To help gardeners improve their chances of success this season, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Waldo County will offer a low tunnel pipe-bending program. Low tunnels are an inexpensive way for farmers and gardeners to improve growing conditions for crops in a modified protected environment.

Using plastic or spun-bound fabrics (floating row covers) and pipe supports made from 1/2-inch electrical conduit, growers can quickly build a low tunnel in their garden. These tunnels can help provide improved growing conditions, help to keep pests off crops and extend the growing season by providing a small amount of frost protection.

The low tunnel “pipe-bending lending” program idea was hatched at a Rural Living Day that was held April 10 at Unity College and featured a session on building and using low tunnels. Participants who attended were enthusiastic about trying this in their gardens and suggested the program to Extension staff and volunteers.

To learn more about growing and using high tunnels visit johnnyseeds.com/p-7708-quick-hoops-bender-4-diam.aspx and to see a demonstration video go to .johnnyseeds.com/t-video_quickhoops.aspx.

To borrow the pipe bender, growers can call the office at 800-287-1426. The pipe-bender program has both a 6-foot pipe bender and a 4-foot pipe bender to lend. The benders should be mounted (picnic table works well) to a secure surface. Extension staff suggest that growers use 1/2-inch electrical metal conduit purchased in 10-foot lengths for the pipes in low-tunnel construction. The benders will be mounted on a secure surface at the Extension office for gardeners who want to bring their pipes to bend there, or the office will lend the benders for a short period of time to use at home.

For more information about low tunnels, watch the video referenced above, or call Rick Kersbergen at the Extension office.