In this blog post, we’ll be looking at how to prepare your polytunnel for the winter months with handy tips on frost-protection and polytunnel maintenance, as well as tips on what to sow this autumn. With winter on its way, now’s your chance to get your polytunnel organised, make way for winter crops (if you haven’t already) and prepare for the fall in temperatures.

What to grow in your polytunnel this autumn

To make your polytunnel work for you this autumn, you should have been sowing nearly as many seeds as you were in spring according to long-time polytunnel farmer Andy McKee. There are numerous different crops that you can sow in October, including coriander, spring onions and peas. If you can get down to your polytunnel this weekend, why not try growing something new?

Winter lettuce are particularly cold-hardy and are another perfect choice for your polytunnel this autumn. The Real Seed Catalogue recommends Winter Marvel and Reine de Glace as their top two varieties for autumn growing. With the soil still relatively warm in October and November, it’s also an opportune time to plant garlic but make sure to pick up an autumn-planted variety.

Man cleaning polytunnel

 

 

 

Keeping polytunnel pests (and dirt) at bay

It’s a tedious task, and one that not many people enjoy, but make sure to spare a few minutes for polytunnel maintenance this autumn. Clearing out and cleaning your polytunnel shouldn’t take up too much of your time but the benefits can be immense. Taking the time to clean your polytunnel can reduce pests and help to raise light levels by banishing any algae coating your tunnel.

Start by clearing up any debris: old compost bags and plant pots make a nice, cosy home for unwanted guests such as insects and small rodents. Next, give the polythene sheet a good scrub. A long-handed broom followed by a bucket of water is a good place to start, but a polytunnel surface cleaner can successfully remove green slime, soot and pesticide residues without harm.

Frost-proof your polytunnel… tips for every budget

Shielding crops from frost in an important job for every keen hobby gardener. Luckily, there are many ways to keep your crops and plants snug and sheltered this winter, with options to suit every budget. Cloches are an affordable way of providing your crops with some much-needed relief from the elements and can help to warm the soil, resulting in higher yields in future.

Bubble film insulation can also be fitted to the inside of your polytunnel to protect your more vulnerable crops and plants on mild winter nights. Bubble film is a cost-effective solution and can reduce heat loss and wind chill in your polytunnel. To reduce its impact on light levels, make sure to look for a brand that provides high clarity light transmission.

For plots with access to an electric supply, an electric polytunnel heater can provide effective frost protection for up to 210sq ft (10ft x 20ft polytunnel). Many polytunnel heaters include thermostats to ensure that they only turn on when the temperature dips below a certain level, increasing their cost-effectiveness and leaving more pennies in your pocket for Christmas.