May – Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head!

Our frequent rainfall keeps Ireland green and beautiful. However, since you’ve put up a tunnel and blocked it out, now it is up to you to keep your plants hydrated!

Water, along with oxygen, sunlight and soil, is a basic need of all plants, even though their requirements can vary considerably. From one type of plant to another, from tiny seedling to full-grown, from pots to open soil, and from overcast days to sunny ones this job can keep you on your toes!

How Often?

There is no correct answer to this, but you want to keep your plants somewhere between waterlogged and parched! If the soil feels dry below the top inch or two, it is probably time to water. If plants start to droop or lower leaves begin to yellow they are too dry. When you see moulds and mildews appearing on the soil surface, it is likely too damp.  Intuition for this develops quickly enough.

Morning vs. Evening

This is a point of debate. Most everyone agrees that in the heat of the day is not the best time to water. However, if a plant is wilting or is a tiny seedling drying out, it is always better to water than let the plant suffer damage or death. The advantage of evening watering, particularly in very warm weather, is that the moisture can be retained overnight and will evaporate the next day once the heat soars again. The advantage of morning watering is that if you have a hearty nocturnal slug and snail population you can discourage them from slithering along on moist soil munching all of your plants overnight by keeping things at their driest then.

Manual vs. Automatic

This is another point of debate and probably something in between is ideal. Automated systems can be put on a timer and adjusted throughout the season. This is ideal to cut down on time and effort, but it is always wise to monitor the situation and not fully depend on automation. Manually watering allows you to reach every plant and give more or less in specific situations, but it does require a dedication of more of your time. Polydome does supply irrigation equipment, including simple battery-powered automatic timers.

Overhead vs. Underneath

Overhead watering, including overhead irrigation lines and the use of a hose, does have the advantage of washing down leaves like the rain. However, some plants work better with underneath watering, from watering a tray under a pot to using capillary mats or low-level drip lines. Reason for this vary, but this often suits plants that are prone to mildews or blight from remaining damp or leaves that scorch from being watered in the sunlight. In a protected structure where there can be less natural wind and ventilation, this is often an ideal solution. An example of this is using low-level drip lines for tomato plants to avoid blight or feeding potted cyclamen from a capillary mat to keep their leaves healthy.

In the winter, having a roof that keeps excess rain out is a great advantage to many plants. However, the surrounding areas outside the tunnel moisten the areas near the edge, so this is something to bear in mind.

So, the next time it rains, enjoy the raindrops! They are little droplets supporting life!

February- Is it Spring yet?

As the days start to get longer, a new season is here and signs of life are starting to appear all around us. The sight of snowdrops and daffodils remind us that the years march on regardless of what else is happening in the world around us.

On beautiful days when the sun gives that early spring glow we can feel that the year has turned and are tempted to sow something. The reality is, though, that we can still have plenty of wintery weather ahead of us at this stage and it is too early to start anything without protection.

This is the time of year where a polytunnel really shines. As the sun comes out, there is a bit more heat and gentle growth in your greenhouse. With a heated seed bed, you can begin to start your tomatoes, peppers, lobelia, lettuce, onion or pea plants. If you are into bedding plants, you can start lobelia, salvia or sweet pea. Electric heaters or frost protection fleece will help protect your young seedlings from the elements even further.

It is also at this time of year that having a well-built polytunnel really pays off. There is nothing as discouraging as seeing all your young plants destroyed due to a damaged structure after a windy night.

Polydome polytunnels are built to last and withstand the unpredictable Irish weather to give you peace of mind.

So enjoy the season and being one step ahead of the elements!

This photo of a beautifully laid out tunnel interior was sent to us by Rosie Green from Dingle. Thank you, Rosie!

New Roll Up Side Ventilation System

At the recent Bloom Show we premiered our new roll up side ventilation system which can be fitted to our full range of Garden and Professional Polytunnels.  This simple system provides an economical solution for roll up sides and can be fitted to one or both sides of the Polytunnel.  A rainwater collection gutter is available as an optional extra feature.  We will have this fitted to one of our Polytunnels in our display area this summer.

Side vent winder

Polytunnel rainwater collection gutters

New aluminium rainwater collection gutter

Polytunnel roll up side ventilation

New Polydome Roll up side ventilation system


End of the line – by our blogging Horticulturalist Peter Whyte

October is the month when production of greenhouse tomatoes, aubergines and peppers usually comes to an end. With falling temperatures and longer nights, growth is slowing down and your plants will be less able to ripen fruit.  Remove all flowers as they are unlikely to set usable fruit in time for them to ripen this late.  Thin out some of the fruits already set, especially the smaller ones.  Stop shoots from growing any more by cutting off their tips.  The above actions divert all the plants’ resources into filling the remaining fruit, so you get bigger, riper, tastier fruit instead of many small unripe ones.  Do this earlier or later depending on your location and how mild the autumn is.

