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).
  • (one can put plastic side foil on this roof, see tip 25).

or

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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News about growing tomatoes in the open air (no roof)

Many tomato species suffer from the plant disease Tomato Blight (Phytophthora). Growing tomatoes under a roof reduces the attack of Tomato Blight. There are tomato species that do not suffer (or just a little) from this plant disease and can grow in the open air. More info in tip    8) Growing tomatoes    . 

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Foreword (at this tip)

  • In this tip roofs over sweet pepper plants or tomato plants are described.
  • Most photos and text are about tomato roofs.
  • Roofs over tomato plants are critical. Under a “bad” roof (or no roof) tomato plants can still get Tomato Blight (“Phytophthora”).
  • Chapter A)# describes a flat roof of corrugated plate in my allotment garden.
  • It is a frame with a long and broad roof of corrugated plate.
  • Plastic foil under this corrugated plate catches dew drops from the roof.
  • At cold moist weather, there are tiny dew drops on the tomato plants. These drops have been evaporated within one hour of sunshine. Or shake the drops from the plants.
  • Plastic foil can be fixed at all sides of the roof against (torrential) rain.
  • At dry weather the sides of the roof are open, by day and night. The roof is very airy then and tomato plants can dry up fast when needed.
  • There is straw on the garden soil against splashing wet.

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In this tip:

  • Introduction
  • Tomato Blight
  • 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)# Other tomato roofs in our allotment garden

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Introduction

I grow many tomatoes and sweet peppers in my allotment garden, in a school garden and in my backyard garden. Many tomato plants grow under a roof. This prevents tomatoes from getting wet by rain.

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

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

Tomatoes that grow in the open air can get bursts due to much rain water falling on or when over watering. Under a roof there is less chance of “bad” tomatoes or peppers.

You can make a roof of bent corrugated plate on a wood frame. This roof is described in chapter B#.

You can make this type of roof with closed sides. In    tip 25   is described how to put plastic foil on. Under this roof, peppers grow faster and ripen faster.

Or…..

…… or build a broad flat tomato roof. Properties:

  • The roof has a wooden frame with vertical laths in the garden soil.
  • Each vertical lath has 2 parts screwed together; 1 part above the soil and 1 part in the soil. The part in the soil will rot and is replaced when needed.
  • The top side of the frame is a little sloping.
  • At all sides the transparent corrugated plate is 30 centimeters (12 inch) wider than the wooden frame.
  • Under the corrugated plate there is plastic foil (dew drop foil). Dew drops at the down side of the plate fall on this foil, so not on the tomato plants. 
  • At the sides of the roof plastic foil can be fastened against torrential rain:
    • There are air openings of 20 centimeters (8 inch) above and below this foil. In this way the roof with side foil attached is still very airy.
  • At dry weather, the side foil is removed or folded down.
  • There is straw on the soil; plants are not splashed wet during rain or watering.
  • The stem of each tomato plant has been wound around a rope, against falling down.
  • On top this rope is over a screw hook. The lower end is buried in the soil.
  • Watering the plants is through small plastic flower pots in the soil.

  • Half September (late summer); more than 70 healthy undamaged tomatoes still hanging on the plants.

  • Side foil with air opening (above) and rain drops at the outer side of the foil.

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Remark 1: Plant support, watering, vertical laths, planting distance

Support sweet pepper plants and tomato plants (against falling over or growing slanting);

strip vast 2

strip vast 1

Put a (bamboo) stick in the soil, next to the plant. Fasten the plant to the stick using this type of strips.

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Under a roof you can string up each plant using a rope. On top of the rope there is a loop, elastic cord and a screw eye in the frame. At the bottom the rope is “buried” in the soil.

(this photo has been made long before the invention of dew drop foil)

  • Use “standard sisal packing rope”.
  • The rope goes up, over a screw hook and then 20 centimeters (8 inch) hanging loose (down).
  • At each hook there are 2 pieces of rope; 1 coming from the plant and 1 hanging loose.
  • Tie up a piece of elastic cord round these 2 pieces of rope (just below the hook). This loop prevents the rope from sliding or shifting.
  • At the bottom, the rope is “buried” in the garden soil.
  • To loosen or tighten the rope around the stem of the tomato plant;
    • slide down the loop a few centimeters (1 to 2 inch),
    • pull one side of the rope down (the “loose hanging” or the “one towards the plant).
    • slide up the loop until just under the hook.

You can buy elastic cord (of 6 millimeters (1/4 inch) diameter) in a construction market shop; 10 meters for about € 7.00. Cut pieces of 15 centimeters (6 inch) cord. Melt the loose threads together above the flame of a match or a candle.

