brand new video:
       
get all 177 hours of
presentations here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

High Tunnel Growing for Market, with Permaculture Principles  RSS feed

 
Ray Roth
Posts: 3
Location: NC, USA, zone 7A
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, Great information on this site. Thank you.

I have not found info here about market growing with a high tunnel so if anyone has experience with this I would appreciate your input.

I plan to grow in a high tunnel (approx 30' x 72'), party for home and community, and primarily for market.

Rather than being oriented perfectly east to west, the high tunnel is angled a bit, maybe 30 degrees counter-clockwise from E-W orientation. The entrance is on the east 30-foot side and the ground slopes slightly uphill toward the west side. The water pump/spigot is to the left of the entrance, in the south-east corner.

I have been considering how to lay out raised beds for efficient irrigation, harvest etc... and also to maximize production with a polyculture system. 4' beds or smaller? Straight beds or a keyhole bed system? Drip irrigation or something else? Beds oriented parallel to the 72' sides or to the 30' sides?

Please feel free to share other ideas and experiences with growing for market in a high-tunnel.

Thank you in advance for your input. Cheers.
 
J W Richardson
Posts: 76
Location: Council, ID
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am looking at getting a high tunnel. I have been reading a lot of Eliot Coleman, he is more french organic than permaculture, but in terms of answering some of your questiona about orientation and row sizing he has answers from experience. He does not use polycultures, but in following some of those ideas you might get around some of the long term problems associated with permantly covered ground. Coleman uses moveable tunnels. He uses 30" rows and tiny pathways. Orientation is usually suggested to be east west, but my prevailing strongest winds come from the south and i am on a slope, so i will be putting mine up north south.
I am just finishing up a winter with a diverse mix of greens in the 10/26' lean to unheated greenhouse, and do not see any insect problems at this point. We had temps to zero and I row covered inside, and the greens look undamaged and are growing again.
I am really impressed with the gabe brown ideas about diverse cover crops and the easiest crop to grow that way and hopefully imitate some of the soil benefits is probably salad greens. I do not till and leave all the roots of harvested plants in ground, cutting them below the crown when harvesting, leaving waste in place, supplementing with compost or mulch in between crops.
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1273
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
127
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was going to recommend the Eliot Coleman books. Another good book is The Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier of Quebec. Neither is permaculture but they are organic, and you can learn and pursue your own ideals such as permaculture, while these guys can help you think about how to make it a business too.


 
R Scott
Posts: 3351
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The "standard" for market gardens seems to be 30" beds with as narrow of a path as you are comfortable with. Some of that is based on how far you can reach or straddle the row, but some of that is based on the tools-tillers, seeders, etc.-that are now pretty standard among market gardeners.

Fortier goes into a lot of philosophy on how to set up for efficiency. Maybe not specifics for a tunnel but enough of the things to consider for daily tasks vs big tasks like composting, planting, harvesting. One extra step each day really adds up!

Based on geoff lawton's work in Jordan, I think the right Permaculture system could avoid the salting problem most tunnels experience.
 
Marianne Cicala
gardener
Posts: 676
Location: south central VA 7B
82
bee books forest garden fungi solar trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We got a little creative with our high tunnel. 1st we opted for an 8' ceiling height to cut down on the labor & cost and to minimize the heat loss due to a high (14') ceiling level. We dug a ditch around the perimeter of 1 side, with several entries under the sill of the building and then the rain water runs into the hoop on that 1 side into another channel inside the hoop (a terraced bed adjoins that side of the hoop, to flow into the hoop). From there, the rain and run off (an enormous amount of rainwater runs off of the hoop house itself) goes into a channel, flows down the center of the hoop and into the keyhole beds. Our productivity is far greater than with traditional rows. The west facing inside of the hoop (we ran it North/South) is filled with large rocks to act a heat sink. We do not use artificial heat, but do use row covers inside the hoop if temps are going to get extremely low for us (below 15 degrees). Works really well. Y'day I seeded several beds with root crops, since we're getting so much braising mix, lettuces, spinach, arugula and cilantro that I need some new stuff. Hope this helps.
M.
keyhole.jpg
[Thumbnail for keyhole.jpg]
 
