As the summer growing season comes to a close in late August and September, it needn’t be the end of fresh homegrown veggies for another year. Consulting the GIY website, which is packed with useful tips for gardeners and vegetable growing enthusiasts everywhere, we find some handy info to help with the plan for what to do with your tunnel when your summer crops are finished.
We also take a look at what you can plant now that will provide some homegrown flavours during the winter months.
What to do in late August and September
As your tomatoes and other polytunnel crops are coming to an end, planning ahead to make use of your empty tunnel is a good idea. GYI has lots of info in a month by month format of what to do in the garden and we highly recommend you take a look. But here are just a few bullet points they advise to be getting on with in late August and September:
- Remove crops that have come to an end and clear the ground around them, paying particular attention to digging up weeds.
- Remove excess leaves from tomato plants to allow air to circulate and the sun to ripen the remaining fruits
- Water pumpkins and pinch out growing tips to plump the fruits for autumn harvest
- If you have grown French beans and you still have some pods left on the plants, these may be too tough to eat now, so keep them for seeds for next year.
- As night temperatures start to fall in September, close your polytunnel doors to conserve heat for any remaining crops.
Growing Crops for Christmas Dinner
Yes, we know it’s a bit early to mention the ‘C’ word, but in gardening terms, you’ve got to think ahead! Imagine being able to go out to your polytunnel on Christmas morning and dig your own veggies for the dinner! Now’s the time to plant a couple of things that may be ready to pick on Christmas Day. We love that idea!
Seed potatoes can be planted now for the Christmas harvest. Our research says that it’s best to plant them in a container to start them off, which can be transferred to the tunnel where they will get heat on winter days.
Herbs like parsley, rosemary and thyme are hardy and work well in pots in the tunnel – these are the basic herbs of Christmas for stuffings and gravies.
Sow greens like perpetual spinach (pick and come again) and oriental leaves, which will crop in the New Year. Bring a bit of freshness to the winter table!
Making your Tunnel work for You in Winter
A polytunnel is a huge investment for any gardener, and wily ones make sure they get full use of it all year round. After the growing season comes to an end, the tunnel should get a good clear out green manures (plants that fertilise the soil) that can be planted now and should be ready to dig into the ground in October. This will help regenerate the soil for next year.
Use the tunnel for sowing seeds for next year’s crops. Herbs and early peas can be sown in September, for planting out in spring.
As autumn moves on, October is a good time to sow cauliflower and broccoli in the tunnel to get them started over winter.
If you want a really good insight into growing your own, GIY’s founder Michael Kelly has it all written down in his Grow Cook Eat tome on the subject. In his ‘easy to read and makes you feel like you can do it’ style, this is the book for all those who want to embrace the GIY lifestyle! Available in good book shops.
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