Polytunnel in winter

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shokkyy

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Polytunnel in winter
« on: October 11, 2011, 09:08 »
I've just splashed out on a nice big polytunnel and I'm wondering what I can use it for in winter time. Obviously I can do stuff like winter lettuces, but would it give me enough warmth to do things like overwintering chilli plants, so I don't have to keep them in the house? Or any other suggestions for use over winter?

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stompy

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2011, 11:54 »
Durin the winter the inside of the green house can drop below freezing so the chillie plants would die.

I have left chillie plants in in the past (due to lazyness) and they all died.


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arugula

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2011, 13:51 »
Carrots,spring onions and turnips if you get planting them soon-ish, because of your more southerly location - it would likely be too late now much further north. As stompy says, chillis won't survive if it gets too cold, which they are forecasting again.  :(
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mumofstig

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2011, 14:01 »
peas and broadbeans for early crops ;)
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shokkyy

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2011, 16:08 »
Thanks for that, that's given me a few ideas. I did sow turnips outside but something seems to have eaten most of the top growth so I'd given up on them. Not sure what it was, doesn't look like slugs, but I could try starting some more off inside and hopefully they'll be relatively safe from munching in there. And I lost my entire crop of carrots and parsnips to mice. I'm really hoping I'll have less losses to that kind of thing in the tunnel. I hadn't thought of early peas but I do love peas so I'll try that too. I'll pass on broadbeans though, cos I think they're disgusting :)

It's 6 metres long and reasonably wide, 3 metres, so I should have enough room to do a raised bed down the centre and put pots and growbags down the sides. I'm trying to work out which things would benefit most from being in there rather than outside, not just in winter but all year round. In the pots I'll be doing things like indoor cucumber, aubergine, tomato, peppers, chillis, but I haven't decided about the raised bed yet. I'm thinking of things that are prone to pest problems (carrot, parsnip, turnip, lettuce) but not too big in top growth, so it doesn't start to feel too claustrophobic in there. In this year's foul weather even my courgettes spent the whole year sulking, so maybe that's another one that would be safer inside.

What does everyone else feel benefits most from being in a tunnel? And if a polytunnel isn't frost safe, how much earlier would I be able to put tender plants/seedlings in there next spring?

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arugula

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2011, 16:12 »
Your tunnel won't necessarily be mouse-proof, they took up canteen rights in ours over this growing season, but it is relatively easy to put poison down in there without pets being able to get to it.

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AlaninCarlisle

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2011, 16:46 »
I'm also in my first year of tunnel ownership. Mine's 7 metres x 5 metres.

Mistakes made include the following:

Bad layout of raised beds. I have two beds of 1.6 metres width with a central path. This means that the far-sides of the beds are too close to the skin of the tunnel to allow comfortable access

Planted stuff far to close to each other. Would have been OK in open ground but everything grew so much more rigorously in there

Used impermeable Visquene for paths so drainage became a problem with edges of Visquene becoming boggy. Now replacing it with proper weed control fabric that allows drainage

Omitted to put any kind of barrier across doorway so rabbits entered and feasted on salad stuff when door was left open in the few bits of hot weather we had

Leeks are unsuited to polytunnels. Mine bolted and went to seed.

Didn't put up proper training wires and canes for melons and cucumbers so they ran riot

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shokkyy

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2011, 19:30 »
Bad layout of raised beds. I have two beds of 1.6 metres width with a central path. This means that the far-sides of the beds are too close to the skin of the tunnel to allow comfortable access

Yes, that's why I was going for a single raised bed down the centre, just 1 metre wide.

Omitted to put any kind of barrier across doorway so rabbits entered and feasted on salad stuff when door was left open in the few bits of hot weather we had

I'm going to keep any salad stuff to the raised bed, and making it a couple of feet high so they can't reach it (I hope).

Leeks are unsuited to polytunnels. Mine bolted and went to seed.

What sort of plants should I avoid in a tunnel?

Didn't put up proper training wires and canes for melons and cucumbers so they ran riot

Mine has got 2 roof bars, one off to each side, rather than a single central bar, so I was going to attach strings to those bars to support stuff that need tying in from the pots running down the side. I might have to duck a bit to walk down the sides, but I'm hoping that will work.

