7) Roof over sweet peppers or tomatoes

Dimensions:

  • top of roof is 100 centimeters (3 ft  +  4 inch) above soil,
  • corrugated plate of 66 centimeters (2 ft  + 2 inch) wide, curved to 52.5 centimeters (1 ft  + 9 inch).

or

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Dimensions:

  • top of roof is 120 centimeters (4 ft) above soil,
  • corrugated plate of 66 centimeters (2 ft  + 2 inch) wide, curved to 52.5 centimeters (1 ft  + 9 inch).

or

Dimensions:

  • top of roof is 120 centimeters (4 ft) above soil,
  • corrugated plate of 66 centimeters (2 ft  + 2 inch) wide.

or

Dimensions:

  • top of roof is 120 centimeters (4 ft) above soil,
  • corrugated plate area: 244 centimeters (8 ft)    x    120 centimeters (4 ft),
  • wooden frame (l x w): 180 centimeters (5 ft, 11 inch)   x   60 centimeters (2 ft).

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Foreword:

  • In this tip there are descriptions of roofs over sweet pepper plants or over tomato plants.
  • Roofs over tomato plants are critical. When using no roof or a “bad” roof, tomato plants can get the plant disease Phytophthora (tomato blight); leaves, stems and fruits get brown, tomatoes start rotting.
  • In this tip most photos and text concern roofs over tomato plants.

 

  • Chapter A)# describes a flat roof of corrigated plate and plastic foil at the sides. I have this roof in my allotment garden. Nine tomato plants grow under this roof.
  • In 2017, this roof has been improved; the roof has been made wider and longer. The tomato plants do not get wet from rain, from splashing water or from added water. Plastic foil can be fixed to the sides of the roof to keep rain water out.
  • When the parts of the tomato plants stay dry, there is less risk of the plant disease Phytophthora. See chapter Phytophthora, further in this tip.
  • At cold moist mornings, there are dew drops on all plants in the garden. There are also tiny dew drops on the tomato plants under my roof, design 2017. That is the only time when there are water drops on the tomato plants under this roof. After 1 or 2 hours of sunshine, the water drops have been evaporated and the tomato plants are dry again. Or you can shake off the drops from the plants.
  • Just before rainy weather, all 4 sides of the roof are closed using plastic foil. This plastic side foil keeps the plants dry. After the “rainy time” the plastic foil at the sides is removed (or folded down) again.
  • At dry weather the sides of the roof are open, day and night. The roof is very airy then. The tomato plants can dry up fast when needed (from dew drops or spilled water drops).

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In this tip:

  • Introduction
  • Phytophthora
  • Roof required ? ?
  • A)# Flat roof of corrugated plate with plastic foil at 3 (or 4) sides
  • B)# Design 2015: round roof of bended corrugated plate
  • C)# “Old” roofs
  • D)# General info for all roofs
  • E)# Fixing pepper plants
  • F)# Fixing tomato plants
  • G) Planting position tomato plants
  • H)# Other tomato roofs in our allotment garden

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Introduction

I grow many tomatoes and sweet peppers in my allotment garden and my backyard garden.

Many tomato plants and sweet pepper plants grow under a roof. A roof prevents tomatoes and peppers from getting wet by rain.

modderspetters

Only the lower parts of the plants get wet from the rain.

geen modderspetters 1 geen modderspetters 2

You can put a layer of straw on the garden soil to reduce mud splashing.

tomaat-buitenlucht

tomaat-buitenlucht-2

Tomatoes that grow in the open air can get bursts due to much rain water falling on (or when overwatering).

Under a roof there is less chance of bursts or brown spots on tomatoes, rotting tomatoes or peppers. My experience: rain on the lower parts of the plants (flowers, fruits) causes no or only a few bad fruits.

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You can make an “open roof” using a wooden frame and a bent corrugated plate, as shown on this photo of my backyard garden. This roof is described in this tip at chapter B)#.

afdak folie 1

Or you make a roof with closed sides. In    tip 25   there is a description how you can put plastic foil over an “open roof”. See photos above. Under this roof, peppers grow and ripen faster.

Or….

 

…… or you build such a “rectangular” tomato roof, design 2017. This roof is in my allotment garden. Properties of this roof:

  • The roof has a wooden frame with vertical laths in the garden soil.
  • The top side of the frame is sloping (descending to the left side at the photo above).
  • On the frame there is plastic transparent corrugated plate. At all sides the corrugated plate is about 25 centimeters (10 inch) wider than the frame.
  • Right under the corrugated plate there is plastic foil (“dew drop foil”). Dew drops at the down side of the corrugated plate fall on this foil (and not on the tomato plants).
  • At the sides of the roof you can fix plastic foil. This foil keeps the plants dry at torrential rain.
    • There is an air opening of about 20 centimeters (8 inch) above and below this side foil. So there is air circulation with side plastic foil fixed.
  • At dry weather, the side plastic foil is removed or folded down. The roof is very airy then.
  • Around the frame and between the plants, there is a layer of straw on the garden soil. So the plants do not get wet from splashing during rain.
  • The stem of each tomato plant has been wound around a rope, against falling down. On top, this rope has been fixed to a long lath using a screw hook. This long lath has been fixed to the wooden frame. The lower end of each rope has been burried in the garden soil.
  • Next to each tomato plant there is a small plastic flower pot in the soil. Watering the plants goes via these flower pots.

  • On the 2 photos above, you see the roof and the residual (not yet harvested) tomatoes at September 15; more than 70 healthy undamaged tomatoes are still hanging at the plants.
  • Click for wide screen.

  • This photo (also September 15) shows the air opening above the side foil. The water drops on the photo are rain drops at the outer side of the foil; water drops from torrential rain. The photo shows that the top of the side foil is just high enough. The tomato plants under the roof stay dry during rain showers.
  • On the photos above you see how each rope (where a tomato plant has been wound around) has been fixed to a screw hook using a loop and elastic cord.
  • Click on the photo above for wide screen view.

(The photo above is a few years old, long before the “invention” of dew drop foil)

  • Each rope (that supports a tomato plant) goes from the garden soil upward to a screwhook and then about 20 centimeters (8 inch) free hanging down.
  • At each hook there are 2 pieces of rope visible; one piece coming from the tomato plant and one piece of rope hanging down.
  • A piece of elastic band has been tied around both pieces of rope, right under the screw hook. So the rope can’t shift anymore.
  • To release or tighten the rope around the tomato plant:
    • shift down the elastic band a few inches,
    • pull down 1 piece of rope and,
    • shift the elastic band up against the scew hook.
  • Click on the photo above for wide screen view.
  • More info at chapter F)# .

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Remark 1: plastic foil or plastic plate at the sides

At my roof I fix plastic foil at the sides. To keep my plants dry at torrential rain. But you can also fix plastic corrugated plate or plexiglass plate at the sides. That works well too. I use plastic foil because foil is much cheaper than corrugated plate or plexiglass plate. I already need plastic foil to catch falling dew drops. When I buy some more plastic foil, I have enough foil to fix at the sides of the tomato roof.

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Remark 2: dew drops on the plants

Under the roof, design 2017, tomato plants do not get wet from rain or from dew drops falling from the corrugated plate. These dew drops fall on the dew drop foil and not on the tomato plants under the roof.

  • During cold mornings, small dew water drops hang at the lower side of the corrugated plate. And a few drops lay on the dew drop foil. Due to this foil, no dew drops fall on the plants.

