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in     by Joyce Bullock 06-10-2014

We took advantage of the continued good weather at the weekend and did some tidying in the garden.
The polytunnel needed a good ‘sort’. So that is where we began.

The garden has undergone quite a radical makeover this year with a damp February Sunday afternoon spent looking at the drabness out of the window and making a plan…

Polytunnel under construction.jpg

I soon got my big tape measure out and got the man standing in tangled corners whilst I made a note of the measurements.  Within days there was a CAD drawing and a man hooked on the concept.  Criteria was space for the raised beds – some of which were already in situ, home for the bee hives, a wildlife pond with a beach (so animals and critters can climb out), a polytunnel, glorious flower beds, sunny sitting places, a lawn and various other additions.

Work began quickly and progress was swift, but then sloooowwed as the man had to return to work.  Anyone out there doing a full time job who comes home to start other work, whilst cooking the dinner, walking the dog, catching up on paperwork, etc will know it is really tough to continuously feel motivated enough to get stuck in.

Finally, the plants went in.jpg

And so the polytunnel and pool were particularly late to appear.  A selection of boxes, metal fixings and sheets of polythene arrived and sat around until one fine May Sunday when we did it.  It wasn’t nearly so difficult as we had imagined, not to say it wasn’t hot work, it was.  But finally, when the tomatoes and aubergine plants were getting leggy in the little plastic lean to greenhouse, the tunnel was up.  Everything that had been waiting for a home was bunged in pronto.  There was a large selection of tomatoes, Italian plum, Popins, Gardeners Delight and others, some cucumbers, courgettes, aubergines, chillies and a couple of sweet potatoes.

As it was all rather late we hadn’t really prepped the soil or even thought it all through  Nonetheless, the plants were in and romped away.
We did as Monty Don had told us on Gardeners World – tidied up the tomatoes by cutting the foliage off.  Honestly, plants were rampant after such a summer.  You couldn’t get in to the tunnel without getting caught up in leaves and squishing tomatoes under foot.  See how much better the plants look in the pic.  Once the foliage was removed the fruit could be ripened.  Trusses that were knocked off in error were simply hung over the string to ripen.

Tidied up tomatoes in poytunnel.jpg


The harvest has been abundant (well, it ought to be with so many plants) and we have made lots of slow roasted tomato sauce:
Halve tomatoes and fill baking trays, Cut some chillies in half, add whole cloves of garlic (all from the garden, of course), season and drizzle with a good oil.  Cook on a low heat, 120deg for ages.  We have left them in for hours by mistake, the aroma is fab!  Allow to cool then whizz in a food processor and push through a sieve to get rid of seeds and skin.
Use it as a sauce with pasta or as a base for Bolognese, lasagne, chilli….  Scrummy.

Home grown slow roast tomatoes, chilles and garlic.jpg

Back to the plants in the polytunnel:  Having uprooted a sweet potato to see what was going on – a single small potato and removed the courgette there is now space for seed sowing.  More of which later….