Hungry Gap Musings

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adamyork's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 18 hours ago
Joined: Friday, 11 December, 2009 - 17:07
Hungry Gap Musings

Having at last got more tunnel space and have been thinking about ways to sharpen up our Hungry Gap offerings.Predictably little online about several crops that might be worth a bash but dates and yield impressions welcome.Any thoughts on Celery,Kailan,Cima de Rapa(s),Violet Turnips(modules seem v.prone to bolting),Broad Beans(how much less yield?) and Green Sprouting Brocolli?


We are pretty happy with Beetroot,Spring Cabbage,Coriander,Spinach,Carrots and Spring Onions.A neighbouring grower does pretty well with self fertile Runner Beans too.

Phelim Knifton
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: Tuesday, 23 March, 2010 - 11:21
Courgettes - planted in early

Courgettes - planted in early april can be cropping early may, plant earlier under fleece for even earlier crop - I used a standard variety.  Rip them out when outdoor crop is in full swing, or keep cropping if you get a bad summer.  So long as the doors are open they'll get pollinated.  I can't give yield, but it was good, so long as they were picked hard I got away with harvesting every other day.

Pak Choi - WPAK 1165 from CN seeds was the strongest against bolting, we sowed every two weeks from january for continuity.  Even earlier with autumn planted but there's usually loads of winter crops still going strong.  I usually harvested large - 600gm plus so bolting could be an issue if the temperature got too high or they didn't get enough water.  Pretty close to 100% yield.

Celery - never really worked well here due to disease but from an early sowing they should work elsewhere

Fennel - fantastic crops, sown every three weeks from jan / february, once the weather really starts hotting up they do bolt, but plenty of water and this holds off, large heads and 90% yield.

Calabrese - some lovely big heads, I didn't try green sprouting but that should work as well.

Potatoes - I grew Rocket with derogation as I found this performed best - grow some for a seed crop outdoors then you'll have them for next spring.  I tried other varieties but the extreme tunnel heat led to various malformed crops.  Others may well have had different experiences.   A good crop, and they'll be ready to compete with the Jersey crop, yay...

Climbing french beans just work but dwarf french beans will produce sooner - Faraday sown every 3 weeks or so.

Mangetout - Shiraz - I had fantastic crops from sowings every 2-3 weeks, also shelling peas to get an early crop, something like alderman kept going for up to four weeks per sowing, or ambassador for regular sowings.

Cucumbers could also be cropping in an unheated tunnel in may.

With most of this you can clear it and get an autumn crop in as well, or with pak choi clear the first lot and plant peppers or aubergines.

Not sure if this will work, but these are my rough plans for 2013 + 2014 with sowing dates - select the Tunnels TAB at the bottom or the excel documents, just what I was growing at the time, so some crops are no longer there:



Couple I forgot

Chard sown early can give some amazing crops, huge leaves.  I saved seed from a tunnel crop of canary chard, having rogued out any which went to seed early and have only now had the odd few which run to seed until the following spring if left in that long.

Kale - I have had some lovely new season hungry gap kale producing for the past month.  Red russian tends to get hit with mildew before producing a decent crop, Cavolo Nero seems to go on for ages.  Great if your customers aren't bored to tears with kale throughout the winter, although I found they really enjoyed the more tender tunnel crop.

John English
Last seen: 1 month 5 days ago
Joined: Sunday, 6 May, 2012 - 11:37

Obvious one, but hasn't been mentioned, polytunnel lettuce. Usually do red and green oakleaf in the free gap in the tunnels between winter salad and summer planting of toms etc.  Tried out Weston RZ from Just Seed this year, green butterhead for overwinter protected cropping, it's a really good variety will do more of it next year.. Transplanted first week of March straight after clearing some of the winter oriental salad, ready 3rd & 4th week of April. Customers liked them so much I wish I'd ripped out more of the ropier overwinter leaves sooner than I did and done a few more plantings of Weston instead.  

adamyork's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 18 hours ago
Joined: Friday, 11 December, 2009 - 17:07
Promising Start

Keep it coming chaps.

Chard,we've grown a lot but even now unconvinced indoors,too brief when we've lots of True Spinach.

Celery,who has done the homework? Celery Leaf incidentally(N.Irish+N.European thing)we can get out v.early,+healthy.

Cucumbers,would love to do earlier but will they survive lower Spring temps.....

Russian+Curly Kale have been fine here,as per Sp.Cabbage,sweeter and softer too.

Sp.Cabbage yield will always impress those who haven't done indoors.Makes overwintered outdoors seem a bad idea unless you're on the Cornish Golden mile.

