raspberryfool: (Gardening)
[personal profile] raspberryfool
After the successes of previous years, I decided that my tomato shelter—which is intended to keep my plants dry—should be a little more ambitious this year. I'd love a permanent greenhouse or polytunnel, but there's a downside to its permanence. I rotate my crops between the garden beds, hoping to avoid (or at least minimise) disease and pest problems, so a fixed structure didn't seem appropriate for me. My tightwad personality also won't easily allow me to spend upwards of £100 on something that won't make me a penny in cash and only a modest saving in produce. So I decided to build my own!

Using the principle of using existing materials, I got to work in early April. For the roof structures I used some old, redundant hosepipe which hasn't seen action since the 1990s. Garden canes and white poles would form the basic skeleton and a sheet or two of polythene would keep the warmth is and the wind out. So I got to work tying and lashing the structure together, and pretty soon I had the skeleton in place.



I bought two 6' x 18' polythene sheets from Wilkinson from £4.50 each. Putting this over the structure wasn't as easy as I'd hoped but a few dozen clothes pegs secured the sheets to the frame quite nicely. Once in place, I tied the plastic down using string; through two small holes in the sheeting I threaded string, which I looped around the poles and secured tightly. Because it's thin, flimsy plastic it needs to be tied on properly to prevent it being blown away. Finally, I had something resembling a greenhouse!


But still it wasn't finished. When the wind blew it moved and rustled about alarmingly. When rain fell one day, large pools of water fomred on the roof and partially collapsed the structure. This called for further strengthening; I placed extra support poles under the roof and tried to stop water pooling on the top. After more fine-tuning, I finally put the doors on. I made these from old plastic sacks cut into single sheets; these are tied together with string and attached on two sides to the structure.


It may look like a dog's breakfast but it seems to work well. This morning the temperature inside was 25c; outside it was 17c. My plan is to put tomato plants directly into the soil, where they'll hopefully stay dry and blight-free all summer. My friend Alan named it the Wendy House; I think that's rather fitting so the WendyHaus it is! I'm still waiting for a force ten to rip it all up and wrap it around my neighbour's satellite dish!

(no subject)

4/5/14 08:40 (UTC)
ext_15862: (Judith)
Posted by [identity profile] watervole.livejournal.com
I'm worried that wind will cause the string to pull the holes through.

Keep us posted on how well it works.

(no subject)

22/5/14 02:40 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] raspberryfool.livejournal.com
Yes, that's indeed what has happened. The wind has been doing its best to rip the covering from the frame. I've been using tape and wooden clothes pegs to reinforce the ties; the tape has been largely unsuccessful but the clothes pegs seem to work fairly well. I've supported the ends with guy lines, and some of the supporting verticles dislodge themselves regularly. Water pools still seem to be a problem too, though no more damage has occurred through those.

Overall though, it does seem to be quite resilient and seems to work well; on a sunny day the temperature inside can exceed 30c. It's planted up with tomaotes now; here's hoping it lasts till November... ;-)