Category Archives: polytunnel
We put up an 8ft x 20ft polytunnel in May 2013. We put two 8ft x 4ft raised beds down one side and then racking on the other side – it was only 8ft wide so we couldn’t put raised beds on both sides. While it worked, it was the most efficient use of space and the raised beds were a little too wide to reach the back (while not standing in the raised bed itself).
We decided to make the existing raised beds slightly narrower (by cutting down the existing raised beds) and to put them on both sides of the polytunnel. While this gives us slightly less growing area, it is a better use of the overall space and it is much easier to reach the back of the beds (particularly if you have short arms!).
We (actually I mean Jo!) also seem to be a bit more organised this year in terms of sorting out what we want to grow and when it needs to be planted. Rather than deciding on what we want to grow about 2 months after it should have been sown.
A few weeks ago the summer arrived. Goodness, we waited long enough! And the temperature in the polytunnel started to soar. While we do remember to water the plants in here, it can be a bit hit and miss. We decided that the plants might benefit from some regular watering and have installed a Hozelock automatic watering system. It is relatively cheap and it does look like the plants appreciate it. It is set up to water them for 10 mins twice a day (6am and 6pm avoiding the heat of the middle of the day).
We started with the Hozelock starter kit, but within a week had to upgrade the timer. The original timer (Hozelock 2705 supplied in the starter kit) had presets (twice a day for 5mins, twice a day for 10 mins etc), but you couldn’t amend the schedule. The other reason for the upgrade was the original one packed up! I thought it was flat batteries (it uses two C type batteries), but when I opened the battery compartment, it was full of water! Even after trying to dry it out (and with new batteries), it was still dead. Ho hum. I will put it down to operator error, but I thought I had tightened up the back of the compartment properly (it is screwed on and has a rubber gasket to keep the water out).
The upgraded unit (Hozelock AC Pro) while a bit more expensive does seem to do the trick. It was easy to set up and I like the over-ride facility in case you think the plants need some additional watering during the day. It did come with a rain sensor than cancels the watering program if it rains. However, this isn’t of much use in a polytunnel!
We added some bits to the original starter kit – in particular, we add a couple of spray nozzles and these seem to work a treat. When then have drippers that feed the courgette plant and drippers in each of the tomatoes plants. The system has been really quite flexible and B&Q (not one of my favourite stores) does seem to stock a lot of the bits for this system. The other thing that seems to work well is the Hozelock extension bar that means that we don’t need to keep unplugging hoses if you need to fill a watering can or wash the car.
The vegetable patch seems to becoming on in leaps and bounds. No doubt due to some of the (very) wet and (slightly) sunny weather we have had over the past few weeks.
The weeds and grass seem to be doing particularly well.
In terms of vegetables, we have potatoes, onions, cabbages (although the pigeons seem to have had these), cauliflower, broccoli (the pigeons like these too), sweet corn and some leeks. We haven’t attempted to grow anything in this soil before, so it will be interesting to see how the vegetables do this year.
We have also planted out some tomato plants in grow bags. While there are a couple of plants in the polytunnel, we have put the rest against the wall outside my study. This gets a fair amount of sun, particularly in the afternoon, and having tomato plants both inside and outside will hopefully spread the harvesting season. We will have to see.
We are going to be moving both the water and electric connections around to the new utility room. This was something that got missed off the original budget and can be a significant cost.
We have decided to dig the trench now. Once the new extension is built, the access would be severely limited by this trench. So we are going to do it now, lay the pipework and fill it back in before the porch is built.
We are also going to put connections into the outbuildings for both water (for the orchard and polytunnel) and electric for the sheds (lighting and power).
Friends came over at the weekend and brought with them an olive tree for the garden. It needs (apparently) to harden up in the polytunnel before being planted out.
Many thanks to Diane and Steve – next time you come over, I hope that you will be able to stay in the new house!
We started planting out in the polytunnel at the end of May and now things are starting to spring into life.
In the current weather, I leave both of the end doors open during the day. If nothing else, it lets the bees in to pollinate the flowers. However, the heat in there is pretty unbearable. I tend to water it twice a day.
The builders arrived last week and the scaffolding was completed over the weekend. Before the work started (and while the builders weren’t around), we could not resist the temptation to have a look from the roof – the views are better than the roof itself!
I am working on the basis that if I am going to have to water the plants in the polytunnel on a daily basis, then I had just as well water a polytunnel full of plants rather than a polytunnel half full of plants.
I am not a keen gardener. I leave that to Jo. But with Jo in London this week and time moving on, I thought I should lend a hand with a bit of planting.
We bought some tomato plants at the weekend and these are now planted in two growbags cut in half. I have stood these upright at one end of the polytunnel.
At the weekend, we planted some mixed lettuce seeds as well as some chilli and beetroot (all as seeds). Today, I planted out the seed potatoes that we bought a couple of weeks ago and allow to “chit” in the dark (whatever that means!). I also planted a couple of rows of parsnips and 6 cabbages (all bought as plants).
Goodness knows whether any of this will grow, but let’s see.
One side of the polytunnel has been set up with staging. The other side is going to have raised beds for growing vegetables.
I picked up the raised beds and the “veggie” soil from Tommy Topsoil (http://www.tommytopsoil.com/) near Halifax this morning. I bought loose soil which was loaded onto the back of the pickup as well as two 8ft x 4ft raised beds. It took most of the afternoon to set them up, but they are now ready for planting.