Tuesday 17 October 2017

Grow Yourself Diary: Week 82

Michael Kelly

I got a much overdue clean-up done on the polytunnel last weekend.

Like most people that own a tunnel, I am borderline-obsessed with mine – it's been such a good friend to me over the years, bringing table loads of food, particularly at times of the year when there's little happening in the veg patch outside.

So, I contemplate it, consider it, and generally fuss over it far more than I should.

As I worked to clear the detritus of this year's tomato and cucumber crops, I was debating yet another winter restructuring inside the tunnel. Some years ago, I changed the layout so that I have one wide bed up the centre, two paths on the outside of that bed and two narrow beds up the outside of the tunnel.

That's brilliant to maximise the usable space in the tunnel since you can plant right up to the edge of the plastic on each side (as you are able to reach in from the paths).

It also means I can grow tall plants (like tomatoes, cucumbers and runner beans) in the middle bed because they are growing in the centre where there is the maximum height in the tunnel.

The downside is that the paths are in a location where the roof of the tunnel is starting to slope down and so the 'headspace' isn't great.

I have to bend my head to one side when walking in the tunnel, which is not so bad if you're just popping in to grab a handful of tomatoes, but, is downright uncomfortable if you're spending longer in there doing some work.

So, I am contemplating going back to the original layout I had when I bought the tunnel first, with just one path up the centre and two wide beds on either side.

That's a big job, and will complicate my tomato growing arrangements (and if I can't grow toms right, I don't see much point in having a tunnel), but it will make working in the tunnel an awful lot easier.

Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, this is not a major decision, but in the microcosm of my veg growing world, it's something to be mulled over.

Irish Independent

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