The Benefits & Drawbacks of Roll-up Sides

The main attraction of roll-up sides, as a method of ventilation, is that it is economical. There is not a significant investment and can be added to virtually any structure. Regardless of structure length, nowhere is very far from open air.

It is only by properly understanding the limitations and drawbacks that one can maximize the benefit. Just because something is inexpensive does not mean that it won’t end up being costly if it does not fulfil its purpose.

Roll-up sides should always be done in pairs (both sides). Even if you have a really high percentage of prevailing wind from one direction, there will be times when you need to ventilate into the prevailing wind.

Any time you have wind going in without opportunity of escaping,
there can be damage to the building.

The average vertical opening of roll-up sides is usually about 4’. If your greenhouse is in an extremely exposed area without any protection or wind breaks, quite often 2’ of vertical opening will be sufficient.

On the contrary, if the building is extremely sheltered, 6’ of vertical opening will be required.

One thing to remember on the height of opening is that if you have a low profile structure with a high opening, a sizeable area could get wet inside when it rains.

Regardless of the size of opening, if there is not a breeze, you will not have air movement.

It is based on this potential problem, that we recommend having end wall openings as high as possible. These openings will trigger a “chimney effect” air movement that will get rid of hot air that is trapped in the greenhouse. These openings will double as your first stage of ventilation since they would be opened when it is too cold outside to start rolling up the sides.

A drawback of roll-up sides is the amount of exposure they create for airborne weed seeds and pests. It is important to remember that when you use shade cloth to minimize this drawback, you are also significantly restricting incoming air.

The biggest drawback of roll-up sides is that there is no practical way to automate them. In other words, you have to be there to open and close them. This can be challenging on the cool, sunny days that have sporadic cloud cover. The sun goes behind a cloud and the temperature plummets and then soars when the sun reappears.

The best way to minimize this challenge is to add a small exhaust fan to the set up. This way you will have something to handle the borderline situations and then open the roll up sides once there is a more predictable need.

In the next article we will explore forced ventilation in greater detail. We also have many resources on our website, as well as videos if you want to explore the topic of roll-up sides further.

roll-up side videos

roll up side considerations

roll-up side Q&A

Anchoring: Base Brackets vs Anchor Posts

edit-Base Bracketanchor post photo

We offer two main types of anchoring for our structures: Base Brackets (left pic) and Anchor Posts (right pic).

Which one you decide to go with largely depends on your application and location. They are not to be used together, it is a one or the other option. No matter which option you choose, please be aware, there is no such thing as too many anchors!

Although the building can be anchored directly into the ground with Anchor Posts, it can also sit on a slab, curb or beam or it can be elevated on some sort of a wall. Base brackets with lag bolts are supplied standard to fasten the building to the chosen form of foundation. Anchor Posts are available at an additional cost.

Anchor Posts must be set into concrete when:

  • the soil has been recently excavated (within the last 5 years)
  • it is required by the building code (use of concrete usually classifies the building as permanent)
  • extremely windy and exposed areas exist (at least use on the corner posts)
  • more than 10% of the anchor post will be out of the ground (upgrading anchor post size may be needed)
  • there are areas where erosion has been a problem in the past

Anchor Posts SHOULD NOT be used (and base brackets used instead) when:

  • the soil is a very heavy clay (heaving would be a constant problem)
  • there is a shallow rock layer
  • there are major amounts of rocks interfering with the accuracy of anchor post setting
  • the structure will be moved shortly (anchor posts must be cleaned out before reusing)

**Recommendations are based on years of experience. Ultimately the customer is responsible to properly anchor a structure**
Please see our installation pages for a more detailed breakdown of this topic Base Brackets vs Anchor Posts

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!

Modified Hanley Tunnel

One of our most popular structures is the hanley tunnel because it is the cheapest way of covering an area for season extension.

As a way of addressing some of the challenges and limiting factors with the tunnels, we have come up with a modified hanley.

The two areas where it significantly improves on the regular tunnel are the side clearance and the peak for snow shedding. Instead of using 24’ of steel to make 17’ wide and 7’6” high, we are using 26’ of material to make 16’ wide and 9’ high. It still uses 28’ wide plastic with extra at the ends to make the same kind of “tails”.

Sliding the plastic up on the sides is still the way that the tunnel is ventilated and you will still have the same challenges as far as creating access.

The re-bar anchors, base plates, clasps and rope are the same on the modified hanley as they are for the regular tunnel. We supply 5’ more of extra plastic for the tails since the building is taller.

The peak on the end hoops are very hard on the plastic, so we have designed a more rounded hoop at each end. It is strongly recommended to have 3 guides ropes at each end to brace back to the anchoring posts of the plastic.

Any structure with ends is not considered a Hanley Tunnel. We are more than willing to discuss the differences and benefits/drawbacks between tunnels and cold frames should you wish to know more.

The main thing which is critical to understand before going with a modified hanley is the extra wind load which the structure will be subjected to. Going from 7’6” to 9’ high, results in a 40% increase in the wind load. This issue is what makes the correct tightness of the ropes an even more critical consideration.

It is also the reason why we strongly urge customers who
do not have any tunnel experience to start with a regular tunnel.

Season Extension: Hanley Caterpillar Tunnels

The first 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!

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”

Norm shared some nostalgia after Coffee Time with Norm recently. Check out his story here:

 

Open for the New Year, Protocol Updates

Thank you to everyone for your wonderful support through an ever changing time!
Our office has reopened this week for 2021 but will remain strictly closed to in person visits. We are able to be reached by phone and email and look forward to connecting with you!
With the new restrictions and protocols which were mandated by the provincial government on Dec. 26, it will be necessary for us to verify if there are any of these restrictions which apply to any of the buildings which we supply. We will be posting this information as we become aware. As per last spring, we know we are able to sell and deliver agricultural buildings and will be finding out for any others.
Any orders which customers will be picking up, will be considered “curb side pick up” and as such, these orders must be prepaid and there will not have any contact with our staff.
Customers picking up orders will be required to wear masks while on the MSS property and are not permitted to look around.
Customers who are receiving an MSS delivered building will receive our delivery protocol a few days in advance. This protocol must be acknowledged and agreed to before a delivery can take place. Please contact our office if you would like to see a copy of this protocol or look on our website here
We thank you for your patience as we continue to work through this challenging time.
We will post further updates with more information as the information becomes available or changes.
We look forward to working with you on your 2021 projects
Stay tuned for further details