Mike Hamilton
Posts: 82
Location: north end of the Keweenaw Mi.
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Marianne Cicala wrote:We got a little creative with our high tunnel. 1st we opted for an 8' ceiling height to cut down on the labor & cost and to minimize the heat loss due to a high (14') ceiling level. We dug a ditch around the perimeter of 1 side, with several entries under the sill of the building and then the rain water runs into the hoop on that 1 side into another channel inside the hoop (a terraced bed adjoins that side of the hoop, to flow into the hoop). From there, the rain and run off (an enormous amount of rainwater runs off of the hoop house itself) goes into a channel, flows down the center of the hoop and into the keyhole beds. Our productivity is far greater than with traditional rows. The west facing inside of the hoop (we ran it North/South) is filled with large rocks to act a heat sink. We do not use artificial heat, but do use row covers inside the hoop if temps are going to get extremely low for us (below 15 degrees). Works really well. Y'day I seeded several beds with root crops, since we're getting so much braising mix, lettuces, spinach, arugula and cilantro that I need some new stuff. Hope this helps.
M.


how well does the structure handle wind
up here in the Keweenaw of Michigan we get a lot of wind off the big lake [30-40 mph]
the way the beds are layed out are a great idea with the walk ways into the bed [key hole]

Mike
 
Weston Ginther
Posts: 63
Location: NW South Dakota - Zone 4b
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mike Hamilton wrote:

how well does the structure handle wind
up here in the Keweenaw of Michigan we get a lot of wind off the big lake [30-40 mph]
the way the beds are layed out are a great idea with the walk ways into the bed [key hole]

Mike



We have had our high tunnel for almost a year and it has stood up great to the wind. Here in western South Dakota there is never a shortage of wind and 30-40 mph winds are a weekly occurrence.

Our high tunnel is securely anchored to the ground with a bunch of 'screw-in' soil anchors. They were at around 3-4 feet long and there is probably at least 6 along each sidewall (our high tunnel is 100' x 30'). The soil anchors are then chained to bottom of the nearest hoop. Granted the greenhouse is somewhat protected from a tree row to the NW but we still get some pretty crazy winds from the SE (which the tunnel is completely exposed to).

If care is taken during the setup and you don't cut any corners, the only thing that should bring it down is a tornado or potentially hurricane-force winds (in my opinion).
 
Weston Ginther
Posts: 63
Location: NW South Dakota - Zone 4b
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Marianne Cicala wrote: Our productivity is far greater than with traditional rows.


I was curious how you have come to this conclusion? Did you have traditional beds in there before and are doing a comparison now that you have keyhole beds? Any real numbers you can point me to that you have collected or other people have kept track of to support your claim?

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of keyhole beds (especially in an outdoor, large setting like in a food forest) but I had a hard time justifying the amount of time it would have taken to shape and define the beds in a keyhole pattern vs just doing traditional, 3' rectangle beds with 1.5' walk paths in between, for our high tunnel.

Roughly, how many 'people-hours' did it take to prepare the soil, move the soil and shape the keyhole beds?

Do you plan on reshaping the beds each year as the soil settles and slowly falls into the pathways?

Is the passive flow of water from the tunnel the only irrigation your beds receive or do you employ other methods, as well?

Thanks in advance and I hope your high tunnel produces a TON of food for you this year!
 
We've gotta get close enough to that helmet to pull the choke on it's engine and flood his mind! Or, we could just read this tiny ad:
FT Position Available: Affiliate Manager Who Loves Permaculture & Homesteading
https://permies.com/t/69742/FT-Position-Affiliate-Manager-Loves
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!