  • But during cold mornings, there are many tiny dew drops hanging on the tomato plants. So the tomato plants still get wet under this roof. Click on the photos for wide field view.
  • This is inevitable. Water vapor in the air condensates at low air temperature, forming tiny dew drops on the tomato plants, on (almost) all parts of the roof, and on (almost) all objects in the garden.
  • Action: shake the roof (or shake each tomato plant) to remove most of these dew drops from the tomato plants under the roof.
  • At dry weather there is no plastic foil at the sides of the roof (or the foil has been folded down). So the tomato plants can dry quickly, the dew drops evaporate.

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Remark 3: steep sloping roof

When you have a roof of steep sloping corrugated plate, dew drops hanging at the bottom side will “slide downward” and drop down at the lowest position of the plate. No dew drops will fall on the tomato plants then. And no “dew drop foil” is needed.

This seems a good solution, but (my experience);

  • The corrugated roof must be very steep sloping to have dew drops sliding downward. Slope angle must be more than 45 degrees . This makes the roof much higher. And at the high side of the roof, there is a big air opening now that needs to be closed against (torrential) rain.
  • Some water drops fall down before they have reached the lowest position of the plate. These drops still fall on the tomato plants.
  • So mounting a piece of plastic dew drop foil under the corrugated plate is the easiest method, rather cheap and the roof needs no modification.

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Phytophthora

Above, there is a description of my roof design 2017. But before 2017 I have built 2 different tomato roofs in my allotment garden. Below a short description of these constructions.

In 2015 I made this rectangular roof:

Side view/back view of the 2015 roof.

This tomato roof has a wooden frame and a transparent corrugated plate on top. The frame and the corrugated plate are approximately equally wide and equally long. The plate “fits exactly” on the top of the frame (the plate does not protrude from the frame).

The roof has plastic foil at 3 sides. This side foil is fixed to the frame during the whole gardening season. Above this plastic foil, there is a wide air opening, below this foil a narrow opening. Later (end of summer) the side foil has been “turned over” so there is a narrow air opening above the foil and a wide opening below the foil.

During heavy showers there is also plastic side foil at the 4th side of the roof.

Front view of the 2015 roof in September (late summer). Now the side foil has turned over; there is a narrow air opening above the foil and a wide opening below the foil. So less water drops will enter the roof during heavy showers.

Under the 2015 roof, a lot of healty red tomatoes grew on the plants. But there were also many tomatoes with brown spots that started rotting. This is caused by the plant disease Phythophtora (Tomato Blight). Probably the tomato plants have got wet by rain water falling trough the opening above the side foil. And by dew drops.

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To prevent rain water from entering the roof (through the opening above the side foil) and falling on the tomato plants, I changed the design and made a new roof in 2016:

Back view of the 2016 roof.

Side view/front view of the 2016 roof.

The roof of 2016 is similar to the 2015 roof. But at the 2016 roof there is no air opening on top of the plastic foil; above, the side foil reaches to the corrugated plate. The side foil is fixed to the frame during the whole gardening season. This is to prevent rain drops from entering the roof above the side foil and wetting the plants. During heavy showers there is also plastic side foil at the 4th side of the roof.

2016, 16 juli

Under the 2016 roof, something bad happened at mid July (early summer). All tomato plants under this roof were attacked by the plant disease Phytophthora. Brown spots appeared on stems, leaves and tomatoes. The attack of Phythophthora increased. Many tomatoes have rot.

In an allotment garden, Phythophthora occurs at potatoe plants and at tomato plants very often. The micro-organisms that cause this disease survive in the garden soil during winter. Each year the disease can attack again.

Tomato plants in an allotment garden can get the disease Phytophthora when leaves, stems or fruits get wet (from watering, splashing, rain or dew). And when it takes a long time before the plants have dried up.

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Cause of Phytophthora under the 2016 roof.

The tomato plants under the 2016 roof did not get wet from rain water. So there must be another cause.

volkstuin condensdruppel 1

I found out that many water drops hang at the lower side of the corrugated plate at a cold morning. These drops are no rain drops but big dew drops.

During cold nights or mornings, water vapour in the air condenses on cold objects. This causes water drops and/or a water film at the top and at the side walls of a greenhouse or a roof. Mostly at both sides of the walls and of the roof. Condensed water at the outside of the roof or against the side walls is no problem. That water evaporates or slowly flows downward and falls on the garden soil.

At a flat roof, condensed water at the underside flows to the valleys of the corrugated plate. Forming big water drops there, as shown on the photo above. More condensed water flows to the drops. The water drops get bigger and bigger and fall down.

volkstuin condensdruppel 2

Many big water drops fall on the leaves or on other parts of the tomato plants. On the photo above there is a puddle of water on the leaf of a tomato plant.

Most of the time there is little or no wind when dew drops are formed. And roof “design 2016” has plastic foil up to the corrugated plate at 3 sides. Because of these 2 factors (no wind and high plastic foil at 3 sides), there is no air blowing under the roof. So it takes a very long time before the tomato plants under this roof have dried up. This results in tomato plants with the plant disease Phytophthora.

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Info about Phytophthora (Tomato blight).

On the internet there is much info about Phytophthora, for example    this site  . On a Dutch site you can read these tips and suggestions (translated):

  • Keep the tomato plants dry using a wide roof (or an airy greenhouse).
  • Do not let the plants get wet from watering, condensed water, rain or splashing water.
  • Take care of a good ventilation under the roof. Plants dry up quickly then.

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Dew drops at other roofs

In our allotment garden there are all kinds of roofs and greenhouses with tomato plants under it. During a cold moist morning, there are dew drops (water drops) hanging at the under side of a roof. Below an overview;

                 roof                                                      hanging at the under side 

  • flat corrugated plate                                         many big dew drops
  • steep sloping corrugated plate                       few big dew drops
  • round (bend) corrugated plate                       many big dew drops
  • flat plastic foil                                                    many small dew dropss
  • steep sloping pastic foil                                    many small dew drops

 

  • Big water drops fall or slide down, small water drops evaporate (dry up).

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Roof required ? ?

In our allotment garden it is impossible to grow tomatoes in the open air (except during an extreme dry summer, like 2018).

At a normal summer, the tomato plants get wet by rain and dew. Big chance that the tomato plants get the disease Phytophthora. This results in dark spots on stems, leaves and fruits.

The photos above show 2 tomato plants between sweet pepper plants in my allotment garden on September 1 (late summer). Leaves of the tomato plants get brown and dry up and tomatoes start rotting.

This plant disease, “Phytophthora” can attack potato plants too. In an allotment garden with potatoe plants and tomato plants there is a big risk of Phytophtora. The micro-organisms that cause this disease survive in the garden soil during winter. Each year the disease can attack again.

More about Phytophthora on various internet sites.

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In a private backyard garden, you can grow good tomatoes without a roof, but:

  •  During growth, pick or cut away leaves, starting from the lower end of the stem. The stem may be 2/3 leafless (lower part) and 1/3 with leaves (upper part).
  • Later in summer remove more leaves.
  • Are there leaves with brown spots, remove those leaves immediately. Or remove the “brown parts” from the leaves.
  • It is good to pick (all) tomatoes at the end of summer (September) and to take the tomato plants out of the soil. You can ripen the tomatoes indoors. See chapter N2) of   tip 15   .
  • Tomato plants that grow in the backyard garden without a roof at early autumn (end of September, October) can get Phytophtora (brown spots). Within a few cold, rainy days, the tomato plants can alter from healty plants into ill plants.

In a private garden (backyard garden), you can put tomato plants under an open roof. And pick tomatoes until the beginning of October (early autumn). More about growing tomatoes under a roof in chapter F)# of   tip 8  .

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A)# Flat roof of corrugated plate with plastic foil at 3 (or 4) sides

In 2015 I built a simple flat roof over tomato plants.

A1) Idea (flat tomato roof)

afdak plat

In 2014, I made this roof for a collague gardner in our allotment garden. Vertical wooden laths in the soil. Cross-laths on the vertical laths. Corrugated plate on the cross-laths. The roof is in east west direction. Only one row of tomato plants under it. Sides are open. I remember that there were a lot of healty tomatoes growing under this roof, but also some brown (rot) tomatoes.

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A2) My tomato roofs

In my back yard garden:

In a private garden (backyard garden), you can make a “open narrow roof”. At this roof the frame and the corrugated plateplate are equally wide. I call it a “narrow” roof. The sides are open, there is no plastic foil at the sides. This roof is similar to the roof of my garden colleague of 2014.

The tomato plants under this roof can get wet by heavy rains or by dew drops. But in a private garden there is little risk of the plant disease Phythophtora. This roof works well in a backyard garden.

Attention: when there are leaves with brown spots visible at the tomato plants, remove the leaves immediately.

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In my allotment garden.

In an allotment garden there is big risk of Phythophtora. Making a good tomato roof in an allotment garden is difficult.

In 2015 en 2016 I made a ” closed narrow roof” in my allotment garden. The wooden frame and the corrugated top plate is similar to a roof in my back yard garden. At the allotment roof, there is plastic foil at 3 sides during the whole gardening season. During rain, there is plastic foil at the 4th side too.

In chapter Phythophtora (above) there is a description of the 2015 design and the 2016 design. Below a short description of these 2 roofs.

Design 2015

….

The roof design 2015 works rather well; a whole lot of red tomatoes but also many brown spotted tomatoes due to Phythophtora.

Cause: Plants get wet from rain drops via the opening on top of the side foil. Under the 2015 roof there is some air circulation due to the openings above and below the side foil. Water drops on the plants evaporate moderate fast. But not fast enough to prevent completely from Phythophtora.

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Design 2016:

2016, 16 juli

The roof design 2016 is very bad ; in July (early summer) plants suffer seriously from Phythophtora. All tomatoes got brown finally. The roof design 2016 is not appropiate for use in an allotment garden.

Cause: Under the 2016 roof there is little air circulation due to the side foil up to the corrugated plate. Water drops on the plants (dew drops) evaporate extreme slowly. This results in serious attack by Phythophtora.

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Learnings:

  • At a flat roof with plastic side foil;
    • plastic side foil with air openings above and below (design 2015) is better than “above closed side foil” (design 2016).
    • good air circulation under the roof is very important to prevent Phythophtora.

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Challenge; design an even better tomato roof for use in an allotment garden.

  • A good tomato roof has open sides and no side foil. Under a roof with open sides there is a good air circulation to dry tomato plants fast.
  • Fix plastic side foil to the frame only just before a shower or rainy weather. Remove the side foil after a rainy period or after a shower. There is no side foil during dry weather periods, even not during nights.
  • Make air openings above and under the plastic side foil so the roof is still very airy when side foil has been fixed.
  • Make a low slope roof of transparent corrugated plate. The roof is much bigger than the frame; the roof protrudes the frame for 20 to 30 centimeters (8 to 12 inch). So rain drops do not enter the roof via the openings above the side foil.
  • Fasten plastic foil (a few inches) under the roof, so dew drops hanging at the corrugated plate do not drop on the tomato plants.
  • Put a layer of straw under the side foil on the garden soil to prevent tomato plants from wetting by splashing rain water.
  • Put a layer of straw between the tomato plants. Put plastic flower pots in the garden soil and water the plants via these pots. This prevents tomato plants from getting wet during watering.

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A3) Flat roof design 2017 (allotment garden)

In 2017 I have built a new (“adapted”) flat roof in the allotment garden. Under this roof, the tomato plants stay dry (or tiny dew drops evaporate) and are not attacked by Phythophtora. This roof is a “open/closed” wide roof”.

This roof has also a wooden frame, but here the top laths are much longer. On these longer top laths there is a long and wide roof made of corrugated plates. So the roof of corrugated plate is much “bigger” than the frame. The roof protrudes from the frame.

Under the corrugated plates there is plastic dew foil. The roof has removable plastic foil at all sides. It has straw on the soil against water splashing. A detailed description of this roof can be found at the beginning of this tip (see Introduction).

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A4) Making a flat roof (“open narrow roof” or “open/closed wide roof”).

To make a flat roof you need wooden laths. For both designs, narrow or wide, you need wooden laths of the same cross section.

A4a) Needed:

  • Broad wooden laths of about 210 (or 240) centimeters (7 feet) long. Cross section size 22 x 50 millimeters (about 0.9 x 2 inch).
  • Narrow wooden laths of about 210 (or 240) centimeters (7 feet) long. Cross section size 22 x 32 millimeters (about 0.9 x 1.3 inch).

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A4b) Sawing

Each roof has 3 (or more) rectangular bows. One rectangular bow consists of 2 vertical legs with 1 horizontal top lath. Below there is a description of making one rectangular bow. (When making a roof with 3 rectangular bows, you need to do the sawing 3 times, of course).

For each roof you need 2 long laths with screw hooks. Description of these long laths is some further in this tip at 3).

The photo above shows the wooden frame of a broad roof. A narrow roof looks about the same; the top laths are shorter.

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1) Narrow open roof

  • Saw 1 broad lath of 210 centimeters (7 ft), cross section 22 x 50 millimetersin half. This brings you 2 pieces of 105 centimeters (3.5 ft) long.
  • These 2 pieces are used for the 2 “upper legs” (the 2 upper parts of the vertical laths) of a rectangular bow.

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  • Saw one piece of 74 centimeters (2.5 ft) from 1 broad lath of 210 centimeters (7 ft) long, cross section 22 x 50 millimeters. This is used for a horizontal top lath (cross lath) of a narrow open roof.
  • After sawing you have a lath of about 136 centimeters (4 ft  6 inch) left.
  • Saw this broad lath of about 136 centimeters (4 ft  6 inch) in half. This brings you 2 broad laths of about 68 centimeters (2 ft 3 inch) long. These laths are used for the 2 “lower legs” (the 2 lower parts of the vertical laths) of a rectangular bow.

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  • Saw one piece of 74 centimeters (2.5 ft) from 1 narrow lath, cross section 22 x 32 millimeters. Between this narrow lath and the horizontal top lath the corrugated plate is clamped later.

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  • These 6 laths (2 broad laths of 105 centimeters, 1 broad lath of 74 centimeters, 2 broad laths of 68 centimeters and 1 narrow lath of 74 centimeters) are used to make one rectangular bow. See further.

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2) Broad closed roof

  • Saw 1 broad lath of 210 centimeters (7 ft), cross section 22 x 50 millimetersin half. This brings you 2 pieces of 105 centimeters (3.5 ft) long.
  • These 2 pieces are used for the 2 “upper legs” (the 2 upper parts of the vertical laths) of a rectangular bow.

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  • Saw 2 pieces of 70 centimeters (2.5 ft) from 1 broad lath of 210 centimeters (7 ft) long, cross section 22 x 50 millimeters.
  • These laths are used for the 2 “lower legs” (the 2 lower parts of the vertical laths) of a rectangular bow.

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  • Saw a broad lath of 240 centimeters (8 ft), cross section 22 x 50 millimeters, in half. You get 2 pieces of 120 centimeters (4 ft) each.
  • One lath of 120 centimeters is used for a horizontal top lath (cross lath) of a broad roof.
  • Between  this top lath and the other lath 120 centimeters (4 ft), the corrugated plate is clamped later.

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  • These 6 laths (2 broad laths of 105 centimeters, 2 broad laths of 70 centimeters and 2 broad laths of 120 centimeters) are used to make one rectangular bow. See further.

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3) Two long laths with screw hooks

The tomato plants are supported by ropes. At the upper side, these ropes are fixed to long laths with screw hooks. See photo above.

For each roof you need 2 long laths (narrow laths) with hooks. These long laths are about 2 to 2.5 meters (6.5  to 8 ft) long. Use longer laths with hooks when you want to make a longer roof. The 3 rectangular bows and these 2 long laths are fastened together (with wood screws) at the upper side. This forms the frame. You can protrude the 2 long laths at one side of the frame and mount a gutter on it.

Below a description of making the long laths (for my roof).

  • Needed: 2 narrow laths of 210 centimeters long. Width 30 millimeters and 22 millimeters thick.

  • Use two narrow laths of 210 centimeters long.
  • Make 3 holes of about 5 millimeters (1/5 inch) diameter in each long lath of about 210 centimeters long;
    • 1 hole at a distance of 3 centimeters (1.2 inch) from one end,
    • 1 hole at a distance of 90 centimeters (3 ft) from the first hole,
    • and 1 hole at a distance of 180 centimeters (6 ft) from the first hole (this is about 90 centimeters (3 ft) from the 2nd hole).

Now there are 2 long laths, each with 3 holes. Next step is putting iron screw hooks in these laths, at each lath “at other positions”.

  • Put iron screw hooks in one long lath;
    • 1 hook near the central hole,
    • 2 hooks at a distance of 30 centimeters (1 ft) from the central hole (one hook at the left side, one hook at the right side),
    • 2 hooks at a distance of 60 centimeters (2 ft) from the central hole (one hook at the left side, one hook at the right side).
  • Put iron screw hooks in the other long lath;
    • 2 hooks at a distance of 15 centimeters (6 inch) from the central hole (one hook left, one hook right),
    • 2 hooks at a distance of 45 centimeters ( 1 ft  6 inch) from the central hole (one hook left, one hook right).

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A4c) Drilling holes in the laths that form the rectangular bows

Drill holes in the laths that form the rectangular bows. Hole diameter is 4 or 2 millimeters (1/6 or 1/12 inch). Use wood screws of 4 millimeter (1/6 inch) diameter and about 45 millimeters (1   13/16 inch) length to build the frame. When assembling a bow, each wood screw of 4 millimeters (1/6 inch) diameter is inserted into a 4 millimeter hole of one lath and turned tight in a 2 millimeter hole of another lath.

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A4d) Assembling a rectangular bow of an “open narrow roof”

A rectangular bow of an “open narrow roof” after assembling.

On top, the horiontal lath of 74 centimeters (2.5 ft) has been fixed to 2 vertical laths of 105 (3.5 ft) centimeters long. The outer distance between the vertical laths (white arrows) is about 65 centimeters (2 ft   2 inch). The “middle distance” (heart to heart distance) between the 2 vertical laths is 60 centimeters (1 ft  11 inch).

Below, a lath of about 68 centimeters (2 ft  3 inch) has been fixed to a lath of 105 centimeters (3.5 ft). About 15 to 20 centimeters (6 to 8 inch) of the laths is “double”.

The lower laths (“lower legs”) are in the garden soil and will rot within many years. The upper laths (“upper legs”) remain good during those years. The rotten laths (“lower legs”) are renewed then.

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A4e) Assembling a rectangular bow of a “closed wide roof”

Three assembled rectangular bows of a closed wide roof.

On top, the horiontal lath of 120 centimeters (4 ft) has been fixed to 2 vertical laths of 105 (3.5 ft) centimeters long. The outer distance between the vertical laths is about 65 centimeters (2 ft   2 inch). The “middle distance” (heart to heart distance) between the 2 vertical laths is 60 centimeters (1 ft  11 inch).

The long top lath is about 120 centimeters (4 ft) long. At the lower side of this lath there are screw hooks; each screw hook at about 2 centimeters (0.8 inch) from the end. The small hole in the lath is used for a tie-wrap when fixing the plate on the frame. This hole (diameter 5 millimeters,  1/5 inch) is also about 2 centimeters (0.8 inch) from the end.

Below, a lath of about 70 centimeters (2 ft  4 inch) has been fixed to a lath of 105 centimeters (3.5 ft). About 15 to 25 centimeters (6 to 10 inch) of the laths is “double”.

The lower laths (“lower legs”) are in the garden soil and will rot within many years. The upper laths (“upper legs”) remain good during those years. The rotten laths (“lower legs”) are renewed then.

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A5) Building a roof in the garden

See photo above. The wooden frame has 3 rectangular bows. On top, 2 long laths are fixed to the 3 rectangular bows.

To build the frame, you have to fasten the laths and make holes in the garden soil. These holes must be made at the right positions in the garden soil. A big job.

Below an easy procedure to build the frame in your own (all by yourself).

Attention: on many photos below, there are tie wraps and/or plastic foil on the laths. This is due to the fact that these laths were used for the frame last year and the tie wraps and foil are still on the laths.

  • Use a rake to flatten the garden soil.

  • All laths that are used to build the frame have holes for the woodscrews.
  • Use wood screws to fasten 3 upper laths (of 3 bows) to 2 long laths. This forms the “roof frame”
  • Lay the “roof frame” on the garden soil.
  • Use a rectangular object (for example a plastic tool box) to check if the “roof frame” is perpendicular (at right angles).
  • When needed push against the laths to make the “roof frame” perpendicular (at right angles).

  • Put bamboo satay skewers in the garden soil, near the future positions of the vertical laths (legs) of the frame;
    • Find the screw hole in an upper lath at a leg position.
    • Put one satay skewer in the soil near this screw hole. Put it against one side of the top lath. See red arrow at the top photo above.
    • Put another satay skewer in the soil. Put it against the other side of the top lath. See yellow arrow at the top photo above.
    • Use this procedure at all 6 screw holes of 3 top laths. You end up with 12 satay skewers in the garden soil.

  • Carefully remove the “roof frame” from the soil.
  • Now there are 12 satay skewers (6 groups of 2 skewers) in the garden soil.

  • Push a plastic tube (diameter 5 to 6 centimeters, 2 – 2.5 inch) in the soil over 2 satay skewers.
  • Push the tube about 20 centimeters (8 inch) in the soil.
  • Take the tube out of the soil.
  • Use a stick or garden trowel to tap against the side of the tube; to remove the garden earth and satay skewers from the tube. You can drop the garden earth on the garden soil or in a bucket.

  • Use the same procedure to make 6 round holes in the garden soil (near 12 satay skewers).

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  • Use an earth drill (soil auger) of about 8 centimeters (3  1/4 inch) to deepen each hole in the soil.
  • Make each hole deep enough, about 60 centimeters (2 ft) deep.
  • You can fix a clothes peg or clamp on the stem of the drill at the right position.
  • Drop the garden earth (from all round holes) into a big bucket or big tray (and not on the garden soil).
  • After drilling the 6 holes, put the bucket or tray aside. You end up with 6 holes in flat garden soil (because you did not drop the earth on the soil).

  • Put a high object on the garden soil, near the 2 middle holes.
  • You can use a folding step tool and big flower pots or something like that.

  • Put the “roof frame” on top of the high object.

