Daws Close Allotments
A small allotment site squashed between London suburbia and a major nature reserve all within earshot of Wembley stadium.
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A lighter look at the garden and the creatures that also call it their garden.
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For the location of the tunnel I chose a position between the grapevines and globe artichokes on one side and the utility area on the other. This particular spot receives sunshine all day but the ground lies very wet during the winter. In two summers this spot has not delivered the goods to my satisfaction and was the obvious position for the new ventue.
After measuring the area, straightening the paths and getting the artichokes to breathe in a little, I found that a standard 12ft by 25ft polytunnel would just squeeze in nicely.
Everything required for the tunnel comes in kit form with detailed construction diagrams and once mulled over for a while there is no major technical difficulties, but the setup does take quite some time.
If I had to do another one I'd make sure I had spare batteries for the drill as once the power has gone there is no further work that can be completed.
Putting the cover on required two people but is reasonably straightforward once its the correct way round. There is an inside and an outside believe it or not. The polythene is pulled over the frame and buried in a trench all round the outside of the frame. Sorry no photo of this but I was rushing to get it secured before a heavy rainstorm set in.
The finished tunnel fits nicely into the surroundings and should be softer on the eye once the grapevines leaf up in front of it and the trees fill out behind.
Once the cover is on and we go inside it is like entering a different world. While there is always a gentle current of air through the mesh door panels, there is no draught and out of the wind life is cozy. Although the tunnel is unheated, any sunshine rapidly lifts the temperature a few degrees. I have planned to grow crops direct in the natural soil on one side, after beefing it up a bit, and have pots on a staging down the other with a central path.
Several firms can be contacted over the Internet and there are a number of DIY plans but be
prepared to spend a lot of time fixing it if you make your own. I'm pleased with mine so the
suppliers can have a link.
Buying and erecting the polytunnel is one thing, using it efficiently is another thing entirely. What grows best and when? Not everything grows better under cover so my first season has been trial and error. One of the first benefits has to be the ability to sow seeds early and grow them on for transplanting outside once conitions become favourable.
After one year with my polytunnel I have the following observations.