Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Polytunnel in May

Posted by Rosie

Despite the advance of the year and continued hot daytime temperatures and almost no rain, night-time temperatures are still being cold to the point that on 28th May we had a frost here.  The polytunnel temperature was 0.6 degrees C and outside there was frost in the hosepipe.  Luckily there is no apparent damage to tender plants either in the polytunnel or outside but it may well explain why I am having such difficulties getting the likes of courgettes and pumpkins to germinate and grow on.  I do however have one very healthy courgette in the polytunnel which should give us a harvest very soon.

There has been plenty to harvest this month - new potatoes, broad beans, peas, mangetout, lettuces, pak choi, chard thinnings, French beans, baby carrots and overwintering onions.  All these have done very well and I will definitely plant more next year.  One thing I did notice was that the broad bean harvest was much better on the outside of the block of 5 rows, presumably where it was easier for pollinating insects to reach so next year I'll do more rows and spread them out more.  Also the peas cropped very well but flopped over as my twiggy supports were not tall or strong enough.  Note to self - bigger supports next year!

Several of the above plants have now been cleared and whilst some have been replaced with peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes I am wondering what to fill the remaining gaps with.  On the one hand, with watering restrictions and hosepipe bans looming I am worried about how to keep the plants watered (more of this another day) and thus should I leave the spaces bare?  On the other hand I can't bear the thought of the soil not being planted.  I do want to do some overwintering brassicas (cabbages/kale etc) inside this year, in case we have another hard winter, so I may leave the gaps empty a while and plant them up later with overwintering plants.  And I can always put some quick growing salad crops in there in the meantime.

I also harvested the remaining non-bolted turnips but they turned out to be inedible.  Daytime temperatures had just been too hot for them and even the pigs refused to eat them! 

The ring leader - Adventure Pig
A few pests have worked their way into the polytunnel this month, notably green and whitefly and cabbage white caterpillars. The former I have successfully zapped with a washing up liquid  solution and the latter (which seem very early this year) I have squashed.  Oh yes - and there was one other rather larger pest.  Well FOUR actually, namely the piglets!!  They escaped their field, wandered thought the polytunnel munching the odd lettuce before getting a waft of something tastier - STRAWBERRIES.  It was in the strawberry patch that we found them, all red-mouthed and thoroughly enjoying their fruity find.  BAD BAD piglets!!


  1. Sounds as though you've got plenty of lovely fresh veg there Rosie!

    Naughty piggies!! Hope you still manage to get some strawberries.

  2. They didn't get too many luckily - I picked nearly 7kgs the day after and still have more to get. The PT is doing well but the garden is so dry that I don't know what I'll manage to harvest this year.

  3. Naughty piggies. Ours seem too busy snoozing every day at the moment to think about escaping...thank goodness.

    Good idea for the PT to put your overwintering things in later in the year (an idea I think I will pinch).

    Water must be starting to be a big problem for you now, luckily we seem okay here for the moment, a few good showers last week helped the Kitchen Garden on brilliantly.

    Sue xx


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