Tuesday 5 July 2011

Polytunnel update -July 5th

I was across at the tunnel for a bit this evening to see what's what. I don't manage to get across there as ofetn as I would like due to pressures of work and family but as the three ladies in my life are away at my mum's house for a couple of days I thought I better take advantage of the opperchancity, before coming home to get the bathroom painting completed for my wife coming home tomorrow.
With the exception of the stuff I am growing in my garden (tatties, stump carrots, beetroot, broad beans, turnips, shallots, culinary onions and french beans, everything else in is my tunnel as I have given myself this year to sort out growing area outside at the tunnel ready for next year.
So first off - the rhubarb - this continually amazes me in the tunnel - I have three crowns and they all produce lovely long red stalks for about 9 months of the year. All it gets in return is a thick mulch of well rotted manure every winter
 This year I want to try and get a set of tomatoes for our local show and to this end I am growing Cedrico and Shirley. After seeking some advice on the NVS forum, I am going to thin thr trusses on 5 of the 10 Cedrico plants and 2 of the 5 Shirley plants and leave the others intact . The toms are looking good, though the plants have looked better - heat stress after the last couple of days - the tunnel gets very warm even with both sets of double doors open. This is an intact truss of Cedrico.
I am growing about 80 chilli plants this year -mainly Cayenne with some Jalapeno too - these will be used solely for the purpose of making my Spitfire and Hurricane Sauces in the back end of the year, though  I might throw a couple into the show if they are ready in time.The cayennes have just produced their first flowers.
Now for something I am really pleased with. For the last 5 years I have tried to grow cauliflowers indoors without any success - I have tried various varieties but I always ended up with brown sunburnt curds, despite the seed catalogues promises of curd protection from strong leaf growth. Well, this year I tries a variety from Johnsons called Cheesy F1. Look at the photos and see what you think about the leaf protection for the curd - you would almost miss the fact that the curd was there at all. The first photo shows the cauli in situ, and the second shows the two I brought home - the smaller of the two is the one photographed in situ.

Next we have the aubergines - these were devastated last year by earwigs which reduced the leaves to lace, and therefore seriously affecting growth and fruiting - no such problems this year - really healthy plantswith  loads of flowers . Once fruits have set I will remove the surplus to leave a maximum of five per plant.
As my wife is not a fan of summer cabbage but loves the Savoy types, I have a pointed variety called Samantha in the tunnel this year and the first head is nearly ready for harvesting!

And finally Medwyn's triffid has really exploded this week. Again, as advised by those who know more about these things than I do (but I'm learning all the time) on the NVS forum, I have hand pollinated 5 female flowers and will keep an eyse on them - if all 5 set fruits, I will thin these down to two. I have also thrown soil over some of the stems - this apparently encourages the plant to put down more roots and so help feed the plant. The only problem is that my courgettes will have to be sacrificed or they will smothered by the marrow - no big deal there though as we have already had loads.


  1. Everything looks great Dave.

    We bought a rhubarb crown a few months ago and it was about 4 inches tall. It now has swallowed the surrounding area and has 12 inch stalks sprouting out all over the place.

    Good luck with the show when it comes.

    Martin :)

  2. Out of interest, how do the plants in the polytunnel cope if you don't get over there very often? Do you have a watering system?

  3. Wow, what a great polytunnel! Just found your blog and am green with envy, is it in your garden or on an alotment site somewhere?

  4. Rob
    The watering of the tunnel is manageable with three visits a week. The toms, cukes and aubergines all have 1 or 2 litre pots sunk beside them and get a good soaking (3 or 4 fills per visit), the brassicas get a bit but once their leaves are fully formed I find that the ground below stays moist. The chilies get waterd til the first fruits set then they will be lucky if they get any more after that - I grow them hard and have done for three years now and they respond by giving me bigger and better crops than I got when I was fussing over them. The Runner beans are planted in the shade of the aubergines so their roots do not dry out and they get a good soak every second visit. I should add that over the last five years there has been about a foot and a half of well rotted manure dug into the ground so it retains moisture really well now.

  5. Hi Paul and Melanie
    The tunnel is 24 ft wide by 60ft long and I got it for when I was growing organic veg and running a veg box scheme (sadly no more) It is situated on a farm 9 miles from where I live that belongs to a mate. In addition to the tunnel I have about a half acre which I am setting up for growing next season with raised beds etc. Ther are also two large strawberry beds.