  • Fasten vertical laths to the “roof frame”;
    • Put the lower part of a vertical lath (lower leg) in a hole in the soil,
    • Hold the upper part of a vertical lath (upper leg) at the right side of the top lath;
      • At each outer top lath of the roof frame, the “upper legs” must be fixed at the outside of the frame. Reason: to have the side foil fixed okay later on.
      • At the central top lath, it does not matter what side the upper leg is fixed.
    • Use a wood screw to fix the upper part of a vertical lath (upper leg) to the upper lath of the “roof frame”.

  • Fix all (6) upper legs to the “roof frame”.

  • Remove the high object;
    • Lift the “roof frame” a few inches,
    • Remove (or break down) the high object.
    • Lower the frame until the lower end of each vertical lath touches the bottom of a hole in the soil.

  • Find bricks; thick, thin, narrow and broad ones.

  • Lay bricks on the garden soil under the upper legs.
  • Use thick or thin bricks (or put extra garden earth underneath the bricks) to end up with a sloping frame.

  • Check if the frame is sloping;
    • Lay a spirit level on a long lath with hooks.
    • Check if the lath is sloping (enough). If not, change bricks or put extra garden earth underneath bricks (or remove garden earth under bricks).

  • Check if the “lowest” top lath (where a gutter can be fixed) is sloping toward the back side of the frame.

  • Use a wooden lath to fill all holes in the soil with garden earth until full. Tamp the soil in the holes.
  • Keep the bricks under the upper legs

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A5a) Fixing dew drop foil

  • Use scissors to cut 3 ribbons and 1 big piece of plastic foil.
  • Put a ribbon of plastic foil at each long top lath (on top and at the sides). Fix this foil with thumbtacks. This ribbon of plastic foil  prevents the dew drop foil from damaging by splinters or a sharp edges of the long top laths.

Very useful clamps. More info about using these clamps and elastic cord in chapter A5d.

  • Fasten the dew drop foil to the frame:
    • At the 4 outer corners, the dew drop foil has been fixed using white clamps, elastic cord and screw hooks in the long top laths.
    • The remaining dew drop foil (length about 15 centimeters, 6 inch) has been folded over the outer top laths.

    • Use scissors to cut this overhanging plastic foil shorter (when needed). Desired length; about 5 centimeters (2 inch) “outside” the top lath.
    • Do this at both outer top laths when needed.

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Remark 1:

Instead of the white clamps, you can use plastic plates, bolts and nuts to fix the foil.

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Remark 2:

  • At the centre of the roof, the plastic dew drop foil lays on top of the central top lath.
  • On this photo you see the ribbon of plastic foil under the dew drop foil.

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Remark 3:

  • When needed replace damaged elastic band by new elastic band.

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Remark 4:

Before laying on the corrugated plate, you can already cut 3 extra ribbons of plastic foil and fix them to 3 vertical laths. More info at A5d).

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A5b) Laying on corrugated plates

  • Dew drop foil has been fixed to the frame.
  • Lay transparent corrugated plates on the frame;
    • These corrugated plates lay on and are above the dew drop foil.
    • Two plates of 66 centimeters (2 ft 2 inch) wide lay overlapping next to (on) each other. Total width of the roof (corrugated plate) is 114 centimeters (3 ft 9 inch).
    • When using long corrugated plates of 244 centimeters (8 ft) long, the ends of the plates protrude the frame for about 25 centimeters (10 inch). That is okay.

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  • My plates of 183 centimeters (6 inch) are too short for this frame. So I have to do a trick.
  • Shove the plates  of 183 centimeters (6 inch) towards the low side of the frame until the plates are just on the cross lath at the high side of the frame. At the low side, the plates protrude the frame for about 25 centimeters (10 inch). See photo above.
  • Lay 2 wooden laths (cross section diameter 22 x 50 millimeters, 1 x 2 inch) of 120 centimeters (4 ft) long on the corrugated plates above 2 long cross latsh. Put tie-wraps over both laths to clamp the corrugated plates between the laths.

  • Use 2 short (cut off) pieces of corrugated plate to extend the roof.

  • Lay the 2 short pieces of corrugated plate at the high side of the frame on the 2 long corrugated plates. So rain water can flow “well” on the roof, this means from high to low.
  • Lay a wooden lath (cross section diameter 22 x 50 millimeters, 1 x 2 inch) of 120 centimeters (4 ft) long on the corrugated plates above a long cross lath. Put tie-wraps over both laths to clamp the corrugated plates between the laths. (see red/white arrow on the photo above).
  • Use 2 thin wooden laths (22 x 32 millimeters, 0.9 x 1,3 inch) of 120 centimeters (4 ft) long and tie-wraps. Clamp the lower ends of the short plates and the long plates between these thin laths (see black/white arrow on the photo above).

 

Now at all 4 sides the corrugated plates protrude the frame for about 25 to 30 centimeters (10 to 12 inch).

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A5c) Fixing a gutter

You can use a gutter to drain rain water from the roof. So less water splashing on the garden soil and less risk of water drops on the tomato plants.

Fasten the gutter at the lower side of the roof to drain rain water (into a drum). Below a description.

  • You can use a PVC gutter with end caps.

  • The gutter is fixed on the 2 long laths with screw hooks that protrude the frame.

  • Fasten the gutter to the laths;
    • Use a saw to shorten the 2 long laths with screw hooks to the right length.
    • Drill 2 small holes in the bottom of the gutter.
    • Use wood screws, plastic caps, iron rings and rubber rings to fasten the gutter to the laths.

  • Use an end cap to close the gutter at the highest point (right side of the photo above).

  • Also use an adapted end cap to make a water outlet.

  • Use a hack saw to make a V shaped notch.
  • Remove plastic flakes with a knife.
  • Fix the cap to the low end of the gutter.
  • Mark the gutter near the hole in the cap.

  • Use a hack saw to make a V-shaped notch in the gutter.
  • Remove plastic flakes with a knife.
  • Fix the cap to the low end of the gutter.

  • When needed enlarge the water outlet;
    • Remove the cap.
    • Use a hack saw to enlarge both V-shaped notches.
    • Remove plastic flakes with a knife.
    • Fix the cap to the low end of the gutter.

Roof with dew drop foil, corrugated plates and gutter (2019).

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Remark 1:

  • You can fix the gutter to the laths using nylon cord. This construction is less stable (more flexible).

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Remark 2:

  • Instead of the grey PVC gutter, you can fix a bended piece of PVC corrugated plate to the frame. I had this at my 2017 roof.

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A5d) Fastening plastic foil at the sides

You can fix transparent plastic foil at the sides of the roof. This foil keeps the plants dry at torrential rain. The side foil is fastened to the roof at cold weather or at a rainy weather forecast.

At warm dry weather, the side foil is removed or folded down. Without side foil (or when side foil is folded down) the roof is very airy. When needed, tomato plants dry up very fast; water drops or dew drops quickly evaporate.

Below there is a description of how to fix the side foil to the roof.

Use scissors to cut 3 ribbons and 1 big piece of plastic foil.

Put ribbons of plastic foil at 3 vertical laths. These vertical laths are at the rainy side of the roof. At my roof, these laths are at the southern side of the roof. Fix the ribbons of foil with thumbtacks. These ribbons of plastic foil  prevents the side foil from damaging by splinters or a sharp edge at the vertical laths.

Roof with dew drop foil, corrugated plates, gutter and plastic foil ribbons on 3 vertical laths (2019).

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The side foil can be fixed to the frame using elastic cord and these clamps (Showtec Holdon Midi Clips). The clamps can be ordered on the internet, for example   here   .  Very useful clamps.

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Thin elastic cords with hooks are for sale in a DIY shop.

