If you only have space for a small polytunnel, you should be even more conscious of every decision you make in terms of what you plant and where. Maximising the growing space will allow you to grow far more in your polytunnel than you may imagine is possible and could make it possible to grow a much larger percentage of the food your household requires. Here are some of the space maximising ideas you could utilise in your small polytunnel:
When thinking about the space in your polytunnel it is important to remember that there is a vertical component to that space as well as a horizontal one. Vertical gardening is not all about creating a wall-mounted garden, it is also about training vining plants upwards, cordoning tomatoes, and planting things that will grow upwards into the higher space, leaving other plants space to grow below.
Another element to using the higher up portions of your polytunnel is hanging things from your crop bars. Hanging baskets, hanging shelves to hold containers and other hanging garden ideas can help to make sure that the space is really used to its fullest.
Container gardening can allow you to cram in even more plants into the spaces between any beds. Consider placing small containers on paths (make sure you can still step over them even when plants are fully grown, however – there is no point making things more difficult than necessary). Containers could also be placed on shelved staging in your polytunnel, or suspended from a wire, or placed on a shelf strung between crop bars. Containers will allow you to make the most of the space and change the layout as required throughout the year.
In a small polytunnel, it is especially important to be organised about your planting schedule and about the layout of plants in each bed or container. Plants should be layered in order to maximise space – smaller plants grown beneath taller ones, and spaces between slow growing plants filled with fast growing ones. Take note of what works and what does not when it comes to companion planting and learn from each year's successes and failures. This is the best way to maximise yield in a smaller space in the longer term and will help you to reach the point where you really are making the most of your small polytunnel.