polytunnel advice ?

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Tom Good
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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176646Post A&A
Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:40 am

Maggie: Hmm - yes it's probably quite hard to explain without photos but the clips are the key. I'll take a close-up of a couple today if I remember. Essentially, once the polythene is draped over the frame you snap some clips on one end. Then it's a case of pull tight and 'clip'. With these clips there's absolutely no give. The polythene is more likely to tear than to pull through. I slit the corners to the height I want to be able to roll up to and clip the end polythene tightly in place. Lastly, I clip the polythene on the side bars (pulled tight of course). The key to this being so simple is that you're able to pull the material very tightly without any help from anyone else! At the end, I just go around, popping off the odd clip, pulling a little tighter and reattaching it.

It's all easy enough to do with no breeze, but even in a little wind, it at least holds it secure whilst you work.

The clips are cheap btw & come in various sizes. They're just very hard plastic - I bought 12 the other day to secure the polythene to the door and they cost less than €1. I should add, I can get clips which fit 20mm polypipe perfectly for those that go down that route. If they do them here, they probably do them over there somewhere.

Tip: When I put the footings in, I inserted some long eye-bolts into the concrete. This gives me the ability to tie the (over-the-top) cables to something solid. As I said previously, we use these cables to pull the polythene down onto the frame - it stops it buffeting in the wind, tightening it further - once more reducing wear.
Last edited by A&A on Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Andy

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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176647Post Green Aura
Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:59 am

Ah, that might be our problem - no clips. I don't think we've got anywhere to clip to. Our polytunnel has a wooden door frame and the cover is secured by nailing a batten over the top - the problem we had was getting it in place to fix the first batten.

Of course, sod's law being what it is and all - because of the damage caused by the winds, we have to replace our cover more often - it's done 18 months and should see out this winter, with a couple of repairs, but I can't see it lasting a third. Fingers crossed :iconbiggrin:
Maggie

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Millymollymandy
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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176666Post Millymollymandy
Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:21 pm

A&A wrote:No, you don't need it at all in summer - although here everyone does still use them for planting late tomatoes etc. Whilst it's very hot here, we had our first frost in mid October this year; it's well worth making use of it to prolong the season. It doesn't need to get that hot inside. I found that with the sides rolled up (they roll up all the way to the first horizontal frame bar), it was little different inside to outside temperature-wise. It's quite an interesting climate to deal with. We get a reasonable amount of snow most years until the end of March and it'll get down below -5C on occasion through the winter. Summer highs of around 40C. It's why Umbria is known as the 'Green heart of Italy'. You definitely need a polytunnel to get anything much over winter. I should add, that what it also gives us is the ability to start seeding in modules in mid/late January - a 2 month head-start on what would be possible otherwise - that's a lot of food ;)
That's about what I'd be using one for, early spring and autumn growing. But I manage perfectly OK with two cold frames for my spring sowings.

What do you grow in your tunnel in winter though that can't survive outside? We have colder weather than that (sometimes) and I have no problems with all the usual hardy winter veg.
boboff wrote:Oh and just for MMM, :hugish: (thanks)
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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176720Post A&A
Thu Nov 12, 2009 3:56 pm

Winter salad generally: Cocarde, Rocket (salad & sky), Spinach, Mibuna, Mitzuna, Rapa, Bietole and my Ginger lives in there. Of course, some of those do fine outdoors, but the growth rate is predictably slower with most and almost non-existent with others during the cold months. Indoors, they produce heathily - we think there's something wonderful about winter salads :) I haven't really developed the outside area yet - I've been so busy getting the polytunnel organized, so apart from cabbage, bietole, parsnips, peas, garlic & onions, there's not really much out there. Thus far, we've been looked after by our neighbours who willingly give us whatever they've got.
Andy

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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176734Post Millymollymandy
Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:35 pm

Out of interest do the Italians eat parsnips? Or did you have to buy seed in England? In France you can get seed (only one variety though) but the French don't eat them and in fact don't really know what they are/what to do with them - apart from the oldies who wouldn't touch them with a barge pole because they are considered cattle fodder that they had to eat during the war!
boboff wrote:Oh and just for MMM, :hugish: (thanks)
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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176746Post A&A
Thu Nov 12, 2009 5:08 pm

No, they don't have a clue what they are. There's an Italian name for them, but it means nothing to any of them as far as I've found out. We brought the seed over from the UK & delicious they are too.
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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176750Post grahamhobbs
Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:01 pm

I grow spring type cabbages and broccoli (calabrese) in succession in the polytunnel throughout the winter.
Land cress is a very easy salad (in fact can grow all year) for a water cress type flavour. Purslane is another salad.
I grow a whole selection of salads and lettuces, not merely winter types.
Following Odsox advice also growing peas this year
Have tried carrots but no real luck

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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176752Post A&A
Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:34 pm

When do you sow the Broccoli (& peas) Graham? I'm trying to figure out when the latest time is I can get stuff to germinate & grow since we've a good couple of months extra here in terms of heat, but similar diminishing light levels obviously. I'm trying as wide a variety of possible in the space I've got (whilst still being productive enough) to try and build up some rapid knowledge of sowing times.
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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176754Post contadino
Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:46 pm

A&A wrote:When do you sow the Broccoli (& peas) Graham? I'm trying to figure out when the latest time is I can get stuff to germinate & grow since we've a good couple of months extra here in terms of heat, but similar diminishing light levels obviously. I'm trying as wide a variety of possible in the space I've got (whilst still being productive enough) to try and build up some rapid knowledge of sowing times.
Down here, where climate is pretty similar, we're putting peas & fava in now. Bit late for broccoletti, but you might be able to still pick up some seedlings. That's for outdoor growing.

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Tom Good
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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176836Post A&A
Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:10 am

Yup, it's been the same here - based obviously on the lunar calendar (I'd get a roasting from all the neighbours if I didn't pay attention to it! ;) ) I'm wondering about indoors - I hadn't considered peas or broccoli inside the tunnel & there's a little space yet.
Andy

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Re: polytunnel advice ?

Post: # 176951Post A&A
Fri Nov 13, 2009 1:55 pm

As promised a couple of images showing the clips I keep talking about.

The first two are very slightly different sizes (35/36mm) They're from different shops here - I guess someone got the mold wrong. They both fit my tubular structure - one being just slightly tighter than the other. The small one fits 20mm pipe - I use it on the side rails, door frame and it fits polypipe very snuggly too. There's also a larger size available which fits the scaffolding poles I used for the footings.

Image

In use on the frame. We use cast off bits of polythene to help slow down wear where the clips grip.
Image

The cables are tied into the eye bolt in the footing and run either side of each hoop. To keep the polythene taught and prevent buffeting in the wind.
Image

Just to give an example of how they run across the top of the polytunnel and how they pull it down onto the frame. Whilst it looks like they're running across a corner of the horizontal strut (which wouldn't be good!) it's an illusion - the square edge is flat to the polythene.

Image

Hope that can be of some constructive help to someone out there.
Andy

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