This instructable will show you how to make a a simple hoop tunnel for protecting and nurturing your winter crop.
It uses inexpensive materials and can be made in a few minutes.
I measured the inside temperatures during the day and they reached tropical temperatures of 30º roughly - 10º over normal. Everything seems to be growing twice as fast as well. And bugs just seem to be confused and cooked inside.
They're great for balconies to protect your plants from dust and pollution.
Here's how to snap up one in no time at all.
Step 1: What You'll Need
Long wooden sticks or bamboo stakes (around $2)
Clear and opaque plastic
PVC pool tubes (floppy kind is best, around $3)
You could make several 4 metre square tunnels out of a complete plastic tablecloth roll.
Step 2: Choose a Tunnel Shape
Decide how many plants will need winter protection.
Push the bamboo stakes into the soil around 20cm deep.
This will be stable enough to anchor the stakes during any windy days.
Use a branch lopper to trim the pvc and stakes to the preferred height.
You could use the stakes as a trellis at this stage if you like.
Step 3: Cover With Plastic
Place edge pieces side by side.
Press half of duct tape then fold over both plastic edges.
After you're happy with the length of your plastic cover, place your plants inside and cover.
Peg plastic around stakes tightly. It's unlikely to blow away now.
To raise the temperature even higher, cover with clear plastic first before using the opaque plastic.
Remember to leave an opening to allow air to flow through.
I noticed though that seedlings tended to be spindly and tall due to less intense direct light reaching them. At times its a good idea to let a breeze in by lifting a side open - which also helps plants to bloom faster.
Recently I discovered the benefits of using rockdust - volcanic rock on my plants. A couple living in the harsh marshlands of Perthshire in Scotland led a scientific funded test on how using volcanic rock dust produces nutritious, pest and drought resistant giant vegetables and fruit.
A supplier told me add a bit of potash for better results and it goes by the name of "crusher dust" in Australia or "basalt rock dust" or 'blue metal dust". It is recommended by the Gardening Australia team for growing plants all year round. What's great is you get 60 plus more vitamins that NPK fertilisers.
It contains a lot of sand though, which may need separating. Crusher dust also has a high pH. Since it is too alkaline or "sweet" for growing most plants, you may need to add to compost then later add to your plants.