We are planted! Only about a month behind but we made it. Not too bad for high tunnel newbies.
When I left off we had just completed filling the high tunnel with additional top soil.
Filling the high tunnel with topsoil
The next step was to form seven raised beds. Commercial operations have very expensive equipment that forms the row, lays the irrigation and plastic mulch all in one pass down the field. Here in the Ozarks we have to improvise.
First off, we used our large 16ft finish disc and make a few passes to loosen up the soil that had dried out and had about turned to concrete. There was no room for error as we risked slicing open a sidewall with the edge of the disk. The entire structure is only 32 feet wide, so maneuvering a 16ft wide disk was tricky. Papa did an excellent job and the high tunnel was unscathed.
Finish disk squeezed into the high tunnel
This is where the improvising really starts. Spacing is critical when using equipment to form a new row. It is critical to take into account the tire width of your tractor so that you don’t run right over the top of the row you just made, while attempting to form the next row…….Did that make any sense?
Our tractor tire width is much too large to deal with 4 foot spacings between the rows. So, the very rough slapstick method we used involved the ATV.
Eddie hatched the idea to hang the potato plow from the back of the ATV, while Papa road on the plow for down pressure, and I sat on the front of the ATV to provide extra weight for traction. Yep, my bum helped the ATV gain traction. My initial claim that I didn’t weigh enough was shot down quickly…
Potato Plow Skiing
Two passes with the potato plow gave us a swath of soil that could then be worked into a raised bed. Out came the rakes.
Raking the Raised Beds.
All four of us pitched in on the raking and Mae Mae supervised.
Sunglasses in the High Tunnel
She even got in on some of the watering action.
Watering down the rows
At this point, we took a lunch break and Mae and I headed to the house for a nap. We missed out on the irrigation and plastic mulch installation so I only have the completed pictures.
Irrigation Header Row
The irrigation header row runs the width of the high tunnel and the drip tape runs the length of the row. We purchased an irrigation kit that was large enough to cover the entire square footage. We have one more row to go in the picture below.
Almost Completed Plastic and Irrigation Install.
This rounded out a full Saturday and we picked up at noon on Sunday.
Time for planting! In all, we raised 234 tomato plants and 54 cucumbers from seed. I am proud of our first plants from seed experiment. I am inspired to raise all sorts of plants from seed next year.
Tomatoes and Cucumbers Raised from Seed.
Planting involved slicing a small hole in the plastic every 24 inches and inserting the plant along the drip tape.
First Tomato Plants in the Ground.
First Completed Row for Tomatoes
The small strip between the rows and the exterior walls has lettuce, spinach and onions that we planted last weekend.
Lettuce has Germinated.
Green Onions Freshly Planted
Even though watering and weeding should be a breeze, we have pruning and trellising ahead.
So much to learn.