High Tunnel Tomatoes

Our high tunnel is now fully planted with tomatoes, as well as a few cucumber and melon plants. We are growing 110 tomato varieties this year. Indeterminate varieties are trained to strings in the center two rows. Determinate varieties are constrained with a stake-and-weave system in the outer two rows.

Retrospective – building our high tunnel hoop house

Starting in January, we covered the construction site with a tarp to kill the grass.

The site was then rototilled…

We built the hoophouse roughly according to the instructions provided by Johnny’s Seeds. The hoops for the high tunnel are just top rails for chain link fence (1 3/8″, available at Lowes). We bent these using a homemade pipe bender, fashioned by cutting a 7′ radius arc into a 2″x10″ board.

The hoops were mounted on posts driven into the ground, and then covered with 6 mil UV-resistant green house poly film.

The glacier left us presents.

Part of the job of preparing beds in our newly constructed high tunnel hoop house is removing more than a few large rocks of varying size lurking just beneath the surface of the soil..  I pulled this one out last night.  It is, by no means, not the largest rock I have extracted.

A glacier really did a number on our Skykomish river valley during the last ice age. Our top soil, ranging in depth from 1′ to 2′ in thickness, sits on top of a concrete-like layer of sand and gravel compressed by the huge pressure of the passing glacier. Sitting on top of this compressed layer are rocks ranging in size from soft ball size to automobile size.