I’m not sure if I’ve explained about the polytunnel on here before. It is not actually our polytunnel although it is on our croft. It is a Community Polytunnel, purchased with grant funding a couple of years ago to boost local food production and greater island self sufficiency.

Sadly once it arrived it found itself homeless when the intended plot became no longer available so we offered it a spot on Croft 3. Holes were dug by various folk and the actual polytunnel went up over two weekends with a selection of community members and visiting volunteers.It was a real team effort and toasted with an official opening and fizz once it was finally up and done. Since then we have done a lot of maintenance on it, a friend helped us dig some trenches around it last summer, Ady laid down lots of stone around the entrance and a team of Venture Scouts came over last autumn and laid a path down the centre of it. It is a community polytunnel in the sense that it was a real community project building it, getting it to Croft 3 and putting it up.

It is a fairly big polytunnel and the idea was that 10 people took a plot each in it to allow everyone in the community who wanted to, to take a space to grow stuff. It has been woefully underused for various reasons. The biggest being that Croft 3 is a mile outside of the village and so visiting to water twice a day during the summer doesn’t easily fit into most people’s day. Added to that the people who want to grow food mostly already have a polytunnel or version of something similar in their garden already. This meant that last year we had half the polytunnel at our disposal as the other half was used by our Croft 2 neighbours. Until someone else takes a plot we will continue to make use of the space, although we’d very gladly welcome some other users of the polytunnel should anyone wish to come along and grow things.

Through the winter it took a real battering. All four of the doors have been damaged with one blowing right off and across the crofts. The polythene has come loose and the hot spot tape has come off of the bars and is dangling off. Structurally it needs a fair bit of making good which we we attend to over the coming weeks. Inside too it was a bit bleak – rats had gotten to my seeds and eaten loads of them, various things had been blown over, there were puddles in places and I kept going in with the intention of sorting it out and just getting depressed at the state of it and leaving again.

Ady spent some time in there yesterday morning while I was at work and a bit more time this morning and then we both spent the afternoon in there. Until someone else wants a plot we have planned to use half again this year and created five areas. One is our permanent plot which has strawberries directly into the ground. The next is an area with lots of fish boxes and other shallow trays into which we will plant salad. We will start now and keep sowing every 2 weeks on rotation which should provide salad right through the season. Next is the tomato area. Last year we didn’t do that well with tomatoes, despite planting loads. Ady thinks we didn’t water enough so I will be better at that this year. The next area is filled with containers and will probably be for things like carrots and other roots which won’t do as well outside. We may also do some peas there too. Finally the last section has tables and shelves and will be the work area where we plant and sow things but also the seedling nursery where things are started off and brought on before being moved outside or into the correct place in the polytunnel.

It now looks orderly and ready to go to work in once more in there and I am looking forward to spending some time in there over the next few weeks and getting things started.

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