Polytunnel Help!

The whole reason for the selfsufficientish website was to offer a place where anyone can ask, HOW DO I...? So who knows why it has taken us so long to have a HOW DO I? section, but here it is. So if you want to know how to do anything selfsufficientish then here is the place to ask.
Post Reply
peablesb
margo - newbie
margo - newbie
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:21 pm

Polytunnel Help!

Post: # 169210Post peablesb
Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:27 pm

Hi,

Can anyone suggest what would be good to plant in a polytunnel now. I'm getting one started at an inner city kids adventure playground, that is trying to provide the kids with healthy veg and be self sufficient.

Can anyone suggest anything that I can sow in there now that will keep the kids interested in growing over winter and provide some tasty food??

Thanks
P

grahamhobbs
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1212
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:39 pm
Location: London

Re: Polytunnel Help!

Post: # 169219Post grahamhobbs
Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:44 pm

Hi, its getting a bit late to sow things even in the polytunnel I think, but you can still sow
1. salads that will grow the whole of the winter eg lettuce (especially winter varieties), mizuna, rocket, mustard, endive, kale (for small leaves)
2. you can also try chinese vegs eg pak choi, etc.
3. Winter varieties of carrots eg. Nantes Fruband
4. not sure but check out turnips (think there are some fast growing autumn types)
5. winter radish eg. mooli
6. if you can get hold of young plants, then you can plant spring cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce

Need to act fast - just check the varieties are suitable for sowing now.
Don't sow peas or beans in polytunnel, my experience is that they get too hot in spring before they crop.

User avatar
MuddyWitch
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 2460
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:13 pm
latitude: 52.643985
longitude: -1.052939
Location: Leicester, uk, but heading to Ireland

Re: Polytunnel Help!

Post: # 169256Post MuddyWitch
Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:21 pm

We are of course assuming that you are in the UK....are you?

MW
If it isn't a Greyhound, it's just a dog!

User avatar
Odsox
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 5173
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:21 pm
Location: West Cork, Ireland

Re: Polytunnel Help!

Post: # 169280Post Odsox
Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:31 am

I sort of answered this question a few days ago.
See http://www.selfsufficientish.com/forum/ ... 12&t=16033
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

User avatar
Odsox
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 5173
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:21 pm
Location: West Cork, Ireland

Re: Polytunnel Help!

Post: # 169281Post Odsox
Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:42 am

grahamhobbs wrote:Don't sow peas or beans in polytunnel, my experience is that they get too hot in spring before they crop.
Just spotted this Graham. I don't agree with you at all on this one.
I have grown early peas, mange tout peas, broad beans, French beans and runner beans in my polytunnel every year since I got the tunnel, and can say with hand on heart that every time they grew and produced better than those outside.
As far as peas and broad beans go, I only grow those overwinter but mange tout peas are grown in succession summer and winter alike.
I will admit that my summer temperatures are probably a lot cooler than yours though.

If you click on the link on my post above, and then on the link in that post, you will see what veg I had for Easter dinner. :mrgreen:
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

grahamhobbs
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1212
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:39 pm
Location: London

Re: Polytunnel Help!

Post: # 169305Post grahamhobbs
Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:44 am

Odsox, that's very interesting, could you give bit more detail regarding sowing/harvesting times and varieties, particulary the overwintering crops. I've found that the climbers climb too well and get scortched under the plastic or cropped no earlier than oputside, broad beans grow too lank and flop everywhere, french beans are ok but I think wasteful of space. But would love to hear more about your experiences.

grahamhobbs
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1212
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:39 pm
Location: London

Re: Polytunnel Help!

Post: # 169321Post grahamhobbs
Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:03 pm

Odsox, sorry just seen your photo and post - the overwinter peas look great, I'm going to give it a go.
I very much agree with you that you should keep the polytunnel productive all year round, I also think the same goes for outside, out of 35 beds I only have 2 that have nothing growing on them overwinter from Nov - end of Feb, which is too short for legumes and don't want to introduce any more brassicas in the rotations, so have been looking for a green manure, rye and tares seems the most likely but would have to sown earlier between the rows of the previous crops. Otherwise its broad beans sown to be dug in, but that seems such a waste and is not cheap, even if you save your own seed. Do you have any ideas?