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afdak 1 aug 2017a

  • Put an empty plastic flower pot in the soil next to each plant to add water (yellow black arrow).

  • Or put a watering pot (bottomless plastic flower pot) around the plant in the soil.

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  • Each vertical lath has 2 parts, fixed with wood screws. The lower part is in the soil and is renewed when rotten.

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  • Distance between tomato plants;
    • Under a narrow curved roof; 1 row of plants, spacing 30 centimeters (12 inch).
    • Under a wide roof there are 2 rows in triangular positions;
      • 1 row of plants, spacing 30 centimeters (12 inch).
      • 26 centimeters (10 inch) behind it there is another row, spacing 30 centimeters (12 inch), each plant midway between 2 plants of the other row.

And:

  • You can put tomato plants deeper in the garden soil, see tip 8, chapter E)#.  The roof can be lower then or you can grow 1 more flower cluster on top.

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Remark 2: plastic foil or plastic plate at the sides

At this roof there is plastic foil at the sides during torrential rain. Instead of foil, you can use plastic corrugated plate or perspex plate at the sides. That works well too.

I use plastic foil because:

  • Foil is much cheaper than corrugated plate or perspex plate.
  • Plastic side foil withstands well; only a short usage time (tens of hours).
  • Plastic foil is needed to catch dew drops. Buy more plastic foil for the sides.
  • Folded plastic foil needs little storage room.

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Remark 3: dew drops on the plants

There is corrugated plate, dew drop foil and side foil to keep the plants dry.

During cold mornings, small dew water drops hang at the lower side of the corrugated plate. These drops fall on the dew drop foil and not on the plants. That is okay, but …….

  • ……… during cold mornings, there are also many tiny dew drops hanging on the tomato plants. So the tomato plants still get wet.
  • This is inevitable; during cold weather water vapor in the air condensates and forms tiny dew drops on the tomato plants (and on all other cold objects).
  • Action: shake the roof (or each tomato plant) to remove dew drops from the plants.
  • Or let the drops evaporate in the sun (while there is no plastic foil at the sides of the roof).

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Remark 4: steep sloping roof

Under a steep sloping roof of corrugated plate, hanging dew drops will “slide downward” and fall off the plate. So no “dew drop foil” is needed.

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

  • Dew drops only slide downward when the roof is very steep slowing. Such a roof has a big opening at the high end of the corrugated plate. That opening must be closed against torrential rain.
  • Some drops fall down “half way” the sloping roof and still drop on tomato plants.
  • The simplest solution is mounting plastic foil under the existing roof of corrugated plate.

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Tomato Blight

Under my “old design” roofs, tomato plants got Tomato Blight (brown leaves, brown stems, rotten tomatoes). Below some info about these constructions.

Construction 1

A wooden frame and an exactly fitting transparent corrugated plate on top. The roof has plastic foil at 3 sides all time. During heavy showers there is also plastic foil at the 4th side. Above and below the side foil there are air openings.

Harvest: 100 fruits (75 healthy tomatoes and 25 tomatoes with brown spots or rot).

The plants got wet by dew drops and driving rain through the top air openings. Thereafter the plants dried very slowly, so got Tomato Blight.

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Construction 2

tomaten 2016, 16 juli

A wooden frame and an exactly fitting transparent corrugated plate on top. The roof has plastic foil at 3 sides all time. During heavy showers there is also plastic foil at the 4th side. There are no air openings above the side foil. Below the side foil there are air openings.

The plants had many brown leaves, brown stems and many rot tomatoes.

The plants got wet by dew drops. Thereafter the plants dried even much slower (there is no air flow under the roof). So much more Tomato Blight attack.

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Cause of Tomato Blight under construction 2.

The tomato plants under construction 2 roof did not get wet from rain drops.

But they got wet by big dew drops hanging at the lower side of the corrugated plate.

Dew drops hang under the “valleys” of the corrugated plate. The water drops get bigger and bigger and fall down.

Dew drops fall on stems, leaves or fruits of tomato plants. See the puddle on a tomato leave (red circle).

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Info about Tomato Blight

In an allotment garden Blight often appears on potato plants and on tomato plants. Micro organisms causing this disease overwinter in the garden soil. Each year the disease Blight can return.

Tomato plants can get Tomato Blight when leaves, stems or fruits get wet and it takes a long time before the plants have dried up again.

Much info on     this site  .

On a Dutch site you find these tips (translated):

  • Keep the plants dry under a wide roof (or airy greenhouse).
  • Don’t let water (from watering, rain, dew or splashing) get on the plants.
  • Ensure good ventilation under the roof. Plants dry up quickly then.

