There is no getting away from the fact that a polytunnel environment is not natural. And growing anything in an unnatural situation can present a few challenges, but nothing that can’t be overcome with vigilance and precautions.
Keep Your Plants Healthy
Lack of moisture is the greatest threat to the health of your plants. Plants that are dry at the roots for long periods of time are particularly susceptible to mildew towards the end of the summer. And this is the busiest end of the year, when many valuable crops are producing their fruits so the disease can be a damaging one, with the fungus capable of spoiling developing fruits and weakening plants.
Keeping any plant in your polytunnel healthy is a lot easier if you grow them in well prepared raised beds. The additional depth of soil will: –
- Improve fertility – provided you use well-rotted manure, good quality topsoil or rich compost to top them up.
- Be slower to dry out which will make your plants less prone to stress.
- Help to eliminate weeds, which grow incredibly fast in a Polytunnel.
Make sure you clear the ground of perennial weeds before you build the bed. Mark out the area for the beds and spraying off the area first is the safest method of making sure your beds are weed free. Ensure sure your raised beds are accessible from all sides so you can reach the middle without having to tread on the soil and compact it.
Improving the soil
If you don’t have raised beds and grow most of your crops straight into the Polytunnel soil, digging is essential. Start by watering the whole of the soil area inside the polytunnel if it is too dry to dig and allow it to drain until it is just right for working. Then tip as much organic goodness on top of it as you can. Homemade compost and manure are perfect and you can even use layers of grass clipping where you want to grow leafy crops. Leave it to break down for a few weeks and then dig it all over ready for another year’s growing.
For more monthly growing tips and advice please visit First Tunnels Growing Guide
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK