Writer: Kevin Robinson-Avila
ALBUQUERQUE - Growers can learn how to build a low-cost, solar-heated greenhouse at a free workshop Feb. 18 in Alcalde.
Participants will actually build a 17- by 40-foot cold frame during the workshop at New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde.
"We want growers to get direct, hands-on experience at this event," said Del Jimenez, agriculture specialist with NMSU's Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project (RAIPAP), based in Alcalde. "Participants will learn enough to go home and build a cold frame on their own."
For growers interested in using a cold frame, now is the time to get started, Jimenez said.
"Producers can begin planting in late February," he said. "That's the advantage of these structures. Growers can extend the season by planting inside when it's still winter, and they can continue to grow into late fall."
The cold frames, also known as hoop houses, offer a low-cost alternative for small-scale growers who often can't afford to build fully equipped greenhouses, Jimenez said. Generally, greenhouses include heaters, coolers and irrigation and fertilization systems. They can cost up to $12,000, depending on optional features.
In contrast, building a simple cold frame costs $200 to $500. A cold frame is much smaller and lacks temperature controls and other operating systems. Construction is limited to a basic frame with plastic covering, Jimenez said.
At the workshop, Jimenez will discuss construction materials and how to plan greenhouse dimensions. He will supervise participants as they lay the structure out, square off the frame and erect the hoop house.
The workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participants should dress in work clothes and bring a sack lunch. NMSU will serve drinks and snacks.
To get to the science center, turn west off Highway 68 at mile marker 7 (between Espaņola and Velarde). For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, call Jimenez at (505) 852-4241 or (505) 852-2668.
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