For first-time Polytunnel gardeners, there's lots of excitement and anticipation and no doubt you'll be desperate to get cracking! We already know a Polytunnel is a wonderful "whatever the weather" gardening space but when configuring your Polytunnel layout, you will most likely receive all sorts of mixed tips and advice or have nifty ideas of your own to help maximize the growing space that is available.
Whether you have a domestic/garden/allotment Polytunnel or a commercial Polytunnel, it's a good idea to start the planning on paper so that several alternative options can be evaluated, simply rub it out and start again!
You'll be spending a lot of time in the poly tunnel, so don't leave yourself short of work space and although it's all about trying to maximise your precious growing space, don't forget to allow plenty of room when you're planning paths to allow you to get through with a wheelbarrow as well as room for kneeling down when weeding and planting.
Have you thought about an area to nurture seedlings, store of pots and equipment, mix soil or just somewhere to put your flask and radio in the Poly Tunnel? Consider how much room will be required to manoeuvre around work benches?
With the extra space available above the head, crop bars are the perfect addition to any Polytunnel for creating space for suspending multiple hanging baskets, supporting and training grape vines, cucumbers or even tomatoes.
Depending on the crops to be grown and soil condition will determine whether you will chooses to grow directly on the ground, in raised beds or on staging/benches.
Raised Beds - Building raised beds requires some initial investment (wood, screws, and the soil to fill the beds) but well worth it if you are digging in heavy clay and rocky soil. The beauty of raised beds is they introduce a different soil type to your Polytunnel and are a useful way to garden if you have restricted mobility, as they reduce the need to bend. I'm a big fan of raised-bed gardening. I love being able to start fresh with quality soil.
Staging - Good space utilisation is optimum and tiered Polytunnel staging offers extra space for low light plants that can be placed on the bottom shelves as the above plants protect them from direct sunlight. Free standing trestle staging can be moved around as and when and especially on sizzling hot days, it's nice to have the flexibility to move your potting area outside.
Ground cover or weed-blocking fabric is cleaner to work on and supresses annoying weeds whereas a partially paved floor, and will reflect heat back into the growing space. You can simply reuse old patio slabs.