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Roof required?

In our allotment garden it is impossible to grow tomatoes in the open air. During a “normal” summer, tomato plants in the open air get moist from rain and dew. 

“Blight proof” tomato species show healthy tomato plants with good, cool healthy tomatoes hanging on (see tip 8).

“Normal” tomato species often get Tomato Blight.

Two “normal” tomato plants between sweet pepper plants in my allotment garden. Leaves of the tomato plants got brown and dried up and tomatoes are rotting.

More about Tomato Blight at various sites on the internet.

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Leave the roof in place

For tomato plants crop rotation is advisable. Plant them each year at another place in your garden. This minimizes plant diseases and/or depletion of the soil.

When you don’t move the roof, put the plants in big flower pots (filled with fresh new garden earth). Bury the flower pots with plants in the garden soil under the roof. Replace the garden earth in the flower pots each year.

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Backyard garden without a roof

In a private backyard garden, you can grow good “normal” tomatoes without a roof. Pay attention to following;

  • During growth, pick or cut away leaves. Start from the lower end of the stem. The tomatoes get more sunlight and ripen faster.
  • The less leaves on the tomato plant, the less chance of brown spots or brown leaves.
  • Immediately remove brown leaves or brown spotted parts of leaves.
  • Continue removing leaves. The plant may be leafless in September (end of summer).
  • Pick all tomatoes at the end of summer (September). You can ripen the tomatoes indoors or under a roof. See chapter N2) of   tip 15   .
  • After September (early autumn), tomato plants growing in the backyard garden without a roof can get Tomato Blight. Within a few days, tomato plants can alter from healthy plants into ill plants.

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Backyard garden with an open roof

When you have tomato plants in a back yard garden under an open roof, remove leaves during growth too. You can keep the tomatoes on the plants until October (early autumn). More info in  chapter F)# of   tip 8  .

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A)# Flat roof of corrugated plate

A1) Introduction

Below info about flat tomato roofs. Descriptions and photos about making and putting down the roof. Two types of roofs; “narrow and open”  or   “broad and open/close”.

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A2) Narrow open roof

In my backyard garden I built this narrow open roof. The frame and the corrugated plate are equally wide. The sides are open. The plants under this roof get moist from driving rain and/or dew drops.

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A3) Broad open/closed roof

In my allotment garden I built this broad open/close roof. A wooden frame with long horizontal laths on top. On these laths are there are broad long transparent corrugated plates. This roof protrudes 25 to 30 centimeters (10 to 12 inch) outside the frame. The roof has dew drop foil and side foil.

The plants under this roof don’t get wet from driving rain but from dew drops. For an extensive description, see “Introduction” in this tip.

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A4) Making a flat 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 centimeters (7 feet) long. Cross section size 22 x 50 millimeters (about 0.9 x 2 inch).
  • Broad wooden laths of about 240 centimeters (8 feet) long. Cross section size 22 x 50 millimeters (about 0.9 x 2 inch).
  • Narrow wooden laths of about 210 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 with corrugated plate on. One rectangular bow consists of 2 vertical legs with 1 top lath. Each vertical lath consists of 2 laths (parts) screwed together; 1 lath above the soil and 1 lath in the soil. The (3) rectangular bows are connected to each other with 2 long “narrow” laths (with screw hooks).

On the photo above there is a broad roof. A narrow roof has shorter top laths.

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A flat roof has 3 (or more) rectangular bows. A description of making 1 rectangular bow is below.

1) Narrow roof:

  • Saw 1 broad lath of 210 centimeters (7 ft), in half  –> 2 pieces of 105 centimeters (3.5 ft) long.
  • These 2 pieces get 2 “upper parts” of 2 vertical laths.

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  • Saw one piece of 74 centimeters (2.5 ft) from 1 broad lath of 210 centimeters (7 ft) long. This gets the top lath.
  • Saw the rest of this broad lath (136 centimeters, 4.5 ft) in half  –> 2 pieces of 68 centimeters (2 ft 3 inch) long.
  • These 2 pieces get the 2 “lower parts” of 2 vertical laths.

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  • Saw one piece of 74 centimeters (2.5 ft) from 1 narrow lath of 210 centimeters (7 ft) long. This gets a “clamping lath”.
  • Later on a corrugated plate is clamped between a top lath and a clamping lath.

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2) Broad roof

  • Saw 1 broad lath of 210 centimeters (7 ft), in half  –> 2 pieces of 105 centimeters (3.5 ft) long.
  • These 2 pieces get 2 “upper parts” of 2 vertical laths.

