A mini polytunnel is a significant addition for UK gardeners who prefer growing plants in limited space. I will try to cover all aspects of how people setting up polytunnel in this article. Polytunnel cultivation helps extend the growing season for plants.
Two Primary Polytunnel Cultivation Methods
Nowadays, gardeners mostly prefer polytunnel structures made of galvanised tube frames and polyethene foil over the glass option. Plastic greenhouses are much affordable compared to glass greenhouses. Besides, they can be easily moved from one place to another without much hassle. They provide a significant advantage by extending the growing season for plants.
Plants that thrive in heat are grown best in a plastic greenhouse. They include species like the following:
- Sweet peppers
- Tomatoes, etc.
The conventional glass polytunnel set-up is a costlier option, and not everyone in the UK can afford them. The glass polytunnel may not be the ideal option for beginners. Also, glass greenhouses are static by nature since they cannot be moved from one place to another that easily.
Plants that require controlled temperature and less heat can be grown in glass greenhouse:
- Leafy greens
- Swiss Chard etc.
If you want to construct a mini-greenhouse, make sure you have made plans for the same. Proper planning is required so that you can utilise such limited space to your advantage. As a result, the plants will be able to bear the healthiest fruits throughout the year. Hold your patience if you want the plants to reap the best grade fruits. Sometimes the process may turn out time-consuming.
What You Need to Know About The Cultivation of An Exact Plant
Remember, you must consider these key aspects to evaluate the most suitable conditions for growing the plant. If you take proper care of these chief considerations, the plant is likely to survive all seasons and reap you with the best of results.
As a beginner, you must target plants that thrive easily compared to others.
Few examples are as follows:
You will face less difficulty if you take one step at a time; the following are a few vital steps that all beginners need to follow to achieve success in polytunnel cultivation:
Temperature is one of the critical factors which help decide the result of the cultivation. Learn how to control the temperature inside the greenhouse, depending on the climatic condition of the place where you reside or operate. Based on the regional climatic condition during summer, you will require a cooling system that will help the plants thrive better. However, in winter, you will need to arrange for a heater to ensure that plants’ growth doesn’t get affected.
First of all, being a beginner, you must maintain a descending record of the seed you have planted by proper labelling as per your understanding, for example, date/type, etc. Proper seeding is crucial. Use sterile soil to prevent various kinds of diseases that occur in plants. Add good quality fertilisers to the ground so that it helps the seeds to grow. Always focus on proper watering of the seeds to get good results. Maintain a record book where you can note down the seeds’ germination rate to get a fair idea about the qualitative growth of seedlings.
You can also use the hybrid seed to save time. Hybrid seeds are more significant and healthier, too, though they are expensive, and the storage time is generally shorter.
Sunlight is essential for plants to perform photosynthesis. So plants require sufficient light for survival. You need to keep three things in mind regarding light exposure.
- Amount of daylight available
- The current season
- What type or variety of plant you are trying to grow.
Different plants have different needs, and if you are growing a plant that is generally leafy by nature, remember it will need adequate sunlight. During late spring or in summer, good sunlight is highly beneficial to sustain the growth of plants. Artificial light cannot help the plant perform photosynthesis.
Water is among the most vital essentials responsible for boosting plant growth. Create a proper timetable and follow it while watering the plant, as even excess water can be dangerous for plants. Get an overall idea of the water requirement of each plant so that you can reap optimal results.
Vegetables Which Are Grown Fine In A Greenhouse
Several vegetables are quickly grown in a greenhouse. Some of them are as follows:
- French beans
- Sweet Corns
- Lettuce, etc.
How To Grow Vegetables In A Mini Greenhouse
The space in a mini greenhouse is quite limited. Hence to utilise it to the fullest, you need to plan it carefully. There are few ways in which you can use the small space to its utmost level.
Shelving at the northern side of the greenhouse
Install shelves on the northern side of your polytunnels that you can enjoy two-way benefits. Firstly, shelving will help stack up plants reaping vegetables, which are shorter in size; for example, you can place lettuce and herbs on top of each other and keep a more vast space open on opposite sides for taller plants cucumber tomato and sweet corn.
Secondly, after you have accomplished shelving on the northern side of the greenhouse, focus a little to the south. Find out if the southern sides are open and can receive adequate sunlight. Also, do not overrule the big shadows created by shelves. Plants like tomatoes and sweet corn require shadows to thrive.
During the peak of summer, all plants benefited from the shadow created by shelves as the same helps them stay protected from the sun’s scorching rays.
