Author Archives: Andrea Eygenraam

Steel Volatility FAQ

Most of you are aware of all the rhetoric coming from south of the border regarding duties and tariffs which are threatened to be imposed on Canadian steel going south.

This obviously would have a significant impact for anyone from Canada who is exporting.

MSS is proud of the fact that our product is almost 100% Canadian manufactured. As such you may think that we would not be impacted by all this in a significant way.

That is not the case and the purpose of this post is to make you aware of the volatility presently in steel and aluminum.

The purpose of tariffs is to reduce incoming products and minimize competition (it is called “leveling the playing field”) so that steel mills will be running at higher levels of productivity.

Since many steel mills are not as efficient as they could or should be, it is easier to simply take advantage of the opportunity and raise prices.

Unfortunately Canadian manufacturers are playing the game and rather than reducing prices on product that cannot go elsewhere, prices are being increased.

We, at Multi Shelter Solutions, are extremely grateful for the fabulous year our customers have given us in 2017.

This has given us the means to be more proactive on securing larger amounts of steel and further out as a way of minimizing the impact of price changes on our customers.

Thank you to those who are planning further ahead but please be aware of the current state of things. We are a small fish in a big pond but we are working hard to be deserving of your loyalty and look forward to working with you on your 2018 projects!

Trade Show Season!

Western Fair Farm Show Mar 7-9
Western Fair District, London, ON

Ottawa Farm Show Mar 13-15
EY Center 4899 Uplands Drive, Ottawa, ON

We are pleased to be able to connect with our new and existing customers every year at a trade shows to answer questions and display some of our structures and parts we use. There’s something unique about face to face contact whenever possible. Unfortunately that also means time away from the office.

We always do our best during this busy time to keep up with all requests and deliveries in a timely manner and we sincerely appreciate your patience.

As winter comes to an end, so too will spring arrive soon enough. This always increases demands for delivery times. We recommend getting your order in as soon as possible to avoid any extra challenges. As always, we do our best to accommodate everyone’s needs; however, please be advised, delivery times are increased between March-April.

We look forward to helping you with your next project and answering any outstanding questions you may have.

Retightening a Loose Structure Cover

Previously we outlined how to do a temporary fix for loose cover. This should not be left for an extended period. Re-tightening a cover does not have to be done in one day.

  • The job MUST split into two parts lengthwise.
  • The cover must be pulled lengthwise BEFORE it is pulled from side to side.
  • Make sure you do the tightening process on a calm, warm day.
  • You should do the end which looks the worst first.
  • This job will require taking ALL of the cover fasteners out.

Taking a short cut will leave you with more wrinkles.
Areas with wrinkles will flutter more and cause stress points.
This will also cause the cover to deteriorate quicker.

When you are tightening the cover, you should always pull 90 degrees to the wrinkle.

This means that after you have secured at the peak,
most often you will be pulling diagonally to the corner.

Once you have done one end/half and the wind is still down, you can start loosing the fasteners on the other end and repeat the process until complete.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

You can also see additional information in our installation guide:
Tarp Covering Instructions
Plastic Covering Instructions
Wirelock & Side Wall Cover Fasteners
covering options

Temporary Fix for a Loose Cover

There are a number of instances where a cover will need to be installed in less than ideal conditions. This can be either be on a windy day or in the cold (-10C or worse) and the job simply can not wait.

This will almost invariably lead to a situation where the cover will need to be re-tightened on a warmer and/or calmer day.

Doing this temporary fix will get you an extra month of time that you can wait until it warms up and you can do a better job retightening the loose cover.

The lifespan of a cover can very quickly be reduced if it is repeatedly flapping in the hard wind. A very effective, temporary fix to give you more time to do the job right, is to put ropes or straps over the building (as in the photos below)

A 1” or 2” wide seat belt type material is ideal but likely you will need to settle for a soft, marine grade rope instead.

Using nylon rope is almost worse then using nothing because of the abrasion factor.

  • The idea is to put a strap or rope between pairs of hoops every 12’ to 16’ and pull as tight as you can.
  • Use nails or eye bolts on your base as the spot for securing the ropes or straps.

If your cover is especially loose, it is best to install each of the ropes or straps snugly first. Then go back and tighten them as tight as you can. This will prevent you from pulling too much in one spot.