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AlaninCarlisle

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2011, 19:59 »
Stuff that did well in mine include the following
Sweetcorn
Celeriac (size of croquet balls)
Cabbage and cauliflower (never had such clean veg before)
Chiogga beetroot
All varieties of lettuce
Celery (still going strong, far too much and not a single plant with slugs on it)
Small turnips, Shirley tomatoes, cucumber, peppers (both sweet and hot varieties)

Stuff that hasn't done well include fennel (probably sown too late), melons (I failed to read up on them and didn't realise they needed hand-pollinating) and leek which went to seed

Later this year I'm putting in some strawberry plants to try and get a very early crop, cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce - the latter three I'm germinating in a propagator and will put them in ASAP

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japagow

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Re: Polytunnel in winter.
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2011, 20:07 »
I have just taken my tenth crop of kamatsuna mustard spinach leaves with more cut and come again to go and pak choi is coming on well . My suggestion for poly tunnel winter number one would be oriental greens planted now because they are easy to grow and fast as well.

Too cold for chilli. Seeds should hit the propogator 8 weeks before last frost of spring ready to go.

I have just cleared out some tomato plants - gardeners delight- that grew profusely all summer and will plant some orientals in their place.
( I won't grow tomatoes in the poly again because they take over.)
This will enable you to eat while you fiddle about with the raised beds and plan your campaign for next year.


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sunshineband

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2011, 07:31 »
I would add spinach to what you could plant inside now shokky ---  I have two sorts that are good, one plain green and one with gorgeous red stems which is great in salad as well as cooked  :D
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sonnycbr

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2011, 12:27 »
I'm also in my first year of tunnel ownership. Mine's 7 metres x 5 metres.

Mistakes made include the following:

Bad layout of raised beds. I have two beds of 1.6 metres width with a central path. This means that the far-sides of the beds are too close to the skin of the tunnel to allow comfortable access

Planted stuff far to close to each other. Would have been OK in open ground but everything grew so much more rigorously in there

Used impermeable Visquene for paths so drainage became a problem with edges of Visquene becoming boggy. Now replacing it with proper weed control fabric that allows drainage

Omitted to put any kind of barrier across doorway so rabbits entered and feasted on salad stuff when door was left open in the few bits of hot weather we had

Leeks are unsuited to polytunnels. Mine bolted and went to seed.

Didn't put up proper training wires and canes for melons and cucumbers so they ran riot

Hi Alan,
you made just about the same mistakes as me! I also planted things far too close together and finished up having to fight my way through foliage to pick toms. At least I had good year with my toms, as a lot of people have had a very poor season.
I got some pot leeks off a friend and put them in the tunnel...disaster, all went to seed.
On the good side, potatoes and garlic were best ever, and sweet peas gave a lovely show.
I also have a central path and raised beds 1.2m wide X 0.5m high. This means I don't have any access other than from the path.I'm fairly tall so I can reach the back of the beds. I used old carpet on the path and it works very well.
Next year mate,that'll be the one. ;) :) :)

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shokkyy

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2011, 13:08 »
But how do you grow tall stuff like toms in a bed that goes right up to the side of the tunnel? They always have sloping roofs so you'd have quite a bit less height near the edges.

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sonnycbr

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2011, 15:15 »
But how do you grow tall stuff like toms in a bed that goes right up to the side of the tunnel? They always have sloping roofs so you'd have quite a bit less height near the edges.
Of course you're exactly right Shokkyy, there's no chance of growing anything high in tunnels with raised beds that go almost to the outer edge. I grow my toms nearest the centre of the tunnel(it's 9 feet tall) and stuff like lettuce, radish, onions at the outside of the bed.It's only year 1 so plenty of learning to do yet! :D

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shokkyy

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Re: Polytunnel in winter
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2011, 15:39 »
Of course you're exactly right Shokkyy, there's no chance of growing anything high in tunnels with raised beds that go almost to the outer edge. I grow my toms nearest the centre of the tunnel(it's 9 feet tall) and stuff like lettuce, radish, onions at the outside of the bed.It's only year 1 so plenty of learning to do yet! :D

You've given me something to think about though. I'm now wondering whether I should put a raised bed each side, and maybe leave a space at the end for tall stuff. The only tall things I can think of that I'd want in there are cordon toms (I do bush in a garden bed) and cucumbers. A lot of the things I normally do in pots, like peppers, chillis and aubergines, should be fine in beds, and in fact would probably do better there.



 

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