Sunday, 4 October 2015

Poly Tunnel!

Poly Tunnel

After years of wanting one but not liking the eye sore that they can be nor the expense we finally bit the bullet and got a very cheap one. So cheap we wouldn't be losing much if it didn't last or ended up not being what we wanted.

We've looked at ones costing over £1000 but this one is £200 reduced down to £139. Surely too cheap to last or be any good? As it turns out it is remarkably good for the money structure wise but did need some extra support to stiffen it up. It is 6m long by 3m wide by 6m high (19.6ft by 9.8ft by 6.5ft). Would have been nice to have a taller one but then again you always want bigger.

Plastic cover wise only time will tell but it is supposed to be UV protected and new covers are £60.

We didn't have a good place to put it so it went where it was assembled and we'll move the path instead.

I had to dig a trench to sit the metal frame into and then peg down the frame. The turf that came out of the trench was then placed on the outside over the plastic skirt to hold it down and stop the wind from blowing it away.

Three beds were dug, 0.5 wide on the sides (they look smaller in the picture) and 1m wide bed in the middle. At the end there is space for a couple of chairs and I intend on having a grape vine at the end in the centre so it can travel the length on the tunnel. The hay actually covers the edges of the beds deliberately to help stop the grass.

A thick layer of hay to kill the grass, a load of manure and we're done. About a day to do.

Finally a load of salad plants go in, which have been waiting for a home, a few posts to stabilise the structure and the centre ones (a couple missing in the picture) have string attached from them to the roof for tomato plants to grow up and they also anchor the structure more. I'll add wooden edges to the beds during the next week to make them into raised beds. 

With the door closed, today, which was over cast for 90% of it, the temp rose at one point to over 40 deg C, opening the door reduced it to 23 deg C while the temp outside hit 18 deg C. I dread to think how hot it could get in the height of the summer!. Last night the outside temp went down to 9.8 C and the minimum temp in the poly tunnel went down to 10.7 C which was the result of 4 or so hours of heating from the sun in the evening when the tunnel was first up so tunnel made 1 deg of difference. 

So the tunnel made 5 C difference during the day and 1 C during the night to the minimum temps. A small heater during the coldest winter nights (or water butt inside) and we might be able to avoid all but the worst frosts.

Planted so far are:

Wild Rocket
Ruby Chard
Pak Choi
Chinese Cabbage
Beetroot to see if they grow.

Hopefully we can have salad and leafy greens during the winter and the green house can be freed up for seedlings but these are just planted now in the hope they will grow. Really the tunnel is for next spring but we couldn't resist planting it now.

Just need to cross fingers with the wind and hope the plastic doesn't go brittle with severe frosts and cold spells but if we hadn't of got it we'd never know if a cheap one would work!


Raised bed borders added plus filled up beds with manure, soil and compost.

Added some field beans to see if they fruit earlier than outdoors plus a load of garlic.

Added a small section of staging and strengthened the structure at the back and front against wind problems.

Also sown or planted
Radish "French Breakfast"
Ramrod Spring Onion
Cape Gooseberry that was grown last year and survived the winter, then this summer and is still going, small and pot bound and neglected, but now planted in the soil as it has a few fruits on. 

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