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Garden Centre

How to Make and Use a Polytunnel
A walk-in polytunnel will protect crops from wind, cold and heavy rain just like a cloche but it is a more permanent structure with the advantage that a lot more plants can be protected right up until they are mature. Polytunnels are really for keen vegetable growers, who are prepared to spend at least a couple of hundreds pounds on crop protection and have the space to site them. It has to be said that a polytunnel is not an attractive feature in the garden but it could form part of a vegetable plot or be put up on an allotment. Polytunnels come in various lengths and widths: typical widths are 3m, 4.2m, 5.5m, lengths vary from 3m to 20m long but 10m is about right for most people. The polythene supplied is usually stabilized against ageing from ultra-violet light, a thickness of 720 gauge should last four years. The frame is made of galvanized steel. The ‘door’ to the polytunnel could just be a ‘roll-up’ of polythene or a proper hinged timber frame. Extras available include louvres for improved ventilation in summer and anti-hot spot tape to stop heat from the metal frame causing weak spots in the polythene, such tape is said to extend the life of a cover by a year.
you will need
Polytunnel kit; builders line; weedkiller or sheet mulch; spade.
The best position for a polytunnel is for its longest side to run from north to south, this will help to avoid excessive heat in summer. It is also a good idea to site it where you can get water to it easily. The ground should be cleared of weeds before erecting the polytunnel as weeds grow very fast under the polythene. Mark out the site carefully with a builder’s line, the corners need to be correctly aligned so the final tunnel is straight.
No foundations are needed, instead a trench is dug and foundation tubes provided are sunk into the ground. Each hoop is usually in two sections that slot together at the top.
The polythene cover should be opened out on a warm day so it is flexible enough to be pulled taut over the frame. Anti-hot spot tape can be applied to the top of the hoops. The cover is placed over the hoops and the edges anchored down by burying in the trench. Assemble the door frame as per the instructions supplied, make sure any rough sawn timber edges will not cause snags in the cover.
All plants will grow faster in the polytunnel than outside, that includes weeds, so it is worth using a sheet mulch or a loose organic mulch. A mulch will also conserve water. This is useful since the soil in a polytunnel dries out quickly. Remember to ventilate the structure in summer. Inspect the cover and repair any rips with special tape. Make sure polytunnels are secure in winter or you might find rodents and foxes making their homes in them!
Mark out the rectangular area
Fix the hoops between side boards
Stretch the cover over the hoops and secure it

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