Before you venture into polytunnel farming in the UK, learn how to start growing plants in a polytunnel from seeds or transplants. We already know when to start growing crops in the polytunnel, but the specific steps and information for the beginning are crucial for success. Knowing the hardiness zone is essential for timing when to start growing plants, but starting from seeds and transplants involve other factors and considerations.
The interest in polytunnel farming is rising because more people see its advantages in the year-round production of high-quality plants. However, indoor gardening in the United Kingdom benefits will only be possible if you are consistent in management practices from start to harvest. Management, of course, includes the proper way of starting plants in the polytunnel.
Definitive Guide For How To Start Growing Plants In A Polytunnel
Starting plants from seeds
Preparing the polytunnel
Preparation is key to the success of your seeds and transplants. It would help if you meticulously disinfected everything in the polytunnel, including the pots, trays, benches, and shelves. In addition to sanitation and cleanliness, ensuring the polytunnel’s proper conditions should also help your seeds thrive.
As mentioned by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, it’s essential to use fresh seeds when starting seeds in the polytunnel. Fresh seeds will guarantee that they will germinate well. Old seeds have lower quality, which can lead to poor germination and productivity due to reduced vigour.
The next step is to sort them into different groups to create a neater set-up in the polytunnel, for example, which plants will grow best together or which crops are best started indoors. The seeds grouped as the cold season and warm season plants will also make it easier for you when planning the dates for planting.
Did you know that you can go soilless when you’re starting seeds in pots or trays in the polytunnel? The chance of success in seed starting is higher if you use a specific mix that isn’t too heavy. A specific mixture guarantees resistance against diseases and provides the ideal drainage.
In contrast to a typical British potting or garden soil, a seed starting mix would not be too heavy for the seeds. Check the directions on your seed packets, so you’ll also know how many seeds per container or pot is suitable. Usually, you can plant seeds at a depth of half an inch, but this can still vary per plant.
Cover the seeds with soil, spray with water, and then use plastic wrap to cover the container. To prevent changes in soil temperature, you can use a heating mat. Don’t forget to label your containers to follow the guidelines for each plant, and you won’t get confused when the seedlings emerge and look the same.
Starting transplants in the polytunnel
After you sanitise and check the polytunnel conditions, you can use soil or artificial mixes to produce transplants. Overall, the best for transplants is a healthy mix that has good drainage and moisture-holding capacity. The typical containers for transplants in the polytunnel are polystyrene trays and plastic trays.
The two factors that are especially crucial for transplant production are irrigation and fertilisation. For the former, remember to only water when needed as the seedlings grow roots. Create an irrigation schedule and ensure that you are watering your plants uniformly.
UK gardeners’ standard error is over-watering, assuming that it’s the same volume as the early germination stages. Over-watering leads to pests, diseases, and poor quality crops. Instead, water the plants in the morning so that the soil dries before the evening.
For their nutrition, using water-soluble fertilisers when watering is suitable for transplants. However, each plant differs in requirements, and you may need to adjust fertilisation depending on the polytunnel conditions. Transplants also require the proper growing light in the polytunnel to encourage strong seedling growth.
One of the most significant advantages of polytunnel gardening in the UK is allowing farmers to start their growing season early, which sometimes means producing transplants. However, it’s crucial that you also know how to properly harden your plants to prevent shock and stress from the sudden changes in the field. Thepolytunnelis also your friend in this part of the production.
To prepare your transplants, lower the polytunnel temperature by 5 to 10°F and reduce the amount of water and fertiliser you give. This way, the plants can get acclimated to the sudden changes outdoors before transplanting. On the other hand, you can also move the transplants to a lath house two weeks before transplanting.
The beauty of the polytunnel allows farmers to have continuous production of high-quality plants without the challenges of unpredictable outdoor conditions. But knowing how to start growing plants in a polytunnel either by seeds or transplants is crucial to reap these benefits. Overall, the polytunnel helps start plants or for growing plants throughout their cycle.
If you choose to transplant your crops later on, remember to harden them first. This way, they can withstand the unpredictable and adverse conditions outdoors and prevent transplant shock.