One of the most important things when it comes to maintaining your polytunnel is sunlight. Sunlight allows plants to grow. Too little light and plants within your polytunnel will soon begin to suffer. Cleaning a polytunnel is important – if you clean your polytunnel it will let more light in, to the benefit of the plants you are trying to grow.
While in summer, it can be a challenge to keep the temperatures in a polytunnel at a reasonable level, since there is so much sunlight shining through the polytunnel cover, in the autumn, winter and early spring, low light levels can be the major impediment to growing your own food.
While there is, of course, nothing that we can do about natural low light levels in the UK outside of the summer season, we can make sure that as much light as possible reaches our plants. In order to ensure our plants continue to get as much light as possible, it is important to keep your polytunnel clean throughout the year.
Reasons To Clean Your Polytunnel
Letting in the light is just one of the reasons why you should clean your polytunnel. Here are some of the other reasons why you should always make sure that you clean your polytunnel on a regular basis:
- To prolong the life of your polytunnel cover.
- To check and prevent the spread of plant diseases.
- To check for and prevent the spread of common polytunnel pests.
- To ensure good ventilation and air flow throughout.
- To prevent nasty smells and make your polytunnel a more pleasant place to spend time.
When To Clean Your Polytunnel
Cleaning your polytunnel is a simple process that should be undertaken every year. It is a good idea to clean your polytunnel in late winter or early spring, so that your plants can take advantage of the increasing light levels at that time of the year. This is also a good time to clean your polytunnel because it will tend to be a time when your polytunnel is still relatively sparsely populated with plants – as winter crops begin to go to seed and are harvested or removed, and before the main planting and sowing push in the spring season. However, if your polytunnel has become dirty, you can clean it at any time of year. Stay on top of maintenance jobs like this and you will find that everything goes a lot more easily and smoothly.
How To Clean Your Polytunnel
Before you begin a deep clean of the inside and outside of the tunnel, it is a good idea to have a tidy up and clear out any old pots, labels or plant debris that might be lying around. Sweep any paths and check corners for any pests that might be hidden there.
The next job is to clean the outside of the polytunnel, which may have become dirty over time. It is important to clean the algae and other dirt (bird dropping etc.) off the polytunnel. A window cleaning brush or car wash brush can help you to reach the top of the polytunnel. For larger tunnels, you can create a cleaning rope (rope, with an old sheet wrapped around it) that can be pulled back and forth by two people across the top of the tunnel and used to clean the structure. Alternatively, a high-pressure jet of water from a pressure washer can make the job a lot easier and should be strong enough to dislodge most dirt and algae. A pressure washer will also allow you to get into any creases where the plastic cover is folded around the ends of the polytunnel.
Once you have done this, begin cleaning the inside of the polytunnel cover. First, wipe off any algae that may have grown inside, and clean off any dirt with water on a soft brush or sponge. Once you have done this, you may already see that your polytunnel has become lighter and brighter!
Algon Organic is a cleaning solution that can be used not only for polythene covers but for stone, wood, glass, canopies and many other surfaces. It can be used on your polytunnel inside and out. It’s really easy to use and being non-toxic, it’s safe for pets, animals and wildlife. Simply apply with a long-handled brush, paintbrush or garden sprayer and you’ll have the job done in no time at all. Within a couple of days, the polythene cover or greenhouse panes will soon be sparkling clean, your plants will notice the difference and the effects really do last…It’s as simple as that!
See how to clean a polytunnels polythene cover.
For more information about Polytunnels call the team on 01282 601253 or check out our selection of guides and blog posts which offer a wealth of useful information.
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK