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Row Tunnel Frame w/ Shade Cloth

 
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It gets really hot here in Tulsa, OK (Zone 7a).  Mid 80's today.  I figured my 4' x 4' raised bed containing cold weather crops like lettuce & spinach could benefit from a bit of shade from mid day sun.  I used 50% shade cloth, 10' long uncut PVC 1/2" pipe and 2' long rebar stakes.   How did I do?  Photo below.  Front of shed is facing directly north and garden faces directly south.

I still have to work out how much to cover .. I may need to narrow it a bit more?

This should help prevent them from getting bitter and bolting?

IMG_4904.png
[Thumbnail for IMG_4904.png]
 
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I couldn't see the photo, not sure if it's because it has a png extension instead of a jpg extension.

But shade cloth is good when the ends are wide open and the cool breeze can flow through.  Otherwise it becomes a hothouse, and lettuce and greens really start bolting when that happens.  If it requires high hoops or a frame up about 4 feet, then shade helps as long as there's no heat held in.

It's not all about heat, though.  Spinach, lettuce, kale all respond to day length, which we can't fake in the summer.  There are some kinds that will do better in the summer, so switching between fall/winter/spring greens and summer-tolerant greens works well.  
 
Jennifer Lowery
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Should I be uploading jpg here instead?  Here is the image again, jpeg this time:

IMG_4904-copy.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_4904-copy.jpg]
 
Jennifer Lowery
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So I wonder if I am not helping these cold weather crops since you say it really depends on day length instead?
 
pollinator
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Jennifer Lowery wrote:So I wonder if I am not helping these cold weather crops since you say it really depends on day length instead?



I think the shade cloth will help extend the usefulness of your cool weather crops but eventually they will bolt.  So if you can get another two weeks of harvest by using the shade cloth, it’s definitely worth it in my opinion.
 
Jennifer Lowery
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I guess I'll need to start a bunch of cool weather crops indoors about 1 month before it starts getting cool again?  I tried direct sowing before in the fall and they didn't even germinate.
 
Jennifer Lowery
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I guess a cold frame hoop would be well worth it to have lettuce throughout the winter right?   I want to make a hinged one with pvc, wood and plastic.
 
Cristo Balete
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I can see the photo now, with the shade cloth only on the highest part of the hoops.  That looks fine.

Cutting baby leaves on types of greens that bolt easily will work for a while.  Once they start bolting you'll see a change in leaf shape.  Spinach, for example, turns into a spade shape as opposed to a leaf shape.  There's not turning back at that point.

Dinosaur kale is pretty good.  

During the hottest part of the day in the summer you could even put a second layer of shade cloth over that one, and put a bucket of water at either end of the tunnel on the ground to produce humidity that will lower the temps as the water evaporates.

Check a few seed websites to see what kinds of greens are "heat tolerant" is usually the phrase they use.

Have you ever looked into planting a food forest?  They do really well in the heat.

 
Cristo Balete
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Jennifer, greens do pretty well in the winter.  Not sure what zone you are in, but unless your soil freezes your raised beds would work nicely.  Starting seedlings in the fall works well in the shade, rather than under glass where it could still get hot.  Lettuce/spinach seeds start well in winter in a sunny window or under a grow light in the garage.    Would there be a lot of snow on top of a glass covering that could be heavy?  
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