Premier Polytunnels Blog

Here at Premier Polytunnels we know that the price of products is important to our customers. It’s also important that the quality of the products you buy from us are of the highest quality, with many customers telling us that they need a strong polytunnel as it is extremely windy where they live.

When a bird goes “cheep” it wants attention – when a polytunnel goes cheap it needs attention! Quality is not cheap, but it does offer excellent value. This is why we work hard on sourcing the best quality materials for our products and building great working relationships with our suppliers.

Raw material price increases

As many of you will know, the costs of most raw materials have been increasing dramatically since March 2020 and continue to soar as we near the end of 2021.

Steel prices have increased by 215% in the last 18 months and timber prices have increased an average of 125%. Industrial and engineering supplies including hardware and ironmongery, plastic extrusions, and aluminium parts continue to increase in price, and the cost of packaging materials also continues to rise.

One of our suppliers has recently informed us of an unavoidable 22% price rise and a new ‘minimum order’ demand – A small increase compared with other material suppliers, but the first increase in over 10 years from this particular supplier.   

The current shortage of haulage drivers in Europe and the increasing cost of fuel have also resulted in the national courier companies, which we use to deliver our products to our customers, adding surcharges to their pricing and, in some cases, suspending their ‘next day delivery’ services (with 2-3 days now being quoted for deliveries).        

What has caused this increase?

So why is this happening? Well, a global shortage of some raw materials began in March 2020 with the arrival of the coronavirus. A rise in demand for materials throughout the world began to push prices up in 2020 and the cost of shipping from places such as China jumped up by over 350%. (Although we don’t source our materials from China, the situation there has had a knock-on effect on the worldwide supply chain of many materials).

Furthermore, there has been a rise in shipments of timber to America, on top of the global demand for timber, resulting in reduced availability here in the UK.

We’ve already mentioned the dreaded ‘C’ word (coronavirus) once – we’ll avoid mentioning the ‘B’ word (*ahem* Brexit) and its impact on imports and tariffs.

Premier Polytunnels’ supplies

We are fortunate to still be able to source raw materials from our usual suppliers and we work hard to keep our stock levels healthy, even to the extent of doubling the size of our storage yard last year. While material shortages combined with soaring prices keep us on our toes, we always endeavour to source high quality materials at the best possible price – we will not compromise on quality by sourcing cheaper, inferior materials.

Price freeze

As we mentioned at the start, we know that the price of products is important to our customers. Therefore, we are ‘freezing’ all of our prices until Monday 24th January 2022. There has never been a better time to grab a bargain and get ready for 2022, whether you need a polytunnel or fruit cage for growing your own fruit and veg, or a sheep house polytunnel for the busy lambing season. 

Premier Polytunnels price increase

To ensure that we can continue to offer the highest quality products together with our unrivalled customer service, we will be increasing some of our product prices from Monday 24th January 2022.

Thank you

We greatly appreciate your understanding and we would like to thank all of our customers for your continued support and custom.

Contact us

If you would like to talk to us about anything we’ve mentioned in this statement, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

If you have any queries or questions about any of our products or if we can help with anything else, please contact the Sales Team on 01282 811250 or by e-mail at info@premierpolytunnels.co.uk

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Post by: Deborah Wood

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Tomatoes are a type of nightshade plant and, contrary to popular belief, they are - in fact - a fruit. They are a versatile food forming the basis of many popular cuisines, including Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern and French. From blitzing them into soups and pasta sauces to adding slices to salads, the possibilities with tomatoes are endless.

Fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes have a much stronger flavour than the average salad variety, making them a tastier choice. As they’re one of the easiest crops to grow, harvesting your own tomatoes can be very rewarding.

Whether you want to stock up on homemade soup for winter, or simply enjoy freshly picked produce, our guide has everything you need to know about how to grow tomatoes.

Growing Tomatoes GuideHow to plant tomatoes

The first thing to consider when planting seeds for tomatoes is what type of plant you want to grow. From bite-size cherry tomatoes to plump heirloom varieties, there are a range of options to choose from, with each requiring its own individual tomato plant care.

