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How to easily create more growing space in your polytunnel or greenhouse

Floating shelves in my Solar tunnel

Floating shelves in my Solar tunnel

Somehow people seem to be much more creative and imaginative in polytunnels than greenhouses. I picked up the idea of floating shelves from the excellent book by Mark Gatter and Andy Mckee How to Grow Food in Your Polytunnel. Of course the subtitle ‘All the Year Round’ was the initial hook for me.

We are so lucky to have our Solar tunnel. It’s stronger than a polytunnel and withstood the February high winds. And the time when I tripped over the wheelbarrow handles and bounced off its sturdy cover in a ghastly stomach wrenching ‘Am I going to damage it?’ moment.

The Solar tunnel has brilliant staging too. Strong and sturdy it can cleverly be folded up into the frame when not needed. But even if I had 100 meters of staging I know that it would never be enough. The more you have the more that you are encouraged to fill the space. It’s addictive.

Floating shelving, placed carefully to avoid shading sun loving plants is a boon. It gives more space and at this time of year is a real advantage for housing seedlings, away from the ground, before they mature and go onto bigger starring roles.

I found some growbag trays (?!) in Homebase for my shelves. I reckoned that these could double as large saucers for several sturdy pots on the ground later in the year. I probably will keep a couple of shelves up, lined with capillary matting for pots that need TLC as the summer goes on.

I used horticultural wire to string them up. It took just five minutes to assemble and hang each shelf. I reckon that I’m going to use at least one in the greenhouse this year too.

If you don’t have enough space on your staging or ground in your polytunnel or greenhouse, why not give floating shelves a go this year – the only way is up?

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  1. thanks so much for your reply its nice to get some positive feedback regards frank

    • John taylor

      iv been looking at this for some time now but have been trying to get some sort of brack to clip to the metal on my poll tunnel to make it more sturdy looking at your idea it is fixed like a swinging shelf am i right
      ill have a go would like you to send me just how you fixed your shelfs

  2. Does anyone know how easy or it is to put a solar tunnel up as we will be doing the ground work soon we live on the west coast of ireland so it is very windy if anyone has any tips i would love to hear from you thanks frank

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Frank

      Danny and I put up our solat tunnel in September 2010. You need two people and one has to be strong to screw the supports into the ground. Apart from that, it’s easy as the cover is designed to fit the super strong structure.

      We love our solar tunnel!

    • John taylor

      well i found it very easy but there was two of us

  3. Right, you have convinced me, I have enquired about getting a solar tunnel now, is it a little sad that I am soo excited?

  4. Reminds me that I use cat litter trays for standing all my plants in, very sturdy and robust. Just got myself some more while in England last October as they are rather cheaper there.

  5. Michelle in NZ

    I’m so pleased that growing veggies in the solar tunnel is going so very well for you. I hope you have reserved a wee spot somewhere in there for a comfy-to-Fiona chair so you too can enjoy your spring and autumn sunshine in comfort.

    Wishing you happy sowing, growing and enjoying the results both in your mind and for your tastebuds.

    With care and sending huggles to you, Danny and the Min Pins,

    Michelle and Zebby Cat, xxxxx and purrrrumbles

  6. Love the idea of your floating shelves – and as you say, who can’t use the extra space 🙂

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