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Why Buy a Polytunnel

Learn about Polytunnels and their benefits




Why Buy A Polytunnel

building | grow your own | greenhouse | smallholding

Many small home or allotment gardeners own a greenhouse however, if you intend to be self sufficient in fruit and vegetables you should really consider purchasing a Polytunnel. Leaving your crops to the vaguaries of the weather is always a risk, and a warm covered plot extends your growing season enormously and also increases the number of different varieties of crops that you can grow.

What is a Polytunnel


Polytunnel

Basically speaking a polytunnel is constructed from a metal framed semi-circular tunnel covered in hard wearing polythene with UV inhibitors to maximise its lifetime. Over 90% of light is transmitted through the polythene, and the light is diffused which prevents plants from shading one another. An enormous quantity of air is enclosed by a polytunnel and so it stays warm much longer than a greenhouse and also does not suffer from wild fluctuations in temperature in the summer. Inside a polytunnel it is possible to recreate a mediterranean climate and therefore grow exotic fruits and vegetables in your own garden. If bubble insulation is used (i.e. recycled bubble wrap), it is possible to ensure a frost free winter and an even longer growing season. The bubble wrap and be removed in the spring and then reused the following winter.

Advantages of Polytunnels

One of the major advantages of the polytunnel is cost. For the price of very small good quality greenhouse, it is possible to buy a polytunnel of four or five times the size and therefore cultivate many more crops. Polytunnels are not as permanent as greenhouses and therefore can quite easily be moved around the garden as required. It is for example much easier to move the polytunnel than it is to remove and replace the soil within a greenhouse: essential if you do not want disease to build up when you grow the same crop for a few years in the same place. (see our article on crop rotation.)

Inside a Polytunnel

Disadvantages of Polytunnels

There are of course disadvantages of polytunnels over greenhouses. Firstly a greenhouse is much more attractive than a giant tube of polythene. Secondly, a polytunnel really needs to be located in a sheltered spot out of the wind or you risk losing it and all of your crops in the event of a strong storm. Thirdly, a polytunnel is much more difficult (or expensive) to ventilate than a greenhouse, and so the levels of humidity inside can promote the proliferation of fungal diseases amongst your crops. Finally, a polytunnel is vulnerable to playing children, excited cats, and stray lawnmowers/strimmers. Once you have torn the polythene of a polytunnel, no amount of taping and fixing will hold the damaged area together for long.

NEW - Click here to visit our Polytunnel Directory with details of suppliers of polytunnels and related accessories.

NEW - Click here to read our new article Make Your Own DIY Polytunnel where you will learn how to make a polytunnel for up to 50% less than the cost of purchasing one commercially.

Shopping List

Here are some useful links to relevant products:
polytunnel
hot spot tape



Article Published: 16:12, 17th Sep 2008


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