Having a polytunnel can be more cost effective than erecting a greenhouse and has many benefits from growing all year round to providing shelter and warmer temperatures. There are some draw-backs too. Here we discuss all the basics to help you decide on your preferred growing methods.
Polytunnels are made with metallic or wooden frames and the body of the polytunnel is plastic sheeting. They are a more budget-friendly option however it does pay to invest in a good quality polytunnel as they are more prone to weather damage.
You need to ensure a level ground surface and be able to secure the framework solidly along with water tight plastic sheeting covering it to be at it's most effective. Cheap versions or poorly constructed polytunnels often can blow down, get ripped and leak, sink down and other issues.
You should consider the positioning of the polytunnel and the soil within it/that is stands on. Having said that, polytunnels offer the flexibility of being able to move it around if need be to a more suitable location.
You can opt for a low level polytunnel or cloches, which are like mini versions.
You can have the ability to grow thriving plants in a warmer clime with protection against weather conditions as well as pests and wildlife.
The size of your polytunnel is also a consideration, depending on how much you want to grow and what space is available to comfortably access it. To position your polytunnel near your water supply is most convenient!
As eash season progresses you will want to think about the conditions - ensuring ventilation through hotter periods so it doesn't overheat and that it is well insulated during the winter. A thermometer would be a handy gadget to have so you can keep an accurate eye on things.
Plan your layout well to ensure ease of watering, weeding and tending to your plants as well as ventilation, cleaning and maintenance of your polytunnel.
Unlike the patches on your plot, rain cannot be relied upon for watering and so you will need to manually water as required or consider an irrigation system.
You will also need to treat the soil unless you are not planning to use the ground for growing and are building workbenches/shelving with/or composted pots, tubs and planters for growing.
Polytunnels are ideal for starting seeds off and growing plants that love the warmer temperatures such as chillies, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to name a few.
Also see our page about Greenhouses