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  • Saw two pieces of 68 centimeters (2.25 ft) from 1 broad lath of 210 centimeters (7 ft) long.
  • These 2 pieces get the 2 “lower parts” of 2 vertical laths.

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  • Saw 1 broad lath of 240 centimeters (8 ft), in half  –> 2 pieces of 120 centimeters (4 ft) long.
  • These 2 pieces get the top lath and a clamping lath.
  • Later on a corrugated plate is clamped between a top lath and a clamping lath.

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3) Making two long laths with screw hooks

The (3) rectangular bows are connected using 2 long narrow laths with screw hooks. The supporting ropes of the tomato plants are fixed to these screw hooks. You can have these laths protruding the wooden frame to fix a gutter on later.

Below a description of making the 2 long laths with hooks.

Needed:

  • Narrow wooden laths, 210 centimeters (7 inch) long. Cross section size 22 x 32 centimeters (0.9 x 1.3 inch).
  • Screw hooks.

  • Use two narrow laths of about 210 centimeters long.
  • In each lath, drill 3 holes, diameter 4 millimeters (1/6 inch);
    • 1 hole about 3 centimeters (1  1/5 inch) from one end,
    • 1 hole about 90 centimeters (3 ft) from that first hole,
    • 1 hole about 180 centimeters (6 ft) from that first hole.
  • Then put iron screw hooks in these laths, at each lath “at other positions”. Reason: the tomato plants are in the soil in “triangle position”.
  • In 1 long lath put iron screw hooks in;
    • 1 hook near the central hole,
    • 1 hook at 30 centimeters (1 ft) left from the center hole,
    • 1 hook at 60 centimeters (2 ft) left from the center hole,
    • 1 hook at 30 centimeters (1 ft) right from the center hole,
    • 1 hook at 60 centimeters (2 ft) right from the center hole.
  • At the other long lath put iron screw hooks here;
    • 2 hooks, each hook at 15 centimeters (6 inch) from the center hole (one hook to the left of this hole, one hook to the right of this hole).
    • 2 hooks, each hook at 45 centimeters (1 ft  6 inch) from the center hole (one hook to the left of this hole, one hook to the right of this hole).
    • 1 hook at 15 centimeters (6 inch) left from the center hole,
    • 1 hook at 45 centimeters (1 ft  6 inch) left from the center hole,
    • 1 hook at 15 centimeters (6 inch) right from the center hole,
    • 1 hook at 45 centimeters (1 ft  6 inch) right from the center hole.
  • .

A4c) Drilling holes in the laths (rectangular bows)

During assembling a rectangular bow, small holes are made in the laths using a wood drill. Later on, some holes are drilled bigger to have wood screws fitting well. See descriptions below.

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A4d) Assembling a rectangular bow (for a narrow roof)

At each vertical lath fix the “lower part” to the “upper part”. See photo above;

  • Put the lower part next to the upper part, with 20 centimeters (8 inch) “double” (overlap).
  • Drill holes of 2 millimeters (1/12 inch) through both laths.
  • At the upper part, drill the holes bigger to 4 millimeters (1/6 inch).
  • Put wood screws of 4 millimeters (1/6 inch) in the holes of the upper part.
  • Tighten these screws in the lower part (in the small holes).
  • Do these steps at both vertical laths.

Use the same procedure of drilling and tightening wood screws to fix the upper lath to 2 vertical laths. The outer distance between the vertical laths is about 65 centimeters (2 ft   2 inch). See white arrows. Put colored pushpins (thumbtacks) in the laths as marking. Then unscrew the horizontal lath and vertical laths again.

Repeat these steps to make all (3) rectangular bows.

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A4e) Assembling a rectangular bow (for a broad roof)

Fix the “lower part” to the “upper part” of a vertical lath (as described at the beginning of chapter A4d). Do the same at all (3) vertical laths.

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plat afdak 2017 (28)a

plat afdak 2017 (26)a

Screw the 2 vertical laths to a top lath of 120 centimeters (4 ft) long. The outer distance between the vertical laths is about 65 centimeters (2 ft   2 inch), see black/white arrows on the middle photo.

  • Near each end of a top lath do as follows;
    • drill a hole of 5 millimeters (1/5 inch) in the lath, about 2 centimeters (0.8 inch) from the end (orange/white arrow). This hole is for a tie-wrap.
    • Turn a screw hook at the lower side of the lath (green/white arrow). This hook is for fixing dew drop foil.

Put colored pushpins (thumbtacks) in the laths as marking. Then unscrew the horizontal lath and vertical laths again.

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A4f) Fastening long laths with hooks to upper laths; “building the roof frame”

First build the roof frame of the roof (photo above). The roof frame is the upper part of the wooden frame. On the wooden frame it consists of 2 long laths (with screw hooks down) and (3) top laths on top.

Build the roof frame “upside down” on the soil, that’s easiest;

  • Lay (3) upper laths on the garden soil (with screw holes for long laths upward). Lay the upper laths parellel with about 90 centimeters (3 ft) distance between them.
  • Lay 1 long lath (with screw hooks up) on the (3) upper laths,
  • Fasten this long lath to all (3) upper laths using wood screws; distance between long lath (mid) and center of each top lath is about 13 centimeters (5 inch).
  • Lay the other long lath (with screw hooks up) on the (3) upper laths,
  • Fasten this long lath to all 3 upper laths using wood screws; distance between long lath (mid) and center of top lath is about 13 centimeters (5 inch). Distance between 2 long laths is 26 centimeters (10 inch).
  • Now the roof frame is screwed together, but “upside down” on the soil.

The roof frame can be folded up and is easily transportable.

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A5) Building the roof in the garden (by 1 person)

This is how the wooden frame must be built up in the garden.

Attention: on many photos below, there are tie wraps and/or plastic foil on the laths. These were used on the frame last year and are still on the laths.

  • Use a rake to flatten the garden soil.

  • Lay the roof frame “correct” on the garden soil. The roof frame has its screw hooks in the soil, the long laths down and the (3) top laths on top. See photo above.
  • Use a rectangular object ( e.g. blue toolbox) to check if the roof frame is perpendicular (has right angles).
  • When needed push the “roof frame” perpendicular.

  • Put sticks (e.g. bamboo satay skewers) in the garden soil at the positions of the vertical laths of the roof. Act as follows:
    • Find the screw hole in an upper lath (at a vertical lath position).
    • Put one stick in the soil near this screw hole, tight against the side of the top lath (the red arrow points towards this screw hole).
    • Put another stick in the soil against the other side of the top lath (yellow arrow).
    • Use this procedure at all (6) screw holes of all (3) top laths. You end up with 12 sticks in the garden soil.

  • Carefully lift the roof frame from the soil and put it somewhere else in the garden.
  • Now all (12) sticks are in the garden soil.

  • Put a plastic tube (diameter about 6 centimeters (2.4  inch)) over 2 sticks.
  • Push this tube in the garden soil (depth about 20 centimeters, 8 inch) and take it out of the soil.
  • Tap against the tube to remove garden earth and sticks.

  • Repeat this procedure at each pair of sticks.

  • Use an earth drill (soil auger) of about 8 centimeters (3  1/4 inch) diameter.
  • Make each hole deeper and wider. Depth about 60 centimeters (2 ft).
    • Tip: put a clamp or clothes peg on the stem of the drill at this depth.

  • Put the drilled garden earth in a (big) bucket, not on the soil. In this way the garden soil remains flat.

  • Put a high object (e.g. step ladder, big flower pots) near the 2 central holes in the soil.

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

  • Fasten a vertical lath to the roof frame:
    • Put the vertical lath (with the lower part down) in a hole in the soil.
    • Screw the upper part of this vertical lath at the right side of the top lath;
      • At an outer top lath at the outside of the frame (to have the side foil fixed okay later).
      • At the central top lath, it does not matter at which side.

  • Use the same procedure to fasten all (6) vertical laths to the roof frame.

  • Remove the high object;
    • Lift the frame
    • Shove the high object aside (or break down).
    • Lower the frame until the vertical laths are on the bottom of the holes.

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

  • Lay bricks on the garden soil to make the roof sloping;
    • Lay bricks under the upper parts of the vertical laths.
    • Use thick or thin bricks
    • And/or remove garden earth under the brick or put more garden earth under the brick.

  • Check if the frame is sloping;
    • Check with the naked eye or lay a spirit level on a long horizontal lath with screw hooks.
    • If not, change bricks and/or put more or less garden earth underneath the bricks.

  • Check if the “lowest” top lath is sloping (fur a gutter and a bucket);
    • Check with the naked eye or lay a spirit level on a long horizontal lath with screw hooks.
    • If not, change bricks and/or put more or less garden earth underneath the bricks.

  • Fill all holes in the soil with garden earth until full. Tamp the soil in the holes (with a wooden lath). When needed, fill all holes with more earth, until full.
  • Keep the bricks under the upper legs.

