Allotments have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more people wanting to grow their own vegetables. While becoming more self-sufficient and making meals using your own delicious home-grown produce can be rewarding, setting up your allotment can be a daunting prospect.
If you are new to allotments and want to get the best from your first harvest, a polytunnel could assist in getting the most from your plot. Unsure where to start? Our handy guide contains lots of essential tips and allotment ideas to get you started!
Allotment Polytunnel Growing Ideas
A popular choice both for home gardens and allotments, a polytunnel can offer numerous benefits when growing your own produce, such as providing shelter during wild weather and cold temperatures, and helping to extend your growing season.
Follow this guide to set up and build your ‘Premier’ polytunnel – for smaller sizes this often takes no longer than a weekend – and then read on to find out more!
What to Grow in an Allotment Polytunnel
Providing a more controlled environment, you can grow almost any variety of fruit and vegetable in a polytunnel. You can use our yearly planner to explore a huge range of produce that can be sown, planted and harvested each month. However, there are several easy-to-grow and hardier options that are ideal for beginners:
Sown in February and March to be planted out between April and May, courgette plants can produce an abundance of fruits in a relatively short time. For the best results, water them regularly and pick courgettes as soon as they are ready. Depending on the variety you select, these can be harvested and enjoyed in summer and autumn.
Best sown indoors in propagators and then transferred into your polytunnel between April and June, tomatoes are a popular choice with amateur gardeners. They are fast growing and will produce a vast quantity of fruit with little maintenance, making them ideal for beginners.
Easy to grow, you can sow and pick lettuce leaves all year round, making them a perfect choice for an allotment. They are also fast growing, so you could expect to start picking in just a few weeks.
With the protection of a polytunnel, spring onions can be sown straight into the ground between February and October, then picked throughout the year. All you need to do is water and feed until they flower, then spring onions will maintain themselves.
Peas (spring crop)
Ready to harvest in spring, sow your peas from October to January. To support growth, it’s best to train peas to grow up canes. The first pods should be ready to pick in April and, while the plants keep cropping in abundance, keep harvesting in May while the pods are fresh, flat and juicy.
Easy to look after, you can sow in potato bags or directly in the ground between February and March. All you need to do is water and cover shoots with compost when they break through the surface. When the foliage begins to die off, it’s time to harvest and enjoy.
Grape plants can be planted in a polytunnel all year round and can be harvested in August to October when the bunches are ripe and sweet tasting. Keep the vine under control by training the main stem along the ridge of the polytunnel, training new vines the same way throughout the year, making the most of the roof area of your tunnel.
Maximising Your Allotment Polytunnel
In addition to easy-growing varieties, you could maximise harvest through the layout of your allotment. Ideas include shelving and hanging baskets to make use of vertical space, while in a smaller polytunnel one central path will allow you to tend to all beds without taking up too much room. Furthermore, companion planting could reduce pests and increase soil nutrients, helping you to get the most from your allotment polytunnel.