Remember to adopt the culture of “Crop Rotation” to maximise your polytunnel yields. It helps in the optimisation of space.
Try using tumblers for growing cherry tomato plants and hang these tumblers from the ceiling of your mini greenhouse.
Greenhouse in summer
In summer, polytunnel cultivation proves to be an ultimate choice to protect crops like cucumber tomatoes, aubergines, Peppers etc.
Dig the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches, followed by which you will need to water it at least once a day to get better results. The effort will lead to a better quality product compared to plants that are grown outside.
Try to arrange some space for the pepper plant to give you good results and pay off your hard work during winter.
This summer, try planting some Mediterranean herbs, for example, marjoram and oregano, which require less water than plants bearing vegetables. These plants are responsible for absorbing heat.
You can also think of cultivating small-sized zucchinis, which grow very well during the summertime; later, it takes the shape of a gourd when it becomes mature.
Another option you can consider is the Yardlong beans, which is also very fruitful and can be grown quickly in the polytunnel during the summer.
Orderly layout: If you plan too many plants in limited space, consider an orderly and systematic placement. Once you start arranging the polytunnel in an orderly manner, it becomes easy to handle. Also, the polytunnel interiors turn presentable. Divide your polytunnel into two primary sections. Don’t make it overcrowded.
Garden oasis: If you add a swinging chair with a rustic appeal, it will give your UK garden a countryside appeal. Adding a few furniture items like benches makes sure their colour matches that the plants producing the environment appear more like an oasis.
Addition of skylight: If you are willing to build a polytunnel in the garage space or utilise an extra space that opens to the outdoor, add a skylight that will add to the space’s appeal.
Living space transformation: When the living space is vast and sufficient sunlight is available, you can transform it into a greenhouse.
The utilisation of vertical space: You can hang terrariums or potted plants as they will lend a greener outlook to space. Also, this will help you save space.
Once the polytunnel structure is ready, you need to align a few essential things to set up your greenhouse.
Pots of different varieties: bring in pots of various sizes, which are extremely handy. They required in different stages, such as seed growing and specimen plant growing. Pots can be of plastic or made of biodegradable materials.
Trays: If you are planning to start your polytunnel from scratch, consider investing in seeding trays.
Fertilisers & potting mixes: You need to keep potting soil and other compounds handy and store them in closed boxes so that you can use them against pests.
Tools used for the gardening purpose in the United Kingdom: You need to keep a few gardening tools such as scissors, strings, pruner, pot brush pencils, and gloves handy for better operation.
Markers & tags: Store a few permanent markers and tags for the labelling of trays and plants.
Antifungal sprays: You need to keep the antifungal spray so that you can protect your plant in times of need.
Workplace: make sure you arrange the limited space of your polytunnel to attain optimal results. Also, include a stool and a small table to sit and work on plants and soil.
Ventilation: Ventilation is critical for the proper execution of the polytunnel model. A ceiling vent or a simple door opening can solve the purpose.
Thermometer: Also, you will need to fix a thermometer inside your polytunnel to keep a tab on the temperature. During summer, use the thermometer for checking the temperature so that you can decide whether or not you must shift certain plants and place them where there is shade. Similarly, with the help of a thermometer, you can determine whether the temperature is warm enough during the winter. These necessary steps will help you yield a better result.
Artificial light: If you arrange for artificial light for your polytunnel set-up, it will remain illuminated even after sunset. Also, you can continue to work inside the polytunnel since there will be the availability of light.
How To Keep ApolytunnelWarm At Night
There are few ways to keep the polytunnel warm at night, which are as follows:
Use bubble wrap for insulation: Bubble wrap helps in insulation. You need to increase the size of the bubbles as it will increase insulation. Also, you will need to cover all doors and windows, ensuring there is no leakage of heat. Bubble wraps reduce the heating cost as well.
Use of heaters: You can use heaters to keep the polytunnel warm during nighttime.
Thermostats usage: Use thermostats at night to control thepolytunneltemperature. You can also use a heater, which thermostatically controlled.
Air circulation: You can install an air circulation machine that helps in mixing the air; as a result, there are no cold or hot patches inside the greenhouse. If there is no mixture of hot and cold air, the thermometer gives a false reading. Hence, it is essential to focus on air circulation, which keeps the polytunnel warm.
The Temperature In The Greenhouse
It would help if you kept a note of the inside temperature of the polytunnel to get the best results.
As per studies, the minimum required temperature within the polytunnel should be ideally is 55°F.