Polytunnel Installation - Fitting the polythene

Making Polytunnel Dreams Come True

This year I have decided to stop dreaming and I am going to make my polytunnel reality.

No more doubts about whether I will have enough time to tend to my new indoor garden. No more thoughts of wasted expense or worry about the garden looking like an allotment! Better I put the plot back to good use now that our children have outgrown it and decided they prefer Xboxes and shopping. And what’s more, I’m fed up with worrying – such a waste of time. Time ironically, I could be spending in my polytunnel.

Polytunnel Reality Check

I like a good project. An investigation, some analysis, thought to design and then an award winning implementation – followed of course by an extended and enjoyable period spent admiring and talking about said handy work! But before the ‘winning implementation’ first, a polytunnel reality check.

Greenhouse or Polytunnel?

Internet searches reveal an age old battle of gardener opinion here. So here’s my investigation & results.

Greenhouse vs Polytunnel – Pros & Cons

Polytunnel Greenhouse
Growing season All year All year
Variety of crops Good Good
Aesthetics Okay Nice to look at
Needs a level foundation N (can also cope with slight slope) Y (concrete, slabs)

May give issue with growing directly into soil depending on design.

Portable Y N
Extendable Possible N
Cost vs Growing Space More space with polytunnel. Can also use vertical space for hanging baskets via crop bars. Less
Longevity Polythene needs replacing approx. 5 years. Approx. 30 Years.
Maintenance – Frequency & Cost Tape for repairs. Stands up well to winds. Maybe seasonal replacement of panes (not great with wind)
Light for growing Good. (Polythene diffuses the light). Cucumber & salad appreciate. Excellent (so may need shading). Toms like a lot. Also peppers?
Extends / retains the days heat Yes Yes, but for longer
Condensation More (straight sides help with condensation) Less
Can negate condensation & heat build up (via ventilation) Doors / Net on sides of polytunnel. Manual opening. Doors / Windows / Louvre Vents. Can fit automatic vents.
Humidity (relates to air flow) More Less
Insulation Okay Glass better insulator.
Can collect rain water for watering Yes (slightly tricky) Yes
Position North to South East to West
Safety No glass. Worries with broken glass.
Can artificially heat? Y Y

Comparing the ‘apples’ and ‘pears’ there are key overall similarities related to purpose, but it’s the differences, which are very much personal in their importance, that confirms my original thoughts to a polytunnel: time, cost and safety.

Time: the ease with which to put up and take down the polytunnel.

Cost: a cheaper initial purchase and annual maintenance; more food due to greater space for same cost.

Safety: with teens and pets I don’t want broken glass to dispose of.

So in a ground breaking, landmark decision – it’s a polytunnel!