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Growing Undercover

For most people a greenhouse or a polytunnel are a great bonus. They really help the grower but they’re not necessary. Growing where I do, with high winds and rain causing wind chill along with our 200m altitude and exposed position dropping the temperature, without a greenhouse and a tunnel what I could grow would be severely limited.

In the polytunnel

Cherry Tree Polytunnel

Cherry Tree in the Polytunnel with Strawberries under

Cherry Tree

I’d planted a Welsh cherry tree on a dwarfing rootstock in the tunnel but last year I tripped, grabbed hold and broke the leader off. A side shoot has taken its place so I’ve bent it over and attached it to a wire. Hopefully it will throw up more side shoots from the new leader which I can train upwards.


Underneath the cherry tree I’ve laid some weed fabric and planted strawberries that I’d grown on in pots. Outside on the patio I’ve a strawberry barrel which I’m going to move into the tunnel. I’ll have to empty it and replant – far too heavy to move otherwise.

I’ve also some troughs with strawberries in that I want to move into the tunnel. I’d planned (you may laugh, plans!) on hanging shelves off the crop bars and planting strawberries in grow bags. The problem was I couldn’t get the shelves into a position where they didn’t intrude on the paths.

Plan B is to hang some baskets up and plant into those. I spent ages trying to find the right “S” hooks to no avail. Then I thought, “I’ll give First Tunnels a ring. They’ll be bound to know where to get them” Well they do – they’re actually on their web site here!

I’d taken up a couple of the troughs from outside to the tunnel a few weeks ago – the difference between those and the ones that were left outside proves how much better they’ll do in the tunnel. Bit of luck and it will be lots of lovely strawberries this year.

Strawberries outside

Same variety of Strawberries in the same trough etc. outside

Strawberries polytunnel

Vibrant Strawberries in a trough in the polytunnel


Both the Arran Pilot and the Home Guard have broken through in the tunnel. The Home Guard seem to be slightly more advanced. Fingers crossed for some really early earlies.

Arran Pilot Potatoes

Arran Pilot Potatoes in the Polytunnel

Home Guard Potatoes

Home Guard Potatoes in the Polytunnel

Potting Shed

The tomatoes and peppers in the Vitopod are doing well. Lights really help at this time of year. Although the daylength is approaching 14 hours, it’s not strong light and the artificial lights pump that bit more energy into the plants.

Tomatoes Under Lights

Tomatoes Under Lights

Over in the Geopod, a bit of a disaster. The sun had come out late one afternoon and cooked some seedling brassicas. Oh well, re-sow. Lots of pricking out to do as well.


Over in the coldframes I’ve got Karmazyn broad beans in root trainers. They’re well ready for planting out now. It seems that they do much better in root trainers than pots so I’ll be using those for beans in the future.

Broad Beans Rootrainers

Karmazyn Broad Beans Rootrainers


Over in the greenhouse I’ve got some spring onions which are near ready to plant out along with leeks in large root trainer style modules and the peas. The peas have not done well at all.

Initially they started to germinate well but since coming off heat there have been few further germinations. It was fresh seed and so I don’t think it’s that but it may have been going from warm to cool.

The leeks are starting to germinate now – fingers crossed!

Leeks Peas

Leeks & Peas

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
5 comments on “Growing Undercover
  1. Peter James Hare says:

    I have planted my strawberries in a length of wide guttering and put it on supports on the poly tunnel poles at waist height. I have flowers on some of them now.

  2. keith jefferies says:

    I am getting a polytunnel and would like advice on what to grow in it.

  3. Duncan Robinson says:

    Growing cherries in a polytunnel is a good idea, I planted an ‘Early Rivers’ in mine to protect the cherries from birds making off with them and against inclement weather. I do have a couple of cheapo ‘Morello’ cooking cherry trees outside; last year I got the first cherries and the birds left them alone – once ripe they taste pretty much as good as a sweet cherry. I bought a ‘Merton Glory’ as a pollination partner for the ‘Early Rivers’ because the older varieties of sweet cherry are self sterile. Growing fruit under cover of greenhouses or ‘orchard houses’ was popular in Victorian times; the ‘Rivers’ nursery in Hertfordshire was founded in 1725 and went bust in 1985 because the orchards and kitchen gardens of the large country estates they supplied had largely disappeared. Rivers were prolific fruit breeders and they raised varieties such as ‘Conference’ pear, ‘Early Rivers’ cherry, ‘Czar’ and ‘Rivers Early Prolific’ plums, ‘Lord Napier’ nectarine, ‘Peregrine’ peach and hundreds more that are still sold today by other fruit nurseries. They used to be the largest fruit nursery in the UK. Fascinating history and 2 books are available on line; ‘The Miniature Fruit Garden’ and ‘The Orchard House of Thomas Rivers’. I enjoy growing some fruit on my allotment and in my home garden, because it’s an absorbing and interesting hobby, healthy for you and a bit less work than having to sow annual veg to fill your allotment every year.

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