New allotment - polytunnel advice needed

Discussion in 'Poly-Tunnel Gardening' started by Clare B, Nov 15, 2021.

  1. Clare B

    Clare B Apprentice Gardener

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    I’m a proud new keyholder to an overgrown half-plot. I’m desperate to build a polytunnel and have been scouring this forum, getting lots of fantastic ideas about adapting a cheap tunnel. Thank you all for sharing your hard work!

    I’m looking for a bit of advice…

    1. Would it be a completely stupid idea to build a polytunnel now? I have ants in my pants and just want to get going!!! Would I be better waiting until spring - my gut instinct says wait but my heart really doesn’t want to listen.

    2. I’m looking at getting a 6x3m model from Crocodile Trading (they sell on own site as well as Amazon and Ebay) but I have options:

    The supplied plastic cover comes in green or white. Which is best??? Is there really much difference?

    Would it be better to buy the frame only (£50 cheaper) and covering with proper polytunnel sheeting?

    I really look forward to your insight. Cheers, Clare
     
  2. Frazzled

    Frazzled Gardener

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    I'm in a similar situation of taking over disused gardens but they include polytunnels, in various states of repair. I'm no expert in PTs but I've been repairing and dealing with PT issues so perhaps I can offer some thoughts:

    There's really no reason why you shouldn't set up a PT now in the winter. I know I'm doing a lot of upkeep on mine now that there's not much growing. However finding a sunny, dry, wind-free day to set it all up might be a bit hit and miss in winter. You'll want optimum conditions before you start assembling the thing.

    Can't comment on the specific PT you've indicated, but here's some general thinking: PT polythene decay is the biggest problem I'm having. The sun and the weather wear it out and then it requires patching and repair, which is a chore. So, my advice would be to buy the frame separately and then splash out on the very best, most durable, PT-specific polythene you can afford. The hope is you can just put it up once and not have to worry about it for a few years. The lower quality the polythene the sooner you'll have to deal with patching and replacing.

    I share your PT enthusiasm. When they're all set up and working well, the extended growing season is a joy. Plus, I have a corner set up in one of mine as a chill out zone with chair, table and so on to simply sit back and enjoy the garden even in unpleasant weather.

    Good luck!
     
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    • NigelJ

      NigelJ Total Gardener

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      I don't have a polytunnel, however from my experience of greenhouses I know that any protected space very rapidly fills up and you start to think you could do with more because then you could.... So get the largest you can afford and fit into your space.
      As for now or in spring I would do the preparation now so that come spring you are in a position to quickly get the polytunnel up and running. So get the space laid, out any foundations in place you could also get the beds you want in the tunnel, clear o0f weeds and dug over.
       
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      • Clare B

        Clare B Apprentice Gardener

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        Thank you both for your advice, I very much appreciate it. I’m going to buy it now and get it up asap. I’ll just buy the frame and then buy proper PT cover - the extra price will be worth it for the hassle saved down the road, and I was a bit bothered by the environmental impact of quickly having to replace a cheap cover.

        Heart wins - yippee! I’ll post a pic when it’s up.
         
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        • WeeTam

          WeeTam Total Gardener

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          Try and fit new poly sheet on a warm day as it will be easier to get it tight as a drum.
          If your digging youll need to avoid the ground frost too especially if trenching in the poly.
           
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          • gks

            gks Gardener

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            Polytunnel covers will come in different gauges, the heavier duty the sheet, the more difficult it will be to get them taught. We have commercial tunnels and use a 720 gauge sheet, prior to covering we drop the hoops of the tunnel, then after we have fixed the sheet to the wooden rails we jack up the hoops which tensions the sheet. PT covers will start at 120 gauge for domestic tunnels to 800 gauge plus for larger commercial tunnels.

            Make sure you put anti hot spot tape over the hoops and everywhere else the sheet will cover. Try to get the sheet as tight as possible, with a lower gauge sheet it should be straight forward this time of year.
             
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