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Growing Vegetables in a Polytunnel

Updated on June 13, 2017

Polytunnel your way to variety and colour on your plate!

Are your growing your own food but are getting a bit bored with the same -o, same -o vegetables every meal? Would you love to grow your own food but you live in a region where the climate is just not suitable for growing a large variety of vegetables? If so, maybe you should consider growing vegetables in a polytunnel.

Growing vegetables in a polytunnel extends the vegetable growing season. It offers protection against the weather which enables you to grow vegetables that would not normally grow in your region or that is out of season. This will lead to more variety and colour on your plate at mealtimes.

All images are from my own garden unless stated otherwise.

Large Red Pepper Grown in our Polytunnel

Large Red Pepper Grown in Polytunnel
Large Red Pepper Grown in Polytunnel

Looking for colour and variety on your plate?

We needed a polutunnel

Living on the South Island of New Zealand has many benefits but a long hot summer is not one them. This is precisely what tomato plants need to produce nice red juicy tomatoes. When we planted our little tomato plants in raised beds the first year, we kept an eye on the weather report. Every time, when frost was predicted, I went out and cover all the little plants with plastic containers. I did this for 2 weeks and then one afternoon, while nobody was home, a hailstorm went by. Well, what can I say? That was more or less the end of those plants.

We replanted and saved ones we could but even though we cared for them well, the crop was disappointing. I picked a two liter ice-cream container full of almost red tomatoes which I took inside to ripen. A heavy unseasonal frost took care of the rest. It was clear that we needed to make a better plan if we wanted to grow our own tomatoes.

We decided to take a two way approach. One solution was to grow tomatoes in containers under a roof overhang against a north facing wall. This wall gets sun most of the day as we live in the southern hemisphere. The other option was to look into putting up a greenhouse or using a polytunnel.

DIY Polytunnel working well

Polytunnel was made to fit on the raised beds. We used sturdy pvc pipes connected with garden stakes to support and strengthen the sides and top. We cover the whole structure with greenhouse plastic. This turned out to be an inexpensive but very prod
Polytunnel was made to fit on the raised beds. We used sturdy pvc pipes connected with garden stakes to support and strengthen the sides and top. We cover the whole structure with greenhouse plastic. This turned out to be an inexpensive but very prod
Tomatoes grew extremely well.
Tomatoes grew extremely well.
A massive improvement on the previous years efforts.
A massive improvement on the previous years efforts.
Part of the tomato crop
Part of the tomato crop
Last year we had only two small green peppers which went bad before they went red. This year we gave some away.
Last year we had only two small green peppers which went bad before they went red. This year we gave some away.
There were lots of peppers.
There were lots of peppers.
Look at the size. Biggest red pepper I have ever seen.
Look at the size. Biggest red pepper I have ever seen.

Build your own Polytunnel

Have you grown vegetables in a polytunnel? Did you make your own tunnel or did you buy one? Please share your experiences with other visitors.

Thanks for Visiting

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    • poetryman6969 profile image


      4 years ago

      These look like miniature green houses. It looks like a very cool way to grow food in an otherwise inhospitable climate.

    • fastweightlosstip profile image


      5 years ago from Deception Bay

      This is a great Idea especially if you have limited space

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've had a hailstorm completely flatten tomatoes and spinach plants before, I'd love to get a polytunnel.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've never tried this but it looks very interesting.

    • DougB101 profile image


      5 years ago

      This is a great idea and thanks for sharing. We are using several Earthboxes which are working out well.

    • GenWatcher LM profile image

      GenWatcher LM 

      6 years ago

      Some great ideas here. I want to set up some covers over my raised beds.

    • Sniff It Out profile image

      Sniff It Out 

      6 years ago

      Wow that's some red pepper! I would love to have more space to consider having a polytunnel but I will have to stick with the containers for now.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      New to this idea! This is very ingenious and innovative indeed!

    • KiwiSanet profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi David

      We used cable ties and had the connection of the tie facing to the inside away from the plastic. We aligned the end of the gardens takes with the pipes to ensure there are no points sticking out. Later in the season, we had very strong winds, which caused tears in the plastic. We repaired the plastic with clear duct tape, which worked well. Maybe you can use clear duct tape to make the plastic stronger on the spots you think holes may develop.


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I put some short temporary cloches across my raised beds last year,using the hoops that I'd bought for netting and some light cheap plastic from Wilkinsons.Tied the ends in a knot and secured them in the soil with a couple tripegs which had come with the netting.

      Will give this larger version a try this year.

      Question:How did you connect the garden stakes so that they didn't hole the plastic cover?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      First I ever hear of a polytunnel....we have hot houses for plants but a lot larger....nice idea!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is terrific. I might need one of these for a week or two in February. :)

    • skefflingecho profile image


      7 years ago from Tobermory Ontario

      Wish we had the climate to poly tunnel year round! Great lens, squid angel blessed.

    • javr profile image


      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Polytunnel gardening is a great idea for North Vancouver Island as well.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens, Sanet.

      Due to unpredictabe weather in Ireland, I bought a 14ft.x 20ft. polytunnel in April. This will and has so far ,extended my veggie growing immensely. I have not bought any supermarket vegetables since June ! And the joy of gardening inside while the wind and rain pelt the lastic covering is also an advantage. Many veggies can be grown in the tunnel , so there is no excuse now :)

    • viscri8 profile image


      7 years ago

      this type of useful gardening is the key for many to healthy food -- or simply to food. Thanks for sharing. Keep well!


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