In these difficult and unusual times, many of us are turning our attentions to our gardens. While you may not be thinking about buying much right now, a polytunnel could be a good choice for those in lockdown.
Those of us who are lucky enough to have gardens are now appreciating them – perhaps more than we ever did before.
If you have a garden, but have not given much thought to growing your own, then now could be the perfect time to give it some consideration. But as you will discover below, growing your own food is not the only reason why this could be the perfect time to get a polytunnel. A polytunnel will improve life spend at home in a range of different ways.
A Polytunnel Makes It Easier To Grow Your Own Food
Of course, the main reason why most people purchase a polytunnel is for food production. A polytunnel makes it easier to grow your own food, since it protects plants from a range of pests and problems. It can also allow you to grow a wider variety of crops where you live, and even to continue growing over the winter months.
You may not have considered this, but growing at least some of your own food can be a great way to support key workers during this crisis, since you will be reducing the load on food producers and delivery workers. And you will have to leave home less often for essential supplies, which also obviously helps keep people safe.
But more than this, growing your own can help you build your own and your household’s resilience, so you can be more ready for whatever the future may bring.
And you’ll be doing your part for the climate crisis too, helping our communities to transition to a more sustainable future for us all.
A Polytunnel Can Provide Other Yields Too
It is also well worthwhile remembering that a polytunnel can also provide more than just food. The plants that you grow can also provide a range of other things.
For example, you might grow herbs that have benefits for natural healthcare. You might have prunings from bushes or dwarf trees that can be used for crafts and DIY projects. You might have plants that can be used to make dye, or even used to make paper or fabrics. Many plants can be used in home-made soaps, cleaners and beauty products. The list goes on…
The more you plant, the more your polytunnel can provide. And the deeper you look, the more varied and interesting uses you can find for a wide range of different plants and natural materials.
Polytunnel Gardening is Great For Your Physical Health
Not all the yields from a polytunnel are actual, physical things. Some of the yields are intangible – non-physical things that we can gain by having one. One great thing about a polytunnel is that it lets us get out and garden whatever the weather. And gardening has been proven to have profoundly positive effects on our physical health. The gentle exercise involved in tending your garden can help you keep yourself fit and healthy – and tire you out so you get a good night’s sleep at the end of the day.
Bending and stretching to tend your garden can help keep muscles moving and joints flexible. Weeding, and tasks like moving and turning compost can even be something of a workout.
And of course, your gardening efforts will mean that you will have easy access to fresh, healthy organic food to keep you and your family healthy and strong.
And Great for Your Mental Health Too
Gardening and spending time in green and growing spaces has been proven to be beneficial not only to physical health but also mental health and wellbeing. The gardening itself can make people feel happy and calm. The simple and repetitive actions of sowing seeds, pricking out seedlings, and harvesting crops can help us bust stress and feel a closer connection to the natural world.
You may be surprised to learn that getting your hands in the dirt can be good for you in more ways than one. There are even bacteria in some soils that have been shown to boost serotonin.
Gardening brings its challenges, of course. But it also brings a range of rewards. It can help you set goals, and feel great when you accomplish them. There is nothing quite like the sense of satisfaction you get from growing your own and enjoying a meal made from plants you sowed as seeds yourself.
A Polytunnel Could Be an Extension To Your Living Space
Above and beyond the benefits that come from using a polytunnel as a growing space, there are other uses for a polytunnel that you could consider. Essentially, when it comes down to it, a polytunnel can be an extension to your living space. It can serve almost as an additional room for your home.
You might use a polytunnel as, for example:
A place to sit, relax and read as well as a place to grow. (Feeling like everyone is on top of one another with everyone at home? A polytunnel could allow family members to get away for some alone time.)
A playroom for your kids – perhaps with space for gardening and growing fun, and for other messy projects you don’t really want them to do in the house.
An indoors/ outdoors ‘classroom’ for home learning. (Not just for the kids, but for all members of your household.)
A place to work on your laptop, perhaps, at a garden table inside. (Which could give you a change of scene when working from home, even when it is still a little too chilly to sit and work outdoors in the garden.)
A place where you can spend some private time sort of outdoors, but away from the prying eyes of any neighbours. What you get up to in there is your business!
Those are just a few of the ways you might use the extra space. But a polytunnel is such a versatile addition to your garden that you will surely find a wide range of other ways to use it too.
A Tunnel Could Be Used For Storage
One other thing to think about is that a shade-cover polytunnel could also be used as a useful place to store items from your home. If your rooms feels overcrowded while you are all at home, a polytunnel might be just what you need. As extra storage space in your garden, a polytunnel with the right light-restricting cover could be an affordable way to store excess items outside your main living space. Popping bikes, outdoors equipment, kids toys or other items in a storage polytunnel could mean that your home suddenly feels a whole lot bigger and more spacious than it did before. Which could be especially useful during these difficult times.
You Could Also Use a Tunnel as a Workshop Area Where You Can Build Resilience and Learn New Skills
Finally, a polytunnel could also potentially become a workshop or studio where you can build resilience and learn new skills. Learning skills is an important part not only of getting through this crisis, but also in tackling the climate crisis and working our way to a more sustainable future.
Learning a range of traditional skills – gardening, cooking, but also other skills like upcycling, DIY, woodworking etc.. can help us weather whatever storms may come.
As you can see, a polytunnel can be a versatile and useful structure, which can be used in a wide range of ways to improve life now, and moving forwards.
Share your own polytunnel stories and suggestions in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.