Prior to 2015, all our produce was grown in our main field and smaller gardens. We relied on hand weeding and heavy mulching. Still do. Over the winter months, we allowed the mulch to compost down. Each spring we tilled it back into the rows.
During the fall of 2015, we erected a 12′ x 40′ high tunnel over an existing crop. That year, the high tunnel allowed us to extend the growing season by nearly a month. Considering how long season most pepper plants are, this allowed productivity to benefit greatly.
During the spring of 2016, the high tunnel also allowed us to start earlier. Between the head start and the extension of growing time in the fall, we think the first high tunnel was well worth both the expense and the effort. But the high tunnel has an added benefit,one beyond extending the season and giving us an early start the next spring. Believe it or not, the high tunnel is helping tremendously with weed control.
What we have discovered is that by properly spacing plants, a canopy forms which prevents sunlight from reaching the soil. Once the pepper plants are well established, the canopy prevents weeds from taking hold after they germinate.
Beneath that canopy, a tunnel forms. This allows a person to sit and scoot down the rows to harvest peppers. This is perfect for a man who has trouble with his feet and legs.