Food Forest


The polytunnel of dreams is a food forest. This is a polite way of saying that it is a completely overgrown mess, but a somewhat edible mess.

I did a rather stupid thing. I often put old hay on my hugelkultur to suppress weeds, act as a mulch and enrich the soil. It kind of works OK. Yes, yes I know straw would be better but we have a lot of crappy hay that the animals leave on the floor and then pee on – I don’t want to waste it.

I tried it in the polytunnel. I mulched around strawberries and courgettes and along paths. But the polytunnel of dreams is a warm, wet place – actually it gets very hot and humid in there – of course the seeds in the hay sprouted and I grew lots of rich, lovely grass.

I was gutted.


Add to this the fact that weeds grew, well like weeds and the place looked a mess.


In my defence the brown withered pea and mangetout are part of my seed-saving experiment and not because I forgot about them – no really they are …. look I have even saved the seeds!

saved peas.jpg

So this weekend, I made an effort to impose some order on the polytunnel – if truth be told I just want to be able to harvest food without disturbing snakes.

First I cleared out the peas and replaced them with some straggly tomatoes that had been sitting in tiny pots thirsty for water for too long. Then I cleared out all the old brassicas which I had picked and the ones full of cabbage white butterflies Β – I fed them to the sheep.


I then dug up the grass in the paths and put down cardboard as a mulch – let’s see if tiny cardboard boxes start to grow.

cauliflowers and toms.jpg

I dug up all the old french beans (and saved some of the seed), planted the last of the peppers and aubergines and weeded the entire row.

weeded peppers.jpg

Yes, I still have the chaos that is the area where the broad beans and potatoes were/are and the evil middle row that is full of collapsed tomato plants and radishes and coriander that I am growing for seed, but that is a job for next weekend. Right now things are looking a little tidier.


N.B. Want to know what the massive sunflowers are doing in the middle of the polytunnel? Well earlier in the year, every time seeds didn’t sprout I would empty the soil and seed into the Β middle of the polytunnel so as not to waste the compost. Turns out I was a little hasty, lots of the sunflowers sprouted as did beetroot, swiss chard, celery, nasturtiums and all sorts of things. I like the sunflowers here and will plant more next year.


13 responses to “Food Forest

  1. Thank you for posting this. Too many people just post beautiful perfection and gloss over the messy compost heaps etc. I love your tunnel – it’s super wide. I have kale coming up all over my tunnel, and leaf beet, due to letting both go to seed, putting the remains in the compost heap (which is not a hot heap so the seed survive) and then putting the compost on the polytunnel beds.

    • ha ha, I have done the same with tomatoes in the compost – better that food sprouts up everywhere than weeds or grass though πŸ™‚

  2. And there’s me thinking you had everything under control………….. LOL! I’m so pleased I’m not the only bad gardener who leaves things to get slightly out of control… I feel so much better. X

  3. J > The problem with greenhouses and polytunnels is that they are a dream for everyone and everything. Especially fungii/moulds, caterpillars, aphids … and all kinds of could-come-in-useful things that you pop in their when it comes on to rain, or surplus pots of this or that – despite being surplus, you can’t bring yourself to simply thrown on the compost heap (minus pot – for cleaning and re-using).

  4. Pingback: Tomatoes | smallholding dreams·

    • I dream about an ordered garden, but I fear it will never happen. I am happy just so long as it produces enough food for us and it does. Good luck with your garden πŸ™‚

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