As warm-season vegetables, tomatoes do not tolerate cold temperatures or frost at all. Extending the growing season earlier in spring or longer into fall requires that the tomatoes are protected from killing frost. While a greenhouse offers the best indoor growing conditions, few home gardeners have the space or the funds to construct one. Instead, make a simple tomato greenhouse for just a few plants. The greenhouse covers the plants during the spring or fall and is removed and stored away until it is needed again.
Things You'll Need
- Plastic sheeting
Cut a length of 6 gauge wire for each tomato plant in the garden row. Cut the wires 16 feet long for fully grown plants in fall or 4 feet long for young plants in spring.
Bend the wires into a half-circle. Insert the ends of the wire 8 inches into the soil on either side of the tomato row, forming an arch over the plant. Place an arch between each plant in the row.
Cover the arch framework with 6mm thick clear plastic propylene. Place rocks or soil around the edges to anchor the plastic down. Do not anchor one end of the greenhouse tunnel.
Place a thermometer inside the greenhouse. Open the non-anchored end of the greenhouse when temperatures inside are over 85 degrees F and close it again when temperatures dip below 65 degrees F.
Tips & Warnings
- Use materials you have on hand. Wood, PVC pipe and other materials can be substituted for the wire.
- Heavy gauge wire is sold by the spool at home improvement and hardware stores.
- Even on cold days, the sun can heat the inside of the greenhouse dangerously high. Always keep tabs on the temperature inside and vent when needed.
- Photo Credit Tomatoes Closeup image by John Walsh from Fotolia.com
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