Allotment growing tunnels are similar to plastic greenhouses in that they can give an allotmenter a head start to the growing season. They also have a big advantage over plastic greenhouses in that by germinating your seedlings in situ it saves you the time and effort of needing to transplant them. This needs to be weighed against a trek to the allotment in late winter to erect the growing tunnel and the risk of being unsuccessful on securing germination in cold soil.
Types Of Growing Tunnels
There are actually three types of growing tunnel, or at least coverings of growing tunnels, each with their own advantages:
- Plastic or Polythene growing tunnels
These offer the warmest environment for seedlings and are ideal for spring germination in cold soil. The plastic traps the heat inside the tunnel, warming the soil and providing an ideal environment for germination. The narrowness of the growing tunnel means that there is no need to worry about watering the seedlings as the soil will naturally stay moist from rain on the surrounding ground. The biggest risk will come with the onset of warmer weather when the hot sun may potentially scorch the young plants.
- Fleece growing tunnels
Fleece growing tunnels may not be as warm as plastic growing tunnels but they have their own advantages. They will retain enough heat during the night to protect young seedlings from frost damage, whilst on hot days the fleece will take the edge off scorching sunshine. Fleece also allows air movement that helps keep the plants healthy and, if properly secured around the edges, will form an effective barrier against all sorts of insect attack.
- Net growing tunnels
These growing tunnels are more for protection than for extending the growing season. Garden netting comes in many grades and varieties depending upon its desired use, but on a growing tunnel its most frequent use is to protect against caterpillar or bird attack during late spring and summer growth. Netting will allow you to water the plants during the growing season and allow the plants to receive their full quota of sunshine.
Buying Considerations – Allotment Growing Tunnels
When purchasing growing tunnels it is worth considering the following:
- Whether replacement covers are available
Spring and autumn weather can bring some of the most severe weather conditions and even the most durable covers can be damaged. You may also want to investigate whether the growing frame comes with a set of covers (plastic, fleece and net) so that you can change the cover as the growing season progresses.
Unfortunately it is not only your plants that will enjoy growing inside a growing tunnel. It is worth considering whether the design of the tunnel allows you to easily move the tunnel or access the plants inside for weeding. During the growing season, hoeing around the tunnel is especially important for net covers to prevent weeds becoming caught in the net. These can be hard to remove without causing damage.
The higher the growing tunnel the larger the plants you can grow within. Apart from the cost implication, a higher tunnel may also be more susceptible to weather damage.
Follow this link to see a range of growing tunnels available through Amazon UK.
Please like or share this article using the social media buttons below.