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A5a) Fixing dew drop foil (broad roof)

  • Use scissors to cut 3 ribbons of plastic foil (size about 110 x 12 centimeters, 3 ft  8 inch  x  5 inch).
  • And to cut 1 big piece of plastic foil (size about 230 x 140 centimeters, 7.5 inch  x 4 ft  8 inch).
  • Fold each ribbon over a top lath (as a “n” shape) and fix the ribbon to the side of the lath using thumbtacks.
  • This foil ribbon prevents dew drop foil from damaging by splinters or sharp edges.

  • The dew drop foil can be fixed to the frame using handy clips like Showtec Holdon Midi Clip (for sale on the internet, for example     here    ).

  • And using elastic cords, thickness 4 millimeters. From a hardware store.

  • The metal hooks don’t fit in the white clamps. Remove the hooks and rings.

  • Fasten the dew drop foil to the frame:
    • Lay the foil on the frame.

  • In the middle of the roof the dew drop foil is on (over) the top lath.

  • Near 1 corner of the roof fold a piece of dew drop foil “double” and put a white clamp on.
  • Fasten the clamp to a screw hook using a (loop of) elastic cord.
  • Fold the remaining dew drop foil over top lath.
  • Do these steps at all 4 corners of the roof.

    • At both outer top laths cut the overhanging plastic foil shorter (to have bigger air openings at the sides of the roof when side foil is there).

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Remark 1 (plastic plates):

  • You can use plastic plates, bolts and nuts to fix the foil.

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Remark 2 (damaged elastic cord):

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

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Remark 3 (plastic foil around vertical laths):

At this time you can fasten plastic foil around the 3 rear vertical laths. But you can also do that later. More info at A5d).

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Remark 4 (bottom view of the roof):

Bottom view of the roof. Two long laths with hooks have been fastened to the top laths. Distance between 2 long laths is about 26 centimeters (10.2 inch).

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A5b) Laying on corrugated plates

  • Lay 2 transparent corrugated plates on the frame, on the dew drop foil.
  • The plates are 66 centimeters (2 ft 2 inch) wide and overlap; total width of the corrugated plate roof is 114 centimeters (3 ft 9 inch).
  • When using corrugated plates of 214 centimeters (7 ft) long, the ends of the plates protrude the frame for about 25 centimeters (10 inch). That is okay.

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Shorter corrugated plates (183 centimeters, 6 ft);

When the plates are shorter, lay them on the frame and “extend” the roof by short pieces of corrugated plate, as follows;

  • Lay the plates (183 centimeters, 6 ft) on the frame;
    • at the high side of the frame just on the top lath (left in the photo),
    • at the lower side of the frame the plates protrude 25 to 30 centimeters (10 to 12 inch (right in the photo).

  • Saw 2 short pieces of a long corrugated plate.
  • Use these pieces to extend the roof.

  • Lay the 2 short corrugated plates at the high side of the roof on the corrugated plate.
  • The short plates are clamped between top laths and clamp laths.
  • The short plates are “extra” clamped between 2 narrow clamp laths (red/white arrow).
  • The 2 narrow laths can lower down, resulting in a water puddle on the roof.

Remark (no water puddle):

gemakkelijke opbouw 31

gemakkelijke opbouw 28

gemakkelijke opbouw 29

gemakkelijke opbouw 36

To overcome this lowering down, you can use 3 thin wooden laths (2 laths are wrapped in plastic foil). The plastic foil minimizes damaging of the dew drop foil. And more or less wrapped foil makes the lath thicker or thinner.

  • The lower “wrapped” lath is:
    • on top of the lath with screw hooks and
    • under the dew drop foil.
  • The middle “wrapped” lath is:
    • on the dew drop foil and on the lowest lath with foil.
  • The top lath (not wrapped) is on the corrugated plates.

At the right thicknesses of the laths, there is no water puddle on the roof and the plates are supported well.

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Remark (storm damage):

gemakkelijke opbouw 35

gemakkelijke opbouw 36a

At all laths of the roof you can put 2 tie-wraps next to each other at each end. This overcomes getting loose and damage at stormy weather.

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A5c) Fixing a gutter

You can fasten a gutter at the lower side of the roof for less water splashing on the garden soil and on the tomato plants. The gutter is sloping (descending) towards the back side of the roof.

You can use this type of gutter with end caps. Below a description.

  • Use a saw to shorten the 2 long laths with screw hooks (the protruding part) to the right length.
  • Drill 2 holes in the bottom” of the gutter; at the positions of the long laths.
  • Use wood screws, plastic caps, iron rings and rubber rings to fasten the gutter to the laths. The rubber rings are rubber tap washers.
  • The gutter is sloping because the frame is sloping.

