|Back when it was shiny and new.|
If you're a grower of veg living some place with lots of wind or short summers and long winters, a polytunnel is a great option.
Polytunnel vs greenhouse (or glass house) is a classic debate. What it really boils down to is cost. To cover a given area, the polytunnel comes in a lot cheaper, even if you go (as you should) for the highest spec you can afford.
|The chosen spot.|
Choose a tunnel
|Putting it up.|
Cost, naturally, came next on our list of considerations. We're always looking for value, but will pay what we have to, to get good quality. There's no point in 'saving' a third on something that will only last a quarter as long.
|Securing the cover to the frame.|
Put it up
Our chosen tunnel is 20 x 8 feet, with screw anchors at each hoop base and a clever wire-clamp system for securing the cover to the frame. We put it up over 2 days, the frame on the first and the cover on the second. It's a huge sheet of plastic, so it's vital to do this on a windless day!
The first critical step, and one that was surprisingly tricky, is getting the positions of the anchor points correct, so that all four corners are exactly 90° square. It's really important to get this right, so mark it out with stakes and string, then check and re-check using the Pythagorean 3-4-5 method on each corner. For those whose geometry might be a little rusty, the length of the sides of a right angle triangle are always in the proportions of 3-4-5.
|Finally: the door.|
Make sure you have as many helpers on hand as necessary to get the cover on nice and tight. The design we chose was okay for two people to put up - one to hold the plastic while the other did the clamping - but I've heard that other types, such as the traditional trench-fixing, are better done with at least three.
So, two day's effort to finish putting up our very first polytunnel - not bad. The second would obviously be easier with the experience, but I'm in no particular hurry to do it again.
|The finished article fits in nicely.|
Next time: Growing in the tunnel
Extend your growing season and range.