Purchasing a polytunnel is a big decision. Some may even need to get permission to erect one… but once you’ve got it all set up, it’ll keep you busy, and in vegetables, all year round.
Your poly tunnel will protect your growing crops from the elements, and enable them to grow quicker and earlier than outdoor crops, and if you’re lucky, they may even grow larger.
The tunnel absorbs the sunlight and maximises productive germination. So, depending on the location of your tunnel, during the spring the growing temperatures will be two to six weeks ahead of outdoor temperatures.
You don’t need to be Monty Don to get fantastic crops, but you do need to plan the space in your tunnel for the time of year. You need to think about what to plant and when, and when to harvest i.e. vegetables to be harvested in autumn, generally need to be planted in late August / September time. By which time you’ll be planting your overwinter vegetables. A good way to do this is to physically sketch out a plan of tunnel bed and note down what you have planted and when. And, at the same time, leave space for what you want to plant next.
With summer equinox around the corner and autumn well and truly upon us, now is the time to be tidying up your polytunnel, getting the soil ready for your spring crop and planting or sowing your overwinter vegetables.
Of course, overwinter vegetables can be planted from seedlings or sown directly outdoors in autumn but, like pretty much all crops, they’ll benefit from the warmer temperatures within your polytunnel and grow fabulously.
Starting with overwinter vegetables to be planted this autumn, here are some planting ideas that will keep you harvesting crops in your tunnel all year round.
Autumn & overwinter vegetables: onions and shallots, garlic, spring onions, broad beans, peas, asparagus, winter salads, chard
Spring: lettuces, carrots, hardy herbs e.g. thyme, sage
Summer: aubergines, cucumbers, peppers, chillies, tomatoes, tender herbs e.g. basil, coriander If you haven’t got a polytunnel, or would like to upgrade one, Premier Polytunnels have a great range to choose from.
While all this is going on in your polytunnel, there’s no time to put your feet up – now’s the time to prepare your outdoor plants for the onset of winter.
- Prune, fertilise and mulch your roses
- Prune and mulch your perennials, ensuring you leave stems with attractive seed heads for winter interest
- Screen your evergreens to protect them from hard frosts and snow
- Cut back dry stems
- Remove pest eggs from soil
- Compost dead plants
- Prune any diseased foliage
*This is a guest post*