Allotment update: How I’m protecting my veg with a variety of tunnels

After many months of wrangling with pests, birds, bugs (and even bunnies!) at my allotment, I've decided to try out some tunnels to see if they can help us to grow bigger and better veggies...

Some items have been gifted

I’ve found out this year that there are many pests that ruin my crops on my allotment – right from the moment they’re planted. Birds love to peck at seedlings (goodbye peas!), caterpillars will munch their way through brassicas until there’s nothing left, and countless insects will completely cover my beanstalks.

So, I’ve done some research into the solutions to these problems. After all, I would like to eat some of my produce myself. I love birds and animals but I’m not just growing veggies to feed them!

I’m trying out some tunnels that were kindly gifted to me by Suttons to see if I can cover up some crops and whether that’ll have a positive effect on the produce. I’ve left a few on each row outside of the tunnels as a ‘control’ for the experiment and will let you know how I get on. In the meantime, here’s what I’m using:

Poly tunnel

To get seedlings started, I’m trying out a polythene film tunnel. It kind of acts like a mini greenhouse so it should keep the air warm and moist inside the tunnel to help the seeds germinate. Plus, it’ll protect the emerging seedings from being pecked by birds.

The poly film comes with loops of wire already threaded through the arch so it couldn’t be easier to slot it into the soil and protect my seeds.

Insect mesh

You may remember that I tried making my own insect-mesh tunnel using old water pipe. In fact, I even shared a DIY step-by-step guide to make a mesh cover yourself. This worked great for my cauliflowers and red cabbages (we’ve already eaten some – and have more sprouts and broccoli growing (below) – but the tunnel ended up being a bit big.

Actually, it was a little too big to move easily, so it’s difficult to weed under it, but not big enough to get inside it to tend to my plants. I think the solution going forward is probably this easy-to-move micromesh tunnel with galvanised steel hoops that can be easily positioned over the row of veggies.

The mesh is ultra-fine to keep out carrot and cabbage root flies, aphids, flea beetles and vine weevils so all my crops should be safely protected beneath it. Plus, I can easily gather it up when I need to weed the line or thin out my seedlings.

Netting tunnels

I now know that blackbirds really like to peck at my veggies all around the plot. So, if I want to eat any myself, it’s going to be important to cover up nearly-ready rows of veg with a net. It’ll let water through so my veggies can still benefit from the rain, but it’ll keep the birds away from the tasty snack I’m growing.

Giant fleece

This is something I wish I’d had when I planted my new potatoes earlier this year. A layer of fleece will protect my potato shoots from frost and harsh weather, while also letting light through to help them continue to grow.

So now I’m ready for the next potato planting period with an easy fleece tunnel. It has drawstring ends so I can gather it up and block out any cold winds, or I can open it up to provide ventilation when needed. Fleece will only be needed in the freezing cold winter months so I’m pleased that the tunnel can be packed flat and easily stored away for the rest of the year.

In other allotment news, our sweetcorn is ready. And, of course, it’s suddenly all ready all at once – even though we staggered our planting to try to extend the harvest. So this week we’ve been blanching and freezing countless cobs. We’ve already got enough for about 30 meals – yum!

Also, it’s raspberry time. There were already some raspberry plants on the plot when we took it on so we didn’t know quite when they would be producing fruit or just how many raspberries we would get! I’m so happy to be able to harvest a punnet of raspberries every day and I’ve even been freezing some for the winter. I’ve already made blackcurrant jam from our plot earlier in the summer, so maybe I’ll have enough raspberries to make another jam.

Lastly, we’ve been enjoying our own cucumbers. I never really imagined that I’d be able to grow cucumbers on the allotment but we’ve given it a go and it worked! We tried two varieties, including a mini cucumber for pickling so now we have enough cucumbers to eat AND to enjoy as gherkins, which I absolutely love!

Let me know what you use to protect your veggies in your own garden or on your allotment. Any tips would be very helpful as it’s my first year of growing on an allotment and I’m still learning! Please leave me a comment below with your advice. 🙂

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Some items in this blog post have been gifted to me and the pink links indicate a gifted product, affiliate link or information source. All thoughts and opinions in this post are based on my own experience and I am not responsible for your experience 🙂

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to ‘get the look for less’ so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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