In this second extract from the First Tunnels sponsored, new Climate Change Garden book, Kim Stoddart explains how to make the most of your undercover haven all year round...
As the impact of climate change really starts to bite, growing at least some of your own food has arguably become more important than ever before in our recent history. We live in very uncertain times, and food security for the future is going to be impacted on dramatically by the ever-changing climate. A flood or drought in one part of the world, decimating harvests of certain produce can have a dramatic knock-on impact on prices in the UK. The same goes for supply and demand itself. For example in the prolonged heatwave of 2018, whilst demand for summer salad soared, veg growers were struggling to keep up as lettuce simply stops growing in temperatures above 30 degrees celsius. The industry for a time became reliant on imports and so as a result, prices rocketed.
So polytunnel to fork is really where it’s at. There’s no plastic veg packing, no shipping, or haulage half way across the country and back, just you and the veg you lovingly grow and consume. On so many levels, its worth its weight in gold and no wonder then that a homegrown revolution is well and truly alive and kicking, with a revival of interest in a spot of fresh produce cultivation across the board.
Extending the growing season/s
Many polytunnel owners say that their structure really especially comes into its own early and late in the growing season, when seeds can be sown that precious bit earlier (January/February) and produce (like tomatoes and chillies) kept growing that delectable bit longer (often in late November). It really is a valuable grow your own boon.
Yet, many polytunnel owners don’t make the most of their protected growing space over winter; tending to clear out crops and bed it down, rather than making the most of its out-of-season potential. This is a real shame as they aren’t fully utilising its potential. The fact is that many herbs like parsley and coriander can be readily available, when planted inside, even putting on slow growth during the coldest (and most likely wettest) months of the year, affording a real winter treat.
Although you can grow winter salad leaves outside, they tend to get damaged by the elements, compared to inside, where the quality will be good for pick and come again opportunities all the way through till spring. Ditto, Chinese greens and late sowings of root crops like carrot and beetroot are also possible for winter pickings of baby produce, which bring much joy to the kitchen during the gloomiest months of the year.
Box Out – About the Climate Change Garden Book
Co-written with Soil Association magazine editor, Sally Morgan, the book aims to empower you with the knowledge, skills and confidence to become a climate change savvy gardener. It can be purchased via the First Tunnels website at /www.firsttunnels.co.uk
Kim also runs polytunnel growing and get climate change smart courses and is offering First Tunnels customers 20% off all 2020 bookings made before the end of November 2019. Just mention First Tunnels when booking via https://www.paypal.me/Polytun to take advantage of the specially discounted price of £76. See www.greenrocketcourses.com for more details.
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK