High Tunnel End Panel Zipper Repair – Phase 1

The most common end panel that is commercially available for high tunnels, is nothing more than a heavy duty sheet, whether that be poly, woven, or fabric, with a few zippers on it.  They are very easy to install and allow the entire end of the tunnel to be opened on hot summer days.

Open High Tunnel
Open High Tunnel

My kit tunnel came with zippered end panels, while my smaller homemade tunnel has framed ends.  Framed ends add strength and stability to a tunnel, but can limit the size of equipment you can take in and out of a tunnel.  Zippered panels are easy to install, and cheap (OK maybe less expensive is a better way to put it) and they allow total access to the tunnel.

Tek Screwed End Panel

Tek Screwed End Panel

The biggest disadvantage to zippered end panels is that they do not hold up in high wind areas.  My tunnels are located in a field on top of a hill.  The closest wind break is over 100 yards away.  Wind gust during thunderstorms or blizzards routinely get over 60 Mph.  Even heavy duty zippers do not last long under those conditions.   

The manufacturer sent me some replacement zipper heads that I was able to use to get my end panel closed after several blowouts.  The problem is that every time the zipper fails it causes a little bit more damage that allows the teeth to come apart that much easier during the next storm.  Standing on a metal ladder, leaning agaist a metal framed structure, in the middle of a field, on top of a hill, durning a thunderstorm, ( can you see the picture I am trying to paint) trying to fix a panel before more damage is done, gets old pretty quick.

Clamped End Panel - Inside View

Clamped End Panel - Inside View

Durring the last storm, I lost the last zipper head and had to imrovise.  The manufacturer sent me some ideas that other customers had done, but everything was for smaller tunnels and reqired drilling the end rafter. 

After a lot of drawing and brain storming, I descided that I was makingit too complicated (something that I am known for).  I did not want to add a lot of weight so I too a 2×4 and ripped it down the middle on a table saw.  I then used tek screws with rubberized washers to attach the boards to the end panel, screwing through the nylon webbing from the zipper.  For a quick fix I just used clamped the boards face to face to seal the panel back up.  I am going to install a pully system that will allow the ends to be opened easily.  The disatvantage to this is that the panels cannot be rolled. 

I am very happy to report that I have had this repair in place for a couple of months and have had some major storms.  It has held up with out a problem and I am glad that I did this modification.  Once I have more time to tweak this and install the pulley system, I will post an update with more photos.

Sorry that it has been so long between post, the weeds keep me tied up…. Literally!

Posted in High Tunnel | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Fruit Trees Have Arrived

I woke up to about half an inch of snow on my porch this morning.  It didn’t even phase me, I already had plans to stop out to McKeone Orchard & Nursery and pick my trees up this afternoon.  During my chat with Sean, I learned a lot and when I left the bed of my truck was filled with trees and my head was filled with ideas.

The original plan was to get all the trees planted before Easter… Well, okay the original plan was to have the trees planted weeks ago, but the updated original plan is to have the trees planted before Easter.  Mother Nature is not going to cooperate but at least I wont have a lot of watering to do.  I hope all goes well and the weather is not too bad to get some photos of the planting.

Stay tuned, I will try to post an update in a day or two…

Posted in Fruit Trees | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Wrong Type of Plow

We have had a few warm days and I am ready to get my hands in the dirt and get this show in the road.  I had hoped to start plowing and tilling soon so I guess I shouldn’t complain.  I did get to plow this morning, but unfortunately it was with my truck and snow plow, not the mold boards on the tractor.image

Mother Nature is still letting us know who is in charge.  I woke to about 8 inches at the top of my driveway and about 5 inches at the bottom.  I was hoping I would not need to put the plow on the truck again this year and with temps reaching 50 this afternoon I was tempted.  My better judgment kicked in and I descided to clean it up now while it was still in a mostly solid state.  At least that way my wife and kids were able to head into town today to visit family.  Our farm is only 15 minutes from town but we had 3 to 4 times as much snow.

imageWe are a little bit behind schedule this year.  Normally I jump the gun and have all my plants ready to go way to soon even for the high tunnel.  This year, between the weather and our newest bundle of joy, Isaac, being born last week, I have been a little busy.  I will post some pictures of Isaac soon, if he like to help with planting and the tunnels half as much as it sister does, I will have plenty of help around here in a few years.

I place a large tree order this year with McKeone Orchard & Nursery this year, and Sean just emailed me to let me know my order is ready.  There is a good chance that the snow will be gone by this weekend but I think I will let things dry out a little bit before I start drive the tractor through the fields.  Fortunately, Sean expected this and it taking care of the trees until I am ready.  That is just one more reason why I enjoy doing as much business as I can locally.  I understand that we can’t buy everything within 30 minutes of our homes, (some days I can hardly make it to a gas station in 30 minutes from the farm) but every little bit helps.  This year BNB was able to get two thirds of our trees and plant stock locally, the remainder I ordered online.  Given how rural of and area we are in, I don’t think we did too bad.image

I hope everyone is enjoying what I hope to be, Winters last breath.  Hot Chocolate season is almost gone and I think I can almost taste the fresh lemonade just around the corner, but just to be safe, I might leave the plow on the truck just a bit longer.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment