Now we have our poly tunnel up, give some thought to the layout that will work best for you.
Our first poly tunnel I went for a gravel path down the middle the width of the door, beds to either side,
For me this was not ideal, the beds are 4.5 ft wide which can only be accessed from one side,
anything growing at the back of the bed was difficult to reach without damaging plants at the front,
tall growing plants like tomatoes cucumbers beans needed to be nearer the front to give them head height
so space was wasted behind them.
Poly tunnel 2 was also replacing a greenhouse, I had a slabbed area laid on top of membrane were I could have some work benches
then a bed in the middle with slabbed paths either side giving me narrower beds on the outside, this worked brilliantly for me,
the narrower beds were easier to work, the center bed has head height.
Poly tunnel 1 is being revamped to have this layout without the area for staging.
I chose slabs because after trying gravel a cheaper option in poly tunnel 1,
gravel is easier for weeds to grow in,
gravel get stuck in the soles of your boots,
gravel is painful to kneel on
slabs absorb heat and expel it over night a bit like a storage heater
slabs are easier to keep clean
slabs are more comfy to kneel on
slabs are easier to water down to raise humidity
slabs don't get stuck in the soles of your boots.
Poly tunnel 1 is having slab paths laid in its make over.
Think about were to site your water barrels and put them on a stand with a tap fitted.
nearer the door is easier for filling,
I don't use my barrels for water,
I invested in a over head water irrigation system for poly tunnel 1, simple to use just plug in the hose pipe and off it goes.
poly tunnel 2 I went for porous pipes laid in each bed, the porous pipes are laid independently in each bed,
each one has a stopper at the end and a hose pipe connector at the other end, I just plug in the hose pipe to which ever bed I need to water.
Having now tried both systems I have decided both poly tunnels need both systems.
Different plants need different watering requirements.
Watering is done from IBC tanks that have been set up for rain water collection, I have an electric pump to move water about, rain water is better for plants and to date I have not used mains water.
So what do I use those water barrels for ?
They are filled with made up plant feed, I make it up in bulk then its handy and ready made,
when I am not needing to feed plants over winter I do keep them filed with water
which absorbs heat during the day and expels heat at night.This water is then the correct temperature for watering seedlings,
by the time I need to be feeding plants the seedlings are planted and the barrels are back to plant feed. Keep the barrels covered keep out light and wildlife.
I also keep a rubbish bucket in each of the tunnels and buckets to put weeds etc and another bucket with hand tools.
keeping the tunnels clean and tidy reduces hiding places for pests. I also use pallet collars in the poly tunnel for when I need small separate beds, they are mobile and can be stacked together to give deep beds.