I probably neglected to mention that when I came home from a week’s vacation in August I found that something had eaten all the seedlings I had started for the fall. Romaine lettuces, cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards. Everything chewed down to the nub. I assume it was birds. I had left the seed trays out front where my wife had been watering them.
Anyway, the sudden demise of my fall seedlings put me in a funk that lasted for at least two months. I didn’t do much in the garden. Didn’t plant anything. Just recently I started the usual fall cleanup (late) and the new compost pile. I just assumed we wouldn’t be planting anything till spring. But then I started a re-read of Eliot Coleman’s Four-Season Harvest and experienced a jolt of inspiration when he described a plastic tunnel design he’d come across while traveling in France.
The genius of this French tunnel is the edges aren’t buried under the soil in the usual manner, which makes getting into the tunnel very awkward if you need to plant or harvest things. Instead, the plastic is cut at the soil line and held down with a criss-crossing pattern of string over the hoops. Getting inside to plant or harvest is a breeze. You just lift up the plastic and tuck it under the string.
I had the plastic in the garage. I bought some 1/2-inch PVC tubing at the hardware store and planted the hoops. Then I drilled holes and installed these eyelets for the string. Following the illustration in Coleman’s book, it still took me a while to figure out the pattern of the string. It’s like lacing your shoes–a little.