The Polytunnel conundrum solved by The Polytunnel HandbookPosted by Fiona Nevile in Gardening, Reviews | 7 comments
Oh the power of words. Jackie who writes the inspirational blog Chestnuts Farm mentioned in a comment on my blog.
“Perhaps Fiona should get a polytunnel for her birthday.”
With a whir and a click I thought YES! Lynn Keddie had also suggested that it would be a good move. Our garden gave us plentiful supplies of Kale last winter but wouldn’t it be good to grow baby carrots and winter peas. The greenhouse is always chock a block with delicate plants. This would give us freedom.
Last Christmas I bought Eliot Coleman’s book Four-season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long. This is packed with planting schemes and plans for making cloches, mobile hoop houses and so much more. It is an American book, written by a man whose garden is on the same latitude as southern France but a lot of the information is relevant to the UK. Incidentally this book is mentioned on the further reading book list at the end of The Polytunnel Handbook.
I discovered that there is an enormous range of poly tunnels for sale in the UK. From budget to Rolls Royce ones. There were so many choices too – hinged or sliding doors or even blinds – type of plastic covers – size and shape. So I decided to splash out on a book – The Polytunnel Handbook by Andy Mckee and Mark Gatter. Andy writes the entertaining blog Hedgewizard’s diary. I sometimes pop in there to marvel at his harvesting list. He writes well too.
This book is a real cracker for a polytunnel virgin like me. It details the importance of location, explains what all these mysterious optional extras are (ground plates?) and recommends the relevant ones. In fact the pros and cons of all types of polytunnels, solar houses and keder houses are explained in detail. The style is light, witty and hugely readable – which gives it gold star rating.
The section of what to grow at different times of the year is compact but a useful
guide. The experience that the authors’ bring to the book is really worthwhile with their tips on how to get the best out of your polytunnel, which includes underplanting ideas, crop rotation plans, thoughtful design of beads, thermal heat traps and a massive section on dealing with pests organically. I loved the walk the plank into the bucket/peanut butter mousetrap.
There are detailed instructions for building your own polytunnel. And a wonderful chapter entitled “Thinking Around The Tunnel” with suggestions for extending the use of a polytunnel such as a dedicating a small area for sitting and sipping a cooling drink on a summer evening and even a hammock slung from the crossbars.
The Polytunnel Handbook is an excellent read and a great introduction to using this method to grow plants throughout the year. My enthusiasm is now mirror polished. I now know exactly what I want in terms of a polytunnel and am rearing to go. Do I go for a cheap and cheerful or save up for a state of the art one?
Any advice on the pros and cons of your particular polytunnel would be much appreciated.
NB I’ve just spotted that the authors have a new book coming out on September 9th – How to Grow Food in Your Polytunnel. On my wish list already!
Leave a reply