|Benefits, Types, and Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Begin Polytunnel Farming|
Since crops were grown in wide-open fields, farming has advanced significantly. Farmers today have a variety of alternatives for how cultivating their crops. Utilizing polytunnels, often called glass houses, is one of the most well-liked solutions. Plastic or polythene sheeting is stretched over a metal frame to create polytunnels. They are helpful for both small-scale and large-scale farming due to their range of sizes. Let's look at some tips for beginning polytunnel farming below.
The ability of polytunnels to extend the growing season and enable farmers to plant crops that would otherwise be unfeasible in their region is one of their most noticeable advantages. Polytunnels are less expensive, simpler to set up, and require less care than conventional greenhouses.
Due to their quick adaptability to various growing circumstances, polytunnels provide greater flexibility in crop selection and growth techniques. More control over the growing environment is another benefit of polytunnels. They can be fitted with heaters, irrigation systems, and shading to produce ideal events for growing crops. Higher yields and better-quality may result from it.
The advantages and disadvantages of each will also be covered in this blog post, along with advice for beginners who want to build their polytunnel farm. For example, you are a new or seasoned farmer trying to increase crop-growing possibilities. If so, this article will assist you in making the finest decision for your requirements so that you can begin growing crops in style.
How to begin farming in a polytunnel
What is the Polytunnel.
A polyethylene greenhouse with the shape of a long, semi-circular tunnel is known as a polytunnel. It produces a microclimate with greater temperatures and humidity, making it possible to grow to pay out of season and protect it from the outdoors. Another temporary structure that is simple to move or disassemble is a polytunnel. The structure can use them for various things, such as growing whole food crops in giant polytunnels or herbs and salads in tiny ones.
Compared to greenhouses, they are less expensive and easier to build and maintain. A polytunnel is a conservatory with a metal frame covered in plastic or polythene sheeting. These are frequently employed for indoor, controlled plant growth, including producing fruits, vegetables, and other types of plants. By extending the growing season, polytunnels help farmers cultivate crops that would otherwise be impractical in their region.
To provide the ideal environment for crops to grow in, it can also fit them with irrigation systems, heaters, and shading, increasing crop yields and production of higher quality. The polytunnels offer more versatility in crop choices and growing techniques since it can quickly modify them to varied growing conditions. They are also more inexpensive, simpler to put up, and require less care than traditional greenhouses.
Advantages of utilizing a polytunnel for crop cultivation
A greenhouse-style known as a polytunnel is constructed of sturdy plastic. Farmers and gardeners frequently use these buildings to lengthen the growing season and shield crops from bad weather. Using a polytunnel has a variety of advantages, such as the following:
- Crop yields may increase due to the warm, protected environment that polytunnels give plants to thrive in. Farmers wishing to lengthen the growing season and grow crops in regions with a shorter growing season will particularly benefit from it.
- Lengthen the growth season: By shielding plants from frost and other weather elements, polytunnels can extend the growing season for plants. With earlier planting and longer harvesting times, crop yields and profitability increase.
- Increased control over growing conditions: Polytunnels give growers more flexibility to regulate temperature, humidity, and light levels to meet the unique requirements of various plants. It may increase plant growth and yield and decrease plant maturity time and maintenance work.
- The use of polytunnels can help protect crops from pests and illnesses by creating a barrier between plants and the outside environment. Farmers who raise crops vulnerable to pest and disease damage will benefit.
- Water conservation: Polytunnels are made to hold onto moisture in the ground, which can assist in cutting down on the amount of water used and conserve resources. Farmers growing crops in regions with scarce water resources would benefit from it.
- Cost-effective: Polytunnels are a cost-effective choice for farmers and gardeners since they are easy to construct and maintain. Additionally, most people with basic DIY abilities can assemble them because they are simple to build.
- Versatility: Microgreens, vegetables, fruits, and flowers can all be grown in polytunnels. In addition, vegetables, fruits, and flowers can cultivate plants in pots, which is helpful for balcony or small-yard gardening.
- Cost-effectiveness: Polytunnels are an excellent option for small-scale growers and people on a tight budget because they are simple to build with inexpensive materials like PVC pipe and polyethylene film. They can be used by hobbyists, small farmers, and community gardens because they are less expensive to heat and maintain than conventional greenhouses.
Numerous varieties of polytunnels
- The typical materials for constructing freestanding polytunnels are metal or PVC pipe and a plastic sheet. These are not fixed to the ground and can be set up anywhere.
- Polytunnels are structures attached to a building or another form, such as a greenhouse.
- A person can walk through walk-in polytunnels, which also have amenities like grow lights, irrigation systems, and ventilation systems.
- Hobby or smaller polytunnels are made for use in small-scale gardening. Mini polytunnels are available at 118 x 24 x 18 inches (300 x 60 x 45 cm) and comparable sizes.
- Large-scale commercial farming or gardening uses professional or commercial polytunnels. With widths ranging from 16 to 30 feet (487 to 914 cm or more), lengths ranging from 30 to 90 feet (914 to 2700 cm or more), and heights from 8 to 10 feet, these polytunnels can be tailored to meet a specific demand (243 to 305 cm).
- With the materials and instructions the manufacturer provides, the user can construct DIY polytunnels.
- Curved Quonset polytunnels are frequently used for growing commercial crops.
- Gothic polytunnels are used to grow larger plants, such as trees and shrubs, and feature peaked roofs.
- Larger growing spaces are possible with multi-span polytunnels constructed of several connected tunnels.
- The Hoop Houses polytunnel uses a series of hoops to support the plastic covering.
- High Tunnels are used chiefly for commercial crop cultivation; they are similar to hoop houses but are taller.
