something along the way. Maybe we need to wish Erin some good luck! Today I am in the high tunnel checking on
the soil prep for the lettuce seedlings that will be transplanted in about 2 weeks. This is a 30 foot wide by 72 foot long unheated,
single layer of plastic high tunnel from farmtek It is a hoop design with hoops every 4 feet. They are 12 foot high in the center. Last summer I grew 205 tomato plants, 160
pepper plants, a handful of tomatillos and a row of cucumbers that produced almost 1000
pounds of big beautiful cucumbers. This year we are taking our first step into
cold weather growing. That’s where the lettuce seedlings we planted
come into the play. Every year our farmers market has an early
market in conjunction with the Master Gardener Garden and Landscape Educational Expo. This year that date is April 29th. I hope to bring the lettuce we’ve started
as well as radishes and spinach to that market. Then our regular season market starts mid
July. In order to grow lettuce well before our last
frost date I am currently warming the soil. Under the clear plastic is a 3 ft wide strip
that we have already tilled. This is where the cold weather crops will
go. During the summer season this is a walkway
with tomatoes on either side. Harvest of cold crops will be on April 27th. If the weather looks ok we will plant the
tomato and pepper seedlings on April 15th. Most cold hardy crops can be planted when
soil temps are consistently above 44 or 45 degrees. Clear plastic is the fastest way to warm your
garden soil. It acts like a mini greenhouse on the ground
and allows the suns rays to penetrate through through. If you do this outside you will have to secure
your plastic from the wind somehow. You can staple it in with ground stakes or use bricks. Soil temp under the plastic looks to be 45
degrees. We’re ready to transplant. Now we just need the lettuce to grow a little
bit bigger. When we get closer to our harvest date we
will direct sow the spinach and radish seeds. Their date to maturity is shorter then our
Salanova head lettuce. We will leave the plastic on the soil until
we plant. Once planted we will use temporary hoops and
row covers to protect the cold crops from a hard frost. We will also fill used gallon jugs with water
and place them throughout the rows. The water in the jugs will heat during the
day and release their heat throughout the night. This is a cheap low tech way to add an extra
couple degrees to our row. Our seedlings are progressing great. They all have developed their first set of
true leaves. You can see them here. Some are working on their second set. The first leaves the we see emerge are the
cotyledon leaves. They will eventually turn brown and die as
the seedling grows. Couple more weeks and the lettuce will go
the tunnel. So they are doing great. Thank you for watch our introduction into
cold weather growing. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Our Wyoming
Life. If you have any questions please comment and
I will do my best to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge. Also please make sure you subscribe and like
us on facebook for more updates and to get to get all of our new videos. Thank you for joining us in Our Wyoming Life….


  • Reply Ian Smith February 9, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Just wanted to encourage you in posting these Videos. Really enjoying all of them. Living in the city it really inspires me to think about moving to the country and gardening or farming. Awesome stuff.

  • Reply Vib February 10, 2017 at 12:18 am

    one day I will have a farm…one day!

  • Reply Robkendy February 10, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Great videos so far! Hopefully yall stick with it and I'm positive your channel will flourish.

  • Reply Steven L February 20, 2017 at 4:59 am for anyone interested in the subreddit!

  • Reply scott douglas February 22, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    How warm does it stay inside the high tunnel during the winter in Wyoming?

  • Reply Steve B November 27, 2017 at 2:19 am

    Well it’s official I have watched everyone of your videos between home work and on my phone. I love your videos they are fantastic! Keep me coming guys! And good job and good luck with the gardening!

  • Reply KittyleeY February 21, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    I live in North East Wyoming and have a high tunnel. This is my first year to use it by myself since my husband passed away. Thank you for making this video! Can you tell me the date that you planted your seeds for the lettuce inside and the date that you planted the radishes and spinach outside? Thank you so much! I really appreciate your help and I’ve become a subscriber!

  • Reply Ken May 29, 2018 at 5:02 am

    Hi Erin. You and your husband have quickly become my favorite on YouTube. That water jug tip is brilliant. Thank you.

  • Reply C W November 27, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    Great video! Does the height of the high tunnel impact the amount of heat retained in an unheated structure? Another way of asking would be is more heat retained in a 15 ft high structure than in a 10 fit high structure? Thanks!

  • Reply Alton Riggs June 18, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Maybe paint the water juts flat black to,get more heat.

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