We'll be setting up a high tunnel later this summer and I have the desire to use about a third of it for a chinampa-like area. The idea is to use a pond and channel water into the high tunnel where I would build some beds that are surrounded by a channel around each bed and fill that with gravel up to the ground level. The channel being about the width of a square shovel surrounding beds that are about 3 feet wide. I have a simple image I'll drop in below, but what I'm interested in is what might be everyone's suggestion of what to plant in these beds. We are in Missouri, USA which is temperate climate with clay soils; summers are hot and humid and winters are mild; due to landscape and prevailing winds the high tunnel will be oriented N-S. The high tunnel itself is 30 feet by 72 feet and about 14 feet tall at the peak.
I think there are some positive thermal benefits for filling the water channels with gravel as well as supporting the sidewalls of the planting beds from collapsing while providing lots of surface area for the water while not needing to fill an entirely empty channel. Love to know your thoughts.
I am in southern Indiana, so I am a similar climate.
I have a wet 6 acre field I dream about in chinampa production, so I am interested in your results.
As for what to plant, why not try a mix of standard annuals like tomato, eggplant, lettuce and broccoli? You could put some bare root trees in to see how those do.
I don't know, what are your goals in year 1, year 2 and year 5?
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
posted 4 years ago
Depending on how long water stays in those channels you could really grow about anything you wanted. The high tunnel adds in a whole other dynamic, too. Your season will extend. If you're zone 5 or 6, you could look at growing a zone 7 or even 8 type of plant and see how that goes. Not sure what a -10 degree day would do inside there, however. If you kept the water flowing through those channels and out the tunnel, you might have a real interesting microclimate at that point.
Simple question. ..why? Just curious. This is normally done in drier areas.
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
posted 4 years ago
@chat - Why I've been thinking of this is mostly for the experiment of the approach. I was wondering if I could get more tropical in my plant selection if I did something like this. The learning would be good to have. It may not be the best idea, but this is why I brought it up here so others can shoot holes in the idea to sort of think it out.
@George - As I have discussed this idea with others, I think you're right that it is a way to get to different hardiness zone, however, there is a serious risk of having too much moisture in the high tunnel even with the sides rolled up. Too much moisture is a vector for bad stuff. I'm going to chew on this idea much more, but I'm leaning to not implementing this idea due to the risk of damaging everything else in the high tunnel.
I appreciate everyone's thoughts on this and if we want to continue the discussion, that's cool.
I would definitely want in a way I sleep outside pond water from the inside channel water. Otherwise you might find you are simply heating the outside pond which could be a great outcome if that's what you're planning on.
It looks like you're going to use the gravel channels as paths.
This reminds me of the way some people use mulch paths as swales.
If the pond is stocked with animals you're getting very close to having a passive aquaculture setup.
Plant wise I would want to grow avocados,such a yummy fat!
Thanks everyone for their thoughts and insights. Being that humidity control is such a problem with high tunnels I don't want that to harm my other activities in there. So, we will not implement this idea. I bet there is an application for something like this, just not for what we're doing. I'm thankful for the group think on this.