Never mind what the weatherman says, spring comes early in a polytunnel. So roll up your sleeves, start making the most of the extended growing season, and show Mother Nature a trick or two.Your poly tunnel should look like a plant nursery with pots and trays everywhere. Raised staging will help you to keep things tidy and easy to look after. Suspended staging can also double the area for growing and help keep pests at bay. On the subject of pests….keep checking. They love tender, young plants..don’t let your seedlings be a feast.
1. Give your broad beans a helping hand with pollination…and give those peas more support if they need it.
2. Think about adding a gutter to collect rainwater. In summer, 2 or 3 large, full water butts can be very, very busy.
3. Small plants ordered from Nurseries can take weeks to arrive, so check delivery times carefully.
4. Recycle milk cartons, toilet rolls and yoghurt pots into plant and seedling pots. You can even make pots from newspaper.
5. Look for any empty spaces in your Polytunnel. Decide what else you could have growing that space. Add it to the planner for the next growing year!
6. March is a good time to do the spring cleaning in your polytunnel. Have a good clear out and tidy up, and clean the polytunnel plastic from top to bottom. Practising good hygiene and being disciplined in your polytunnel practices in the early spring will make it much easier throughout the growing season to come.
7. If you have done well, you may still have a variety of overwinter crops in your polytunnel. March is often a good time to begin to clear out and harvest the last of these winter vegetables to make space for the spring planting.
8.Remember that as the spring arrives and temperatures and sunshine hours increase, you will need to step up your efforts once more when it comes to watering your polytunnel plants. Remember also that even when the weather is still cool outside, inside your polytunnel the temperatures can increase quickly on a sunny day. Make sure there is adequate ventilation once the spring sunshine arrives.
9. In March, you may be considering hardening off seedlings grown indoors and transferring some young plants to your polytunnel. Take care to introduce plants slowly to cooler, more exposed conditions and keep some cloches and row covers on hand in case of any unexpected cold snaps or late frosts early in spring.
10. March is also the time to think about preparing your polytunnel growing areas for the main growing season. Add organic matter/ mulches to feed the soil and ensure continued fertility in your growing spaces as soon as you clear away winter crops, and transplant some seedlings or direct sow some seeds later in the month.
SOWING & GROWING
Tender plants including Aubergines, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Garlic, Lettuce, Radish, Rocket, Spring Onions, Tomatoes and Strawberries.
Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbage, Celeriac, Turnip, Coriander, Radish, Spinach, Salad Leaves.
Make the most of your polytunnel as the warmer weather arrives and learn more about making the most of your polytunnel in spring by checking out our series of handy guides which help you sow and grow your own food all year round.
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK