Recommended Polytunnels?

Polytunnels, cold frames, greenhouses, propagators & more. How to get the best out of yours...

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Westi
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Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Westi » Sun Jun 11, 2017 7:15 pm

It would seem I have been given a wee reprieve with keeping lottie 2 so can indulge myself with what I have wanted for quite a while - a polytunnel! I'm totally confused, even with the KG guide from April!

Can anyone recommend a company you are happy with? Can you explain in an idiots guide what the extra bits are - what cover for the warmer south etc, what anchoring needed into soil, what doors, how long I can expect it to last! My favourite looking tunnel doesn't even put prices on it's website so I doubt not in my £ league, so deffo need some education or can see myself being ripped off!

I'm sure I've asked this before but then the plot was at risk so shelved this idea for the time being but now am feeling optimistic again- & a wee bit excited!
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby robo » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:32 pm

I bought ours from first tunnels I searched loads of different firms before placing the order and have to say I'm happy with it ,ours is a 12 feet x6 feet not as big as some but it was all we are allowed by the council,it is held down by roughly 12 inch square metal plates buried in the ground it has a door each end but one is screwed up as it's tight on next doors tunnel, it has a mesh on the top half of each door which I cover in winter ,I went for the plain cover no anti sun or anything like that , I did have to contact them during the erection but I was impressed with the way my call was handled, stay away from the cheap green things you see on fleebay and amazon ours lasted around nine months , if you need any info or help just p.m. me
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Geoff
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Geoff » Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:09 pm

I'll try and write a more comprehensive reply tomorrow.
I looked at quite a few companies and visited three, all quite close together in Colne area of Lancashire not too far from me. I found First Tunnels the easiest to deal with and their doors were better than the possibly slightly cheaper Premier Tunnels. First advertised a price match so I negotiated a bit off on the basis that I would then spend it on extras, if you see what I mean, so they got the order. The site I selected sloped in both directions, length and width, and they were helpful in telling me how to deal with it. I used what they call ground tubes, you knock them in then build on top (there was a video on their website so I guess there still is), the solution for the slope is different lengths of ground tube.
One key decision is fastening down the edges. That is what I spent as an extra, I bought aluminium base rails. If you send for their catalogue they describe the options and the arguments quite well. I thought they would be easier when the cover needs changing.
Another is crop rails and the whole subject of support. I'll take some photographs. I installed crop rails, battens and wires tensioned with turnbuckles before we put the cover on. It means I have great flexibility for hanging strings from support wires as I rotate the crops around.
Doors are another decision. I am in a windy spot and with the slope I decided hinged doors were going to be impossible. I have a single slider at one end and a double at the other. Don't skimp, they are your ventilation if you go for a simple plastic cover and tunnels get very hot.
I'll take photographs of my ventilation system. The top double doors are ¼" mesh with home made lift out polythene panels so I can vary the ventilation but still keep birds and other critters out. The bottom single door is polythene but with an inner home made hinged mesh door so I vary the ventilation at that end by how much I open the door.
Orientation is debatable if the site doesn't decide it, mine had to be East-West. My wife does most harvesting but after her breast cancer operation has limited reach so I'll show you how I designed my beds so the maximum reach is 2'.
Not sure how you will get on with one on an allotment. They use a lot of water and I have piped it to a hose reel inside. Mine is 30'x15'. You asked about cover life, I haven't had it long enough yet. You need a covering party day to put it on!
That's enough for a start - photographs tomorrow hopefully though I am having PC issues and have a support call with Microsoft booked for tomorrow.
I've never regretted it - great fun.
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Pa Snip » Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:58 am

Although not in the immediate market for a poly tunnel I found both robo's and Geoffs replies helpful.

Two votes in favour of First Tunnels.

One of the surprising things in robo's reply is the admission he needed to call them during erection :lol: but at least it was handled well. :D

Totally agree with his comment about the cheaper (£99 > £150) green "polytunnels". UV breaks them up if the wind doesn't cause them to take off
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Geoff » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:23 pm

Some photographs as promised, rather dull today which doesn’t help.

Base Rails – probably not better than a catalogue picture. I’m not 100% convinced they are cost effective but I haven’t changed a cover yet. Built February 2013.

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Crop Bars etc. – I hope you can see the metal crop bars running across the width and slate battens down the length. Cross wires tensioned with turnbuckles increase the ways to hang the strings for tomatoes etc.

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Doors, Ventilation – I made frames to fit the spaces in the doors then ‘glazed’ them with tunnel plastic. I lift them out for ventilation (small upper ones and larger lower ones) which leaves the netting to keep things out.

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Geoff
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Geoff » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:29 pm

Doors, Ventilation – continued

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Here is a view of the bottom door partly open to show how this works. It also shows I made a poor job of pleating the bottom end polythene, need to read the instructions for this carefully and do better than I did. (my wife once shut me in our big greenhouse by fastening the door on autopilot as she left so I have made it so the tunnel bottom door opens from the inside so I can always escape!)

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Layout – I haven’t made raised beds but I have made terraced beds because of the slope which are almost the same. As I said I have made everything accessible within 2’. The beds run North-South which seems to work well. When I am digging them I take out a good barrow load of soil, that I use for making potting composts, then dig in 2 to 2½ barrow loads of compost or manure. The beds settle back to about the same level.

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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Geoff » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:32 pm

General views – here are couple of views of how it is planted at the moment and the daunting view of the kit as delivered. I have some work in progress photos but this is more than enough for now!

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Westi
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Westi » Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:59 pm

Geoff that is so helpful, thank you very much!

I now have a better understanding of the extra bits & totally agree with the crop bars, very useful and added support to the overall structure I expect. Think I will go for the base rail like yours also. I think I will be freaking out a bit when it comes with those wee packages - definitely not going to let the lads have any lager before they start! :)

Will measure out my space some evening this week to sort out the size & review their site. Thanks again Geoff!
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Pa Snip » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:39 pm

Wow Geoff that sure is one hell of a comprehensive set of pics and explanation.

BRILLIANT !!!!

I admire your tenacity at posting that many pics when you have the hassle limitation of only posting a maximum of 3 at a time.
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The danger when people start to believe their own publicity is that they often fall off their own ego.

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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby robo » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:45 pm

Westi they will do a complete package ,you prepare the area they will do the rest if the thought of doing it yourself frightens you ,I don't know the cost but it's worth considering
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Westi » Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:07 pm

Hi robo!
They will build it as well? Wow that would be fab & probably worth a bit extra to have a professional lasting finish rather than the 'never done this before this could be fun' lads finish! I can see why you rate this company!

Getting more excited by the day!
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Pa Snip » Tue Jun 13, 2017 11:30 pm

Is the group ready to cope with westi getting excited !! :roll: :lol:
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The danger when people start to believe their own publicity is that they often fall off their own ego.

At least travelling under the guise of the Pa Snip Enterprise gives me an excuse for appearing to be on another planet
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby robo » Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:18 am

Westi Waite till you see the price then you will be speechless
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Geoff » Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:06 am

That was what worried me. I have thought that I wouldn't tackle a recover myself. Even polytunnel gardening would be difficult withot an arm and a leg.
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Re: Recommended Polytunnels?

Postby Westi » Wed Jun 14, 2017 8:43 pm

OK! I'm going to faint then at that building cost, especially being so far away from the source!

Back to the lager idea then! It will be fine, they are nice lads! My kitchen & bathroom are fine & that was several cases. Must admit I'm worried about the pleating though - but who knows big thumbs might turn out handy if there is a bit of a breeze!
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