User avatar
Odsox
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 5173
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:21 pm
Location: West Cork, Ireland

Re: Polytunnel Help!

Post: # 169330Post Odsox
Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:24 pm

I must admit that the French beans I grow are in the greenhouse rather than the tunnel, although I have grown them there. I grow Fasholt and I sow them in mid March on the back wall of my lean-to where they start producing beans by mid May.
Mange tout peas (Oregon Sugar Pod) are always on the go and as soon as one lot comes out, another lot goes in regardless of the season.
Runner Beans I plant in the front of the tunnel next to the doors so that bees can get to them. I sow the seed in mid July and this year we should start picking them this coming weekend. The reason I grow them in the tunnel is because we usually start getting gales about now and the ones in the garden get destroyed. A bit different this year as we have had no gales yet but my outdoor beans got destroyed by rust instead.
They should keep going until December.

Broad beans do grow rather tall, but as long as you are prepared for that and have strings either side of the row, it's not that much of a problem. This year I'm experimenting with "The Sutton" and should not have that problem at all.
In 2007 I grew one packet of B.Beans in the tunnel and another 3 packets in the garden, all Imperial Green Longpod (we like beans :mrgreen: ) and weighed the crops. The one packet in the tunnel produced more beans than the other 3 packs combined. Last year I sowed a 14' row of Aqua Dulce on the 22 October, you can see a picture of them in February here .. http://www.selfsufficientish.com/forum/ ... 12&t=13061
The Aqua Dulce were more civilised that the Longpods which did grow to 6 feet.

Peas I agree they can take over, but the secret of that is to only get the dwarf varieties. Last autumn I grew Meteor (sowed the same time as the B.Beans) and the description says they grow to 18", but they grew to the top of the 4' 0" fencing mesh. This year I am going to grow Early Onward and see what that does.

Regarding the heat in a polytunnel, I think it's essential to have large double doors at both ends. That way you can angle the individual doors to either act as air scoops when it's hot, or as baffles when it's windy. During the summer months I don't think the temperature in my tunnel is a lot different than ambient, but it is a lot different during the autumn, winter & spring months.
It does help to be here 24/7 to look after it though.

Your second post came in while typing this, so some of the above might not be so relevant.
Outdoor beds with beans as a green manure is not necessarily a waste as you can eat the shoots as greens, they taste just like the beans themselves, also you can eat pea shoots the same and both of course will produce nitrogen nodules.

Whatever, don't be afraid to experiment and ignore consensus, it might not always work but when it does it's very satisfying.
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

grahamhobbs
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1212
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:39 pm
Location: London

Re: Polytunnel Help!

Post: # 169335Post grahamhobbs
Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:48 pm

Odsox, great thanks for that, yes I remember now the broad beans were too early for the bees, so went on flowering and flowering until the bees arrived , but by then the outside ones were ready. Definitely going to go with the peas and mangetout, that's very good.
My polytunnels are quite big and on our allotment, so however much I would like to be there 24/7 I can't be, 2 or 3 times a week usually - and April especially can go from cold to blisteringly hot in the polytunnel in the blink of an eye.

User avatar
Odsox
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 5173
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:21 pm
Location: West Cork, Ireland

Re: Polytunnel Help!

Post: # 169346Post Odsox
Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:42 pm

grahamhobbs wrote:My polytunnels are quite big and on our allotment, so however much I would like to be there 24/7 I can't be, 2 or 3 times a week usually - and April especially can go from cold to blisteringly hot in the polytunnel in the blink of an eye.
Yes, I can see that would be a problem.
My tunnel and greenhouses are shut up every evening at sundown and only opened in the morning as and when necessary and during the colder months quite often not at all.
But as you say, it only takes a brief burst of sunshine to send temperatures rocketing.
It must be very difficult in your situation and makes me appreciate being a full time lounger .. sorry gardener. :lol:
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

Post Reply