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Old July 10, 2017   #92
Cole_Robbie
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Illinois, zone 6
Posts: 8,377
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The short answer to your question - about a month.

Long answer is that a lot depends on the weather. In recent years, the spring has gone from being very cold, low 20s F, to 80 degree summer-like days very quickly. Spring barely existed. I don't have my high tunnel set up with row covers or heat, and that would help a lot.

The other comparative factor is that I am pretty good at getting early fruit from the outdoor garden, better than I am at using a high tunnel. By planting early varieties, I am usually getting at least a few small fruit from the outdoor plants while the high tunnel is in. Black plastic and raised beds help a lot, too.

I'm glad I built my high tunnel, but I'm not going to build any more like this. It's supposed to be the "correct" way to get early tomatoes, but I think I would do just as well with temporary low tunnels over early plants. It's also a lot cheaper. As soon as warm weather arrives, there is no need for the tunnel. It hurts more than it helps, by trapping heat and bugs. And that certainly is not going to be the case for everyone, it's just my experience and location.
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