Fall seemed to drag on forever this year. Our first freeze was five weeks behind schedule which meant the garden was hanging on well past the expiration date I was hoping for. You see, it is actually possible for a guy to get tired of fresh veggies and the work that goes along with them.
I wasn't even done celebrating the first cold night before Amy let me know she REALLY wanted a winter garden in the high tunnel this year. FML.
I had been formulating what I wanted the final layout of the high tunnel to look like, months in advance. Garden beds, spacing, irrigation system, wash system- the works had already been planned out. I just figured I had till Spring 2022 to get it done. The girl doesn't ask for much, so off we went.
First was a full cleanup of everything we'd done before plus weeds. Followed by screening sand for a base that would be covered by 5oz weed barrier. Things grow so fast in this controlled environment, it's almost impossible to stay on top of the weeds without a barrier.
Next, we rolled out the weed barrier, using a new cordless nail gun with fender washers to hold the material down.
We filled them with our compost but added some bagged material as a top dressing since the compost isn't freshly cooked and active.
We found a used, commercial corner sink on Craigslist for a wash station. All the heavy duty drains worked perfectly so just need plumbing and a couple new faucets. Of course our friends Mike and Jenn were up to help out again.
Since it's just fresh, cold water and veggie dirt we ran a simple 3" drain out to an existing drainage ditch with hardware cloth attached to the end to keep rodents from nesting in it.
Amy really wanted this to be a winter retreat from the weather and the small house. To make it more comfortable we left a spot in the middle for a 13x12' paver patio. The pavers also do a great job of gathering heat during the day and slowly releasing it at night. Potted plants have done very well so far.
We found an old iron patio set to sand and repaint, topped with a new umbrella. It might seem silly but it gets INTENSE inside this thing mid day. Temps might be mild/warm but the suns magnification through that plastic can almost be unbearable after a while.
Sunset views when the West curtain is down are pretty epic.
Here's the weather reality. 40 degrees and windy outside, 88 inside the high tunnel. Keep in mind, this is not an insulated green house so by early morning we'll see ambient temps. This means planting seasonal appropriate things and covering delicate stuff to help with freezing.
Fast forward to this week.
Here's what it looks like inside with a couple inches of snow covering it.
This is the winter layout. Summer will see growth down the middle row. I'm already sick of fresh garden salads every day but I love seeing the smile on her face. This has been a long time coming. To be able to grow this much food during the cold and windy winter months is another big step forward toward the original goal of being as self sufficient as possible.