With the rising humidity, disease control becomes more important by the day. So make sure to remove any dead leaves, spent plants, weeds, rubbish and dropped fruits from the greenhouse. Open the vents or doors on sunny mornings, but close them up earlier in the evening before it gets too cold.  Feeding should have ended in September, and watering should be reduced to match the plants’ lower needs.  As a rule of thumb, don’t water until the soil surface is dry.  Avoid wetting the leaves.

By about mid-October it can be too cold to ripen tomatoes well. If so pick all the fruit and ripen them indoors in a dark, airy cupboard.  Don’t leave them on a sunny windowsill: if they once get heated above 35°C (95°F) the red pigment is destroyed and they stay pale and blotchy.  Some people put a ripe apple or banana with them to speed up ripening with the ethylene gas it gives off.  Remove plants when their fruits are all picked, and clean up the greenhouse for the winter.20160610_204351

Multifunctional Canopy Structure

Special 6m wide Canopy low resWe recently built a canopy structure for Hannah’s Garden in Birr (formerly Ward’s Garden Centre), it is the kind of structure that customers ask us about for numerous applications.  This type of structure can be used in Industry to keep pallets out of the rain, for livestock, for Garden Centres to avoid plants getting too wet (and of course customers too), it can be used for drying timber, hanging up your washing line, a car port (we have had people ask for this including for Vintage cars) – etc. etc. (I feel a competition coming on here for readers to think up practical suggestions of what it could be used for).  This structure is the same design as our standard 6m wide Model but with extra height and a heavier frame than normal to carry the extra height.  Thanks to our well equipped workshop and stock of steel we are able to customise our Polytunnels where the need arises.

Why not visit Hannah’s Garden when you come to Birr?  It is on the Tullamore Road opposite Lidl.

Potatoes for May

Pussy cat on a spudIf you like your early potatoes early and you have enough room, why not plant some in your greenhouse in January? They could be ready for harvesting as soon as May. Yields can be modest, but the flavour of fresh early potatoes is unbeatable. Choose seed potatoes of an early variety, and stand them on a warm bright windowsill indoors to start sprouting. Keep the eyes facing upwards so the emerging shoots will be straight and tall.

When the sprouts are about five centimetres tall plant the seed potatoes in the greenhouse, either in the ground or in large pots. Some compost or well-rotted manure could be added to the soil, but not too much if slugs are a problem. When planting take care to trickle soil gently down between the sprouts to avoid damaging them. Some growers who use pots plant the seed potatoes in half-filled pots and add more soil as the sprouts grow up, always leaving their tips exposed to the light to speed up growth.

Keep the soil moist but not wet, ventilate the greenhouse (or bring pots outside) on warm days, and protect the plants from frost and slugs. Add soil around the bottoms of the stems to stop light from greening potatoes near the surface. You can start eating the potatoes when flowering is over, but the potatoes will continue growing bigger until the foliage dies down. They taste best when freshly dug, so unless you need the space or have a slug problem dig them only as you need them. Bon appétit!

Pretty little Polytunnel

IMG_2375A 2.5m x 6m (8.5ft x 20ft approx.) Polydome Tunnel which we built recently during the Indian Summer.

A Polytunnel is a low cost way of covering a large area but it also has practical advantages – for example being completely safe.

Polythene has come a long way over the years – while we guarantee our 900 gauge cover (which maximises durability and light transmission)      for 6 years we have had many customers achieve life spans of more than 10 years – some even 12 to 15 years and believe it or not the longest life for one of our polythene covers so far is over 20 years.

Many things affect the lifespan – you don’t want the polythene too tight or too loose.  If you use chemicals that might shorten the life.  The main thing affecting the life of the cover is the sun – how many hours of daylight the cover receives.

Our 900 gauge polythene is manufactured to include the maximum grade of UV inhibitors the manufacturers offer.

We selected this polythene for its mechanical characteristics, it is supple so can be stretched as easily as lighter covers – and being supple it actually is less likely to be damaged during installation.

Our 900 gauge film is thermic – providing enhanced growing conditions and is clear as you can see from the photo which we find most customers prefer.

We have this cover in sizes from 2.5m wide up to 12m in width on jumbo rolls which we cut to your required length.  Wider covers are available but in a lighter gauge (800 gauge).

Call our sales office if you would like a quote for a replacement cover on 057 912 0424


Polytunnel growing training session re-run

Mr Tanguy de Toulgoet, is re running his training session to help people make the most use out of their Polytunnels.  It is on the 24th of October and he is in Durrow, County Laois.

As before he will teach on plant production, herb drying, companion planting, winter storage and much more.

The cost is 50 euro per person, it is a half day course and starts at 10am and  finishes at 1pm.

People who mention Polydome will get a 20% discount on the cost of the course.

Here is a link to a leaflet about it:  Course Leaflet



Polytunnel recovering

IMG_2048   We recovered one of our Verticlair Polyunnels from Filclair, I think this photo is lovely.  As well as manufacturing Polytunnels we are agents for Filclair from France who we source Multispan structures from.  The Verticlair has straight sides and this particular structure has a fully automatic roll up side ventilation system.  A great Polytunnel cannot make a good gardener out of you put it is a tool that a good gardener can do great growing with.

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