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 a 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 half-inch electrical metal conduit, growers can build a low tunnel in gardens.

Tunnels can help provide improved growing conditions, keep pests off crops and extend the garden season by providing a small amount of frost protection.

The Waldo County Extension Association initiated the idea, which was actively used in 2010.

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

To use the pipe bender, growers may call the office at 1-800-287-1426. The pipe bender program has both a 6-foot wide tunnel pipe bender and a 4-foot wide tunnel pipe bender for use.

Benders need to be mounted (picnic table works well) to a secure surface. It is suggested that growers use half-inch electrical metal conduit purchased in 10-foot lengths for the pipes in low-tunnel construction.

Benders will be mounted on a secure surface at the Waldo County Extension office if people want to bring in pipes to bend during office hours. The Waldo County Extension Office is on Route 137, adjacent to Waldo County Technical Center. Be sure to call in advance.

For more information watch the video referenced above, or call Rick Kersbergen at the Extension office at 1-800-287-1426.