Monday, 15 August 2016

Polytunnel update

My 3 tomato plants are the biggest success in the polytunnel so far although they were my second lot of plants after the first lot died.  These are a beefsteak variety.

The plum variety are prolific.  I wish all 3 plants were these kind!  

Sadly I've lost 2 pumpkins so far.  One had rot and the other had fallen off.  One vine was completely covered in dead and yellowing leaves so I took it out.

My remaining vine still has several wee ones.  All the advice seems to be remove all but one.  But which one will I choose?

 This is the biggest one, about the size of a cherry tomato

The courgettes on the right have been decimated by slugs and have suffered from powdery mildew and the Autumn squash on the left just haven't fruited.

My peppers are just starting to flower.  I suspect they're too late now to fruit.  Not sure why they've been slow as they were planted months ago.

I emptied my potato bags.  I only had 2, just to see how they got on.  The Sarpo Miro bag above produced just 400g of small potatoes.

The King Edwards bag produced 740g.  So just a couple of meals worth of tatties from both bags!

To be honest I'm rather disappointed with my home grown produce this year.  Apart from the tomatoes I've not had better results using the polytunnel over the raised beds.  I think there are a few reasons.

1.  I used growbags.  I wanted to get growing quickly and they seemed like an quick, easy option.
2.  Although I did put down a weed suppressant fabric, there were gaps around the edges where the slugs and snails got in.
3.  It was really hot in early June and everything shot up too quickly.  I lost a lot of salad crops (3 types of lettuce, spinach and radishes) as they bolted almost overnight
4.  I went away on holiday for 2 weeks and left The Teenager in charge of watering and opening it up daily.  He really did his best but I suspect erratic under/over watering didn't suit the squashes
5.  I probably planted the wrong things! Too close together!!

My raised beds at the front of the house (south facing) have managed to produce a bit more but the soil needs to be nourished so yields have been low.  It's also been a very wet July so again the slugs and snails have been dining rather well.

So, what now?  Definitely need to enrich the soil in my raised beds.  Not sure how yet, all suggestions welcome.  And I'm working on a plan to put a U shaped raised bed in the polytunnel.

More reading and research is on the cards!  I'm learning just as much from my failures as well as the successes :-)


  1. My greenhouse tomatoes have been rubbish this year. They have grown tall and with lots of leaves but the tomatoes are tiny and green, usually I'd have started picking them by now. My cucumbers though have been brilliant! I grew them last year for the first time and they were great, they seem to grow a mile a day! It's just a pity I'm the only person in the house who eats them!! My neighbours are loving me though lol.

  2. All my cucumber plants got munched!! Wish I was your neighbour! Love them raw and pickled into Bread n Butter pickles.

  3. It's actually been a poor year for veggie growers so don't be too disheartened. Your Pepper plants are bigger than moine!!

    I think raised beds in your tunnel would be the best answer. Make them as deep as you can with good drainage in the bottom, and built over your membrane. Try ordering some Nematodes to sort out the slug and snail problem and then edge your beds with stick on copper tape, it really does work as long as you don't let anything overhang the beds. I was told that for every slug you see on the surface there are at least a dozen munching away underground. I've been pretty slug free in the tunnels thanks to my defences but my potatoes have suffered outside. More Nematodes for me next year I think.

    Your powdery mildew was probably caused by the intermittent watering, it's so easy to let happen, it happens to me virtually every year in the polytunnel. The only way to nip it in the bud is to cut off any infected leaves the minute you see them to try and save the rest of the plant and then water regularly.

    I've been invaded by bloody caterpillars at the moment, the downside to trying to keep the tunnels aired by having the doors open. Lots of little protein snacks for the chickens but not so good for my cabbages and cauliflowers :-(

    Oh and the best, cheapest and most effective way to enrich the soil in your raised beds is urine!! Time to pee in a jug and dilute it with 10 times more water and just water it on with your watering can. Works an absolute treat and it's totally free :-)

    1. Brilliant advice! I've just ordered a ton of wood to build a raised bed. Will look into the nematodes. Thanks Sue :-)