Harvest season is possibly the most important time for both gardeners and farmers. This is when fruits and vegetables are ready to be picked before being used for salads and cakes, pies and stews.
It also signifies the end of a process that sees gardeners cultivate and tend to their crops, spanning from the initial sowing of the seeds through to the moment the resulting produce is ready to be gathered. This, therefore, is when a gardener will know for sure if their growing season has been a success.
If you’ve been growing your crops in a polytunnel, the results are slightly different to those being planted outside. This is because, by their nature, polytunnels are designed to protect your herbs, fruit and veg from the elements, so the cropping season will differ while they’re under cover.
Therefore, if ‘when is harvest season for my polytunnel-grown crops?’ is the big question for you, read on.
When does harvest season start in the UK?
While the time to harvest polytunnel-grown crops varies throughout the year, there is a fixed point in the farmer’s calendar when this takes place. Typically harvest season starts late September or early October for those farming and growing crops outside.
Before the weather changes and cools as autumn approaches, the crops are cut and collected, ready to be used for cooking and eating. There are some over-winter crops that won’t need to be harvested at this time of year, such as spring onions and garlic, however the bulk of the fruit and veg that’s grown over the spring and summer months tends to be ready now.
Common produce that comes with the harvest season includes potatoes, peas and beans and fruits such as apples, peaches and blackberries.
Harvesting polytunnel produce
The harvest period for produce grown inside your polytunnel spans the year and depends on several factors. These include:
Keeping your polytunnel pest-free and at a consistent temperature means you’re more likely to have a successful growing season and perfect harvest. Getting the balance right is key to seeing your seeds become tasty fruit and veg.
As with all gardening, getting the timing right is essential. Different crops are better suited to planting and harvesting over the summer, while there are some that can be grown through winter and harvested at the beginning of the year.
How well you water your crops and the system you have in place also plays a large role in how your crops fare. If you’re new to polytunnels, setting up an irrigation system that works for you can involve some trial and error. To find out how to set up your own irrigation system, you can find out more here.
Another major factor is how you set up your polytunnel. Where you place your crops can impact on the harvest you have. Make sure that crops that need to be closest to the light are placed high up and invest in accessories such as raised beds and trestle staging to make the most of the space you have.
Taking your time
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to gardening, having a successful harvest comes down to being patient and planning ahead. If things don’t quite go to plan the first time around, it may be that you need to tweak your irrigation system, play around with the layout, try different soil or crop varieties, or have a go at companion planting.
To find out more about polytunnels and the different ways to produce a bountiful harvest, take a look at the accessories on offer.