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Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:24 pm
by stargazer
We made our own polytunnel this spring after mulling it over for a year and it has been brilliant. It cost £75 to make (the price of the plastic) but for that we have a tunnel 12ft by 8ft which is solid and producing lots of food.

I started last year by aquiring some lengths of the blue alkathene water pipe. I have already played about with shorter lengths of this to make a netting barrier over my strawberries.

You need to get hold of broomhandles or the equivalent and put these in good and deep into the soil then the water pipe slides straight on. We have heavy clay soil and put them in about 2ft, I don't know how well that would work with very sandy soil but ours are very stable, especially once the whole thing is completed.

Obviously you need to plan a bit and decide a good spot and size as it isn't very movable. Ours is shaded by trees but at least it doesn't get too hot that way and is on a north-south axis to get what sun it can (we are in Scotland, have to try our best!).

We had an existing bed in this spot so I put some old (free!) slabs down one side for a path.

I spent a morning measuring out the site and cutting the broomhandles to length. These got knocked in with a large rubber mallet then I put the blue pipes over to form hoops and made sure they were all at the same height.

For the two ends of the tunnel we wanted something a bit more stable than the water pipe as we get a lot of heavy winds. Hubbie got a scaffolding bar that he bent for the far end. Not easy to get hold of but I am sure other things would work fine, you could always use some lengths of wood to help support the alkathene.

The north facing end we made from wood and put a door in it, the whole thing is attached to a couple of concreted in posts. This worked well as the wood and the slabs tend to hold the heat and so help keep the temperature more stable.

The next day my labourer, sorry, husband dug trenches around the two sides and the bottom for the plastic to go into.

The only thing left was to put the plastic on!! This went on a lot easier than I had thought, I had visions of comedy routines happening.
We arranged it on and then cut it to size, leaving on about 4ft of plastic extra which was then wrapped around metal poles before putting them in the trenches and then putting the soil back in. This pulled the plastic nice and tight. The bottom end the plastic was folded neatly before the soil went in and it looks fine. Around the door we folded it back inside the tunnel and I used the repair tape to stick it to itself. I don't think this will last forever but it is good so far, six months later. For the rest of the door end we used lengths of wood to hold the plastic down over the outside and screwed them down. Polytunnel finished!!!

It may not be as smart as a bought one but it looks fine and saved us how many hundreds?

I have used some of the left over water pipes to make framework for my cucumbers, I pushed them into the soil them tied them at the top. We have already had some heavy winds and the tunnel coped without a problem. The tomatoes have gone crazy and the courgette plant is a monster!

some more photos at .....

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:08 pm
by boboff
That is excellent.

Where did you get the plastic and what "spec" is it? Did you bother with the sun scorch tape stuff?

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:11 pm
by stargazer
I got the plastic from "First Tunnels" their website is quite good as it gives you a calculator on it to work out what size of plastic. I got the thermal anti fog one. The anti-hot spot tape I got as it was about an extra £10 and they say it gives you an extra year on the plastic. I have got quite a lot of plastic left over, enough to make a few big cloches or a wee tunnel I reckon.

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:45 pm
by witchstorm
That looks brilliant, we're hoping to do something similar for next year.

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:33 pm
by Squirrel46
Well that's a few questions answered on my first visit!
I'm about to turn a raised bed project into a small polytunnel, my worries are over, cheers! :sunny:

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:59 pm
by A&A
That's a great job with the polytunnel Stargazer & a very resourceful way of doing it.

One tip that may help some out - fleece instead of hotspot tape works great. Everyone uses it over here. It's extremely cheap to buy in large quantities, is white (reflective) and does a great job of preventing the rubbing of the polythene against the harder frame. Cut it into strips like bandages and wrap the framework. Fix it where necessary with a bit of white electrician's tape or hotspot tape.

If anyone is thinking about putting up a polytunnel and dithering - just do it - you'll never look back!

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:43 am
by iks
I only have a small garden as I don't have a huge space but some times I use smaller polytunnels. I got the idea from this guide:

I hope is useful for any body else as it is for me.

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:16 am
by becks77
Thanks for the link, that's a brilliant site

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:28 pm
by stargazer
I thought that I would give a wee update on the polytunnel after the extreme winter!

The one worry we had was that it would not cope with strong winds. Well, it was fine with the winds but the snow did affect it.

We had snow here most days, the garden had a good couple of feet of it for weeks, so I had to keep brushing it off the tunnel. At one point (after being away for a day and a half) it caved in a bit in the middle and the central two hoops had moved about. It did look a bit sad but it was easily fixed the next day. I was thinking of wiring the hoops together in a line so that they are all joined up, might get round to it for next winter.

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:04 pm
by happyhippy
Your poly tunnel looks fab does'nt it?Just goes to show what you can do when your put your mind to it!

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:58 pm
by Henwoman
Just a thought. You could insert scaffold poles into the ground first and put the blue alkathene piping straight into them, making the bottom more stable perhaps. It's a brilliant idea!

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:43 pm
by stargazer
That would be more solid, our soil is like concrete anyway so the wood worked fine for us. It is still looking good this spring after two hard winters, not bad!

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:36 pm
by EarthTongue
Hi Stargazer,

I like the simplicity (and relative low cost) of your polytunnel. What gauge pipes did you use? 25mm/32mm?

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:22 pm
by stargazer
I just checked, it is the 32mm

Re: Make your own polytunnel cheap!

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:52 pm
by Mrs H
Welldone!! This looks fantastic! I'm going to have to give it a go!!! Xx