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    • CommentAuthorludite
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2008
     
    Hi there. I've spent the morning investigating polytunnels and wondered if the gang had answers to the following:

    Guttering. I'm worried about rainwater run off. Will it make the ground around the poly tunnel too boggy? Has anyone tried the stick on guttering I've sen advertised? Should I spend the extra and get a polytunnel with proper guttering so I can harvest the rainwater?

    Any opinions of the 'gothic' arch as compared to the traditional arch? Supposed to minimise condensation drips and be more aerodynamic?

    What type of polythene do you advise. Apparently there is a thermal variety. Does it work?

    Best size? I seem to remember joe.e recommends the 14 ftx30 ft size.

    Would one big polytunnel be better than 3 small ones?

    Are side ventilation bits necessary if you leave the doors open (with mesh on them to keep the insects out)

    It seems I could pay between £2,000 and £6,000 for one. Is this usual? (was thinking of a 7 meter wide one by 14+ meters long.

    Do I need planning permission?

    I might have to pay approx £1,600 if they come to install it. Everyone says how easy it is to DIY. Any pitfalls I should watch out for?

    Thanks in anticipation. Ludite.
    • CommentAuthorjoe.e
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2008 edited
     
    Don't worry about rain, but put it on a well-drained site if possible. Poke something through the plastic underground around the edges after it's all finished to make drainage holes.

    Bigger is better, basically - less surface area for the volume inside. Gets warmer in winter.

    I put wide mesh across one door permanently to keep out birds and cats, and hang loose mesh across the other. Slugs are bad - guttering across the doorway, set into the ground, filled with 'organic' slug pellets, and the legs of your propagating table stood in bowls of pellets. Put your chickens in there (if you have them) between crops to clear it out and convert slugs into eggs - an excellent trade.

    Depending on what you're growing, open the doors by day and shut them by night is usual. Definitely, absolutely must open them every day in summer.

    Easy-ish to DIY with a few big blokes. Is it £1600 just for the installation? Seems like a lot. 14' x 30' is a days work for two people to get up. I helped put up a 70' x 20' in a day once, but that was with two people who really knew what they were doing, and we'd already done a bit of the digging.
    if you do put it up yourself, you need a warm sunny day to put the plastic on. It softens it and makes it possible to get it on good and tight. Chafe is the primary enemy of the polytunnel - if there's any movement of the plastic over the frame it will wear it away quite quickly, so you need the cover to go on good and tight. Use brooms to push the cover up and over the frame - makes it a lot easier. Set the bottoms of the doorframe poles a bit out from the end frame of the tunnel, so that the doors are sloped outwards-makes them open freely and stay open by themselves, and it makes the pleating of the cover at the ends a little bit easier. That's the hard bit, by the way.

    I hope I'm not repeating myself here - I may have said all this before when this subject came up. That's a good big tunnel you're planning- you'll grow loads in there. I put two courgette plants in mine this year to see how they'd do. They went nuts - there's a marrow jungle in there now.
    • CommentAuthorludite
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2008
     
    BRILLIANT! Thanks joe.e. I was thinking that bigger is better, but I was concerned about air flow - possibly getting too hot in the middle of the tunnel. By my calculations you also get more value for money by going as big as possible.

    I thought the cost for installation was quite high too, which is why I'm certainly considering the DIY route.

    I seem to remember you recommending putting padding around the metal structure to stop the plastic rubbing. I'm assuming you mean something a little like lagging round water pipes?

    Glad to hear about the 'warmer in winter' bonus of going bigger.

    Good tip about the guttering for slugs - would salt work?

    Getting v excited about getting one. :bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorjoe.e
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2008
     
    You buy this white tape that goes on the frame to protect it. It's the heat, too - the frames get very hot in the sun and soften the plastic til it rips.
    The bigger ones seem generally more controllable for heat - no problems with too much heat, I don't think. Note edited message above with more tips... Small Daughter was climbing all over me earlier so I had to keep it terse.
    • CommentAuthorludite
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2008
     
    Ahhh, so that's what they mean by 'hot spot' tape. It makes sense now:smile:

    I'm going as big as possible because I'm hoping then I can do better crop rotations/chickens/ storage? studio space, party place clothes drying (depending on humidity).

    My foray into veg growing this year has been 50% sucessful. My 'fine beans' in the conservatory were great and I only really had 5 or so plants in a pot. the mange tout in the yard were great too. The peppers and chillis (in conservatory) have still to be harvested - but are starting to change colour but the courgettes - only one seed germinated and died after it had flowered 2 or 3 times. Don't they need to have plants of both sexes?

    Had problems with caterpillars. I removed the smooth green ones, but got all soft and mushy over the big brown hairy ones and let them carry on eating my plants. . . . . don't know what type of butterflies they make.

    Grandpa found a massive moist caterpillar in his garden with big eyes this year. Any idea what it might be?

    I hear you about the kids! I did a 'music time' session with mine before bed it was great.
    • CommentAuthorjoe.e
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2008
     
    Courgettes grow flowers of both sexes on each plant. Often the first few flowers are males, so they don't form courgettes. Once you've got both types of flower coming then you're in business. It can help to have plants close together. That's why you don't want to screen out insects - you need them to pollinate stuff.
    • CommentAuthorTheDoctor
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2008
     
    i take it you are only putting courgettes in a poly tunnel to force them early?
    They never struggle outside up here in Scotland. We had so many i was sick of them this year, and we have forgotten what the sun looks like!
    • CommentAuthorjoe.e
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2008
     
    I put them in the tunnel as an experiment - I had a bit of bed dug over and ready in there just when someone gave me a couple of seedlings, so I thought I'd put them in and see what happened. They don't struggle outdoors here, but they did even better in the tunnel. If you had the tunnel space, I think it would be worth growing them in there because the output per plant is that much better so there's less digging per courgette, if you see what I mean.
    • CommentAuthorwelshboy
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2008
     
    We have a redundant silage clamp- concrete floor 2m high walls 60ft north south 30ft east west.
    I was thinking of converting it with raised beds and placing some A frames east west( have seven spare from an old barn)
    What should I cover it with (thinking about corrugated clear plastic) ?
    Would it have enough light? -the south side is open-no wall so a clear wall could be built there.
    Any thoughts ?
    • CommentAuthorStuartB
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2008 edited
     
    <blockquote><It seems I could pay between £2,000 and £6,000 for one. Is this usual? (was thinking of a 7 meter wide one by 14+ meters long. I might have to pay approx £1,600 if they come to install it. Everyone says how easy it is to DIY. Any pitfalls I should watch out for?</blockquote>

    You can get a 14x30 for about £500, http://www.polytunnels.com/products.asp?isbaseunit=1 unless you are planning a top of the range professional jobby!
    • CommentAuthorjoe.e
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2008
     
    Posted By: welshboyWe have a redundant silage clamp- concrete floor 2m high walls 60ft north south 30ft east west.
    I was thinking of converting it with raised beds and placing some A frames east west( have seven spare from an old barn)
    What should I cover it with (thinking about corrugated clear plastic) ?
    Would it have enough light? -the south side is open-no wall so a clear wall could be built there.
    Any thoughts ?

    Sounds great - should be plenty of light on most of it. I would have thought corrugated plastic would do fine. The north wall will be a really good, warm place to train things up - great for tomatoes. The A-frames would give you lots of strong points over head to fit irrigation pipes to. Melons would do well in there too - again, useful to have walls and overhead beams to train them up. It might conceivably be worth insulating the outside face of the north wall, so that it stays warmer overnight.
    • CommentAuthorTheDoctor
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2008
     
    are the walls buried, or in the open air?

    if they are buried, probably no need to insulate

    a big roof like that is going to collect a lot of rain water, so good harvesting system for irrigation would be a plan.
    • CommentAuthorwelshboy
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2008
     
    East wall is buried to 1.5m ground level.North to 1m sloping up 45degrees.
    West 0.5 m sloping up 45 degrees.
    We have our own water supply which can run by gravity to the silo for irrigation.
    I thought to backfill the north side of the north wall with earth/subsoil as a semi insulation.
    West side is very exposed but the west wind is usually mild or should I backfill that ?
    • CommentAuthorTheDoctor
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2008
     
    wouldn't hurt, if you have piles of stuff sitting about.
    i wouldn't bother if it involves distance or serious digging, but if there is a spoil heap kicking about.....
    • CommentAuthorludite
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2008
     
    Do you even need to cover a space like that over welshboy? We have the remains of a victorian greenhouse. It was partially submerged and had a row of potting sheds along the north side. All that remains now is the south facing wall and the raised beds - looks a bit like the old blue peter sunken garden. In the summer time it is almost too hot to bear due to the radiating heat from the wall and concrete paths. One of the grape vines still grows there - but we've never managed to get grapes off it since the glass came down.
    • CommentAuthorludite
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2008
     
    Thanks for the link stuartB. I did try this site, but I discovered that when all the 'added extras', ie, the essential bits were added on, the cost for a 14x60 ft long one was around £1,200. (about £1.45 per square foot)

    I have found a site which can do me a 20x60 which seems to give me all I need for £1,643 - about £1.36 per square foot.

    Looks like it will take 2-3 weeks for delivery, and, like everyone else, they will be putting up their prices soon, so I have been advised to buy a.s.a.p - but there again, they would say that wouldn't they:wink:
    • CommentAuthorwelshboy
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2008
     
    Many thanks to Joe.e,The Doctor and Ludite for your input.
    Ludite you might want to visit this site
    http://www.overthegardengate.net/UserPages/pp_view.asp?FName=polytunnel&Page=1
    and this one for sheets http://www.firsttunnels.co.uk/polythene.asp
    To answer your question about covering over I am a bit of a tomato plant myself and like pottering in the warmth.
    • CommentAuthorludite
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2008
     
    welshboy. Thats a great site. . . . . . makes me wonder what on earth I was thinking, buying an 'off the shelf' jobby. It came in the nick of time, I was going to order mine in the next day or so (from your second link as a matter of fact).

    So glad to hear that I'm not the only 'tomato plant' - hence my reason for wanting a polytunnel, but I assure you, our 'derelect' green house area is pleasant to work in for most of the year - and when the weather is really bad I consider the area is 'dormant' any way.

    Would the silage dump have been orientated to make the most of solar energy in the first place - so be warmer? would you be better off having a polytunnel of your own somewhere else, then transferring crops to your open 'silage' area during the growing season?
    • CommentAuthorwelshboy
    • CommentTimeOct 2nd 2008
     
    we have 20 acres so transferring out is not a problem- I just want somewhere to potter in on cold/wet days(most of the year it seems !)
    the silage clamp would have been orientated for practical stock rearing/housing reasons not solar
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