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The metal hooks of the elastic cord do not fit in the hole of the clamp (Showtec Holdon Midi Clip). So you better remove these hooks. You end up with pieces of elastic cord.

Fasten one corner of the side foil near the top of 1 vertical lath;

  • At one narrow side of the foil, fold up about 4 centimeters, 1.5 inch of the foil.
  • Double foil is stronger, so it does not tear so easily.
  • Fix a clamp on the double foil near the upper corner.
  • Put a piece of elastic cord through the hole of the clamp.
  • Make a small loop in the elastic cord.
  • Fix the elastic cord to a wood screw in the vertical lath.
  • Use the same procedure to fix the side foil near the lower corner.
  • Do the same to fix the side foil near 2 corners at the other side of the roof.

  • At the central backside vertical lath, fix the foil using 2 clamps and 2 pieces of elastic cord; 1 clamp on top and 1 clamp near the bottom side.

  • You can fold a piece of plastic foil over the side foil and put a clamp on it. Less chance of tearing the foil.

On the photos above, the side foil has been fixed at 3 sides of the roof. Under and above the side foil there are air openings of about 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inch).

You can close the 4th side (frontside) using a piece of plastic foil, white plastic clamps, elastic cord and wood screws.

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A5e) Tomato plants under the roof

There are 9 tomato plants under the roof.

At each tomato plant, a rope has been wound around the plant against toppling or falling.

These ropes are fixed to the screw hooks in the lang laths. More info about this in chapter F2b) Clamping the rope near the top horizontal lath.

A plastic flower pot has been put in the garden soil next to each plant.

When watering, carefully pour water in these plastic flower pots. The plant parts over the ground level keep dry during watering.

You can put the tomato plants deep in the garden soil, with the lowest bunch (flowers or fruits) just above the garden soil. Then you can make a lower roof or have an extra bunch of flowers on top of the plants.

On this photo you see my tomato plants under the roof at August 1 (mid summer), 2017. On that day there was rain and sunshine, so all 4 sides of the roof were closed with plastic foil. At the front side, the foil has been folded down to make this photo.

  • During the last weeks, many undermost leaves have been removed from the plants.
  • At each tomato plant there are 2 or 3 leaves on top.
  • The plants look healty:
    • Green leaves, with no spots, a little curled
    • No dark spots on the leaves, stems or fruits, so no Phytophthora.
    • At the bottom side of the plants there are many ripe tomatoes.
    • The fruits that hang just above the soil, or that lay on the garden soil (on straw) ripen normally.

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A5f) Use

  • At dry, warm, sunny weather, the plastic side foil is removed or folded down, as shown on the photo above.
  • The roof is very airy then.
  • (Possible present) tiny dew drops on the plant parts can evaporate quickly; the plants dry up fast.

  • Before heavy showers (from the south) you can close 3 sides of the roof with plastic foil;
    • (Lift the side foil and) fix the foil to the frame using clamps and elastic cord.

Is there a rain forecast from other compass points or for maximal rain protection, you can also close the front side of the roof:

  • Use a big piece of plastic foil, clamps and elastic cord.
  • Now the roof is closed at all sides.

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A6) Two rows of tomato plants

You can put 2 rows of plants under the roof. Then put the tomato plants in the soil using a “triangle configuration”. Make one row of tomato plants with 30 cm (12 inch) spacing between the plants. Make another row of tomato plants, about 26 cm (10.5 inch) behind the first row, also with 30 cm (12 inch) spacing. Put each plant of the second row in the middle between 2 plants of the first row. In this way there are 2 rows of plants, all with 30 cm (12 inch) spacing.

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A6a) Rope

At each tomato plant, a rope is coiled around the stem. As a support against falling over. This works as well as putting (bamboo) sticks in the soil and fixing the tomato plant against this stick.

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A6b) Watering pot

Around each tomato plant there is a “watering pot”. A watering pot is the upper part of a plastic flower pot and it has this shape:   \       /     (sectional drawing).

So the tomato plants do not grow in a big flower pot with bottom. The plants just grow in the garden soil.

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This photo shows a watering pot, taken out of the soil. Normally the watering pot is 3 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inch) in the soil. When pouring water in it, the water remains around the plant and slowly drops into the garden soil. The watering pot on the photo has a small hole to lead the rope through. But you can also lead the rope over the edge of the watering pot. And “fix” the end of the rope under a small heap of garden earth.

Or you can put plastic flower pots in garden soil next to the tomato plants. Carefully pour water in these flower pots. The water drops in the soil.

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A7) Which side open

In our allotment garden, there are all kinds of roofs with 3 closed sides. The open side is towards east, north or south. So there is no preference compass point for the open side. Heavy rains can come from all sides.

At the 2017 design, I have decided to close all 4 sides of the roof at a rain forecast. And have all 4 sides open at dry weather.

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A8) Breaking down after use

When breaking down the roof, take the corrugated plates, the gutter and the legs from the “roof frame”.

You can fold the “roof frame” to a long, narrow object; easy to transport and easy to store.

During storage, you can keep the ribbons of plastic foil on the wooden laths (so they can be used next year).

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B)# Design 2015: round roof of bended corrugated plate

B1) The “old designs”

Below some photos and a short description of the roofs that I made before 2015.

Properties:

At the “old” roofs the corrugated plates lay on 3 horizontal laths: one top lath in the middle and 2 low laths at the outer sides.

These laths push the corrugated to an upside down V-shape ( Λ ). Later, when using the plates for a tunnel greenhouse again, the plates must be pushed into a round shape again.

The 2 low horizontal laths are fixed to cross-laths. And these cross-laths are fixed to vertical laths.

The vertical laths must be put at the right position in the garden soil. To have the screws in the horizontal laths “match” with the holes in the cross-laths.

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B2) round (arc) roof

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The construction on this photo is the new design round roof 2015. It consists of one top horizontal lath (or 2 laths one after another)  and 6 arcs.

See photos and description below.

B2a) Description of the parts

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Each vertical lath at the end of the roof has a rectangular slot at the top. The horizontal top lath is put in this slot.

Making this rectangular slot:

Make 2 saw cuts (next to each other) at the end of the vertical lath.

Use a frewsaw to saw from one saw cut to the other saw cut. Then remove the wood between the saw cuts.

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Each vertical lath at the end of the roof has also a cross lath with an arc of electricity conduit fixed to it. This arc prevents the top horizontal lath from getting out of the rectangular slot.

The cross-lath has been fixed to the vertical lath with a metal strip and screws.

Each metal strip has been made by “flatting” a metal corner brace. After flatting the length of the strip is about 17 cm (6.5 inch).

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At a long roof, there is a vertical lath in the middle too.

The vertical lath in the middle has 2 metal strips (metal corner braces) . One end of each brace has been bended. Both braces have been fixed to the vertical lath with 1 bold and 1 nut. The braces can not turn thanks to the bended ends. The top horizontal laths are fixed using screws through the holes in the braces.

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At the top of the middle vertical lath there is also a cross-lath and an arc made of electric conduit pipe.

This cross-lath has also been fixed to the vertical lath with a metal strip and screws.

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And you need 2 (or 3) extra cross laths with arcs.

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B2b) Making an arc of electric conduit pipe

Below you see photos an d a short description how to make the arcs and how to fix them to the cross-laths.

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Saw 66 cm (2 ft and 2 inch) of 5/8 inch conduit tube (when using corrugated plate of 66 cm wide).

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Saw the cross-lath at the correct length: 53 cm (1 ft + 9 inch) (when using corrugated plate of 66 cm wide).

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Drill small holes in the conduit pipe, each hole about 2 cm (4/5 inch) from the end of the tube.

