Derek has previously presented talks on his organic gardening to the Pod project, as well as providing the meals, with the produce from the garden, for the yoga immersion days and other Pod events. He’s recently erected a polytunnel, so we asked him a few questions which may be what anyone considering putting up one themselves may be thinking about.
Q. So lots of people have had different lockdown projects over the last couple of months and this seems like a good way to make use of time, would you consider this as your lockdown project Derek?
A. Yeah, its turned into my lockdown project. it was purchased before lockdown began, as it is an ideal project for this part of the year anyway. It certainly became a lockdown project and helped take my mind off the situation and a lot of the problems that went along with it.
Q. What was your main motivation behind getting a polytunnel?
A. The main thing was to be able to grow more of the produce that I was currently growing in my greenhouse, thus going from a small area if 8ft x 6ft, to 35ft x 14ft which is of course huge in comparison. It also gives me the option to grow a few things I’ve never grown before.
Q. What would you be hoping to grow that you haven’t before?
A. Probably a few more melons, watermelons, a wider variety of existing produce, for example im hoping to grow 11 different varieties of tomatoes this year, as opposed to the 2 or 3 i grow in the greenhouse. As well as trying out things such as sweetcorn indoors, which although I already grow it outside, it should hopefully be more successful in the polytunnel, and lead to a more productive crop of it.
Q. So with a polytunnel will your growing period for a lot of different produce be extended?
A. Yes, it gives you the option of lengthening your growing season, by about two months, if not longer. So you can then start earlier and finish later, even growing things that you would normally grow outside, but giving you more control over factors like the wind, which is probably one of the most damaging features when your situated on the side of a hill where it can be very windy, therefore there’s more insulation from the elements.
Q. What about constructing it, how straightforward or how challenging a process was it?
A. It probably took longer than what I anticipated, but that was most likely down to the conditions around lockdown, as I couldn’t use all the help I initially thought I could have, it turned out to be just me and my father working on it. So we did it bit by bit, breaking down the whole process, making it not too challenging a project. As long as you get it right at the start, being really careful with your measurements, it goes up really well. There is a lot to it, but trying not to do too much at once helps.
Q. Did it take a lot of preparation for the ground, the foundation of the polytunnel?
A.It took longer to measure it than anything else, a process of measuring and then rechecking measurements, just to make sure everything was accurate. There was a bit of fiddling around with measurements, probably due to starting in the middle of February, in a wet, muddy field where everything moves shifts about a bit, which makes it less straightforward. The professionals might be able to do it in a day, but it took us about a week haha!
Q. So this is polytunnel one will there be a polytunnel two?
A. Never rule it out! But I’ll start with this and see how it goes.
Q. Its certainly looking great,are there any other big garden projects in the pipeline for the rest of the summer?
A. I think I’ll be working on it for the rest of the summer, ut still needs a few things like feeding running water into it, a new path to it so as to make it more accessible in the winter, keep working on the soil as due to the lockdown restrictions I couldn’t get as much compost as I’d hoped to get and I didn’t have enough of my own. A few new crops towards the end of summer such as winter greens, brassicas and the like, it’ll likely keep evolving through summer, autumn into the early winter.