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Author Topic: Polytunnel rules and advice please - newbie  (Read 2897 times)

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Polytunnel rules and advice please - newbie
« on: April 19, 2016, 11:06:04 pm »
The polytunnel went up last year and the beds filled however the weeds were enormous and even after laying plastic etc and weeding those silverweed roots are looking like popping up but also thistles which also have a route system like the London underground.


I have endless questions on controlling temperature and humidity. 


Can anyone give me simple breakdown on the basics and what to watch for.  I am really concerned about the cooking of my plants seeing that there is considerable expense on these plants I need to ensure I start right.


How am I going to control the weeds from erupting.


Should watering also be to the roots and never over spraying?


I cant believe how hot it gets in there!!!


Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Polytunnel rules and advice please - newbie
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2016, 08:42:13 am »
Ventilation ventilation ventilation.    We have doors and louvres at each end, and on warm days those stand open all day (with mesh to keep the hens out)   Ours is 21'x42' (7x14m) - any longer and you may have to use a fan in the hottest of weather.  Damping down can help, but just on the soil and any surfaces, not onto plants.  I've seen me flapping seed trays to get the air moving, but that's inside my greenhouse, which is inside the tunnel, so a problem to ventilate.

Weeds - you do have to do a lot of weeding, but the soil is very easily workable.  Keep the weeds under control through the winter, dig deeply to get to the those thistle roots, then be diligent as your plants grow.  We get thistles, couch, buttercup and massive chickweed mostly.  It's nearly always too damp outside to hoe, but inside I let the surface dry out so I can hoe - best is probably a very sharp, very small hoe, avoiding plant roots and stems.  Hand weeding otherwise.  I don't use plastic ground cover in the tunnel, as mice nest under it so the dogs dig it up and create mayhem.

For irrigation, we started with a gravity fed 'leaky pipe' system (we don't have mains), so water was delivered to the roots, but after a few years the holes in the hose blocked so now we water by hand, at ground level.  Yes, never water from above - my OH did last year and every one of our lettuce rotted away  :rant:   I soak the ground very thoroughly when I dig planting holes, so the plants sit on wet ground deep down, then I build a little moat of soil around the root run of larger plants such as tomatoes, so I can give the roots a thorough soak, without the water running off.  If you keep the surface of the soil between plants dry, it's easier to keep it weed free.  There are other tricks such as burying water bottles next to heavy drinkers, so water is directed to the roots.  I haven't had much luck with that.  Water in the early morning, or last thing in the evening, rather than in the heat of the day.

Having said all that, I never achieve a totally weed free area, just enough to reduce the competition - life's too short  8)
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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farmershort

  • Joined Nov 2010
Re: Polytunnel rules and advice please - newbie
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2016, 09:01:41 am »
that's some great knowledge there FW!

I've never done the polytunnel thing on a big scale (not yet anyway), but we had a 4m x 2m polytunnel / greenhouse thing in the garden for a few years.... It was a nightmare to ventilate, so we had many many mold problems. The mold never bothered the weeds sadly.... just the crops!

I'll 2nd the "never water from above" sentiment, as you're effectively create lots of magnifying lenses on the surface of the leaves with the water droplets - so your foliage gets burnt.

you mentioned "rules" in your title, and I rather hoped there might be a question in here about the planning side.... I know it's a blatant thread hijack, but I wonder if you'd mind if I ask you and FW what the planning situation is with polytunnels? Does it come under permitted development, or something else?

Thanks

Adam

DavidandCollette

  • Joined Dec 2012
Re: Polytunnel rules and advice please - newbie
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2016, 09:21:23 am »
I agree with everything FW says, including the dog causing mayhem under the plastic covering :rant: I have had great success with upturned plastic bottles with the bottoms cut off. I do bury them well into the ground by the toms cucs melons etc, but not peppers they like to be a bit drier. We have a well and pump water up with a generator into holding tanks. Last year we also bought a water butt pump so that with a hosepipe we can direct the water to where it's needed without waste

hughesy

  • Joined Feb 2010
  • Anglesey
Re: Polytunnel rules and advice please - newbie
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2016, 01:34:01 pm »
We kept a litter of pigs in ours during the winter. It was full of weeds before they went in. Not any more.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Polytunnel rules and advice please - newbie
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2016, 01:39:02 pm »
Sorry farmershort - I can't help with the planning aspect.  We put ours up about 20yrs ago and as long as it wasn't close to the road then they weren't interested.  Things have changed now, but our planners are very obliging.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

   Five Freedoms
   # Freedom from Hunger and Thirst.
   # Freedom from Discomfort.
   # Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease.
   # Freedom to Express Normal Behavior.
   # Freedom from Fear and Distress

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: Polytunnel rules and advice please - newbie
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2016, 02:00:29 pm »
Thanks all brilliant.


As for planning if its domestic and less than 50% of the garden then its permitted development.  If its not hawling over the landscape and not spoiling views then no one is going to complain I have yet to here or see a story of a polytunnel/greenhouse been taken down.


Mines on a farm.  Funny though I have a listed building and the planners have been stood by it and no one mentioned it so it they obv have better things to worry about.

cloddopper

  • Joined Jun 2013
  • South Wales .Carmarthenshire. SA18
Re: Polytunnel rules and advice please - newbie
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2016, 05:52:05 am »
After seeing how my friends struggled to get their polytunnels free of weeds I resorted to several spaced apart sessions with Round up before the weeds had chance to run to seed  once the  weeds were knackered I dug the tunnel over to a depth of about 15 inches each time. By the fourth time of doing it very little was growing . The fifth application  finally sorted it.

 After that the next 6 years were a very easy job because there were simply no more weed seeds or bits of viable root  in the ground . Any airborne seeds that managed to enter were spot treated  with round up & left in the ground so the systemic action could hit the deepest finest of roots such as dandelions .

 One thing I did find I had to do at least once a year was  use sprayed  Round Up in a four foot wide path all round the outsides of the tunnel to hit any couch grass that may have tried to grow through the " No Mans Land"  and enter the tunnel underground.
Strong belief , triggers the mind to find the way ... Dyslexia just makes it that bit more amusing & interesting

desertmum

  • Joined Mar 2016
Re: Polytunnel rules and advice please - newbie
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2016, 04:34:48 pm »
We have a 60m polytunnel that was here when we bought the house - it has planning permission and there were 'rules' applied to the permission which means we have hedges in silly places on the land to block the view of it from our few neighbours  - which is a joke as it is sooooo big and actually very ugly  and can still be seen!  Not sure we would get permission for it now though.

 

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