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High Tunnel Cold Frame Setup for Growing Vegetables and Other Crops

Are you a passionate gardener or a small-scale farmer? Investing in a greenhouse can extend your growing season and boost your crop production. While traditional greenhouses can be expensive, high-tunnel greenhouses offer an affordable and flexible solution for growing a higher volume of vegetables, fruit trees or other crops for selling at farmers markets or commercially. 

Why Choose a High-Tunnel Greenhouse?

High-tunnel greenhouses, unlike traditional ones, are easy to set up and move. They use hoops anchored directly into the ground and are covered with durable fabric, providing excellent protection for your crops without the need for permanent foundations or utilities.

ORDER NOW: Our high tunnel greenhouses are custom made and shipped directly to you in 2 to 4 weeks, depending on your location. Sizes are from 20 to 100 feet long and in widths of up to 38 feet wide. We also sell 6 mil UV and Anticondensation poly rolls, temperature sensitive self-opening vents and c-channel/wiggle wire which is ideal for securing your plastic to the frame while being removableWe also offer side vent crank systemscustom sized shade cloth and ground covering

Our Greenhouse Recommendation

Consider a High Tunnel Greenhouse in arch or round configurations. Made with a hot-dipped galvanized steel frame and either a single or double layer of poly or a light diffusion fabric. It's designed to encourage plant growth while conserving water. Sizes range from small (8x8 feet) to large (38x15 feet), with lengths up to 100 feet, offering flexibility for various gardening needs.

Round vs High Arch Shape?
For areas with high snow loads and winds, we recommend the round shape given its stability.  Round frames provide lots of width up to 38 feet and a roof up to 15 feet high. Arch shape allows up to 34 feet wide frames and 12 feet high.  A high arch configuration can collect more snow on the flat upper sections however, so we don't advise this for snow belt regions.

High Arch


What Is Right for You?
A cold frame greenhouse is perfect for extending your growing season and protecting your crops from cool temperatures and excessive rain. You can grow plants in pots or directly in the ground, making it suitable for both beginners and seasoned farmers. Plus, the cost-effectiveness makes it accessible for home gardeners and small farmers alike.

Want Something Smaller for Your Backyard?
If a high tunnel is a little over board for you, then consider a polycarbonate hobby-style greenhouse for your backyard.  Typically 6 to 8 feet wide by 8 to 12 feet long or longer with up to 8 feet at peak. These aluminum frame greenhouses have high strength polycarbonate panels ranging from a few mils thick to up to 10 mm twin wall for an R2 insulation value. Some model include self-opening vents as well as side louver windows.

Getting Started

1. Choose the Right Size: Consider your plant types, volume, and available space.
2. Select Your Location: Ensure it gets ample sunlight and is perpendicular to wind patterns for proper ventilation.
3. Prep the Soil: Use compost and mulch to enrich your soil before planting.

Growing Tips for Success

1. Choose the Right Crops: Cold frame greenhouses can support a variety of crops like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, berries, and herbs. Ensure your soil temperature is at least 55°F and provide 10 hours of sunlight daily.
2. Plant at the Right Time: Follow your local planting schedule but benefit from early or late planting by up to a month.
3. Understand Pollination: Allow natural pollinators access or use self-pollinating plants if necessary.

What Can You Grow in a Cold Frame Greenhouse?
You can grow a large variety of crops in cold frame greenhouses. When planning your growing season, remember that cold frames don't provide an additional heat source to keep your plants warm in the frigid months. Here’s a closer look at a season-by-season crop schedule for an unheated greenhouse.

Early Spring (Feb. – April)
You can use your cold frame to grow hardy early crops and cool-season root crops from February through April. Some of the vegetables to plant at this time include:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Chard
  • Cauliflower
  • Scallions
  • Radishes

You can also start growing carrots, onions, radishes, and beets from seed and eventually harvest them from the soil under your frame.

Late Spring (April – May)
As things warm up a bit, you can start growing warm-season crops in your cold frame. This includes:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Pumpkins
  • Celery
  • Melons
  • Corn
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Squash

It’s important to make sure your cold frame doesn’t become overheated in hot weather. Otherwise, you’ll end up with plants that are weak and spindly. The best way to do this is to ensure you have plenty of ventilation.

While you’ll have a lot of growing options during the late spring, it’s important not to mix warm-weather and cool-weather crops in your frame at the same time. Since they have different temperature requirements, you’ll have trouble maintaining conditions that keep them both happy.

Maintenance is Key
Maintain a regular watering schedule, weed your plants, and monitor for pests. Be vigilant about weather changes to protect your crops from unexpected frosts or heatwaves.

CLICK HERE TO Get Started Today!
Experience the benefits of a cold frame greenhouse with our high tunnel steel frame kits. Affordable and high-quality, it’s perfect for enhancing your gardening or farming journey.