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First drill two small holes in the cross-lath, each about 1 to 1.5 cm (2/5 to 3/5 inch) from the end. Then fix one end of the conduit tube on the cross-lath using a wood screw .

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Bend the conduit tube to an arc, using a big flowerpot or something like that. Then fix the other end of the conduit tube to the cross lath using a wood screw.

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At each end, saw a slanting piece from the cross-lath.

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The cross lath with an arc of conduit tube is ready for use.

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B2c) Building the roof

Below there is a description of building a long roof (with 3 vertical laths).

For building a short roof, with 2 vertical end laths, see info between parentheses (…..).

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Use a ground drill to make 3 holes in a row in the garden soil. You can fasten a clamp or clothes peg on the drill. To make all holes of the same depth.

(short roof: drill 2 holes)

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Put all vertical laths (each one with an arc) in the holes in the soil. Please note that you put the correct vertical laths (middle or end) in the holes. Put garden earth in the holes. Do not press on the soil yet.

(short roof: put 2 vertical end laths in 2 holes in the soil)

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Before fastening a horizontal top lath, put the extra arcs over it. Then fasten the top laths to the vertical laths; in a slot or to metal strips with screws.

Repeat this at both horizontal laths.

(short roof: do this at 1 horizontal top lath)

Then the extra arcs are “fixed” to the top horizontal lath(s).

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Mount the extra arcs at right positions (“equally devided”) on the top horizontal laths. Use 2 screws to clamp each extra arcs on the top lath. Shift the conduit tube until the horizontal (cross-)lath is horizontal.

Shift the conduit tube between the screws a little to have the cross-lath at a horizontal level.

Push against each vertical lath to have it straight up. Then push on the earth around the vertical laths.

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Lay one corrugated plate on the arcs. Put a piece of clothesline wire through the conduct tube of one arc. Lead the wire over the plate. Fix the wire with a loop and a knot. Put the loose end of the wire in the conduct tube.

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Fasten the first plate on 2 positions with pieces of clothesline wire (middle and right side).

(short roof: fasten at 3 positions: left, middle and right. The roof is finished)

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Then lay the second plate on the arcs. Fasten this plate at 3 positions with pieces of clothesline wire (left side, middle and right side). In the middle of the plates there is an overlap of about 10 cm (4 inch).

The roof is finished now.

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C)# “Old” roofs

I have built roofs for tomato and pepper plants  since 2010. Below short descriptions of these old roofs.

C1) Pepper roof (2011)

The frame has rather thin laths. That is okay, because pepper plants are fixed to (bamboo) sticks in the garden soil. Pepper plants do not “hang on ropes” as at tomato plants.

Properties:

The plate is fixed using clothesline wire. Pieces of hose prevent the edge of the plate from damaging.

The vertical laths must be put in the garden soil at the right positions. Otherwise the screws in the outer vertical laths do not “match” with the holes in the cross-laths.

On this frame the plate is pushed in a  Λ shape.

Each cross lath is fixed to the vertical lath with 2 screws. Not very robust; the cross-lath can “wiggle”.

Each vertical lath consists of 2 parts. The lower part is in the garden soil and can be replaced when rotten.

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C2) Tomato roof (2011)

I made this tomato roof in 2011. The upper part is made of thick laths. The tomato plants hang at cords that are fixed to the upper horizontal lath(s). This tomato frame looks like the pepper frame of C1).

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C3) Roof for (sweet) peppers or tomatoes (2012)

In 2012 I made a roof that can be used for peppers or tomatoes. A roof for tomatoes has long vertical laths and is higher. A roof for peppers has shorter vertical laths and is lower.

Overview of the new style frame.

The top horizontal laths are fixed to the vertical laths in this way: laying in a |_| -shaped notch or fixed with screws to 2 metal strips.

The cross-lath has been fixed to the vertical lath with a metal strip and screws. The outer horizontal laths are fixed to the cross-laths with chipboard screws.

This photo shows the new design roof with corrugated plate on it.

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D)# General info for all roofs

D1) Vertical laths, lower parts

Each vertical laths consists of two parts. The lower part (length about 50 cm, 1 ft  8 inch) is fixed to the upper part with 2 screws. The lower part is in the garden soil (and will rot). Each 2 years the lower part is renewed. The upper parts can be used for many years.

D2) Corrugated plates

You can use a transparent corrugated plate for 10 months a year:

From January to April (mid winter to early spring), lettuce plants grow under it (tip 13).

In April and May (early to mid spring), leek plants grow under the tunnel.

From May to October (mid spring to mid autumn), sweet peppers or tomatoes grow under a roof of corrugated plate.

The plates are sold in a DIY shop for 10 each. Life time is about 5 years. Old plates are brittle and can break easily. Then you have to use a new corrugated plate.

D3) Width of the roof

Standard (European) transparent corrugated plate has a width of about 65 cm (2 ft 1 inch). When bended in an arc, the width of the roof is about 55 cm (1 ft 10 inch).

D4) Watering

Around each (sweet) pepper plant or tomato plant, there is a “watering pot”. A “watering pot” is the upper part of a plastic flower pot and it has this shape:   \       /  .  See also chapter A3a)  . Or put a plastic flower pot in the garden soil next to the stem of each plant.

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E)# Fixing pepper plants

Each pepper plant is fixed to a (bamboo) stick using strips. Elastic band is used to support heavy branches with peppers. At tip 2 you’ll find info about the strips and the elastic band support.

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F)# Fixing tomato plants

You can put a bamboo stick in the soil next to a tomato plant. And tie up the plant to this bamboo stick using fixing strips. This bamboo stick must be thick because many heavy tomatoes will grow on the tomato plant. And you need many strips to fix the plant to the stick; the plant grows high and it has a “weak” stem.

Or you can support the tomato plant by gently winding a rope around its stem. This rope hangs vertical from the upper horizontal lath. This works well and there are no (bamboo) sticks and strips needed. Below a description and photos about the “rope” method. And how to wind the loose upper part of the stem around the rope.

F1) Turning a tomato plant round a rope (= winding a rope around its stem)

The cords (ropes)  are fixed to the top horizontal lath of the roof.

During planting, a “watering pot” is put around the plant. You can put the watering pot from below around the root baal of the plant. Or from above over the stem, while pushing the leaves against the stem of the plant. The watering pot is cut out of a of plastic flower pot. See also chapter A3b) in this tip.

The photo above shows the watering pot when it is above the soil. At use, the watering pot is about 3 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inch) in the soil. When pouring water in, the water remains around the plant and slowly drops in the garden soil.

You can make a small hole (with drill or awl) above in the watering pot. The rope can be led through this hole. But you can also lead the rope over the edge of the watering pot and “fix” the end of the rope under a small heap of garden earth.

During planting, put the “watering pot” around the stem of the plant.

Push the “watering pot” in the soil.

At first the cord hangs down “loose and free”.

Put the end of the cord through the hole in the “watering pot”.

Hold the cord in one hand just above the soil. Meanwhile turn the tomato plant around the cord. Turn slowly and have the cord loosely around the stem of the plant.  During growth the stem will get thicker and the cord should not get too taut.

Put a loose knot in the cord near the hole in the “watering pot”. The cord can always be released or tightened later, when needed. This can also be done by turning the flower pot in the soil. Then the cord will be turned around the lower part of the stem.

tomaten touw onder

Instead of knotting through the small hole, you can lay the end of the rope (cord) next to the “watering pot” and put some garden earth on it.

