I spent last weekend in St Ives, Cornwall, with some great friends I first met nearly 14 years ago at a holistic holiday in Greece. Whilst sitting in the garden, a question arose about the effective screening of a greenhouse.
Away from the obvious walls/trellis/bamboo screen, I offered to share what I do for the polytunnel. It is a marvellous thing but no-one would say that it is attractive to look at.
So, for the summer months, I grow vegetables of various types in front of the polytunnel, the most important being runner beans. This fulfils my criteria for the screen being functional and edible.
The first picture (top) shows the view of the polytunnel from the house. Broad beans are already providing some cover at a low level, with Jerusalem artichokes to the right. You can also see the overhanging square framework for the runner beans in place and showing in its outline how it will completely obscure the polytunnel.
The second picture shows a side view of the growing beans, with the third picture (below) pulling out a little so that you can see the new path to the polytunnel door, running behind the beans and taking up the minimum space possible, so that I don’t lose growing space.
In between the rows of beans you might be able to spot ground cover in the form of radishes for a quick crop, and vegetable squashes which will grow with the beans up the poles, adding to the screening and giving us squashes for the winter months.
The simple ‘year 1’ version of this is of course just a frame and runner beans. Whilst it is too late to grow them from seed, most garden centres are still selling small bean plants and these can be planted direct, remembering to give them plenty of compost as they are very hungry plants.
So that’s it, my simple guide to edible screening.