Under a dome of plastic, sparklers and cherry belles

Take a peek, under the hoops, at what is growing in my little polytunnel:

Radish and rocket race ahead, snug in their plastic tube.

Radish and rocket race ahead, snug in their plastic tube.

Polytunnels are not pretty. The plastic sheeting glinting in the sun, rippling in the breeze on plastic hoops, does not blend easily into the earthy, natural delights of my garden. It’s an interloper, an alien, definitely unnatural and inorganic. It doesn’t belong!

Aesthetically unpleasing, polytunnels caught my eye – and then impressed me. Gee, those heat-trapping and insect-repelling domes really produce the goods! I became envious of several massive, walk-in tunnels that have sprouted up on the allotment. Look at those tomato vines, dripping with non-blighted fruit… Check out those brussels sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli, not a cabbage white on them…

And so early this year – keen to get growing, anxious not to have such a dismal season as last year – when I stumbled across a basic kit of plastic sheeting and hoops for £5, I took the plunge:

7th April. The structure is erected and seeds - lettuce, sorrel, radish, rocket - sown within its protective atmosphere.

7th April. The structure is erected and seeds – lettuce, sorrel, radish, rocket – sown within its protective atmosphere. 

So far, so mixed. All the seeds I planted got off to a great start, especially when you consider that the spring has been very cold and delayed. Then three quarters of my lettuce seedlings, looking so succulent, disappeared. Our dear friends the slugs also like warm and protected mini-environments, unfortunately. But they have eschewed the sorrel, radish, and rocket, which I have begun to harvest. Only slightly deterred – it’s early in the season! – I responded by filling the gaps with misticanza, dill, and parsley seeds.

"Sparkler" radish bulk up.

“Sparkler” radish bulk up.

Am I a convert? We’ll see. I’m thinking of placing my tender aubergine plants, currently in pots on my dining room floor, under the protective polythene arch when the time comes.

Beautiful Garden or Successful Plot – do I have to choose?

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