Those of you who have been out to the farm recently have probably noticed the four new tunnels that were built this spring just west of the Backyard Demonstration Garden. These “Caterpillar Tunnels” are homemade high tunnels that are built from fencing supplies. A pipe bender is used for making the hoops and can be purchased online for approximately $150.Otherwise, all of the parts required are available at the hardware store and/or local fencing supply company.Caterpillar tunnels can be built to any length and are not only useful for commercial farmers, but also for home gardeners looking to grow in a protected environment. Currently, we are planning to build a smaller (24’ x 12’) tunnel in the Backyard Demonstration Garden and are also helping the Sedgwick County Extension Master Gardeners (EMG) program to build a similar one at their demonstration garden. This style of tunnel also works really well for one of our new research projects, which is investigating the effects of different tunnel coverings (film types) on light quality and quantity in addition to any effects on yield, shelf life, and nutritional quality of tomato and lettuce.
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