Typically, tomatoes grow in two ways:

Cordon (also known as indeterminate) tomatoes grow up to six feet tall and require tall supports to ensure they grow in the right direction. They can easily be grown in a polytunnel or greenhouse, or in a sunny area outside. They’ll grow either in the ground using a raised bed or in a large plant pot beside a wall which faces south. They are the ideal plant to grow if you’re lacking in space, as they grow upwards rather than outwards and produce a significant amount of fruit. However, Cordon tomatoes need regular maintenance, such as watering, feeding, tying to supports and pruning.

Bush (also known as determinate) tomatoes are shorter and wider, making them perfect for growing in pots or hanging baskets. These require much less maintenance than Cordon tomatoes, only watering and feeding. The stems will only need support if they are heavy with fruit, and there’s no need to prune Bush tomatoes or pinch out any side shoots. As they can be grown in pots and baskets, it’s possible to grow this variety even if you don’t have a garden at all.

Whichever tomato variety you choose, begin by sowing your seeds indoors. Take a small pot and fill it with seed compost. Water the compost thoroughly, then sow three or four seeds on the surface of the compost. Cover the seeds with vermiculite and store the pot at around 18°C. You can use a heated propagator if you have one. If not, simply cover the pot with a clear plastic bag and place it on the windowsill (provided it will receive warmth and sunlight). Keep an eye on the pot and wait for the seedlings to appear (this usually takes around two weeks), then remove the plastic bag and place the pot somewhere it will get plenty of sunlight.

After another couple of weeks, the seedlings can be separated into individual pots:

  1. Fill each pot with multi-purpose compost and water them well, then use a dibber or blunt stick to make a hole in the middle of the pots.
  2. Move one seedling at a time, using the dibber to support its roots. Hold the plant by the leaf, as the stem is fragile and could easily snap.
  3. Carefully lower the seedling into the new hole. If there are any leggy bits, bury it up to the first pair of leaves. Press the soil down gently so as not to damage the roots.  

Keep your tomato plants in a polytunnel or on a windowsill which gets plenty of sunlight − either will be fine provided the temperature is at least 16°C – and water the plants regularly. After a month, the first flowers should open and you’ll be able to plant the crops in their final position.  

How long do tomatoes take to grow?

Before you start planting seeds, it’s helpful to have an idea of when your tomatoes will be ready to pick. The amount of time needed for your fruit to grow will depend on the environment you’re growing them in and the tomato variety. For example, a cherry tomato is smaller in size than an heirloom tomato, often ripening faster than the larger fruit. On the whole, the number of days it takes to grow tomatoes varies between 60 to 100 days.

Growing tomatoes in a polytunnelWhen to plant tomatoes in the UK

Every crop responds differently to our British climate, so even if you’re a seasoned gardener, you’ll find it helpful to know when to plant tomatoes for optimal yield. Tomatoes thrive in hot weather, meaning summer is the best time to plant tomatoes in the UK. If you’re planning to grow your crops in a polytunnel, late February to mid-March is the ideal time to sow.

However, if your tomatoes will be grown outside, wait a little longer and sow your seeds around late March to early April. Being grown in warm conditions will be the difference between your tomatoes being ripe and juicy or green and bitter, so plan ahead to ensure you pick the best time to plant your tomatoes.

Growing tomatoes in a polytunnel

With British weather being so unpredictable, it makes sense to take precautions to improve the chance of your crops developing healthily and to protect them from the elements. Adjusting the growing environment of your tomatoes by using a polytunnel can help them reach their full potential. A polytunnel warms the soil beneath it, enabling you to plant your tomatoes a bit earlier. Warmer soil improves the growth of young tomatoes, making them more likely to mature into beautifully ripe, tasty fruit. Growing tomatoes in a polytunnel can also provide protection from wind and rain for your crops, without reducing their access to the sun. Polytunnels also prevent pests and animals like cats and birds from trampling on the seeds or eating your produce.

Get in touch

For advice on selecting the right polytunnel for tomatoes, browse our range available here. If you have any questions, contact us on 01282 811250 or email info@premierpolytunnels.co.uk and one of our friendly experts will be happy to assist.

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Post by: Deborah Wood

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