January Growing Guides

January usually sees the top few inches of earth frozen solid everywhere in the garden. Even stalwart crops like kale droop and look decidedly unattractive. Parsnips and brussels lurk here and there but it’s a wellies and warm coat job whenever they’re needed. Everything else is just sitting under a thick mulch, waiting. Unless, of course, you have a polytunnel...

So, what difference can a polytunnel make to your gardening in January? First and foremost, it will allow you to keep lots of crops growing right through the winter and into the warmer days of spring. And when the sun does show itself, even in the depth of winter the temperature in a polytunnel will be warmed within minutes.

Working in a polytunnel over winter on a fine day you will be quite comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt - clearing weeds, cultivating, clipping a few leaves of this and that for dinner - while outside the temperature may well have stayed below freezing all day.

For gardening junkies like me, a polytunnel means there is more to winter than huddling round a fire with seed catalogues, dreaming of spring. In your polytunnel you can be actively sowing, growing and even harvesting right through the coldest months.

Top Tips

There are several commercial heaters available burning either propane or paraffin, and these will keep the temperature well above freezing even in the coldest weather. However, be very careful when re-filling the paraffin - a spill on your soil will seriously damage your plants. So don’t re-fill in the tunnel, take it outside onto a path.

I also use horticultural fleece cloches over the beds. These are made by placing a series of hoops, across the beds every few feet. Then I drape the fleece over the hoops. Fleece can be easily pulled back, either to allow access to the plants or to increase the light levels for the beds on warmer days, and put back again for overnight protection. There are several weights of fleece available: mine is fairly heavy and will protect the plants beneath from upto -6ºC. When that is added to the protection already provided by a polytunnel, lots of salads and vegetables will survive all winter. And they’ll be there whenever you like.

A water butt is a great thing to have in a polytunnel - and the bigger, the better. Not only will it be handy for watering here and there but it will also retain available heat. The water will soak up the warmth when the sun comes out, then slowly release it overnight, just like a storage heater.

What To Grow

Broad beans, garlic/elephant garlic, peas (round-seed varieties) and turnip. Beware of mice digging up the broad beans and peas! They love ‘em. Bottle cloches (i.e. plastic bottles cut into tubes roughly 15cm long and pushed into the earth around the seeds) will protect them from rodents. Add a ring of copper tape roughly halfway up and you also have a good slug barrier. Garlic should be a reasonably safe bet and can be sown throughout the winter, and turnip seeds are able to germinate only a few degrees above freezing.

Garlic/elephant garlic, and everything else on the 'harvesting' list.

Beetroot, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, coriander, daikon, lettuce (and other salad greens), kohlrabi, mizuna, pak choi, radish, rocket, spinach, spring onion, turnip.

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.

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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.