Kailan/Cima de Rapa,howabout some nice pics of how much yield is doable? Anybody?

Turnip/Navets pros,let us know your experiences.(multi sown modules for us,try to keep wet but too many bolters).

Jason Horner
Jason Horner's picture
Last seen: 2 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: Saturday, 8 October, 2011 - 11:21
Early spuds

Whats wrong with early spuds, been selling for three weeks from a Mid February planting and getting €3.20 a kilo on the market stall?

Was picking Uncle Johns Kale until two weeks ago from a late summer sowing in the tunnel.

Asparagus, watch this space, sowed some seeds this year, going to be a long lead time but will plant some inside and some outside and see how they go.

Kohl Rabi, been selling for the last three weeks from a February sowing

Overwintwered butterhead just finished var. Brighton

Garlic just harvesting from a mid winter sowing

Raddishes, I dont do but can do all year round if you want

We also do beetroot, carrots, spinach, mixed leaves, broad beans ( for seed) spring onions, overwintering onions, spring cabbage from early spring sowings


Last seen: 3 days 6 hours ago
Joined: Friday, 27 July, 2012 - 14:26
Lovin' this thread

All the HG crops that we grow at Canalside CSA have been covered above, but I'd add that intercropping is very successful for us - particularly spring onions (feb sown in modules, about to harvest them next week) between tomatoes, and true spinach (direct drilled in early march) between courgettes.  We do 3 rows of onions / spinach and plant 2 rows of toms / courgettes in the gaps.

We have grown Partenon F1 courgette this year with great success, started picking in mid May, though Tamar Organics says they won't stock this var any more as the company producing it has been bought by Monsanto, though if an OP can be relied upon to give a decent early harvest then that suits me better anyway.

We grow a 60' tunnel of new potatoes every year which go down very well with our CSA members - we follow the potatoes with peppers, chillis and basil, and going to try NZ spinach this year.

Last seen: 10 months 1 week ago
Joined: Tuesday, 26 April, 2011 - 17:32

sprouted peas at new year so pre-germinated & not so reliant on soil temp, then sown thickly in drills 15cm apart for salad shoots from end of March then a crop of pods in mid May. High temps did no favours in May but they are out and cucumbers planted. Had planned to thin the rows to 1m apart and stake but the plants seemed happy climbing up each other before the stems rotted with high temps & density. 500g pods per square metre & prob 250g/m2 of shoots from home saved norli seed.

Red russian kale sown in Feb and planted in the tunnel yields from end April - midsummer when outdoor crop ready. Extra bonus is the previous years outdoor kale crop can be turned in earlier than usual as no longer needed & new crops planted.

Its colder in N Scotland so last years carrots are ok in the ground and late PSB (from stormy hall now seed co-op) produces until at least end of May, combined with long days & heat in the tunnels to bring on early crops. Not many customers are on holiday in this period so all in all it's not too bad!




adamyork's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 18 hours ago
Joined: Friday, 11 December, 2009 - 17:07
Oh no Return of the Strawberries

We've done Strawberries poorly for a few years outside.Popular with the public but not necessarily lucrative.Inside maybe ridged up what yield do we think is doable per plant? How early....

Great hungry gap fruit(along with Rhubarb)but as ever doing it well the thing

adamyork's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 18 hours ago
Joined: Friday, 11 December, 2009 - 17:07
Back to Early Brassicas

After noshow on Strawberries(I suspect most growers don't do because they are a whole different thing,albeit with serious potential).I note Curtis Stone video up on NZ trip praising Strawberry unit but saying little about how they actually do it.

Anybody tried to do Sante(the only really date controllable PSB/F1)really early inside? I note nobdy commented on Cima de Rapas so far and that Pak Choi is one of the only early brassicas UK ghrowers have got our heads round(so far).

Anybody feeling a bit more optimistic as Tories crumble and all sorts of land+food opportunities arise?

Last seen: 6 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Wednesday, 19 December, 2012 - 20:25
Cime di Rapa

I do a bit of cime di rapa in the tunnels. Seeds of Italy do several varieties with different maturation times but when the weather hots up they'll all be quick to bolt. I've done October sowings for a late February and March crop, and February sowings will get you some for April, but you only have a harvesting window of a week or two for each sowing and i'm not sure how easy it would be to push the crop into summer. It's really fast, though and trouble free and certainly worth experimenting with. If you have Italians in your area they'll thank you. Stick it in veg boxes with a simple recipe .... there are lots on the internet ... it's a really likeable veg.

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