Make a Mini Polytunnel for Autumn Salads

If you don’t have a greenhouse or polytunnel to use over winter, it is well worth investing a little time into making a mini polytunnel to provide warmth and shelter for salads.

It’s not 100% necessary, so if you don’t have the time, energy or kit that you need, then this is not a deal breaker at all. You can still grow your own salads over the next few months. But if you are able to cobble something together, then you will find the plants grow a little faster and a little stronger, and you’ll get a better harvest as a result.

Step 1 – make a hoop frame

Find a few equal lengths of old hosepipe measuring around 100-130cmcm (we’ve used an old drip hose) and a few short lengths of bamboo, approx 40-50cm long.

Push two bamboo lengths halfway into the soil on either side of the bed you wish to cover. These will form the base of the hoop, holding it steady. Now thread the hose pipe onto the bamboo at each end, pushing it right down to the soil if you can, to make the hoop. Repeat this at 2-3 foot intervals as pictured.

(Do this stage ahead of planting)

Step 2 – cover with polythene and gather at the ends

You can buy sheets of polythene quite easily at garden centres, sometimes sold by the metre or you can buy a whole roll. Once you have planted your salads in place and laid down any slug traps, simply cover the hoops with the polythene. Gather it in at either end (a little like making a Christmas cracker) and weigh it down with a heavy stone to hold it in place.

Step 3 – secure at the sides

There are various ways you can do this – you could weigh it down at intervals using stones or scoop some soil over it. One of the best ways to secure it down, is to use a reasonably heavy length of wood (like a couple of old fence posts, for example) and roll the plastic around the wood. Then, when it comes to harvesting, you can lift the piece of wood with the plastic still wrapped around it to access the plants.