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Making the Most of Your Polytunnel in October: An Irish Gardener's Guide to polytunnels in Ireland

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

October in Ireland brings with it a crispness in the air, shorter days, and the undeniable beauty of autumn leaves. But for those with a polytunnel, it also brings along more opportunities to extend the growing season. Did you know you can also use your polytunnels to house animals? Let's dive into the multifaceted uses of a polytunnel in October.

1. Vegetables to Grow in October:

While many outdoor gardens in Ireland are winding down, the controlled environment of a polytunnel allows for an extended growing season. Here are some veggies you can plant in October:

  • Winter Salads: Unlike summer varieties, winter lettuces are hardy and can tolerate the cooler temperatures, especially when grown under the protection of a polytunnel.

  • Radishes: Radishes are one of the quickest-growing vegetables, making them perfect for a late-season harvest. Within just a few weeks, you can enjoy their crisp, peppery bite. Varieties like 'Cherry Belle' or 'French Breakfast' are popular choices.

  • Garlic: October is a prime time to plant garlic in a polytunnel. By planting now, you allow the garlic to establish roots before the deep winter freeze, ensuring a bountiful harvest come summer. Varieties like 'Elephant Garlic' or 'Hardneck Garlic' are worth considering.

  • Broad Beans: While broad beans are typically associated with spring, planting them in October ensures an early spring harvest. The polytunnel provides the necessary protection from harsh winter conditions.

  • Spinach: Spinach is a versatile leafy green that thrives in cooler temperatures. By planting in October, you can ensure a steady supply of fresh spinach leaves throughout the winter. Look for hardy varieties like 'Winter Giant' or 'Perpetual Spinach'.

  • Peas: While it might be too late in the season for full pod production, planting peas now can yield tender shoots that are perfect for salads or garnishes. These shoots are sweet, crunchy, and packed with flavor. Varieties like 'Douce Provence' can be sown in autumn for shoots.

  • Beetroots: While October might be late for full-sized beetroot, you can still sow them for baby beets. Additionally, the young leaves can be used in salads or cooked like spinach.

2. Uses of a Polytunnel in October:

Apart from growing veggies, there are several other ways you can utilize your polytunnel during this month:

  • Overwintering Plants: Use the polytunnel to protect tender plants or to overwinter potted plants.

  • Seed Germination: Start off seeds that require a longer growing season.

  • Drying and Curing: Use the space to dry out onions, garlic, or even herbs.

  • Storage: Store pumpkins, squashes, or other harvests that need a cool, dry place.

3. Housing Animals in a Polytunnel:

A lesser-known use of polytunnels is for housing animals. Here's how:

  • Poultry: Chickens or ducks can be housed in a polytunnel during harsh weather. It provides them with a warmer environment and protects them from predators. Remember to ensure proper ventilation.

  • Sheep: Small numbers of sheep can be housed temporarily in polytunnels, especially during lambing season.

  • Rabbits: With proper cages and care, rabbits can be housed in polytunnels. They'll be protected from the elements and potential predators.

4. More Uses of a Polytunnel in Ireland:

  • Workshop Space: Convert a section of your polytunnel into a space for crafts, potting, or even as a workshop.

  • Recreation: Set up a small sitting area where you can enjoy the warmth on cooler October days.

  • Composting: Start a compost pile in one corner. The warmth will speed up the decomposition process.

In conclusion, a polytunnel in Ireland during October is not just a space for growing veggies. It's a versatile environment that can be used for a multitude of purposes, from extending the growing season to housing animals and even as a recreational space. So, if you have a polytunnel, make the most of it this October!


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