Day two of our tour of the plot brings us to the Net Tunnel and it's lovely sheltered atmosphere.
The plants usually love it in here, not many bugs can fit through the small netting that covers it so things tend not to get nibbled too much ...except by the mice that tunnel in. When I need something pollinating ... like the Blueberry bushes for instance ... I usually put them outside for a few days.
We made this ourselves from the framework of our old polytunnel which was wrecked by the wind just before our move from our first farm. We simply went back to the same company we had bought the polytunnel from and ordered a large roll of their widest netting. We used three long strips of netting, joining them together where you can see the wooden strips along the sides of the tunnel and sewed it up at the front to get the shape we needed.
At the front doors I now have two new stacks of tyres ... the truck needed new tyres last week to get it through the MOT ... I was very pleased to bring the old ones home with us.
As you step in the first thing you notice is the calming light and atmosphere. It diffuses the harsh sunlight, softens the fall of rain and the rush of winds and generally gives the plants a calmer, more protected place to grow. It's a great place to work in ... except on a wet day when big blobs of accumulated raindrops fall on you at regular intervals.
To the left as you walk in are the ready to be harvested Garlic heads and a Courgette plant.
Further along the bed are three more tyres that were all supposed to be full of Carrots ... the added depth to the bed by using tyres as well gives you lovely straight, strong carrots ... well that was the plan, the mice had other ideas and have eaten most of the seedlings as soon as they came through.
At the front of the tyres are two Cabbages, leftovers from the outdoor planting that I did last week.
Further along we have a bucket of late sown potatoes, a Long Tom pot of Carrots that are doing very well, although they now need thinning out a bit and a tiny tree sapling that does not look very well at all after Alan rescued it from somewhere he was working round the place last week.
You'll recognise most of these plants from the previous post, they are the potted on Chives, St John's Wort and Ox Eye Daises from the polytunnel post. Most things come into the net tunnel to be hardened off, either before being planted on the Veggie Patch or before being sold.
The boards you can see in this photo on the outside of the Net Tunnel are, along with a trench of concrete, holding back the earth of the Veggie Patch. As we live on a hillside we have had to step the growing areas to make them easier to work in. So although the Veggie Patch is sloping, the Net and Poly Tunnels sit on two flat areas that we cut into the hillside (with the help of men and big machines) and reinforced.
The last bed on this side has the Strawberry plants that wouldn't fit in the outdoor bed and in the centre of the bed are four Pea plants growing round a willow support. The troughs in front of the bed also have Strawberries in them, the one on the left some of this years new runners.
To the opposite side of the tunnel now, in the first bed is profusion of Potato Plants. This year we have predominantly planted 'Estima' potatoes as we love their versatility. Here there are two plants in a tall zinc planter outside the bed and then two plants each in four bottomless pots placed on top of the soil in the bed and two plants directly in the raised bed.
Along from the spuds are two sparse beds of onions. I didn't plant many onions this year as they really are so cheap to buy in the shops and take up a lot of space in the beds if you let them. But I couldn't resist two packs of reduced to clear onion sets, one of Red Onions and one of White. As you can see they are just about ready to harvest.
The next bed along is Beetroots and Radishes.
The final bed on this side has two Courgette plants.
This year all my Courgettes are the 'Green Bush' variety. If we want some yellow courgettes we are picking from the Marrow plants, which are all a yellow stripe variety. I kind of assumed that if courgettes are allowed to continue growing they become marrows so it should work the other way round ... and going by the flavours and textures we've found on cooking them I would say this is pretty much the case.
Down the centre of the tunnel are the Blueberry bushes, they are having another bumper cropping year this year. I pick every other day and after a quick rinse and dry add them to a large box in the freezer. This way they stay free flowing and we can eat them as and when we need them.
In between the bushes you might have noticed these ... two trays of Turnip seedlings, these will go out on the hillside as soon as they are big enough. The tray on the left contains the thinnings from the tray on the right ... waste not want not :-)
Stepping out of the back door of the Net Tunnel you can see the Strawberry bed.
It's not been a good year for strawberries for us due to relocating all the plants from the front of the polytunnel where they were in the tyres last year. The ones that have managed to grow have been snaffled by the mice and squirrels before they even turned red. We will have to think of better protection for them next year when they should have settled down after being moved and should fruit much more prolifically.
Coming next .... The Veggie Patch