  • Use an end cap to close the gutter at the highest point.

  • Modify an end cap to make a water outlet (as follows);

  • 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 (scratch or pencil mark) near the hole in the cap.
  • Remove the cap from the gutter.

 

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

  • When needed to enlarge the water outlet;
    • Remove the cap.
    • Use a hack saw to enlarge both V-shaped notches (in gutter and in cap).
    • Remove plastic flakes with a knife.
    • Fix the cap to the gutter again.

Built up roof with dew drop foil, corrugated plates and gutter.

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Remark 1 (Gutter fixed with nylon cord);

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

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Remark 2 (Bent corrugated plate as gutter);

  • You can fix a bent piece of PVC corrugated plate to the frame.

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A5d) Fastening plastic foil at the sides

  • Use scissors to cut 3 ribbons of plastic foil (size about 110 x 12 centimeters, 3 ft  8 inch  x  5 inch).
  • (you can cut wider ribbons, 110 x 25 centimeters, 3 ft   8 inch  x  10 inch)
  • And to cut 1 big piece of plastic foil (size about 320 x 60 centimeters, 10 ft 6 inch  x  2 ft).

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Fastening foil ribbons

  • At 3 vertical laths fasten the foil ribbons using thumb tacks (drawing pins).
  • This foil ribbon prevents side foil from damaging by splinters or sharp edges.
  • Find out at what sides of the vertical laths the foil and the tacks (pins) must be put.
  • Fold each ribbon at the right sides over a vertical lath.
  • (or wrap a broad ribbon (25 centimeters (10 inch) wide) around the vertical laths.
  • Fasten the ribbon to the vertical lath using thumb tacks (drawing pins).
  • Repeat these steps at 3 vertical laths at the rainy side of the roof.

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Fastening side foil

  • The side foil can be fixed to the frame using handy clips like Showtec Holdon Midi Clip (for sale on the internet, for example     here    ).

  • And using elastic cords, thickness 4 millimeters. From a hardware store.

  • The metal hooks don’t fit in the white clamps. Remove the hooks and rings.

  • Fasten one short side of the plastic side foil at one vertical lath (left front);
    • Turn 2 wood screws in the vertical lath; one screw about 25 centimeters (10 inch) from the roof and one screw about 25 centimeters (10 inch) from the soil.
    • Fold up (fold double) a piece of plastic (is stronger) and fix a white clamp.
    • Put a piece of elastic cord through the hole of the clamp and make a loop (with double knot).
    • Fix the elastic cord to a top wood screw in the vertical lath.
    • Use the same procedure to fix the side foil near the lower corner.

.

  • Lead the plastic side foil along the back side of the roof to the other vertical lath (right front).
  • Do the same actions as described at left front.

  • The plastic side foil has been fixed at left front and right front.

  • Turn 2 wood screws in the central backside vertical lath; 1 at the top, 1 at the bottom.
  • Use a similar procedure to fix the foil at this vertical lath using 2 clamps and 2 pieces of elastic cord. One clamp at the top and one near the bottom.
  • You can fold a piece of plastic foil over the side foil and then put a clamp on it. This reduces the chance of tearing the foil.

  • The plastic side foil has been fixed at 3 sides now.
  • Above and below this foil there are air openings (20 – 25 centimeters,  8 – 10 inch).

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Fastening front foil

  • Cut a big piece of plastic foil (190 x 60 centimeters, 6 ft  3 inch  x  2 ft).
  • Turn 2 wood screws in the vertical lath; one screw above and one screw below.
  • Fasten this piece of plastic to the front of the roof using 6 white clamps, and elastic cord.

  • Put the elastic cord of this foil over the same wood screws (yellow arrows).

  •   Fasten this foil in the middle (at the top and the bottom) in the same way as the side foil in the rear middle.

  • The side foil has been fixed at all (4) sides of the roof.
  • Under and above the side foil there are air openings air openings of 20 – 25 centimeters,  (8 – 10 inch).

.

A6) Use

  • At dry weather remove or lower the foil at all sides.
  • The roof is very airy then. Tiny dew drops on the plants can evaporate quickly; the plants dry up quickly.

  • Before rain weather or heavy showers (from the main rain side) close 3 sides of the roof;
    • Lift the side foil or fix the side foil to the frame.

  • When there is a rain forecast from other compass points, fasten side foil at the front side of the roof too.

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A7) Which side open

In our allotment garden there are many tomato roofs with 3 sides closed. The opening is towards north, east or west.

At my design one can close all 4 sides of the roof at a driving rain forecast. At dry weather all 4 sides are open.

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A8) Breaking down after use

Break down: remove the corrugated plates, the gutter and vertical laths.

  • You can fold the “roof frame”, so easy to transport.
  • During storage, you can keep ribbons of plastic foil and a few tie-wraps on the wooden laths (for next year).

.

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B2) round (arc) roof

The frame of a curved roof. Below the description.

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B2a) Parts

Each outer vertical lath has a rectangular slot. The top lath is in this slot.

You can make this slot as follows:

  • Make 2 saw cuts (next to each other) at the end of the vertical lath.
  • Use a fretsaw to saw from one saw cut to the other saw cut. Remove the wood between the saw cuts.

afdak plaatsen 3a

Each outer vertical lath has a cross lath with an arc of electricity conduit fixed to it. This arc holds the horizontal lath in place and supports the bent corrugated plate.

There is also a metal strip (red/yellow arrow) and wood screws to fasten the cross lath to the vertical lath.

Flatten a metal corner brace to make this metal strip (length about 17 centimeters, 7 inch).

.

At a long roof, there is a middle vertical lath with 2 metal corner braces (yellow arrow).

afdak nieuw middenlat a

One end of each corner brace has been bent. Both corner braces have been fastened to the vertical lath with 1 screw (1 bolt and 1 nut). The bent braces can’t turn. Use wood screws to fasten top laths to the corner brace.

At the middle vertical lath there is a cross lath with an arc too (fixed with iron strip and screws).

And you need extra loose arcs.

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B2b) Making an arc of electric conduit pipe

Below photos and descriptions how to make these.

Saw a piece of 5/8 inch conduit pipe. Length 66 centimeters (2 ft  2 inch) for a corrugated plate of 66 centimeters (2 ft   2 inch) broad.

Saw the cross lath from a wooden lath (cross section size 22 x 32 millimeters (about 0.9 x 1.3 inch)). Length 53 centimeters (1 ft  9 inch).

Drill small holes in the conduit pipe, about 2 centimeters (4/5 inch) from the ends.

  • Drill 2 small holes in the wooden lath, each about 1.25 centimeters (1/2 inch) from the end.
  • Use a wood screw to fasten one end of the conduit pipe to the lath.

  • Use a big flower pot to bend the conduit pipe in an arc.
  • Screw a wood screw through the pipe in the lath.

  • At each end saw a slanting piece from the lath to “fit” the curved corrugated plate to the bow.

The cross lath with arc, ready for mounting.

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B2c) Building the roof

Below a description how to make a long roof (with 3 vertical laths).

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

Use a rake to flatten the garden soil at the place where the roof is built.

Use a ground drill (hand earth auger) to make 3 holes in a row in the garden soil. Tip: put a clamp or clothes peg on the drill to make all holes of the same depth.

(short roof: drill 2 holes)

Put 3 vertical laths in the soil, the right vertical lath (outer or central lath) in the right hole. Put or shove garden earth in the holes. Do not press on the soil yet.

Push each vertical lath vertically perpendicular. Press on the soil around the lath. Check if the tops of the vertical laths are at the same height and in line (with naked eye or with string or elastic cord). If not, correct.

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

First put the extra loose cross laths with bows over the top lath. Then fasten the top lath to the vertical laths. Lay one end of the top lath in the slot on top of the outer vertical lath.

afdak nieuw middenlat b

And fasten the other end of the top lath to the corner brace on the middle vertical lath.

Repeat these actions for both top laths.

(short roof: Do the steps above at 1 horizontal top lath.

  • Mount the extra loose cross laths with arc evenly distributed on the top lath;
    • Turn in 2 wood screws in the top lath, each one at 1 side of the screw.
    • Shove each bow between the 2 screws until right, horizontal level.

  • Lay the first corrugated plate on the frame.
  • Put clothesline thread through the tube of the arc and lead the thread over the corrugated plate. Fasten the thread using a loop and 1 or 2 knots.
  • Put the loose end of the thread in the arc tube.
  • Use this procedure to fasten the corrugated plate in the middle and at right.
  • Do not fasten at left; the second plate will be laid on there.

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

  • Lay the second plate on the frame.
  • In the middle of the plates there is an overlap of about 10 centimeters (4 inch).
  • Fasten this plate to the frame using clothesline thread

The roof is finished now.

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C)# Other tomato roofs in our allotment garden

In our allotment garden, many tomato roofs have been built. Below photos of tomato roofs (thanks to my allotment colleagues).

afdak tuin 3

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13 thoughts on “7) Roof over sweet peppers or tomatoes”

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

    1. 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

      1. 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.

  2. 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

    1. 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

      1. 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

      2. 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

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