Winter in the poly tunnel should be a time of leaves and carefully staggered late crops of things but mine looks a bit like the half price sale at a garden centre that’s going out of business. We’ve been so very busy lately that we haven’t been able to find the time to get some of our newest acquisitions into the ground yet so the hardy geraniums for the front garden rose beds, the hydrangeas to border the cutting garden, the many honeysuckles and jasmins that I’m hoping to use as a quick cover of our wire fence until our shrubs grow, all of those are in there hanging around with a couple of sad-looking olive trees and some recuperating topiary animals.
We do have some crops, although I didn’t get around to planting everything I wanted to put in. I’ve been left with a lot of bare earth but unlike outside in the raised beds, I’m less worried about that because I can control the rainfall in there and thus prevent the soil leaching nutrients into rainwater runoff. We have some spinach, which has kept us going for a couple of months now, some beetroots that are nearly ready and also carrots, parsnips and various other leaves to keep us through the winter. But I’ve been thinking about next year and how best we can use this resource because frankly planting carrots in here seems like something of a waste. So here’s my plan for next year, and I’d love to hear any thoughts that you have, or suggestions, as I’m a total polytunnel novice!
Three of the five main deep beds will rotate tomatoes, peppers, chillis, melons, aubergines with potatoes and onions of some sort. The other two will be used to grow permanent plants; a grape vine to drape along the bars at the ceiling, a passionfruit vine, a strawberry guava, bergamot and various other delicate plants.
I currently have a very small, and very shallow bed made of sleepers in the middle of the poly tunnel but I’ve decided it’s not that useful. So instead I’m going to fill it in, move the sleepers to another part of the garden and instead use the middle “avenue” for storing larger plants in big pots that can be moved outside in the summer but protected in the poly tunnel in the winter. In these I plan to plant a lime, a satsuma, a clementine, a mango, a Meyer lemon and some lemongrass. Then in the summer I’ll have space in the middle of the tunnel for potting on pots and air flow and in the winter I’ll have a lovely little forest of fruit trees. Well, that’s the plan anyway, let’s see how far we get. I’m already looking forward to February when I can get back into the polytunnel and start sowing. This really was the best Christmas present ever: I’m very lucky!