Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Polytunnel News

Room with a view-Land Matters, South Devon
One month......That's how long I haven't posted anything on this blog. It's been a very busy couple of weeks, we have been  preparing for the London Green Fair and are now getting ready for the open square weekend taking place this coming weekend. Our sign is almost ready and we have been trying our hand at making elder flower juices and wines. For the pass week I have been staying at a self sustaining community in south Devon called Land Matters. I had an amazing time living off grid, bathing in the stream, fresh goats' milk every morning, and I learnt alot about community life. We spent a week down in Devon and are now back in busy London trying to get the May Project site ready for our open garden square visitors.
The polytunnel has  finally been repaired, well the tears have been covered up and this has really helped with the number of snails and slugs we have had. It is now fully planted up and looking amazing, it has been so dry the pass few weeks that we have had to be watering it almost everyday. Thanks heavens as I am writing this blog the rain is falling has been falling for almost 24 hours straight. Its a good thing too cause while I was away it only rained enough to just wet the surface of the ground so when I returned the plants were looking a bit droopy. We have planted some very thirsty plants inside the polytunnel and will have to keep a very close eye on them if the dry sunny days return. We have planted the usual heat loving plants inside the polytunnel this season. We have got an  entire bed devoted to sweet and hot peppers and so far they are all doing very well.
Hot and sweet peppers three (3) month old.

Last year we had only two large beds running down the sides in the polytunnel and got a good enough yield for the space used but this design left a large bit of unused space down the centre. So this season we put in two L-shaped beds running down the sides and a straight bed running down the centre. We are playing with the idea of using the vertical space we have inside the polytunnel, we may attempt hanging baskets or suspended grow beds using grow-bags. We have built bamboo trellises to try and train the squashes, gherkins and our last surviving melon to grow vertically.
 Gherkins(back), Butternut Squash(middle) and Melon(foreground).

Squash Festivals.

The two most famous plants planted under a polytunnel in London, I think, are tomatoes and aubergines and we have got them both in abundance. Last season we had a good crop of tomatoes but our aubergines did not do as well as expected. We were able to get two from three plants and so this season we have planted quite a bit more, with this and our improved soil we are hoping to get a better yield this time around.
 Two varieties of tomatoes.

Lots and lots of aubergines. 

Our lemon balm just keeps on coming. This is its second season and no matter how much we harvest off of it it keeps on coming back for more. Its a fantastic plant and gives the polytunnel a nice citrus aroma, very much appreciated especially after feeding the soil with our home-made 'Netfrey Tea' plant fertilizer.
Lemon Balm a few days after cutting

As always, there are seedlings coming up in the nursery. We have got chives, leeks, some sweet and hot peppers and we are trying to grow some hibiscus which have not yet taken. That's all that happening under the polytunnel so far and it all looks very promising. We should have a very very good harvest this year, fingers crossed.

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