- Smaller polytunnels called cold frames shield plants from frost and cold weather.
- Domestic garden polytunnels house and nurture plants in gardens or backyards. They come in a variety of sizes, ranging from small (100 x 78 x 78 inches/ 250 x 200 x 200 cm and 137 x 78 x 200 cm/ 350 x 200 x 200 cm) to medium (400 x 200 x 200 cm/ 157 x 78 x 78 inches and 800 x 400 x 200 cm/ 312 x 157 x 78 inches) to larger sizes. Despite the wide range, they are typically smaller These constructions provide a regulated environment for plants to grow in, shielding them from unfavorable weather and pests, enabling gardening all year round.
What can be planted in polytunnels?
- Vegetables: A polytunnel is a great place to produce a variety of vegetables, including lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.
- Fruits: A polytunnel can also cultivate several fruits, including blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
- Herbs: A polytunnel can be used to cultivate herbs, such as basil, parsley, and thyme, giving them a controlled environment to flourish.
- Flowers: A polytunnel is a great place to produce perennials, bedding plants, and cut flowers.
- Some varieties of trees and shrubs can be planted in a polytunnel as long as the structure is tall enough and they are manageable.
- Perennial Vegetables: Because a polytunnel offers a regulated environment for them to thrive, several perennial vegetables, like asparagus, rhubarb, and artichokes, can also be produced there.
Varieties of polytunnel frames
- These frames are comprised of steel that has been zinc-coated to prevent rust and corrosion. Although they can be heavier and more expensive than other solutions, they are solid and long-lasting.
- Aluminum frames are a popular option for polytunnels since they are lightweight and rust-proof. Additionally, they cost more than the alternatives.
- PVC: These plastic frames are lightweight and straightforward to put together. Although they are more affordable than other options, they could not as strong as steel or aluminum frames.
- Wood: Treated lumber is used to make these frames. Although they might be less expensive than choices, they might decay or warp with time.
- These frames are manufactured from the renewable and sustainable material bamboo. Although portable and straightforward, they might not be as sturdy as other frames.
Polytunnel material types for covers
- The most popular form of covering for polytunnels is polyethylene. It is built of a plastic material that is portable, strong, and simple to install. It is available in various UV treatments and thicknesses, some of which have a longer lifespan than others.
- Glass: Although it can be used to cover polytunnels, glass is heavy, pricey, and challenging to install. The best light transmission is provided by it.
- Fiberglass: Glass fibers and resin are combined to create this coating. Although pricey and challenging to install, it is lightweight and robust.
- Acrylic: This covering is made from a plastic substance resembling glass. Although expensive, it is strong, light, and provides high-light transmission.
- This coating is constructed of plastic, much like acrylic, and is called polycarbonate. Although pricey, it is strong, lightweight, and provides high-light transmission.
- Canvas: A sturdy fabric is used to create this kind of covering. Although it is simple to install, it might not be as solid and long-lasting as other solutions.
Installing a Polytunnel: A Guide
Utilizing the proper equipment and supplies, building a polytunnel can be easy and basic. The general steps for constructing a polytunnel are as follows:
- Decide on a location: Choose a spot in your garden that is level, has good drainage, and receives lots of sunlight. It is the location where your Polytunnel will be placed.
- Set up the site: Remove any debris, rocks, or other obstructions from the area. Rake or hoe the earth to level it if necessary.
- Build the frame: Assemble the Polytunnel's frame by the manufacturer's instructions. The various frame components will often be fastened together using bolts or other connectors.
- Once the structure is put together, it anchors it to the ground. Tent pegs, ground anchors, or other stakes may anchor the frame firmly.
- Put the cover on: The covering material should be spread out over the edge and fastened to it with bungee cords, clips, or other tools supplied by the manufacturer.
- Close up the openings: Use sandbags, bricks, or other heavy objects to anchor the covering's ends to the ground. It will stop the surface from swaying in the breeze.
- Install the door: If the Polytunnel has roll-up sides or a door, install these.
- Ventilation: If you need proper ventilation inside the Polytunnel, install vents or automated vent openers.
- You could also require assistance for the installation, especially while placing the covering, depending on the size of the Polytunnel.
Maintenance of the Polytunnel
A polytunnel's longevity and efficacy depend on proper upkeep. To effectively maintain your Polytunnel, follow these steps:
- Maintain it: To stop the growth of mold or mildew, regularly clean the interior of the Polytunnel of any dirt, leaves, or other organic matter.
- Examine for damage: Regularly check the Polytunnel for any signs of wear, including any holes or rips in the covering. Quickly fix any damage to stop future deterioration.
- Fix the frame: To keep the structure firmly in place, tighten any loose bolts or other connectors. To hold the edge firmly to the ground, check the anchors.
- To maintain proper ventilation inside the Polytunnel, check that the vents or automatic vent openers are operating as intended.
- Watering: During hot and dry seasons, irrigation systems are required to keep the plants hydrated.
- Examine the covering for any signs of deterioration. To guarantee that the Polytunnel continues to protect your plants effectively, consider replacing the body if it appears worn or damaged.
- Use shade or cooling devices to regulate the temperature and humidity inside the Polytunnel.
- Controlling pests and diseases means checking for any symptoms and acting if there are any.
Polytunnels are a great choice if you want to lengthen your growing season and safeguard your crops from bad weather. They may be used for various crops and are inexpensive and straightforward to build. Consider that you are either a novice or an expert gardener. In such a situation, polytunnels provide a practical and enjoyable approach to learning about crop production. You can get your Polytunnel set up and operating quickly with some planning and the right components. Enjoy your garden!