Growing in Polytunnels (Online Course)

Please note: Registrations are now closed for this edition of the course. Click the “Register Interest” button to add your email to our mailing list for information about future editions of the programme.

NOTS Team

For the first time in Ireland, NOTS are delighted to present a fully-interactive online course covering the subject of “Growing in Polytunnels”. This exclusive NOTS programme begins on May 27th.

Taught by renowned organic grower Klaus Laitenberger, this is a 10-session interactive course where participants are given access to an exclusive HD video lesson each fortnight. These sessions are completely exclusive to course participants, and have been filmed specifically for this course.

In addition, participants are also invited to an interactive Q&A with Klaus after each video where he will talk through each course topic, and take questions on all-things polytunnel growing. This is the first course of its’ kind in Ireland and the first run of the course begins on May 27th.

Date: 1st Lesson released Wednesday May 27th

Time: Participants have password-protected access to videos from their release – every second Wednesday @ 10am

Cost: €40 NOTS rate (introductory price for first course run) /€80 for residents outside Ireland

Course Schedule:

  • Wednesday May 27th – Video 1 (released 10am)
  • Tuesday June 2nd – Q&A Session 1 (6pm–8pm)
  • Wednesday June 10th – Video 2
  • Tuesday June 16th – Q&A Session 2
  • Wednesday June 24th – Video 3
  • Tuesday June 30th – Q&A Session 3
  • Wednesday July 8th – Video 4
  • Tuesday July 14th – Q&A Session 4
  • Wednesday July 22nd – Video 5
  • Tuesday July 28th – Q&A Session 5
  • Wednesday August 5th – Video 6
  • Tuesday August 11th – Q&A Session 6
  • Wednesday August 19th – Video 7
  • Tuesday August 25th – Q&A Session 7
  • Wednesday September 2nd – Video 8
  • Tuesday September 8th – Q&A Session 8
  • Wednesday September 16th – Video 9
  • Tuesday September 22nd – Q&A Session 9
  • Wednesday September 30th – Video 10
  • Tuesday October 6th – Q&A Session 10

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

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
  • Seed versus transplant (Cloning)
  • 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

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
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