The season for polytunnel is about to start at the time of writing this article. Temperatures remain now above zero during the day, the sun is getting warmer and light frost does not constitute an obstacle for cultivation when crops are covered. Even heat fluctuations at night are not a problem with a tight foil on the structure. For the ones who already have a greenhouse, this is the time to spend a while maintaining the construction and make sure it is still fully operational after the winter. We will tell you what to look for in the following article.
Checking after winter
Whether the gardener was growing plants all year long or observed a break during the cold months, maintenance of the tunnel is more than likely necessary. This guarantees that crop growth will go ahead smoothly during the season. Neglecting maintenance can lead to bigger problems for the grower in the form of torn foil, poor thermal insulation and developing pathogens. Here is a list of tasks worth performing before each growing season :
Cleaning under cover
It is recommended to check every square inch of the foil tunnel, as well as between growing sites. Remove any dry plant residue, weeds, examine the state of agrotextile. Remove the additional mulch or other gardening substrate for the plants concerned.
If the plastic film was on all winter, it should be stretched and then carefully inspected. Check it for any holes, tears or distortions. If you find some, there are two options. One of them is using of repair tape for greenhouses. It is applied on the damaged area, preventing the extension of the cut with wind pressure. It may also happen that tears are too important. In this case, you would rather replace the whole cover with a new one. There is a wide choice on the market, as this membrane represents a very important element of the greenhouse. We encourage everyone to choose one that will be adapted to their requirements.
Cleaning and sterilization of the garden structure
After repairing the foil, it’s time for sterilization. This is necessary, if the grower wants to avoid the development of pathogens that may later play a part in disease development. The whole process is executed with a vacuum cleaner, pressure washer or water sprayed directly from a garden hose. Stores offer specifically designed equipments to carry out the task.
Structure of the foil tunnel
Proper maintenance of the frame guarantees that it will be operational for years. However, it is worth looking for any signs of corrosion on the elements. If so, replacing the defective item with a spare one is advised. Such an operation contributes to the durability of structures made of steel pipes and profiles, limiting the risk of deterioration. Accessories most susceptible to corrosion are those placed close to the ground, where moisture is present. Tightening screws, nuts and leveling the frame are other duties that should be performed when checking the structure.
Disinfection of gardening tools
Before cultivation, it is worth disinfecting each tool, even if it was done at the end of the previous season. It is not a difficult exercise and it prevents plants being exposed to pathogens. Garden crates, tables, pots, etc should also endure the same treatment.
Soil in a garden tunnel
Even with the best crop rotation and fertilization, it is essential to give the soil a rest. In the case of small polytunnels, just dismantle them and move them to a new site. A similar process should be repeated every 4 or 5 years. It all depends on the intensity of cultivation. With large constructions, it is more complicated. Usually , replacing the substrate with a new one is required. A similar operation is needed with garden boxes : remove of the old compost and fill them with a new one.