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» The Polytunnel
by FloBear 15th April 2019, 4:45 pm

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default Re: The Polytunnel

Post by Dandelion on 11th July 2016, 6:10 pm

freebird wrote:That looks absolutely amazing

Just what I was going to say!

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Post by Jaded Green on 14th July 2016, 6:00 pm

Wow
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Post by FloBear on 16th July 2016, 8:57 am

Wow from me too, Ploshkni. You'll be going into business soon selling off all your suplus produce!
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Post by Ploshkin on 8th August 2016, 2:38 pm

One of my main reasons for wanting a polytunnel was my inability to grow tomatoes in my greenhouse any larger than cherry size that had a flavour. I'm not holding my breath for great flavour as we have had so little sun but these are my toms so far. It's interesting what Freebird said about spacing because I realised that my plants are quite a bit further apart than 3 in a growbag which is what I have always done in the greenhouse. My fruits are twice the size of any I have had before.
The Polytunnel - Page 2 P1010918
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Post by Ploshkin on 14th July 2017, 1:29 pm

I see I haven't bored anyone with my polytunnel since this time last year.
It going well again. The strawberries had more of a big flush than last year when they ticked along continuously. They have produced lots of runners this year which I need for new plants but they are now fruiting again. Nothing seems to be struggling but we have had some really good weather - too hot in there sometimes. My experiments for this year are melons which are looking extremely promising and sweet potatoes. They have healthy growth but I won't have any idea of success or not for a few months yet. My peppers seem to be much healthier than last year - I've got them in bottomless pots on the bed and they seem happier that way. They were in the soggy corner last year.
The area surrounding the tunnel is naturally acquiring a nice collection of wildflowers. I just keep a couple of paths through the grass. Anyway, pictures from last week.
The Polytunnel - Page 2 Img_0011
The Polytunnel - Page 2 Img_0010
The Polytunnel - Page 2 Img_0012
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Post by FloBear on 14th July 2017, 1:52 pm

Lush! Very Happy
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Post by Chilli-head on 14th July 2017, 2:16 pm

Your polytunnel pictures could be used as an advert, I reckon. Everything always looks so enthusiastic in there !
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Post by Ploshkin on 14th July 2017, 2:46 pm

The answer is shit Chilli Head, unlimited quantities of it.
My neighbour started a polytunnel last year too but she grows too many things, too close together and they are all rather weak & don't produce much.  I keep telling her to bring a trailer up and relieve out muck heap of some of its contents but she hasn't. She was here the other day on bee business so I took her over to my pt and she was quite astounded.  There was only solid clay in there which is why most stuff is in bottomless pots but I was really pleased to see that, after only one season, the beginnings of some decent soil are already apparent.  All down to my army of worms I think.
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Post by freebird on 14th July 2017, 6:09 pm

Wish I lived nearer, Ploshkin. I would relieve you of some of your muck. Polytunnel looks fab.
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Post by Chilli-head on 14th July 2017, 10:34 pm

Ah yes Ploshkin. I have to slip a local farmer £30 for a trailer load of good shit ! I've been using it more generously last autumn and this spring, and the squashes certainly like it !
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Post by Ploshkin on 6th August 2017, 2:48 pm

My squashes are doing well again this year - in the polytunnel, I decided last year to stop trying them outside.
Uchiki Kuri doesn't have quite as many fruit as last year but they are bigger - the aerial ones are about football sized (there are some melons behind)
The Polytunnel - Page 2 P1020210
I love growing those because the flowers have the most glorious perfume and the bumblebees love them. Every day I find bees asleep in all the flowers. As the number of flowers is getting fewer there are up to half a dozen bees in each flower now. They don't go for the other squash or courgette flowers.
The Polytunnel - Page 2 P1020211
The other squash I am trying this year is Butterbush, a 'compact' butternut that can apparently be grown in pots. The vines are not as rampant as other varieties I have grown but they still wander quite a long way. In the pictures they have quite dumpy fruits but all of mine are long, crookneck ones. The bigger one here is now about 15" long (and there are the surprise melons I found when I took some foliage off to help the squashes ripen.
The Polytunnel - Page 2 P1020212
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Post by FloBear on 7th August 2017, 4:53 pm

Bees dozing in squash flowers, how gorgeous is that!
I have to say the only squash I've ever eaten and liked is butternut. Those ones with squiggly stuff inside are fairly nasty in my opinion and others have seemed a bit insubstantial and more like marrow type flesh.
Surprise melons Laughing
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Post by Ploshkin on 7th August 2017, 6:55 pm

It is best to grow UK bred butternut like Hawk or Hunter because they are bred for our shorter season. Uchiki Kuri (aka potimarron or pumpkin squash) isn't marrow like or squiggly. It's got a nice dense orange coloured flesh. It's a reliable one to grow - even I have had success with it outside. It can be grown up a structure so doesn't have to be too space consuming and the bumbles do their impression of Swansea on a Friday night outdoors too.
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Post by FloBear on 7th August 2017, 7:38 pm

Sounds like one for the list, then.
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Post by freebird on 8th August 2017, 10:44 pm

Mmmm, think I'm going to give Uchiki Kuri a try next season, too. Do you have a favourite seed supplier for that, P, or do you save your own seed?

My mum's gardener gave me some butternut squash plants, which I have planted and they are huge now. Having read your comments on growing butternut, and from the little I know of him, I suspect he has probably taken seed from a bought squash, which may be entirely unsuitable. I have some tiny squashes forming, but not convinced that they will grow and mature by the end of the season (they're outside).
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Post by Ploshkin on 11th April 2019, 10:09 am

I thought I would revive my polytunnel thread for an update as I was musing yesterday that I am embarking on my 4th season with it.
Freebird, you may wish to take note as Rhayader (if you end up there) will have pretty similar conditions to us here.  We are at 650' (polytunnel probably over 700') but because we live down in a hollow it shortens the available sunlight hours both in my garden and greenhouse.  The PT is in full sun all day - probably 4 or 5 hours a day extra in the summer and of course crops under cover are protected from the ravages of the weather - wind and excessive wet are common.

