Polytunnel Advice for Non-Settled Folk!

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Silva

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Polytunnel Advice for Non-Settled Folk!
« on: February 11, 2020, 20:17 »
Hello all.

Unfortunately after only a year of (admittedly pretty good) service my Foxhunter 'blowaway' polytunnel was destroyed in the recent storms and I am looking to replace it. While I would love to invest in a proper tunnel from a reputable company like Northern Polytunnels etc because of studying/short-term work and rental contracts etc I frequently need to move house and it is difficult to get the balance right between investing in decent materials/equipment and being in a position to move from town to town without having to try to cart a huge amount of things with me!

Fortunately it's likely I'll be in my current location for a couple more years now (I've just started a PhD) but I'm still not sure it's worth investing several hundred pounds in a permanent structure when I will probably have to move when I start working again- not to mention my budget being on the tighter side! However I'm also not keen on buying a new tunnel every year or two, not only because of the cost, but also because it's sad to see so much material converted into rubbish. I know this storm was particularly bad, but looking online it does seem rare for people to report these types of tunnel lasting more than a year or two. However, I do at least plan to recycle some of my broken polytunnel frame as a fruit cage so it won't go completely to waste!

So my thinking currently is to purchase a slightly more expensive 'blowaway' model that claims to be stronger than the usual (i.e. https://www.crocodiletrading.co.uk/polytunnels/) and risk it falling apart anyway or try to construct something myself. The latter is preferable but my DIY skills are very limited and I think I would struggle to construct a door frame etc- but who knows until you try I suppose! I would also need to buy most of the material as my opportunities for salvaging off building sites etc are fairly limited so I am uncertain as to how much money this would save. I'm still tempted to use my savings for a proper tunnel, but I do put a lot of my spare money into improving my plot as it is and after a point it does get difficult to justify when you know it's not long-term!

I'm keen to hear if anyone has any opinions on this, particularly building your own tunnel from scratch or experience with companies like the one linked above which claim they offer a stronger option. I'm willing to pay a little more to get better quality, but it does seem like the choice is between very cheap and flimsy structures and quality permanent structures with little in between. More broadly, I'm also interested in hearing from anybody who has a passion for growing but has to balance it with a mobile lifestyle and limited budgets!

Thanks and sorry for the long post  :)

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Plot 1 Problems

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Re: Polytunnel Advice for Non-Settled Folk!
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2020, 21:05 »
My initial thought would be to buy one of the cheaper options but make sure you tether it and add in support to the frame.
I had a cheap one to start with and to secure it I sank a good couple of feet of timber into the ground at each corner and then cable tied the frame to the timber (decent strong ties though, not the little ones!)
As for the frame, I tied in garden canes against the main bars to add a little more rigidity to the frame than the thin metal would provide alone. This withstood some pretty bad gales and even stood up to a half foot of snow on the top.
Not the clearest pics attached but I hope you can see what I did!
DSC00005.JPG
DSC00023.JPG

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Silva

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Re: Polytunnel Advice for Non-Settled Folk!
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2020, 10:33 »
Thanks Plot1 that is a really helpful tip and feasible for even the constructionally-challenged like me ;). I will show your post to the other half and see what we can come up with  :)

I just wish they sold covers for cheaper models that weren't made of that green-squared plastic stuff. It has such a short use-life and doesn't seem to let as much light through.

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Plot 1 Problems

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Re: Polytunnel Advice for Non-Settled Folk!
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2020, 10:52 »
That one there was a clear one, they do exist! I found this one on ebay, but if you look around you'll probably find a better deal elsewhere. The green ones do have an advantage in preventing plant scorching in the height of summer, but I opted for the clear and just covered the top of the tunnel with mesh on the hottest days to protect my crops.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Transparent-Polytunnel-Clear-Green-House-Steel-Tube-Outdoor-Walk-In-Plant-Cover/223783649909?hash=item341a8b8275:g:0lEAAOSwfzJd6qUU


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jezza

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Re: Polytunnel Advice for Non-Settled Folk!
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2020, 20:30 »
Hello I have seen a poly tunnel made out of an old trampoline frame the frame was parted scaffolding poles used as uprights and the curved frames placed on top there's going to be a lot of trampolines about   jezza

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Wellington

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Re: Polytunnel Advice for Non-Settled Folk!
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2020, 18:06 »
Thanks Plot1 that is a really helpful tip and feasible for even the constructionally-challenged like me ;). I will show your post to the other half and see what we can come up with  :)

I just wish they sold covers for cheaper models that weren't made of that green-squared plastic stuff. It has such a short use-life and doesn't seem to let as much light through.

I am considering buying the one in the picture above, and then perhaps next year buying another, saving the cover as ‘spare’ and covering it with bird netting to use as a brassica cage. Or even a fruit cage. I think reinforcing is a good idea. The metal is often very flimsy on these things. I have considered a ‘proper” polytunnel before, but I’d never get the thing up on my own. I wish you could pay for erection (my allotment neighbour has a double plot with a proper tunnel and two lovely sheds. I’m green with envy!)

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Plot 1 Problems

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Re: Polytunnel Advice for Non-Settled Folk!
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2020, 18:43 »
Thanks Plot1 that is a really helpful tip and feasible for even the constructionally-challenged like me ;). I will show your post to the other half and see what we can come up with  :)

I just wish they sold covers for cheaper models that weren't made of that green-squared plastic stuff. It has such a short use-life and doesn't seem to let as much light through.

I am considering buying the one in the picture above, and then perhaps next year buying another, saving the cover as ‘spare’ and covering it with bird netting to use as a brassica cage. Or even a fruit cage. I think reinforcing is a good idea. The metal is often very flimsy on these things. I have considered a ‘proper” polytunnel before, but I’d never get the thing up on my own. I wish you could pay for erection (my allotment neighbour has a double plot with a proper tunnel and two lovely sheds. I’m green with envy!)
Northern tunnels will install for you if required. I bought the cover for my current polytunnel from them and I'm very happy with it!

https://www.northernpolytunnels.co.uk/polytunnel-construction

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Wellington

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Re: Polytunnel Advice for Non-Settled Folk!
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2020, 22:16 »
Really?  How very interesting. I shall bookmark that. I’m currently thinking of mortgaging my soul and getting a lean to greenhouse put up, but I might go back to the polutunnel plan if you can get them installed.

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Silva

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Re: Polytunnel Advice for Non-Settled Folk!
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 16:58 »
In the end I decided to order this one: https://www.crocodiletrading.co.uk/4m-x-2m-13-x-7-polytunnel-1125/
I went for this one as it claims to be strongest in class, with extra frame components and a door. I'm also hoping that, being white, it might let more light through and cast less of a shadow. It is slightly larger than my old one so hopefully I will have room for peppers this year! If the cover fails after a year or 2 as expected I will look into fitting proper polytunnel plastic to it rather than buying another cover.

I will be attempting to fortify it as suggested by Plot1 and will update (providing my attempt is somewhat successful ;))

If anyone has had negative experiences with this brand please don't tell me now as it's too late :lol: :lol: :lol:



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