Friday, 4 March 2011

Indoor precipitation for Peas.

 How wet is the ground at the moment!!?!!!  Every little part of the garden is just saturated! Any work on the garden has screeched to a halt over the weekend, as the top inch or so of the ground was just turning to some kind of swamp under my feet everytime I took a step.... I think I need to stick to the hard paths!

 Well then, if I cannot get onto the gardens, what can I do??  Ah yes, I now have a polytunnel that is somewhat less saturated inside as it's had a week to dry out!! As Del boy would say.... Lovely jubbly!

Soaker hoses (with peas planted at end)

 Right, firstly I can put most of the irrigation pipework in. I have decided that both of the raised beds are going to have soaker hoses in them, three runs up and down each bed will do nicely.
I purchased the hoses, corners and stakes to hold it all down from GB Plastics ltd . They delivered quickly, and it was all at a reasonable price. The hoses were easy to cut and join to make all the corners (once I had untangled the mess of hose from around my legs, where it sprang out of the packet after cutting it open) , and the stakes just clip over the top and do a pretty good job of keeping it all flat. I think I will connect them to a water timer at some point, so I don't have to worry so much about the watering when i'm at work.

Overhead sprinklers

 Secondly I had overhead sprinklers to install. These came with the polytunnel as an option from First tunnels when I purchased it. The system has a main pipe running along the ridge tube down the centre of the tunnel, with sprinkler heads inserted into it at regular intervals. The main pipe has a stop end in it at one end, and terminates at a valve on the door frame at the other end, and then your supply just pops onto the bottom of that.... voila.
 I also decided to put two standard taps up, one either side of the door frame, as I don't think one would be enough. One of the taps will then be connected up permanently to a ten metre coil hose with a spraygun on for spot watering, and the other tap will be set up to supply the soaker hoses and sprinklers on some sort of timer system (yet to be totally thought through).

Watering cans strategically positioned

 I have to say it, but my best idea for automatic watering in the polytunnel so far is my two little watering cans. As you can just about see in the photo, I hung one up on either side of the frame as I thought they looked good there (oh what a sheltered life I lead!!) but once I had admired them for a second (more like five minutes) I thought of the idea of attaching a string to the handles which then leads back up to the house... then when the sun comes out, I pull the string from the comfort of my seat, and hey presto... the polytunnel gets damped down :) Do you think I should try the Dragons den with this idea for automatic irrigation?? (maybe not giving up my day job at the moment would be a wise move :)

 To be honest.... I may have gone a bit far with all this irrigation just to water my small sowing of early peas.... how much water do forty eight pea plants need ?!?

 I had better get some more seeds and plants in there quickly!

 How satisfying was it though to be planting in the polytunnel for the first time!!! The rain lashing the polythene, the dog sat in the doorway keeping dry, the plants excited to put down roots in their new luxury country retreat, and me like a kid at Christmas with is new toy!!  I think I still have a smile on my face now!!!


  1. Looks great! Better to have too many watering options than too few, right?

    What's your climate like there? What made you decide to put up a poly tunnel? Is it for growing all through the winter (starting next year)? Just curious, as I'm planning on constructing something this year and like to hear other gardeners' ideas.

  2. Hi Alan, thanks for the positive comments! You are right... far better to have too many watering options, than to lose all my plants to drought!
    I think the plant hardiness zone where I am is 8a, so it gets relatively cold through the winters. I'm not sure i will get much growing all through the winter in the tunnel, but it will certainly give me a few extra weeks at the front and back ends of the growing season. It will make it easier to overwinter plants however, so hopefully the beds will still be full for the cold months.
    Are you planning on constructing a polytunnel?

  3. That's a very smart looking tunnel you have there and your peas are looking good. We have a polytunnel too and at the moment it is full of young plants and seeds; we also tend to overwinter things in there too for a bit of protection.

    One thing from my own experience is just to keep an eye on the temperature. Yesterday we had a sunny day and by mid afternoon the temperature in the tunnel was up to 22 degrees C (about 74oF) when it was only about 7 or 8 (about 46oF) outside, so we had to get the doors open to stop things from going limp and leggy.

  4. Hi Jason. Thanks for the advice on the temperature. It is certainly something i have been concerned about, however I got home from work early today, and as it was nice and sunny i was expecting the tunnel to be really warm.... when i went in, it was only about 10 degrees.... does that sound right? Both doors were shut, although it was quite late (about 4.15) but i imagined it was going to be warmer. I guess it was quite cold outside though.

  5. The polytunnel will be great for getting some early crops going. Sounds like you've got everything covered on the watering front, I think this is one area that people forget about with polytunnels.

  6. That's an impressive watering system....the watering cans I mean ;)
    We have some leaky hose to put in but decided against the overhead.
    I loved working in the Polytunnel for the first time whilst the weather outside was inclement and I have a sneaky feeling I shall find Autumn the best time to be in there?
    Interesting post, thanks. Mo

  7. A true triumph of technology, Simon! There will be no excuse for poorly-watered plants in YOUR garden. Sounds like most of the hard work is done now, and you will be able to get on with the nice bit - growing plants.
    Maybe next on the list is an automatic temperature-regulating system??

  8. What a great system -- especially during times when you have too much rain. Is there any concern about erosion around the polytunnel? Your photo of the Pea plants and the description "the plants excited to put down roots in their new luxury country retreat" had me smiling.