Image of Dave

Links to other sites:

Daws Close Allotments
A small allotment site squashed between London suburbia and a major nature reserve all within earshot of Wembley stadium.

Bluewisteria
How to maintain a suburban garden. Garden pests. Garden companions. Flower galleries and much more.

Allotment Growing
Allotment diaries, photographs, advice about growing vegetables, fruits and herbs with a forum for chatting on the plot.

Moriati's Composting method.
An ingenious and efficient method of compost making at the right price: FREE

The Garden Seat
A lighter look at the garden and the creatures that also call it their garden.

BK
Lots of useful info for new plot holders & anybody interested in allotment history.

 

Sponser this page.

I'm looking for a sponser for this page or the whole site. Unique visitor numbers while modest are increasing rapidly and represent a discerning readership with up to 80% bookmarking the page for later reference. Page is well ranked in the major search engines.

Contact for further information.

Contact the author:

Contact

Log in:

Username:

Password:


Designed by David Frary

Logo photographed by and copyright Rogan Macdonald

The Polytunnel.

Grow early. Grow late.

The Site

Site of polytunnel.

For the location of the tunnel I chose a position between the grapevines and globe artichokes on one side and the utility area on the other. This particular spot receives sunshine all day but the ground lies very wet during the winter. In two summers this spot has not delivered the goods to my satisfaction and was the obvious position for the new ventue.

After measuring the area, straightening the paths and getting the artichokes to breathe in a little, I found that a standard 12ft by 25ft polytunnel would just squeeze in nicely.

Construction

Framework under construction.

Everything required for the tunnel comes in kit form with detailed construction diagrams and once mulled over for a while there is no major technical difficulties, but the setup does take quite some time.

If I had to do another one I'd make sure I had spare batteries for the drill as once the power has gone there is no further work that can be completed.

Another view of framework.

Putting the cover on required two people but is reasonably straightforward once its the correct way round. There is an inside and an outside believe it or not. The polythene is pulled over the frame and buried in a trench all round the outside of the frame. Sorry no photo of this but I was rushing to get it secured before a heavy rainstorm set in.

External views.

Front view of polytunnel.

The finished tunnel fits nicely into the surroundings and should be softer on the eye once the grapevines leaf up in front of it and the trees fill out behind.

Side view of polytunnel.

Internal views.

Inside looking at rear door.

Once the cover is on and we go inside it is like entering a different world. While there is always a gentle current of air through the mesh door panels, there is no draught and out of the wind life is cozy. Although the tunnel is unheated, any sunshine rapidly lifts the temperature a few degrees. I have planned to grow crops direct in the natural soil on one side, after beefing it up a bit, and have pots on a staging down the other with a central path.

View towards front door with growing bed being prepared.

Sources.

Several firms can be contacted over the Internet and there are a number of DIY plans but be prepared to spend a lot of time fixing it if you make your own. I'm pleased with mine so the suppliers can have a link.
First Tunnels.

Right column. Using the tunnel.

Using the tunnel

May. A hive of industry.

Buying and erecting the polytunnel is one thing, using it efficiently is another thing entirely. What grows best and when? Not everything grows better under cover so my first season has been trial and error. One of the first benefits has to be the ability to sow seeds early and grow them on for transplanting outside once conitions become favourable.

September. Sweet potatoes rule.

 

Summary

After one year with my polytunnel I have the following observations.

  • Growing season starts 6 weeks early and finishes 4-6 weeks later.

  • Tunnel requires attention up to 2 hours a day during Spring and early Summer.
  • When the weather is chilly the tunnel is a comforting environment to work.
  • If there is a heavy frost outside, plants die inside.
  • If you leave the door open, foxes or cats wreck the crops.
  • Space is best used for less robust plants such as Aubergine, Tomato, Ocra, Chillies etc.