How to Make a Low Tunnel for Seedlings
Updated: Jul 31
How can we use common items to keep plants safe once they have sprouted?
This Lesson Plan is part the Gardening Module of SustainEd Farms' virtual programming.
Background: Making a Low Tunnel for Seedlings
Row cover has many uses, including the ability to help retain moisture, barricade against pests, and regulate swings in temperature. While row cover functions well at ground level when assisting the germination of seeds, once they have sprouted, the row cover needs to be lifted from the ground in order for the seedlings to grow upwards unimpeded. Therefore, it is useful to construct a low tunnel, which is essentially a makeshift greenhouse. Using hoops, sticks, pipes, or other items, a low tunnel can be built quickly and easily in order to protect young plants from harsh environmental conditions.
Students will be able to...
Build a low tunnel using bamboo sticks
Understand the importance of climate-resilient infrastructure
low tunnel /lō ˈtənl/ noun. - a small, fairly inexpensive greenhouse-like structure that serves to protect plants from damaging environmental factors
1. Gather your materials. You will need the following supplies:
Bamboo sticks (or other sticks; the number will depend on the size of your garden bed) · row cover · heavy objects (bricks, rocks, t-posts, etc.)
2. Watch the following YouTube video to see a demonstration of how to make a low tunnel from bamboo sticks. Then, follow along with the remainder of the lesson by reading the steps below.
3. Remove any existing row cover from the garden bed, and set aside. Be weary of your plants as you remove the cover since pulling or tugging on the cover to loosen it may damage the plants.
🌞🌻 Climate resilience … Low tunnels are relatively easy to construct, which is especially important in light of the changing climate. With climate change comes both a higher frequency (number of occurrences) and magnitude (severity of occurrence) of extreme weather events, which requires farmers to be alert to huge swings in temperature and oncoming precipitation that can damage their plants if left unchecked. Luckily, low tunnels provide not only quick insulation from these events, but can be constructed for relatively little money.
4. On the outer edge of the garden (or on the inner edge where no seed have been planted), insert a bamboo stick at a slanted angle into the ground. If you have a large row cover, the angle can be steep; however, an already-stretched row cover will only tolerate smaller angles. Space each bamboo stick a few feet apart, or place them between or in-line with plants. Insert enough bamboo sticks so that the row cover can be easily supported.
5. Once all of the bamboo sticks have been staked, drag (gently) the row cover over the top of the bamboo sticks. Be sure that none of the bamboo sticks “catch” the row cover and poke holes in your fabric.
6. When the row cover is on top of the bamboo sticks, weigh the outer edges of the cover down with heavy objects such as bricks or rocks to secure the cover. The bamboo will usually bend some before it breaks, but it is still advisable to work slowly to avoid any unnecessary breaking.
7. Remove the row cover when plants have reached a mature stage of growth, or when they have reached the top of the low tunnel.
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