How to make a tunnel cloche

You can add a month on either end of your growing season with a tunnel cloche.
The cloche uses hoops made of 1/2″ EMT steel electrical conduit pipe. You can buy this in 10′ pieces at Home Depot for about $2.00 each.
Using a conduit pipe bender make 60 degree bends in the middle of the pipe, and at 30″ on either side of the middle, creating a hoop that looks like this. Push the ends of the hoops into the earth, at 4′ intervals.

Cover the hoops with 10′ wide 4 mil polyethylene film. Attach the film to the end hoops with clips. You can purchase these, but they are expensive. I make my own, by cutting 5″ sections from old worn out 3/4″ graden hose, and cutting along the length of the hose to open it up.

To hold the film in place, bury the film in the dirt along one side, and weigh down the other side with rocks. The film can be turned up on the ‘rock’ side in order to weed or water. The ends of the cloche can be left open for ventilation when the weather is sunny, or covered up with salvaged window glass or plywood at night or when the weather is cloudy. Your total investment to cover 4’x30′ will be about $16 for the conduit and $10 for the plastic film. The conduit hoops last nearly forever (mine are 3 years old and show no sign of rust) and the PE film will last for 2 or 3 seasons.

How to make cheap permanent plant markers

Plastic labels for vegetables grown in pots or flats are not cheap – for example 6″ x 1/2″ labels are $.03 each at I make my own by cutting up aluminum beverage cans with a sturdy pair of scissors (poultry shears are ideal).

  1. Cut off the two ends of the can.
  2. Cut down the side to open up the can.
  3. Trim off the ragged edges.
  4. Cut into strips, 1/4″ wide.
  5. Label with permanent marker pen, like these.
  6. Or affix labels printed on your laser printer, on weatherproof, self-adhesive label stock, like these.

Sowed last tomato varieties (first planting)

Sowed these varieties into flats:

Ille’s Yellow Latvian
Lahman Pink
Russian Big Roma
Beam’s Yellow Pear
Camp Joy
Fred Limbauch Potato Top

I have now finished the small first sowing of all tomato varieties. All will be sowed again, around March 1.

More tomatoes sowed

Sowed the following varieties (8 cells ea., 1 seed per cell).
Italian Tree
Neves Azorean Red
Eva Purple Ball
Martino’s Roma
Cosoluto Fiorentino
Anna Russian
Tommy Toe
Saint Pierre
Amish Paste
Red Siberian
Old Brooks

For more info about these varieties, see Garden Spot Wiki.

Seeds for 2008

I stocked up on a variety of seeds at the local supermarket. As usual, I waited until the half price sale, which occurs every spring. These are Ed Hume seeds. Ed Hume is a locally based seed supplier, which specializes in seeds suited to the Northwest. I supplemented these with the following seeds ordered from Territorial Seeds Company.

Basil-Aroma 1/4 gram
Boothbys Blonde Cucumbers – 1 gram
Cannellini Bean – 1 oz
Casper Eggplant – 1/8 gram
Derby Day Cabbage – 1/2 gram
Dusky Eggplant – 1/8 gram
Fastbreak Melon – 1 gram
Garland Round Leaved Edible Chrysanthemum – 1 gram
Lemon Cucumbers – 1 gram
Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber – 20 seeds
Misono Green Bean – 1 oz
Rubine Brussels Sprouts – 1/4 gram
Señorita Pepper – 25 seeds
Staddon’s Select Pepper– 1/4 gram
Stein’s Late Flat Dutch Cabbage – 1/2 gram
Violetto Artichoke– 2 grams
Watercress – 1/4 gram

Bonkers for Tomatoes 2008

This year I decided to trial a wide variety of heirloom tomato varieties. I purchased these.


Heirloom Tomatoes

  • Amish Paste
  • Anna Russian
  • Costoluto Fiorentino
  • Manyel
  • Martino’s Roma
  • Napoli
  • Eva Purple Ball
  • Old Brooks
  • Red Siberian
  • Saint Pierre
  • Stupice
  • Tommy Toe

And I saved these seeds from last years crop –