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Start Early, Grow Longer: High Tunnel Greenhouses Extend Your Grow Season

The many nicknames come from the high tunnel's shape, materials, and height. Metal ribs span the structure and are enclosed with a 6-mil plastic or polyurethane sheet that heats the structure with natural sunlight.

There is no shortage of uses for the high tunnel system. From self-sufficient strawberry production in the UK, to year-round crop production in Alaska, the high tunnel system provides the ability to keep plants producing all year round in areas not known for their admirable growing conditions.

Why High Tunnel?

There are several differences between a high tunnel and a regular freestanding greenhouse. One is that high tunnels use Eastpoint, Northpoint and Nor'Easter frames that have longer ground posts, making them taller than most other options.

The height of the structures allow for easy entry. In larger gardens, the entry is expansive enough to allow for tillers and tractors to enter from either end. The loftiness also allows gardeners to comfortably enter and tend to their plants without excessive bending and crouching.

What they gain in height, they do not forfeit in durability. Most high tunnels, such as Rimol's high tunnel series, are built for heavy snow and wind loads.

The high tunnel offers are about more than just convenient dimensions. They also require little to no energy supply. They typically rely on natural sunlight to modify the inside climate, yet can be customized with relative ease to accommodate growers throughout the year.

When it is too hot, the high tunnel can cool down with gable shutters or a roll up door. If humidity levels may become an issue for your garden, an environmental control system can be installed. Every factor influencing your crop can be measured, controlled, and optimized in a high tunnel system.

High Tunnel Success

Most often known for growing vegetables in temperate regions, the high tunnel also accommodates cut flower, herb, and fruit production in places you may never expect.

The United Kingdom, for example, is not known for its sunshine-filled, fruit-producing weather. Yet the region's strawberry sales skyrocketed from 2001 to 2011. The booming market more than doubled over that period due to investment in high tunnel systems that extended crop seasons well into the winter months. So much so that the UK is now a self-sufficient strawberry producer.

Alaskan growers, such as Stephanie and Jim Gaiser, have also been able to extend their incredibly short growing seasons. They grow most of what they eat and even sell extra basil, cucumbers and, eggplant for extra income in Alaskan markets that are starved for fresh produce.

"Season extension. Start earlier. Go later. Grow things you can't grow outside," said Julie Riley, an Anchorage horticulturist with the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service. "It doesn't get any better than that."

Plants respond remarkably well when the conditions inside of a greenhouse are kept at optimal levels. Want to explore all your options and start fighting those gardenless winter-blues? Rimol has greenhouse experts waiting to help you find your perfect greenhouse setup today!