We have a strange relationship with plastics. While we try to reduce, re-use and recycle them, they have revolutionized modern horticulture. From the disturbing acres of plastic mulch used for commercial strawberry production to the use of floating row covers that provide excellent pest protection (among other benefits) for organic growers, plastics have been widely adopted for growing food.
The Polytunnel Handbook describes one of the most powerful horticultural tools created with plastic. A polytunnel is a walk-in greenhouse structure ‘glazed’ with polyethylene clear plastic sheeting. Even the simplest structure covered this way will allow plants to grow in an environment of increased temperature and humidity, without destructive wind. As the authors write, “Whatever you grow in a vegetable patch you can grow it sooner, and probably better, in a tunnel”.
The authors focus on small polytunnels for the home gardener, giving good information on locating, purchasing and erecting a tunnel. They also give very detailed instructions on building your own using PVC piping and plastic sheeting. Some basic growing ideas and crop rotations are also given that are specific for tunnel growing. Everything is written for an audience in Britain and Ireland which makes the suppliers list unhelpful, but does give some insights for those in a similar climate such as the west coast of British Columbia.
The Polytunnel Handbook contains useful information for anyone interested in expanding both the harvest season and range of food from their home garden.