Making the best of a cheap Amazon tunnel and gaffa question

Discussion in 'Poly-Tunnel Gardening' started by Oldman2, Apr 30, 2022.

  1. Oldman2

    Oldman2 Apprentice Gardener

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    I recently lost a greenhouse to a large storm and the cost of replacing it and/or all the glass bar 4 sheets was just too much so I elected to try a cheap 5m x 2m polytunnel instead.
    Its got 19mm thin wall Galv tube and once together it wobbled like a jelly before the cover went on. I changed all the nuts from plain to nyloc so they would stay tight without crushing the tubes. 2 end rails and 2 diagonal braces had spring button click together fixings which were very loose when together so they get removed and nuts and bolts used to firm things up. I scavenged 2 more diagonal braces from the destroyed greenhouse and fitted them to brace it up some more. Even then it was not exactly rigid. I had been warned that the double zipped entry doorway was prone to breaking soon after purchase so I put two vertical 3x2 timbers fixed top and bottom to the frame ready to frame the doorway. That firmed it up nice at that end.
    I then thought if I used the sliding door off the defunked greenhouse on the other end it would save using the fragile zips, so 2 more vertical 3x2 timbers and a head went in. Now its getting rigid ;)
    I wanted to string tomatoes from above so added 20mm plastic tube from one end to the other on the hoops attached with cable ties. now its getting quite firm.
    I had some scaffold tubes spare so I used them with large cable ties under the base frame to add weight and keep the thin frame straight.
    After adding hot spot tape, on went the cover. I would like to say it fitted like a glove but it was more like a charity shop plastic mac, fits where it touches!
    Didnt seem to matter where I moved it, some stuff like the side velcro attachments didnt line up. More on that later. On to the ends, I used roofing battens on the outside of the cover on the 3x2 verticals to sandwich the zips so they were under no tension figuring thats why they seem to bust easy.
    The other end I took stanley to the cover and cut my entrance using stainless staples and roofing battens for the door frame to the 3x2 verticals and hung the alloy sliding door from the greenhouse with 2 panes of grass. Works very nicely.
    So that leaves me with the pesky velcro attachments some of which in a week of light winds had come unstiched, others just seemed to have been attached in the wrong place for my tubes spacing, so I want to replace them with cable ties, BUT to strengthen the reinforced Polyethylene where I poke holes to loop the ties through I want to use either gaffa tape or proper greenhouse tape. Now I have tried both tapes on some spare poly and to my mind the gaffa tape seems stronger against my trying to pull the ties trough the reinforced (green squares) poly. The gaffa seems stickier as well, but I dont know how well it will hold up against wet weather and UV. The polytunnel tape seems less sticky but is I'm told good in rain and UV. Any long term advice from fellow tunnel owners welcomed.
    The only thing left apart from burying the flaps is my wife wanted the beds raised, well I didnt have spare timber but I did have some 8x4ft sheets of alloy checker plate, so although some will wince at the thought, I cut them unto 8ft x 40cm strips and attached them to the inside of the frame both sides of the doorways.
    So once I get some feedback on the tape issue I just need to tie the sides of the cover to the tubes and tighten the sides to ground level by either bricks on the flaps or by burying them.
    I will upload some pics once I get this posted.
     
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    • Perki

      Perki Total Gardener

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      You have been busy hopefully it will withstand the winter storms :fingers crossed: . Might be an ideal to use them wind breaking nets over winter or plant a hedge.
       
    • Oldman2

      Oldman2 Apprentice Gardener

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      Time to figure out how to add pictures.
      zip end done.jpg
      That's the double zipped end, the door frame stops the zip being over tensioned.
      sliding door fitted.jpg
      Sliding door from alloy greenhouse reused.
      door open.jpg
      Slides right so the wife can see if its open from the house.
      plate near finished.jpg
      Checker plate near finished.
      plate finished.jpg
      plate finished and split hose fitted to top edge.
      gaffa both sides.jpg
      Here is a sample of gaffa tape on both sides of the poly and slits cut for the tie to attach.
      clear poly tape both sides.jpg
      So the clear poly tape both sides looks nicer, but is it strong enough?

      Hopefully I will get some feedback on both tapes and can then finish supporting the sides.
      I dont think it will fly away, its got two ground anchors mid way and 14mtr of scaffold pole attached to the base.
       
    • Oldman2

      Oldman2 Apprentice Gardener

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      Well over a month later, we elected to go for bricks to hold the cover down for now, the sticky tape issue was won by gaffa. Even a 2nd roll of clear poly tape proved less sticky.
      I built a hinged screen door for inside the sliding one so we could have ventilation without all the cats local using the new facilities!
      I bought 6 cascading strawberry planters and mounted them on a scaffold pole out of the ants way at one end of the tunnel. I strung the wifes tomato plants from the plastic conduit I had fitted when building the frame, seems to work fine.
      I have "won" some decking boards and 450mm paving slabs so the next job will be to separate her raised growing beds with the boards and lay the paving.
      screen door.jpg

      may strawberries.jpeg
       
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      • john558

        john558 Total Gardener

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        Looks very good Oldman2
         
      • infradig

        infradig Gardener

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        I have bought a similar structure, 3mx2mx2m from VIKING STATIONERY. It has laces rather than velcro to secure to tubes, seems ok. I treated the thin tubes with wax internally (candle dissolved in white spirit ) and gave the ' nominally' galvanised finish 2 coats of metal primer.
        It is sited in a relatively sheltered site, but is coastal and gusts to 110mph have been recorded in recent past.
        Like you, I was concerned to anchor it down. I had some lengths of 25mm steel galvanised cold water barrel tubing and having cut to 0.5m length, drilled at the top, have driven a piece into the earth, about 0.4m., in 6 places. Tube now anchored to the assembled frame with 6mm nylon cable ties via the hole. These also used as fixings for a rope over the outside at each end and at the middle. It may collapse but wont escape !!
        What do you expect as the life time of the cover??
         
      • CanadianLori

        CanadianLori Total Gardener

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        That is really good. I'm impressed! :love30:
         
      • Oldman2

        Oldman2 Apprentice Gardener

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        I thought I would get 2-3yrs with the heat tape stopping the cover burning on the tubes. With the screen door I wont be using the side vents so they should last well enough remaining closed, the zip wont be used much if at all so that problem has gone. Others report that the poly falls out between the little green reinforcing squares after 1-2yrs, so with all those negatives i'm not expecting a long life. But it was cheap and we did need something to replace the destroyed greenhouse.
        The seller when asked to send more tube end caps and bolts, sent me a complete tunnel kit foc so I have plenty of spare tube and a spare cover.
        with the wood frame I made for both ends I will, if the tunnel suits my wife, consider a "proper" tunnel cover though the extra weight of thick poly may just be too much for the lightweight tubing frame ;)
        I'm a retired engineer, so the build interests me marginally more than the growing.
         
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        • infradig

          infradig Gardener

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          I have a 8x6 greenhouse also, I have sourced for three gardens, 3 second hand greenhouses, via gumtree. If you are able to dissemble/rebuild/repair, the going rate is about £40 a pop. But I needed a 'growing on space' quickly.
           
        • flounder

          flounder Gardener

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          That's the best fitting domestic poly I've seen:thumbsup:
          I'm sure they design them to not fit, so they get trashed extra quick
           
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          • Oldman2

            Oldman2 Apprentice Gardener

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            Ive now acquired some decking boards to make a border to stop her raised growing areas spilling down onto the path, I also need to re-lay the path with the pavers I won recently. Never stops does it. ;)
             
          • Oldman2

            Oldman2 Apprentice Gardener

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            The wife is filling it up quite quickly, I thought 5 x 3mtr would take a while but not much space left now. Strawberry pole planters at the end with 5mtr of tomato's behind the screen door.

            polly toms.jpg
             
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