Alex James: Going bananas for a polytunnel

Rural Notebook

Share
Related Topics

I flew to Africa once in a light aircraft. It takes two days. The worst thing about it was that south of about Barcelona almost the whole of the Spanish coast is covered in polytunnels, thousands and thousands and thousands of them. They must be visible from space, like a polythene Great Wall of China. It made me feel sick after a while, the endless tatty plastic stuck on the mountainsides.

England from above, on the other hand, is enough to make you cry. I don't think there's anywhere quite so pretty as England. Today, as a dusting of snow melted, I dawdled by a roaring bonfire with Denise the gardener and we gazed into the distance: the wheat was coming away in the top field; Lady Bamford's prized organic Ayrshire cattle were milling around in the foreground. February's always a fairly tidy time of the year, no straggly bits and everything about to sprout, but light snowfall had covered all the untidiness around the yard and the sun was shining on paradise.

"Where are we going to put the polytunnel, then?" I said. It was a biodynamic farmer who won me over on polytunnels, actually. I went and had a look inside one and it was warm and calm, smelled good. I stayed in there for ages – didn't want to leave.

"But how can this be biodynamic?" I'd asked him, certain that this was the antithesis of all things bright and beautiful, citing the horror story of the Costa del Sol. The argument for polytunnels is that it's all a question of degree. Covering the whole place with polythene was ridiculous, but then not taking advantage of a longer growing season didn't make much sense either. The biodynamic polytunnel was quite a nice shape, too, a flowing curve, and I've wanted one ever since. There are only a few lonely leeks left in the veg garden at the moment. I could be eating biodynamic winter bananas. The temptation is too much.

Starkers in the dark

I have put a sauna heater in one of the sheds. I told you that. I love it more and more. Despite the frosts I have taken to roaming around the grounds naked (apart from shoes) in a big cloud of my own steam at midnight. Maybe there is something in biodynamic farming.

All wrapped up

It's hard to know where to put a polytunnel. It was during one of these midnight nature walks that I realised I don't need one after all. I've decided to cling-wrap one of the open-sided barns instead. That will do the trick. I told the gardener and by a great coincidence she is related to Christo the sculptor. He clingfilmed the Reichstag. She's got his number...

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Assistant Editor: Domestic violence is no petty matter

Siobhan Norton
 

There’s nothing wrong with GM

Steve Connor
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried