DIY Polytunnel

DIY Polytunnel

One of the reasons I moved from London to the country is so that I could have a proper garden. This is my first garden EVER so I’m trying to keep it small and manageable. My initial plan was to have only a few plants – tomatoes, peppers and potatoes – all planted in containers. But the more I sprout, plant, dig and grow, the more ambitious I get.

A couple weeks ago I put in a raised bed, and I now have loads of seedlings on the go, ready to be planted out: tomatoes, jalapenos, serranos, tomatillos, pumpkin, and cucumber. Unfortunately, aside from the pumpkin, I’ve chosen about the least UK-appropriate vegetables for my garden. And though they might be ready for the raised bed, they are not ready for the morning frosts that we’re STILL getting in Wiltshire.

So I decided to build a mini polytunnel over my raised bed out of a few simple, and very cheap, materials:

  • 25mm MDPE water piping (salvaged from a construction site)
  • polythene sheeting (a few quid from a garden centre)
  • bamboo (already had this around)
  • bricks (leftovers from the clay oven)

I got my inspiration from around the web, particularly
The Door Garden and Alan’s polytunnel.

This was soooo easy. I simply cut the tube to length, cut 6 stakes out of the bamboo and stabbed them in the ground, fit the tubes over the bamboo, covered it with polythene, and used the bricks to secure the sheeting.

I’m not sure how well the brick thing will withstand the wind, and I may need to come up with a more secure way to fasten the sheet, but so far I’m pretty pleased. I’ll put a few plants out there this weekend and see how they survive.

DIY Polytunnel

The real trick will be to get the garden in a state so that it’s easy to take care of while I’m in the States for three weeks ( I’m leaving this Monday and there’s so much to do!). Tim’s taking care of things while I’m away and he’s not nearly as obsessed with this gardening stuff as I am.

So if anyone has any suggestions on prepping a garden for a babysitter, I’m all ears. And any other tips on polytunnels, cloches, tomatoes, peppers, UK gardening, or anything else that this inexperienced gardening noob should know would also be appreciated. =)

Speaking of plants that are climate-appropriate, the native wildflowers that grow here on Clattinger Farm continue to blow my mind. I know the fritillaries were supposed to be “the business”, but these purple orchids are my favorites so far. Their color is like a dream:

Purple orchids on Clattinger Farm
Purple orchids on Clattinger Farm

5 thoughts on “DIY Polytunnel

  1. Jo

    Oh dear, I can see that grass surrounding your raised bed disappearing soon. I started off growing everything in pots and containers and now I’ve got an allotment. Once you get bitten by the bug you end up wanting more room to grow more things. That orchid is just gorgeous, a beautiful colour and so delicate.

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  2. Barbara

    I love your Polytunnel, Monica. I cobble together some metal hoops and Reemay to overwinter greens and get things started in spring. Yours looks so much sturdier. And I am envious of those wild orchids; they are gorgeous! We have Lady Slippers in the woods here in the Northeast, and they are like jewels to find.
    One trick to garden baby-sitting is to mulch things really well with straw and keep them under wraps until your return.
    Also love your salads in the previous post. Quinoa is great, and toasted seeds just top it all off.

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  3. mangocheeks

    Monica,
    I smiled at the list of your seedlings. MMm I def. cannot grow them outdoors in Scotland, but you may have better luck where you are. Look you even have wondrous purple orchids growing outdoors, I had to go to the Botanical garden recently to enjoy them.

    I am liking the DIY polytunnel. My husband made something similar when we had an allotment. Its a great way to recycle. Will be coming back and fro to check out your growing ventures.

    Reply
  4. Monica

    Jo, yes I think I’m going to have to put some pavers in around the raised bed.

    Barbara, glad you like my handiwork. =) And thanks for the tip on the mulch. I didn’t realize! What does the mulch do? Fight off weeds, bugs, frost?

    mangocheeks, not sure if Wiltshire is any better than Scotland. We shall see. Next year I think I’ll be growing more cabbages and roots. =)

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  5. Jo

    I meant that you would be digging the grass up to make room to grow more things, Monica. You never have enough room once the gardening bug grips you.

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