First winter in the polytunnel

In summer 2018 we invested in two 22m long polytunnels which we use to over winter plants, start seedlings off and house young plants.

October progress

Maintaining a constant temperature inside the tunnel is difficult as we currrently do not have any heating system in place. Ideas for next winter especially, we are considering an indoor compost heap that will be very warm at the core and release heat even through the night when temperatures drop.

On sunny days it gets real hot and the soil warms up and retains its heat, and stays a lot warmer than it would outdoors which is where we find a massive advantage.

So although we did not install heating, we used various techniques to keep our plants on the safe side of winter. Mainly this was achieved by ensuring a complete seal of the tunnel, no gaps or breezes, and again, being hopeful!

We used thermometers with a min/max temperature recording which enables us to see the highest and lowest temperate over a period of time (usually overnight). lowest so far was -8’C and highest so far around 40’C!

Luckily for the plants there is no wind which is great for protection but does mean ventilation is required. We do this by opening both doors to allow a through flow of fresh air. We also have covered the mesh door windows with plastic but during summer they will provide a ventilation even when the doors are closed.

Late summer seeds grown and overwintered in the polytunnel

Seedlings that were started indoors under lights were transferred to the polytunnel throughout early spring

We were able to sow seed directly in the tunnel in late summer, giving us strong healthy and early spring plants. They were kept in a seed tray with a ventilated lid all the way through until temperatures spiked in Feb and it was time to pot up!

Bubblewrap placed on the benches underneath the seed/young plant trays gives them a little extra insulation.

February welcomes the first tomatoes of the season

A Juicy Salad type started in mid January to give them the earliest start. These will go on to live inside the Polytunnel as soon as the bed is ready in Late May!

March brought a little snow and a lot of wind

Snow sits on the roof whilst vulnerable plants freeze to death
The plants have now made it to the floor space and two new raised beds have been build at the back!

Plants that have been started off indoors are now flooding into the tunnel! Potting up, shifting plants, sowing seed directly and watering is the new norm. As well as sweating out and being haggered by the scorching daytime temperatures!

New structures are being built in time for planting in late April!

By the end of winter we have also managed to build two new raised beds connected by a trellis archway ready for some summer climbing plants including Passion fruit and Melon!

To continue this story see our next blog: First Spring in the Polytunnel

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