Please don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about this technique. We would be happy to help clarify anything you need, to keep your building secure.

image

We Look Forward to Helping You Find Your Shelter Solution!

Here at Multi Shelters we can work with you to fit whatever budget you have in mind for your project and publish sample prices freely for you to compare. We have found a balance that provides the economy so many seek, while not sacrificing any quality of the structure or customer service. Feel free to contact us for a custom quote for what you have in mind. We can work together to reach your goals.

Our biggest niche still remains that we don’t bend any steel before getting an order. We are able to customize it to fit in just the right spot, or alter how it’s done for your unique request. We bring over 43 years of experience to each and every call or email that we receive from potential and existing customers and welcome standard as well as outside the box projects.

That factor is how we’ve come up with our “igloo” structure, the airplane hangars, our “flying” greenhouse that was lifted onto an apartment building, and more! We pride ourselves on being able to help you find your best shelter solution, no matter how “out there” an application may seem. We’ve seen pretty much everything and look forward to your project ideas and challenges.

We have also recently published a book called “So You Want to Buy a Greenhouse…Your Guide to Planning a Greenhouse Purchase” available on Amazon or direct from our office. While the title may lead you to think it’s only about greenhouses, it does have many valuable resources for planning any sort of structure purchase. We go through the steps we list on our Getting Started Page in more detail, with photos, funny stories, and many useful tips, how tos and don’t forgets. Stay tuned on our facebook page for our Tip Tuesday and Thoughtful Thursday for excerpts from the book (and don’t forget Friday Funnies for a chuckle!)

Check out our application pages to get you started and start the ideas flowing, there’s many to choose from. Thank you for your interest in Multi Shelters and we look forward to hearing from you in 2018!

Season Extension: Hanley Caterpillar Tunnels

The third area to discuss regarding season extension are those structures that are simple enough to disassemble and relocate to another spot-primarily referring to Hanley Caterpillar Tunnels.

The real lure of these buildings is their low cost and simplicity to move. Generally the area is prepared in advance and then the tunnel is moved over the area when the planting is to be done.

Since the original design specified 6′ hoop spacing, the intent was always to remove the cover before risk of heavier snow fall. More often now, growers are going to 5′ spacing (and sometimes 4′) to allow the covers to remain on longer or even permanently.

By having a smaller hoop spacing, it allows the cover to stay on permanently, which allows for a much earlier start in the spring.

The key to the concept of the hanley working is in the rope.

  • The back and forth pattern of the rope resembles the way a person would lace up a boot.
  • Typically there is a spring loaded clip at the base where the rope passes through.
  • Once the rope is fully installed, it is important to tighten it through three passes from end to end.
  • If the rope is not tight enough, the wind will create wiggle and movement sideways.
  • When the plastic is tight enough, it also allows the grower to slide the plastic up the hoop to allow ventilation.

Generally the plastic is about 25′ longer then the tunnel.
This allows the installer to bunch up (pig tail style) the extra poly at both ends between a pair of posts.
It is important to get the plastic as tight as possible lengthwise first.
There must also be a rope from the top of the last hoop to the tie off post.

There are a couple of challenges to consider with the hanley tunnels.

  1. One of these challenges is to create a proper entrance. Typically entrance is achieved by slightly lifting the plastic and ducking underneath.
  2. The other are of challenge is the low shoulder height of the structure. This restricts the use to a couple rows of taller items in the middle and a couple rows of shorter plants along the side. The width of the tunnel does lend itself to three regular size beds.

Once you have learned about the nuances of the hanley tunnels, and asked any questions that come up, you will be better prepared to have these efficient season extenders work for you and your application.

Feel free to look at our Hanley Application page for more information and photos, and give us a call with anything else you require.

We are pleased to have many happy customers these structures are working for, and look forward to you being next!

This concludes our week long series of Season Extension. Check out our new book if you want to know more “So You Want to Buy a Greenhouse…Your Guide to Planning a Greenhouse Purchase”

Featured Product: Hanley Caterpillar Tunnels

Knight Hanley StructureWe offer these structures with 17′ wide hoops at 6′ increments. Ultimate in Low Cost, Portable Season Extending Greenhouses.

A note of caution…
At 6’ rib spacing, these structures are not intended to, or capable of handling very much snow load. This tunnel can handle greater loads by simply reducing the rib spacing and/or increasing the length of the anchor pegs.

Please see our Hanley Caterpillar Greenhouses page as well as our recently published article about Hanley Season Extension for more information and don’t hesitate to call us with any questions regarding this unique application.

Season Extension: Ventilating & Heating

To make your greenhouse more of a year round functioning entity, there are two main areas in which you have to make the structure more efficient-Heating and Ventilation.

1. Heating is your biggest expense for the winter so retaining heat is a priority.

The easiest way to retain heat in your greenhouse is to install a double poly cover with air in between. A small squirrel cage blower attached to the inside layer of plastic aids in maintaining air between layers.

The more dead air space between these layers you can create, the closer you will be to achieving a 30% reduction in heat loss. Holes will result in air movement and therefore less efficiency. 3″-5″ consistent space is ideal. It is a given that you would have less then that around the edges and over the ridge.

Double plastic will have a considerably longer life span. It is important to realize that as plastic gets older, the light transmission will be reduced which will reduce production.

Infrared plastic (IR poly) does further reduce heat loss and increase light diffusion so it can also be a consideration when looking for ways to reduce heating costs.

2. Ventilation is also one of your biggest considerations for the warmer times of the year. Ventilation can be done through forced or mechanical methods or passive through vents or roll up sides.

Vents are extremely effective since they can be placed higher up where the heat needs to be expelled. Mechanical ventilation is more costly both up front and to operate but it is easier to control since it is attached to a thermostat. For mechanical ventilation to be effective, it needs to be sized and located properly.

Roll up sides are less costly and simpler to install but are restricted by the fact that you have to be there to open and to close.

Climate control is especially challenging in the spring and the fall since most days you will have the need for both ventilating and heating.

One area that you need to be especially aware of is stagnant air. Without proper air movement, circulation and exchanging, stagnant air can cause many different types of diseases. It is important to understand what your plants require

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of our series about Season Extension and Your Greenhouse coming soon!

Season Extension: Moving Your Structure

A significant part of season extension involves moving an intact structure.

This basically allows you to get two (or possibly three) plots of production from one investment.

The idea is to start a relatively cold tolerant crop very early in the season (the timing will be different in different locations).

  1. Once the crop is firmly established in location A, (and it has warmed up) you will move the structure to location B and start another crop.
  2. You will harvest the crop in location A and then after working the soil, plant another crop in location A which is intended for fall harvesting.
  3. After location B is harvested and before frost you will move the structure back to A.
  4. Instead of doing twice in location A you could also choose location C.

A structure can be equipped with wheels which will run over the soil. There is quite a bit of flexibility where you go and the terrain you navigate.

The structure can be equipped with rollers on a track. This will determine where you go and this is usually intended for moving a bigger structure with fewer people.

The most common method of moving is sliding the structure on the soil. The base rail can be wood or steel.

It is critically import to understand the logistics of moving on a structure before you start. It is not hard to move a structure but it is also not hard to do damage.

Having a plan for proper anchoring is very important for a moveable structure. Your structure is at a vulnerable state when you release the anchors. Once you start, the job must be completed quickly. You have to be aware that the anchors may not come out or go back in easily so you may need to give yourself some extra time.

One other area of consideration on a moveable structure is the ends. There must be some sort of a flap or vent along the bottom so that when a structure is being moved, the ends will not uproot plant material. Generally speaking to have this ability in the ends takes away from the structural integrity, so some extra anchoring may be required.

You can see more information and photos on our movable information page. Please don’t hesitate to call us with ANY questions you may have. This can be a very useful addition to your structure, but must be understood correctly.

Stay tuned for part two and three of our season extension series later this week!

Winter Storms and Maintenance 

With the upcoming storms in both Ontario and the east coast forecasted, we wanted to remind everyone: it’s okay, and even preferred that the buildings have some snow around them.

This prevents the wind from getting under them and it also means that the height above the ground is less. This significantly decreases the aerodynamic lift.

As we’ve stated in our winter care articles and in the installation guide, there are things you can do to prepare your building to withstand the storms as best as possible. Taking extra steps during the ‘worst case scenario’ situations can often make all the difference and help your building stay standing.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about any of these situations. Good luck and stay warm!