The Benefits of a Polytunnel
Posted on: 09 February 2015 by Pano Savvidis
Polytunnels are perfect for growing veggies and and potted plants.
Whether you’re an established gardener keen to become self-sufficient, or a novice just starting out, a polytunnel is a fantastic way to up your game and ensure reliable crop growth. Leaving your crops to the vagaries of the weather is always a risk, and a warm covered plot significantly extends your growing season enormously, and also allows you to grow all kinds of different crops you might not have considered.
What Is a Polytunnel?
Basically speaking a polytunnel is constructed from a metal framed semi-circular tunnel covered in hardwearing polythene with UV inhibitors to maximise its lifetime. Over 90% of light is transmitted through the polythene, and the light is diffused which prevents plants from shading one another. An enormous quantity of air is enclosed by a polytunnel and so it stays warm much longer than a greenhouse and also does not suffer from wild fluctuations in temperature in the summer. Inside a polytunnel it is possible to recreate a Mediterranean climate and therefore grow exotic fruits and vegetables in your own garden. You might also want to consider using bubble insulation in the winter to ensure a frost free winter – to do this you simply line your tunnel with bubble wrap through the winter months and remove it in spring.
One of the biggest advantages of a polytunnel is the fact it’s so cost effective, particularly compared to the investment a greenhouse requires. For around the same price of very small good quality greenhouse, it is possible to buy or build a polytunnel of four or five times the size, therefore giving you more versatility to cultivate many more crops. Polytunnels are also far more portable than greenhouses, and can be moved around the garden – or indeed be taken with you if you move. You’ll generally have more size options than greenhouses, again helping make polytunnels a far more cost effective option.
No matter what the weather you can be sure of a safe and effective growing environment to help your crops thrive in every season. In spring it’ll provide the ideal germination environment, as high levels of sunlight absorption will mean ideal growing temperatures are reached up to six weeks ahead of open garden planting. You can install irrigation tubing inside the tunnel to ensure your crops are always well-watered, and you can even set up fertilization systems to help you cultivate your best crops yet.