Still winter, isn’t it? But spring is just around the corner, so there’s lots to do in the polytunnel. If you’re planning your first polytunnel this year, a sunny day in February is a great time to put the cover on in time to get early spring plantings up and running far earlier than you could outside.
Plastic is more flexible when warm, but as long as the sun is out – even if it’s a cold day – as soon as you pull the cover up over the hoops you’ll be amazed how quickly it warms up inside. After just a few minutes, the cover will be flexible enough to tighten down, and you won’t need to re-tighten it later in the year.
If you already have a polytunnel, February is a great month to clean up in preparation for the beginning of the growing season – March! There will be spaces here and there from winter harvesting, and you should fork some compost into all these as soon as possible. Staging and tools, as well as all your seedling pots, should get washed with a solution of warm water and a non-toxic biodegradable soap such as Algon. Clean the cover as well, inside and out, so everything can benefit from the increasing day length.
I always start a few seeds in February just to see what I can get away with. A sunny windowsill, a cold frame and some horticultural fleece cloches all help with early crops. If you live in the north, you may want to consider starting a few seeds indoors under lights, not the ‘greenest’ way forward, but a 200-250W fluorescent light – designed for vegetation will allow you to start loads of veggies in a small space indoors without a costly spike in your electricity bill. And you’ll only need to do this until you can start moving things out to the tunnel in March. Remember that sudden cold can be a serious shock to young plants, so put a cold frame or a fleece cloche or mini polytunnel in the tunnel to house them for the first 2-3 weeks. Once April arrives, it’s unlikely that temperatures inside the tunnel will drop far enough to cause problems.
February is a good time to get set up for the warmer weather so you don’t get caught out when it arrives. An automatic watering system is a great time-saver once it’s set up, but its timer is something you should thoroughly test before going on holiday!
Regular ventilation is essential, even during the colder months, as mould will spread quickly. While it’s less likely to cause problems in winter it’s still around, and low growth rates and light levels, together with a cold, damp environment, don’t help. However, don’t ever leave the tunnel open overnight in winter. I open the doors for a few hours in the middle of the day, whenever it’s not too cold outside and especially if it’s sunny, but if it’s overcast and seriously cold I leave them closed. Once the weather warms, try to open the doors as soon as possible in the morning and close them again about half an hour before the sun stops hitting the tunnel. That way you’ll get plenty of air circulation without losing valuable heat.
Get some ‘first early’ seed potatoes and start ‘chitting’ them - set them out in egg boxes near a bright window so they begin to sprout. When the sprouts are about an inch long, plant the spuds in the tunnel. You’ll be rewarded with the earliest of earlies sometime in the second half of April. As well as continuing to sow broad beans, garlic/ elephant garlic, peas (round-seed varieties) and turnips you can also start sowing aubergines, peppers, strawberries, sweet potato and tomatoes and anything else on the ‘harvesting’ list below. And yes, I know, you’re thinking ‘Aubergines, peppers and tomatoes in February?’ In a regular vegetable garden this would be a complete waste of time. But not in a polytunnel...
Everything on the ‘harvesting’ list.
Beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, coriander, daikon, kohlrabi, lettuce (and other salad greens), mizuna, pak choi, radish, rocket, spinach, spring onions, turnips.
Please see our Top Of The Crops for a list of over 80 Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs and Spices, Flowers and Exotics.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.