It's fair to say that it has been a resounding success though after only one season I ditched the automatic watering system - leaky hose clogging up was the problem.  I may revisit that some time but even in last year's excessive temps I managed to keep everything watered (hooray for clay soil).

It has transformed my growing for various reasons:

1) It has enabled me to grow things that I would never have attempted - peppers, melons, figs, beefsteak tomatoes & sweetcorn and to get far superior crops of tomatoes and strawberries than I have been able to grow in my greenhouse previously.

2) It has enabled me to get really early harvests of things like peas, mangetout, carrots, early potatoes and french beans.  In fact the early beans I put in were still producing at the end of the summer last year.  I still grow some runners outside.

3 )It has freed up a lot of space in the garden for things that grow well there like brassicas and soft fruit because I now no longer grow many (or any) beans and peas outside or bother with squashes or courgettes.  One courgette plant in the PT last year produced more than I could possibly use every day from the end of May through to October.  I'm hoping to turn over one of my two veg areas to a fruit cage - It hasn't happened yet.

An added bonus is that it is a lovely, warm, peaceful haven on cold, windy spring days.
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Post by FloBear on 11th April 2019, 4:15 pm

Delghted to hear that the polytunnel has proved such a success, Ploshkin. I suppose with the amount of rainfall you have, watering is not so much of a problem as elsewhere.
Do you have water storage of any sort, or is it not necessary?
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Post by Ploshkin on 11th April 2019, 4:56 pm

My polytunnel is located (by design) behind a sheep shed so I have the water stored from 2000 square ft of roof for watering the tunnel. I was amazed in the hot spell last year, when it got to 50°c in there every day for several weeks, that I didn't need to water much more than usual. The only thing that suffered was strawberries in hanging baskets because they were close to the roof. They made runners instead of fruit. I realised they were stressed so cut the runners off and took the baskets down and left them in the shade. When it cooled down I hung them back up and they fruited well.
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Post by FloBear on 11th April 2019, 10:35 pm

That sounds ideal, then. I need to organise a bit more storage for water. We haven't had nearly enough rain this year and I keep using the water butts to try and top up the pond.

eta I just reread page 1 of this thread and discovered explanations and photos of the watering system!
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Post by freebird on 12th April 2019, 9:45 am

I've just reread the part about your watering system, as well, Ploshkin. Is the clogging down to soil getting into the leaky hose where the water comes out? If so, maybe laying it on fleece or other permeable membrane might help. I would also consider a filter at the barrel end, to prevent debris in the stored water getting down the pipe.
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Post by Chilli-head on 12th April 2019, 10:16 am

I would suspect, if you have harvested rainwater going through them, especially if it has been stored in the warmer internal tanks, that the leaky pipe is becoming blocked with various biota in the water. Filtering living stuff out of water without the filters clogging due to living stuff - well, living on them - is tricky. My old college discovered this when their new grey water system flooded the basement - a thin film of algae is great at stopping filters. They needed UV sterilisers to make it work. Bit overkill for a greenhouse. How about a pipe with bigger holes, with the water on for a shorter time ? My dad built a system once using some scrap aluminium tube with ~1.5mm holes drilled in it every 6" (I love mixing my units !). Might need more pressure head though.
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Post by Ploshkin on 13th April 2019, 6:52 pm

I think it was just debris in the water as it comes off the sheep shed roof and through a 1" pipe into a barrel. I'm also sure you are right, Chilli Head about algae and suchlike. After it stopped working the pipes remained in place until the end of the season. When I went to take them up they were really dry and still attached to the barrels. I took the stops out of the ends to run the water out of the barrels and blow me, the leaky pipe leaked perfectly, presumably because it was dry and the clogging stuff had shrunk. I think I might just as well use ordinary hosepipe and stab holes in it. I might try a bit for the sweetcorn this year as that needs quite a lot of water though tbh I haven't found keeping the tunnel watered anything like as much of a chore as I thought it would be.

While I'm on the tunnel thread here is my 3rd year fig plant. I repotted it this year and it is currently sporting 53 figlets. It will live in a pot for a bit yet but may eventually end up planted in the ground with restricted roots.
The Polytunnel - Page 2 P1020611
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Post by FloBear on 15th April 2019, 2:13 pm

Ooh, I've just bought a fig plant. Brown Turkey. Haven't quite decided where to site it yet. It's got several smallish figs on but I think I'm supposed to take them off. Either that or put it in the GH so they have a chance of ripening.
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Post by Ploshkin on 15th April 2019, 2:46 pm

If it's got smallish figs on it now leave them and they will hopefully swell. When you take the small ones (i.e. larger than a pea) off is at the end of our summer because there is no chance of them ripening - in their natural climate those would be a second crop. The very small ones you leave on and they overwinter and start forming new figs from now.
Brown Turkey might be a bit big for a greenhouse eventually but you could keep it in a pot for a few of years until the pot is too big to move. I would imagine it would fruit well outside in your area.
Mine is a variety called Excel. I contacted a specialist fig nursery (who don't seem to be around any more) and described my situation and it was the one they recommended.
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Post by FloBear on 15th April 2019, 4:45 pm

Thanks for that Ploshkin. I'll leave them on and see what happens. Thinking of keeping against the sort-of-fence on the sunny side of the garden and definitely in a pot.
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