The tomato plant “hangs” in the rope. Due to friction between the rope and the stem, the plant will not slide down. Attention; the cord must be loose around the stem of the plant. When tight, the plant will not grow well because transport of water and nutrients is unsufficient then. And the stem can grow thicker later.

F2) Winding the upper part of the stem

During growing of the tomato plant, the “loose” upper part of the stem needs to be wound around the rope (every … days). Therefore extra rope is needed; each turn around the stem needs about 1 to 2 inch of rope length. There are 2 ways to make this  extra rope length:

F2a) Loosing the lower rope

When the rope is fixed to the upper horizontal lath with a loop or a tight knot, you can not get the extra rope length at that side. Then you have to loose the rope at the lower part of the plant. Then shift the rope (along the stem) to above. Then wind the upper part of the tomato plant around the rope. When needed shift or pull the rope down a little bit to have it tense against the stem.

This can be better….

F2b) Clamping the rope near the top horizontal lath

When the rope is clamped (instead of knotting or using a loop) above, you can “ease” the rope from above.

Put a screw hook in the upper horizontal lath and lead the rope over this screw hook. Then put a piece of thick elastic cord around the 2 pieces of rope and make a knot in the elastic cord. With this way of  fastening, the rope will not shift by itself.

When more rope is needed at the top of the plant (see 3 photo’s above):

Pull one end of rope and one end of elastic band.

This makes the knot in the elastic band go downward and extra rope length is created above the plant.

(When you pull the wrong ends the rope gets more tight; try out how to do)

Turn the upper part of the stem in the rope.

Again pull one end of rope and one end of elastic band.

This makes the knot in the elastic band go upward and the rope above the plant gets tighter.

(Again pulling the wrong ends gives the wrong direction).

.

F2c) Pieces of thick elastic band

tomaten touw elastiek 1 tomaten touw elastiek 2

You can use thick elastic cord of about 6 mm (1/4 inch). It is for sale in Dutch DIY shops; 10 meters for €7.00. Cut a piece of 15 cm (6 inch) from the cord. Then hold each end of the piece of rope in a flame for some seconds to melt the loose wires of the outer cover.

F2d) Youtube video about growing tomatoes

On the internet I found   this video    about growing tomatoes. At 4 min 30 sec you see a “flat spool with extra rope” above each tomato plant.

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G) Planting position tomato plants

Until 2015 the tomato plants grow in my home back garden. There is less risk of plant diseases (brown spots on leaves or tomatoes; phytophtora).

From 2015 on, my tomato plants also grow in the allotment garden. See chapter A)# in this tip.

The roof over the tomatoes is only about 22 inch wide. That is enough to keep the tomatoes “healthy”.  During rain and wind only the lower part of the plant gets wet. The tomatoes hang higher in the plant and will keep dry and will not rot. Below some photos of the tomato plants in my backyard garden.

Tomato roof June 14, 2011

tomaten aug

August 3, 2011

September 1, 2011.

October 4, 2011.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Tomato roof with plastic foil at 3 sides, June 1 2015. Above and under the side foil there is an air opening. Thanks to these air openings, dew drops on the plants dry up within a few hours. This results in a light to moderate attack by Phytophthora.

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H)# Other tomato roofs in our allotment garden

In our allotment garden, many tomato roofs have been built. Below some roofs.

.

H1) Flat roof, open sides

afdak plat

afdak tuin 13

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H2) Pointed or arc shape roof, open sides

afdak tuin 3

afdak tuin 11

afdak tuin 18

afdak tuin 23

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H3) Flat or sloping roof, closed side(s)

afdak tuin 5

afdak tuin 54

afdak tuin 7

afdak tuin 14

afdak tuin 14c

afdak tuin 15

afdak tuin 19 afdak tuin 20 afdak tuin 21 afdak tuin 22

afdak tuin 24

afdak tuin 25

afdak tuin 26

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 H4) Pointed or arc shape roof, closed side(s)

afdak tuin 30

afdak tuin 9

afdak tuin 10

afdak tuin 4

afdak tuin 16

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H5) Low hanging roof

afdak tuin 12

At this roof the plastic foil has not been fastened tight.  

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This entry was posted in pepper roof, roof, sweet peppers, tomato roof, tomatoes. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to 7) Roof over sweet peppers or tomatoes

  1. Efrat says:

    Great tips and pictures.Very helpfull

  2. Pingback: 4) Insects and diseases of plants | sjefgardentips

  3. Pingback: 8) Growing tomatoes | sjefgardentips

  4. Mark says:

    Wonderful and very useful information on tomato/pepper covers.
    What do you think is the best height for a tomato roof?

    • Hello Mark,
      Thank you for the compliment.
      Each tomato roof is about 1 meter high. That is high enough to grow 3 or 4 clusters of flowers per plant.
      In our climate all flowers of 3 or 4 clusters will “transform” into big, ripe fruits.
      At higher plants with more than 4 clusters of flowers, the last formed top flowers will not transform into big fruits anymore, at the end of the growing season.

      What about the flat tomato roof in my allotment garden; the improved design with drip catcher foil will be built and published before the end of May.
      Greets, Sjef

      • Mark says:

        Thanks for the information, Sjef. I am building a simple cover for our tomatos here in Virginia to help control the tomato blight we often see, and will use some of your ideas.

      • Hi Mark,
        Good luck with building the roof and growing tomatoes.
        Sjef

  5. Thomas says:

    Very inspiring page, Sjef, thank you very much. 2 questions:

    1. Do you move your tomato bed each year to delay the onslaught of blight? I read in several books that that should be done now after phytophthora has become a real pain in recent decades, in Europe.

    2. Would it make sense to mount the corrugated sheets in a way so that water can run down the corrugations? Inside and out? Rain and dew?

    Cheers, Thomas

    • Hello Thomas,
      Thanks for your reaction and contribution. These are my answers;
      1. Yes, I put my tomato plants at another place in the garden each year. This is to overcome exhaustion of nutrients in the garden soil. And to minimize the risk of blight. Although I think that Phytophthora “spores” can move from another part of my or my neighbours garden to my tomato plants.
      2. When the corrugated plate is mounted very steep, about 60 degrees or more, most water drops run down the corrugations, inside and outside. At low slopes, water drops remain at their positions under the corrugations. I have tested this myself.
      At a construction with steep corrugated plates, / or /\, there are more big openings where rain drops can pass and wet the tomato plants. These openings need to be closed or minimized. So extra foil or plates needed. The construction (the frame) is higher.
      That’s why I use a cheap piece of plastic foil under a flat roof to catch the dew drops.

      greetings, Sjef

      • Thomas says:

        I was thinking of a slanted roof, not A-shaped. Say most of the rain comes from the West and the tomato bed stretches from North to South. I was thinking of a roof lower in the West (maybe with a gutter to collect the rainwater) and higher at its eastern edge. Then mount the corrugated stuff so that water can run into the gutter. Drops on the underside of the sheets can run down, too, until they hit one of the laths, where they will be sucked into the wood. A slant of 10 to 15 degrees should be sufficient (not steep at all). You can buy rather cheap rolls of polyester material of 5 metres or so in length and 1, 1.5 or 2 metres across.

        Cheers, Thomas

      • Hi Thomas,
        Thanks. Some colleague gardners in our allotment have a construction similar to your proposal.
        They have a slanted roof of plastic plate on (many) wooden laths. Sides of the greenhouse are open or closed with plastic foil or corrugated plate.
        At cold mornings, there are dew water drops hanging under the roof. Some water drops flow to the wooden laths, some drops stay at their place or fall down on the plants.

        Greetings, Sjef

  6. Pingback: Welcome | sjefgardentips

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