Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Polytunnel progress

How exciting is this... ??!!??!!??!

A polytunnel for the garden!! Woohoo! :)

 Well, I haven't actually finished it all yet, so I still have a load of hard work to do.... but I can't wait to move my first plants into it as soon as it's ready (and maybe even get a deck chair tucked in the end of it too ;). My plan is to get it finished by the end of february (trying not to rush it), which should be just the right time to start planting it up (maybe even a bit late for one or two things) The kit came from First tunnels, and I was very happy with the service I received.... I rang a couple of times to ask questions and they were excellent. The kit turned up in just a few days, all in perfect condition (couriers are notorious at damaging packages) and all present and correct. They even changed the free book they give you with your purchase for me, as I already had the one they advertised. I shall be using them again for my second one soon! :)

 The construction started in earnest on the 22nd january, when i broke the surface of the plot with my spade :) Two days later and the plot was just about clear. It took a lot of hard work to get the overgrown site ready to accept the foundation tubes (as mentioned in another post :), but I happily got on with it while the thought of that nice new environment i'm creating was in my head :)
 I took drastic action against the weeds on the plot, it's been overgrown and pretty wild for years, and the amount of roots in the ground were unbelievable..... I have never seen nettle roots quite that size before!!!... so out came the knapsack sprayer fully loaded with Glyphosate..... I don't usually like spraying chemicals to be honest, it's not that I consider myself an organic gardener, but I just don't see the need to use them on weeds (or anything else really)... digging and hoeing has the same effect... ok, it takes longer, but it's kinder to the soil and our precious environment. I did however concede defeat on this occasion, as I want to put raised "no dig" beds down either side and don't want all of those pernicious weeds poking through constantly.

 Meanwhile, in the Batcave (my workshop :), some of the tunnel parts were starting to take shape........

The hoops went together first. They are constructed of four pieces each, just screwed together on the joints. There are six of them in total.

 Next came the doors. I had opted for wider doors at both ends to give a bit of extra ventilation.
Most of the timber in the polytunnel door kits comes already cut to size, so it's just a case of screwing and nailing the pieces together... cut a few bits of lathe... staple on the net and plastic to cover the door... hit it with a hammer a few times..... and hey presto, a pair of nicely finished doors!! :) The frames are then simply assembled around the doors, taking care to leave the correct gap so that the finished assembly actually opens and closes :)

 Once I had finished my evening tasks in the Batcave, it was then back outside the following weekend to get the frame up. My aim was to get all of the steel frame up on the 29/30th, so I could then get on with the door frames and raised beds the following weekend.  It took me a while (and 3 tape measures, 2 string lines and a laser level :) to get the foundation tubes in place.... and only then did I realise that my site was sloping from one end to the other (I thought it was nearly level) It was only 200mm or so over the twenty five foot length, but I wasn't happy with it, so I ended up moving a load more of the topsoil to get it just right.

The hoops then just dropped on to the foundation tubes, followed swiftly by the ridge tube which just bolted on with the clamps. Corner braces were fitted to the four corners, and then my two extra "crop bars" bolted into place down the length of the tunnel.  A quick dash round with the drill and some more Tek screws..... GREAT!!!.. all the steelwork is up!!!! It didn't take as long as I thought on my own either.... what shall I do next?? :)
At this point I got carried away, and the order of doing things got a bit mixed up..... I decided to put a few slabs down at one end as I had plenty of time left, which was very exciting..... until I realised that I had to take a couple back up again to put the door frame up!! Oooops. Well this meant that I had to put the door frame up now, just so I could get the slabs back down again :) So... lift slabs... dig trench... insert door frame... cut frame to suit... check door frame for square... backfill... drill... hammer... lay slabs back down... job done!! I love it when a plan nearly comes together :)
So at the end of a busy weekend on the polytunnel, I ended up getting further than I had bargained for... which is fantastic!! Metalwork is up, one door frame is up, and i've started laying the slabs at one end and down the center of the tunnel. A satisfactory weekends work fitted in amidst other tasks in the garden! :)
Next stage will be the other door frame, the raised beds inside and finishing the slabs off, which I hope to complete on the 5/6th February.


  1. Bloody hell mate, how big is your garden ?

  2. Very jealous, still working on the missus to let me have one of these in the garden!!

  3. It's too big Darren.... it's taking all of my spare time to try and get it looking tidy.
    Damo.. tell the missus they are an absolute must... and that you will put her a little paved area in the end of it for a deckchair where she can drink her G&T in the summer!

  4. Well done you! Did you do it all by yourself? Mo

  5. Cheers Mo and Steve.
    Yep, all done by myself so far :)
    Will need some hands to get the cover on soon ;)