Here’s another one of those must do jobs in March!
Have to say they may not look that attractive but I wouldn’t be without my polytunnel. I bought it in 2007 and its done us proud over the last few years. It does get very hot in the summer which can be a challenge but at the same time is perfect for melons and tomatoes.
Last year we had to replace the plastic sheeting as it was just starting to look tired but apart from that it pretty much looks after itself. However there are a few maintenance jobs that need some attention and I find March is the best time to get them done before the growing season gets well and truly underway .
A polytunnel is its so versatile … You can use it for all sorts of things.
In the winter I use it to over winter my small collection of acers and as a store for my dahlia tubers as well as as odd bits of garden furniture, and the mower. While in spring and summer it’s home to my tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and summer salads.
Then I inspect the cover for any holes which might have appeared from the odd stray bamboo. You can buy repair tape from any of the online stores specialising in Polytunnel. If you cant find any you can always use gaffa tape but it doesn’t look too brilliant.
Next I give the plastic a good wash inside and out to remove any green algae which if left will obscure the light.
Its dead easy to remove and takes me about an hour to clean inside and out. Nothing fancy in the way of tools needed.
A soft haired sweeping brush and several buckets of soapy water does the job just fine. For the difficult to reach areas on the top of the tunnel I wrap a towel around the middle of a length of rope and soak it in soapy water. All you do is work it back and forth across the top of the tunnel. You need a friend or a member of the family to help.
The wood work around the doors seems fine although when we moved the tunnel last year the doors didn’t fit quite as well when I came to rebuild it. So I’m going to build a couple of replacement double doors later in the year.
The soil inside the polytunnel tends to deteriorate over the winter as it simply dries out and is generally poor quality stuff by the Spring. So to fix that I spray water onto the soil first to keep the dust down, then I give it a good rake to remove the stones and flints that plague my Hampshire soil.
For the raised beds I mix some fresh top soil, a few bags of compost and a handful of bonemeal in the wheelbarrow. The ratio isn’t that important … I simply mix half top soil and half compost. The top soil comes from a stack of turfs I piled up a couple of years ago. After two years of the worms munching on it you have great top soil. Finally I give the poly a really good water to settle everything down.
A lot of work and the results may not be that obvious now … But by the end of April it will be full of produce, cuttings and all manor of goodies!
Will let you know how it goes.