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Path Finished, Polytunnel Ready to Plant

Inside PolytunnelSome more fine, if cold, weather so things have been moving ahead at a fast pace.

The Polytunnel

The centre bed has been dug over, removing a load of stones in the process and I’ve added a load of compost to improve the soil to the beds. Have to maximise production in the tunnel, which means good soil.

I’ve used up all my own compost and it wasn’t enough so I topped that up with some bags of Erin multi-purpose. Our wonderful Stermat has them at 3 70L bags for £10 so it doesn’t break the bank.

I got a load of bark peelings for the paths. I’m using bark peelings because they’re not permanent and if I should change my mind on the layout in the future, it will be easy to rake up and compost or re-use.

My neighbour took me down to Glasfryn, the fencing place, with his huge hydraulic-lift trailer to pick up the peelings. They loaded us up with the tractor and, £14 lighter, we headed back.

Not like the good old days on Wistaston allotments where the council guys dropped lorry loads of chippings for free. So far I’ve had 3 tree surgeons promise to dump their chippings for me but none have actually come back.

The only concern I’ve got with using bark peelings is if red ants set up home. I’ve not seen any around here but I had it happen when we were in Crewe. Kneeling in a nest of red ants whilst wearing shorts is not an experience I’d recommend!

I’m actually ready to start using the tunnel properly now. There are still some things I want to do in there like a suspended shelf to grow strawberries on but they’ll wait for now.

I’ve a couple of Linkabord raised beds which are roughly a metre square. I’m going to plant these up in the main border with some first early potatoes. Hopefully we’ll be starting on those by the end of April.

In the centre bed I’ll set up the raised bed with a coldframe and get some really early carrots going. I think they’ll be glad of the extra warm the coldframe will provide.

Rotovating the New Poultry Enclosure

The area where the poultry will be safe and sound got rotavated. The Merry Tiller was a bit unsure about starting after sitting for a couple of months and it being just a couple of degrees above freezing. Nothing a spray of Easy Start couldn’t fix. A few coughs and splutters then she settled down to work.

Still needs a little levelling and as soon as things warm up a bit I’ll sow it with a poultry seed pasture mix. Lucky chooks!

Because of the fox problem, I want to roof over as well as build walls. Even 2 metre fences don’t always stop a hungry vixen with cubs to feed. Plus hungry seagulls and rooks can be a problem raiding the run for feed. I don’t trust the buzzards, either. Beautiful birds and lovely to watch floating lazily in circles until they plummet like a missile down onto some unwary mouse or young rabbit.

Slabbed Path

Slabbed Path Finished!

The Path is Finished

The new path through what is becoming the veg plot is finished. It makes a huge difference, especially when it’s raining – which it does occasionally in Wales. I can take a wheelbarrow right the way from the shed to the tunnel on a hard path.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
6 comments on “Path Finished, Polytunnel Ready to Plant
  1. Richard in Norfolk says:

    Hello John,
    Nice to see the polytunnel nearly ready to go, I’m sure you will enjoy it.
    I have a loosely connected polytunnel question concerning potatoes in bags. Last year I had a very successful crop from 3 bags I bought as a kit, complete with bags of compost, an early start in the polytunnel then put them out when frosts were gone. This year I have gone a bit crazy and bought another 10 bags. Now, I don’t want to fill these from the allotment so thought I would buy recycled green waste from the local recycling centre. Here’s the thing; the nutritional value of the recycled waste is a little unknown but probably very low. My local garden centre were very helpful but couldn’t suggest what to add to it other than farmyard manure and a bit of fertiliser. Trouble is, how much and what? in one of your articles you mention potato fertiliser, is that enough? should I add anything else?

    • John Harrison says:

      Hi Richard – growing in bags I’d use the composted green waste plus a commercial potato fertiliser like Chempak which is N:P:K 4-6-12 + 4 MgO or Medwyn’s 6:10:10. I’d mix about 50 grams per 40 litres of compost.
      John Trim recommends 500 grams of Vitax Q4 + 500 grams of calcified seaweed per 100 litres of peat, which has no nutrients.
      Check out the potato growing articles on the site.

  2. Snowdrops says:

    Hi John, I’m watching your news on the poly tunnel avidly, as now I’ve retired I’m wondering about investing in one for the allotment. Was it expensive to have it put up for you? I can’t seem to find out the cost on the first tunnels websites? Have you got extra ventilation apart from the doors?

    • John Harrison says:

      Hi Snowdrops. It’s tricky to set a price for construction. It will vary according to what you buy and where you are located. I’d suggest you decide what you want and ring them for a quote. They’re really knowledgeable and helpful and not pushy.
      Side ventilation is useful but generally I’d say it’s only needed if your tunnel is over 30′ long. In hot weather we get enough ventilation by opening all the large (approx 4’x6′) doors.

  3. Tom Bailey says:

    Hi John

    Have been a follower of your site for many years. I have recently erected a polytunnel and have already sowed some potatoes. I would like to know how often do I water them. As we are still having frost here in Kildare I am afraid.

    • John Harrison says:

      Hi Tom – that’s going to depend on how far on they are, what groundwater is available, what the weather’s like etc.
      Best advice I can give is to stick your finger in and see if it’s dry under the surface. Often soil & composts are dry on the surface but quite wet a few inches down.
      At this time of year a weekly check should be sufficient but once things heat up and the potatoes are swelling, check every day or two to be safe.
      Drying out and then drowning will result in cracked potatoes so try and keep them moist.

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