Premier Polytunnels Blog

For the keen gardeners among us, there are few things more frustrating than seeing your plants and vegetables ruined by the weather or those pesky pests.

But fear not, for there is a simple solution at hand!

A cloche – the French word for ‘bell’ – could help your garden thrive and here at Premier Polytunnels we have a range of garden cloches to suit your needs.

Acting as a cover for plants or vegetables, the very earliest models were initially made of glass but now there are many different types, including polythene cloches or shade net cloches. But what are the benefits and why should you be using them? Read on to find out.

Portability is key

Garden Cloche benefitsA cloche is a mini polytunnel. Larger structures such as garden polytunnels and greenhouses are great for growing flowers on a larger scale, but what if the plants you’re looking to protect only take up a very small area?

That’s where the garden cloche comes in. Consisting of a robust steel frame, usually with a polythene or net covering, they are easy to move around to suit your needs, meaning you can quickly and efficiently cover your beds if, for example, it looks like that famously unpredictable UK weather is about to take a turn for the worse. Speaking of which...

Protect your plants, whatever the weather

Mini PolytunnelGardening in the UK can prove especially tricky when you factor in the massively changeable conditions. What would normally be a chilly October day can sometimes turn out to be a scorcher, while the supposedly glorious summer months can occasionally prove a real damp squib.

Heavy rain or hail can really damage your plants, so using a cloche as a shelter from any such precipitation could allow your garden to flourish. Similarly, they ensure protection from strong winds. You could also read The Royal Horticultural Society’s useful advice on hardening off - a process which allows young plants to adapt to harsher outdoor conditions.

Keep those pests at bay

Benefits of using a Garden ClocheIncluding a garden cloche on your patch should also reduce the risk of your plants becoming affected or damaged by birds, insects or diseases.

As a physical obstacle, any potentially harmful wildlife will be unable to reach your crops – ensuring that you’ll be the only one eating your produce! At Premier Polytunnels we offer a range of anti-bird net cloches and it’s also worth considering meshing to guard against those pesky insects.

Whichever type of cloche you choose, it’s important to bear in mind adequate ventilation, which will reduce humidity and protect against air-borne infections.

Turn up the heat and extend your seasons

If you’re battling against inclement weather conditions, being able to prolong your cropping season can be a real boost. Your mini polytunnel can help raise the soil temperature and, if you have it in place a few days before planting, you should reap the rewards in the form of quicker germination, increased air temperatures and reduced heat loss in the evenings.

Garden ClocheIf done right, raising soil temperatures with your garden cloche – especially good for the likes of carrots, broad beans and lettuce – can extend your cropping season at either end, affording you more time to cultivate your plants and maximise the productivity of your patch.

If it’s versatility you’re after in a cloche, why not plump for Premier Polytunnels’ individual hoops, which can be covered with the material of your choice – be it netting, clear polythene, or even black polythene, which can be useful in increasing the flavour of leafy salads by denying them light for a few weeks.

With your mini polytunnel in place, you can ensure your plants and produce are protected, leaving you to reap the rewards.

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How to set up Sheep HousingThe unpredictable UK weather can prove problematic for farmers, so it’s important to plan for all eventualities and ensure your livestock remain adequately protected.

Lambing season, for example, is a crucial time for the agricultural industry so it is imperative your sheep are well taken care of in the form of efficient sheep housing.

Sheep polytunnels are the best way to reduce lambing losses by shielding your flock from harsh weather conditions or predators, as well as offering additional feeding help.

We’ve put together this handy guide to help take you through the best practices when it comes to meeting your sheep housing requirements.

Plan carefully

Before you start constructing your sheep house, you need to think clearly about its layout and how it will best serve you. A well-designed sheep polytunnel should make feeding as labour efficient as possible, while you should also consider all the other tasks you may need to carry out and whether your setup will help or hinder those.

For example, it’s worth taking into account the layout of the pens, where to put the passageways and the gates which, when open, can also be used to block off the walkways.

Make space

Sheep PolytunnelWhen seeking guidance on your sheep housing requirements, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has regulations in place when it comes to space allowances, feeding and wellbeing, among other factors. It is suggested that you should be able to feed every 100 ewes in around 15 minutes, and careful placement of troughs mean you should be able to do so without entering the pens.

Not everyone has the same area within which to work, of course, but thankfully Premier Polytunnels offer a range of sizes in sheep housing, from 16 feet wide to 30 feet.

Bed with clean, dry straw

Sheep HouseThe floor of your sheep polytunnel is critical, as poor-quality straw can lead to lameness or other infections which, within the contained environment of a sheep house, could spread quickly and badly affect your flock and therefore profitability.

Maintaining a policy of using clean, dry straw will help to guard against these dangers and adequate drainage will ensure your sheep house remains a pleasant place to be – both for you and the sheep!

Ventilation is key

The sides of your sheep polytunnel need to include properly designed ventilation, as sheep are “particularly susceptible to respiratory diseases”, according to DEFRA.

Sheep prefer naturally ventilated cold housing, therefore installing ventilation that runs the full length of your sheep house will maximise air flow and help to avoid respiratory problems, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, in the flock.

Choose your materials wisely

It’s important to disinfect the surfaces inside your sheep polytunnel regularly and thoroughly to avoid the risk of infection. It’s also worth considering materials that are easy to clean or, if required, straightforward to replace. When treating any indoor surfaces with preservatives, be careful to select those that will not harm the health of your sheep.

Make access easy

While your flock should always be provided with enough opportunity to earn a rest from artificial lighting, your lights should be set up to ensure that you can see all sheep and that they can be inspected at any time.

When it comes to cleaning out, being able to drive straight in at either end of your sheep house with a quad bike or compact tractor could your life easier. Fewer pens – and therefore fewer divides between pens – may also prove more time efficient and leave you able to focus more clearly on the likes of feeding and lambing.

Once you’ve considered all these factors, you will be able to provide your sheep with the perfect housing to keep them safe and comfortable.

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