Saturday, 7 February 2015

Light at the End of the Polytunnel...and more

I guess the light at the end of the tunnel could refer to the smallholding emerging from winter. I know the last post was all about heavy snowfall, but with the days lengthening there is most definitely optimism and expectation in the air.
This week I have been sowing seeds! Mostly perennials for the garden, but this evening I sowed leek seeds into trays and tomorrow I'll be sowing carrots and turnips in the polytunnel beds. Another growing year is upon us!

Rather than doing everything a week after I should have, I am really trying to be super-organised this year and stay ahead of myself. So a thorough clean of the polytunnel took place midweek. I took advantage of some light rain (cold enough to verge on sleet) to sweep the outside of the tunnel with a soft broom. On my tippytoes I could almost reach the brush to the apex. The dirt and algae had gradually and imperceptibly collaborated to cut the light down, but once I'd cleaned the inside of the cover the tunnel felt like a new place. At this time of year, every scrap of light is important to emerging seedlings.

While the tunnel was clear, I took the chance to spray every nook and cranny with Citrox, an organic disinfectant. It is harmless to plants, so I didn't need to worry about the trays of cuttings (aka free plants) which are growing on the new staging. I also removed all the twine from last year. In the past I have left it for the next year, but Bob Flowerdew said to get rid as it provides a winter home to the dreaded red spider mite.

I have also had a minor redesign of the polytunnel. It started with a pile of old bricks which I wanted to move and ended with new paths through the extended herb bed and two new brick paths in the tunnel, along with a new bed down the middle.

I have found room for a large water butt too, which will not only provide a very convenient source of water, but will act as a heat reservoir through the winter.

The new bricks paths (pre polytunnel cleaning)

I have also decided to take a step forward in my polytunnel growing. As well as the traditional summer crops such as tomatoes, chillis, peppers and aubergines, I am going to try to make use of this valuable growing space throughout the seasons. The polytunnel is already an invaluable space for raising seeds, but I intend to try to have some crops going through the winter too. In theory I should be able to be harvesting all year round.

Here's the plan.


  1. John, I couldn't help noticing you have a sofa in your polytunnel.

  2. Yes indeed, Philip, and I love it!
    Sadly it has to go though, as it harbours mice and, I suspect, may provide a hiding place for red spider mite. It also isn't so comfortable after overhead watering!

    I am on the look out for a more practical alternative seating arrangement.


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