Growing in Polytunnels 2021

Following on from the incredible success of our inaugural Growing in Polytunnels course in 2020, Klaus Laitenberger is back with a more in-depth, “next step” course that covers more material over a longer growing season. As the pandemic gave us little time to prepare in 2020, this year’s course will follow an accurate meticulous growing season pattern, and will include additional material around growing your business, selling to customers and wholesalers, and much more. Growing in Polytunnels 2021 will allow you to grow in real time along with the tutorials and Q&A sessions.

The course will be a minimum of 14 ALL NEW tutorial videos, with Video 1 being released on Wednesday February 10th. The course will also include live, interactive Q&A sessions with Klaus Laitenberger focusing on the topics of the videos, and answering the burning questions of our participants. The exact dates and topics of each video will be confirmed in the new year – but you can see an overview of what will be covered below.

  • Start Date: Wednesday February 10th 2021
  • Format: 14 Video Tutorials + Live & Interactive Q&A Sessions
  • Cost: NOTS Funded Rate: €50 (see Eligibility Criteria HERE)

Please note: If you are not eligible to receive the NOTS funded rate, but still wish to register for the course, you can still sign up and pay the full, non-funded rate of €75 to gain access. Please choose the €75 non-funded ticket type on the dropdown menu when you click “Register Now”.

Course Topics / Modules:

Soil Fertility:

  • Introduction to soil fertility
  • Soil formation
  • Types of soil
  • Texture – Structure
  • pH, nutrients
  • Soil biology
  • Looking at soil
  • Dig a soil pit and identify layers, colours, drainage etc

Inputs / Nutrients:

  • Evaluating all types of nutrient inputs
  • Compost and good compost making
  • FYM (organic and non-organic and different animals)
  • Other supplements – Kali-vinasse, Greenvale, seaweed products and other inputs
  • Uses of inputs
  • Liquid feeds and green manures
  • Biostimulants and diverse cropping

Ground Preparation:

  • Explore dig and no-dig systems
  • Lazy beds, huegelbeds
  • Raised beds/flat beds
  • Tools

Composting:

  • How to make good compost
  • Green/brown ingredients
  • Composting systems
  • Uses of compost

Crop Planning:

  • Ease of growing, lifespan of crops and profitability
  • Winter cropping in tunnels
  • Summer cropping (tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergine, pepper, basil etc)
  • Practical maintenance of crops – side shooting, leaf removal, top-dressing etc
  • Crop rotation – how can this be achieved in a polytunnel?
  • Importance of rotations

Propagation

  • Types of heating benches –cables or heating mat? Electricity
  • Home-made hotbox with compost which releases heat
  • Types of trays and different composts – eg peat-free
  • Direct versus sowing in modules – discuss different crops eg. carrots
  • Multi-sowing seeds in modules
  • Process – heat – cool – hardening off – planting out
  • Use of bionet cloche for hardening off
  • Seeds versus transplant
  • Explain difference between F1 Hybrid and open pollinated seed
  • Demonstration on planting out modules

Types of Polytunnels and Greenhouses

  • Types of tunnels
  • Sizes of tunnels
  • Features – side rail, crop bar, bracing bars, different door types and sizes etc etc
  • Different types of plastic (non-drip, anti fog etc)
  • Looking at propagation greenhouse and small greenhouse with polycarbonate sheeting

Pest and Disease Prevention

  • What makes plants sick?
  • How to keep plants healthy?
  • Tunnel management for disease prevention
  • Encouraging pest predators
  • Crop rotation
  • Use of resistant varieties
  • Biological pest control

Weed Control

  • Weeds as indicator plants
  • Perennial/annual weeds
  • Benefits and problems with weeds
  • Stale seed bed
  • Mulching
  • Tools

Setting up an Organic Growing Business

  • High value or low value crops
  • Explore market outlets – restaurants, farmer’s market, shops, supermarkets, box schemes, CSA schemes, wholesale, etc
  • Setting up a salad growing business – what to grow when?
  • Different salad crops and their suitability in different season
  • Calculation of turnover from different crops

How to grow a variety of high-value crops

  • Identify a number of high value polytunnel crops
  • Production guidelines for a number of crops
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