August Growing Guides

Going on holiday? Who will water the polytunnel? If you are going away this year, you have two choices:

1) Ask someone, very nicely, if they would mind spending between two and seven hours a week (depending on your soil type) watering the polytunnel – oh, and would they please do it in the morning, so the leaves have time to dry out?

2) Get an automatic watering kit, set it up and test it thoroughly before you leave so you can actually relax when you’re on the beach somewhere exotic.

Can you guess which is my preference? In fact, we’re very lucky in having good help close to hand – and as they’re farmers, they hardly ever go away themselves. But they’re not gardeners. Sheep, great. Chickens, no problem. Lettuces...huh?

And therein lies the problem. Nobody will take care of your garden the way you would yourself, even if they are gardeners themselves. A good friend of mine left his organic garden in what he thought were the safe hands of an experienced gardener and came home to find slug pellets scattered all over the place. Gardening is a process, and only by being there over time will you get a feel for how this plant is developing, how that one needs more water than those, and so on.

If you decide on an automatic watering system, you again have a variety of decisions to make. Some kits rely on a gravity feed from a central reservoir, while others are battery-operated timers that hook up directly to a tap. If you are a natural pessimist, you might want to avoid imagining the timer...malfunctioning…and test it thoroughly!

You’ll also need to choose between drippers, sprayers or soakers. Which one is best for a particular bed, or particular plant? If you use a dripper, all the water lands on one small spot of earth. If you use sprayers, they’ll soak everything within range – and unless you figure out the timing carefully you might end up with blight or mould. If you use soakers, you can’t really regulate the water from plant to plant as they leak along their entire length. This makes them good choices for beds rather than for individual plants.

As you can see, it’s not completely straightforward. But, automatic systems are great fun for people who like to fiddle with stuff, and, once they’re set up, they’re a huge time-saving on manual watering – because, of course, you don’t have to restrict their use to the days on which you’re actually away. Why not just leave it on all the time? You can move drippers and sprayers, or remove them from the system altogether. Soaker hose is a little more difficult as often it’s placed under a layer of mulch, or even buried just below the surface of the soil, and in trying to move them you risk damaging your plants. For more information on automatic watering systems, see the irrigation options section.

Top Tips

Continue sowing seeds for winter and the hungry gap. Don’t leave it until it’s too late! September sowings of many plants are unlikely to provide crops before the following spring, so if you don’t get around to it this month, you might have missed your chance.

What To Grow

Sowing:
Beetroot, sprouting broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, coriander, daikon, kohlrabi, lettuce, spring onion, pak choi, peas, radish, rocket, strawberries, sweet potato, potato, turnip.

Note - we now have sweet potato. As a long-season crop it won’t be ready to harvest until Autumn the following year. Cuttings can be rooted in August to overwinter in pots before planting the following May. And, if you manage to save a few ‘first earlies’ from your spring potato planting, you could plant a few in the polytunnel this month in hopes of a harvest in December, imagine – home-grown new potatoes for Christmas dinner!

Harvesting:
Aubergine, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chard, coriander, courgette, cucumber, daikon, dwarf French beans, French beans, fennel, kohlrabi, lettuce, pepper, radish, rocket, spinach, spring onion, strawberries, sweet corn, tomato.

Melons...and possibly even watermelons...even if you live in the north!

Please see our Top Of The Crops for a list of over 80 Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs and Spices, Flowers and Exotics.

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January Growing Guides

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About First Tunnels

We’re a close-knit bunch of skilled professionals who take an enormous pride in the quality and versatility of our products, But we’re enthusiasts too - we use our own products, and that means we’ve introduced lots of improvements and innovations over the years…based on first-hand everyday practical experience. We work hand-in hand with top growing experts. We even have our own allotment for some seriously hands-on gardening, often accompanied by communal summer and winter barbecues because all work and no play would be very dull!

Polytunnel Community

Reviewed by you, Followed by you, Liked by you and listened to by us. We have a strong online polytunnel community, 35k Facebook Fans, 10k Twitter Followers and over 3m YouTube Views. Our community of dedicated, passionate Polytunnel gardening friends, love to share their sowing tips, growing hints and harvesting secrets with each other. But more importantly for you, as a customer or a potential customer, you can post your comments in all their glory or gory details. Come and join the Polytunnel family.

Construction Help & Advice

Our six man construction team has a wealth of polytunnel construction knowledge and are more than happy to share tips and advice with any of our customers. Many of the team have been quite literally 'hands on' developing the First Tunnels vast array of construction videos and in depth instruction guides. Our construction team are available to answer your questions and help in whatever way they can. Simply call 01282 601253 on week days between 9am-5pm...PLUS weekend cover on 07801 601253, between 9am-5pm.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are proud of our products and the time that we have put in to making sure that all our products are first class. We understand that purchasing a polytunnel is a considerable investment, and whilst we have lots of help and advice on this site, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and blog pages many people like to compare and contrast before they commit their hard earned cash to buying. To this end we have compiled a list of the most common questions and provide 10 top reasons why First Tunnels Polytunnels is the top choice.

Getting Growing

Part of the fun of owning a polytunnel is picking the brains of people who really know how to make the most of the real growing potential. So we're making it easy for you...with some of the best brains in the business! This site now includes features, produced exclusively for First Tunnels by Andy McKee and Mark Gatter - best-selling authors of 'How to grow food in your Polytunnel' and 'The Polytunnel Handbook'. We also have videos from BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time presenter, Paul Peacock. We also have a host of growing guides from Sam Youd, presenter & judge for the Royal Horticultural Society & Tatton Park Head Gardener.

Other Useful Stuff

What better way to learn about company dependability, product quality and customer service than to hear it straight from other consumers? By giving customers the opportunity to share their First Tunnels shopping experience, we believe this is the best reflection of our companies’ product and service. To help reinforce credibility, popularity and reputation, we have subscribed to not one, not two...but THREE independent review companies. We value all feedback, good, bad or ugly and hope to build a long lasting relationship with our customer, through our high quality products and friendly service, to ensure they do not hesitate to order again and again with First Tunnels in the future.