What and how to grow in a polytunnel?

What and how to grow in a polytunnel?

Many gardeners think that because of a limited space in the polytunnel, the amount of plants will always be the same. Not necessarily. The intensive crop method uses every centimeter of space so that the plants are as close as possible to each other and do not interfere with each other during growth. A more compact set up enables planting of many additional species, guaranteeing greater yield with proper care. A full and abundant harvest is the goal of every grower and in this guide we will review how to start growing under cover.

What is intensive cultivation?

The key to success is choosing the right varieties and plant species. It is worth choosing compact, efficient plants that occupy little space and provide large harvests at the same time. As the market has a wide offer of seeds, there is plenty to choose from. When beginning with crop under cover and before buying seedlings (or seeds). We need to know what spacing is needed between them. How tall and wide they get, whether they can be grown upwards, and which plants can be associated with them?

What to cultivate in a polytunnel?

The first seasons, it is worth starting with easy varieties. With successful experiences and growing confidence, you can later try species with higher demands. Below we will present some plants that offer simple cultivation at the beginning:

Basil

It is an ideal addition to many dishes, and considering there are over 80 varieties (including miniature), it effectively fits around the rest of the crop. If the greenhouse construction is in steel, seeds can be planted in suspended pots.

Chard

Easy to grow and not demanding, it grows into a delicious and nutritious vegetable. In addition, picking leaves encourages it to release new ones. The seedlings from the beet family can be planted and are certain to grow.

Eggplant

Not so long ago, it was hard to find them in gardens, now they are a favourite. They are grown in polytunnels because they need a lot of heat. They are compact and some of the varieties are easy to deal with in a straight line.

Chili Peppers

The plant is quite demanding, but it is worth trying from the very beginning for many reasons. Long red peppers give dishes a savory taste . For correct development, they require a significant amount of heat and adequate lighting. As plants, they are also a beautiful ornament. When they are mature, they can be moved into a home for decoration purposes. The varieties can be easily adapted to the available area to optimally suit the remaining crop.

Tomato

Many books and guides have been written about tomatoes under cover. There are so many varieties that trying them all seems impossible. It is important to choose the most fertile and fast ripening tomatoes when buying them. With tomato cultivation, it is important to grow first preferably upwards. Spread it sideways in order for each part to get sun exposure for as long as possible.

Salad

There are so many varieties, shapes, sizes and colors of lettuce that you can easily add them to your production site. It is a good idea to mix them to get a combination of tastes and colours. As a rule, this plant matures in 45 days, it can be harvested leaf by leaf, straight from the garden. This will keep them fresh much longer.

Associated cultivation

Associating crops is an effective idea to optimally use space inside the polytunnel. This method implies cultivation of fruits and vegetables next to each other in such a way that they support each other during development. It is important to combine the right species as some of the plants compete for space and nutrients. An effective combination of several species makes the soil more fertile, improves phytosanitary condition of the soil, and in some cases, plants protect each other from pests and pathogens.

Best growing methods

An good site management provides an optimal growing area for crops inside the horticultural tunnel. More vegetables and fruits mean more goods for the kitchen, to be used as components for many tasty dishes, snacks, cakes and processed foods. As garden tunnels allow plants to reach optimum growing conditions, maturing, growing, blooming and producing are all improved. Combining this with good farming techniques. The gardener or grower can enjoy healthy and ripened fruits and vegetables in no time.

Advantages of this method are:

  • Avoiding pests
  • Natural symbiosis of plants
  • Good combinations

The effective arrangement of supporting plants in a polytunnel has a stabilizing effect on productivity for many years. The number of beneficial connections is so extensive that it is difficult to enumerate them all. Therefore, we will give the most commonly used (see above).

Good to know:

Cultivation methods and subsequent care of plant parts above and inside the ground have an influence on crop quality and yield . When cultivating a particular variety. It is important to first familiarize yourself with its requirements and then adjust the environment under cover to be as suited as possible.

The next important factor for the development of the crop is temperature. Optimal temperature enables better and faster crop growth. It may be that its adequacy depends on the plant development phase, as well as light intensity . Different needs appear at specific stages of plant development, like emergence, flowering and fruiting.

Plastic foil in the garden tunnel

Vegetables and fruits have their own characteristics depending on their species and in terms of resistance to low temperatures. If temperature falls below the minimum value, their growth is inhibited. Most of the plants do not grow below 5 ° C, although there are cases where some varieties and perennial vegetables are able to withstand even -20 ° C (kale, scorzonera, leek).
Snow, which creates a cover, and hail can occur suddenly. In both cases, field crops are exposed to damages from these weather factors. The plastic foil in the garden tunnel creates a protective cover over vegetables and fruits.

Ventilation

The air flow under cover works in favour of the plantation. By drying the leaves, it reduces the development of infections and fungal or mold diseases. Tunnels with ventilation have sides that can be lifted and basic polytunnels are equipped with doors (or a couple of doors), such solutions provide beneficial air movement inside the structure without negative consequences.

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