Regular readers will know I’m quite a keen gardener and I grow a lot of fruit and veg. I was offered the chance to review a mini polytunnel from First Tunnels and decided it would be a great way of extending the growing season for some of my vegetable crops. I plan to use it to protect my squashes from any early frosts.
First Tunnels specialise in selling polytunnels and they have a number of videos on the site showing you how to put the polytunnels up. Before we started I watched these. The trouble was that the videos related to putting up full size polytunnels rather than mini ones. In many cases the same techniques applied, but not all. I sat through some videos that weren’t relevant because it wasn’t clear which ones were the ones to watch for the mini polytunnel. The videos are very good though and I think it would give me confidence for handling the bigger version.
To be honest I did find putting the polytunnel up tested my DIY skills quite severely. I will admit it’s not a strength of mine and I probably don’t have the best tools ( I know a poor workman and all that). I was a bit confused because there were some parts included in my pack that I didn’t need and I think they were for bigger versions.
The first thing to do was make the rectangular frame. This was easy enough, but it did take a while to get the very long nails through the wood. Then I made the metal support framework. This wasn’t so easy for me because my drill wasn’t really up to the task of drilling through metal. I had to ring my brother for help. He’s an electrician, so he’s got better drills, etc. He did the frame construction in a couple of minutes, which was annoying given how long I’d struggled, but it does show that it was easy enough with the right kit or even a moderately powerful drill. Then I put the corner brackets on to hold the frame in place. I found it difficult for a number of reasons, some of which were down to me being a bit hopeless, but I did discover that the brackets supplied were slightly different shapes which didn’t help, although I did eventually manage to get the brackets on without having to call for my brother again. There was actually a big sense of achievement when I got the frame together.
The next couple of steps were fairly easy. It would have been helpful to have someone to assist with the sheeting as it was tricky to do on my own and I don’t think I managed to get things as taut as they might have been, because I was trying to do it on my own – H had long since lost interest as 10 year olds will. You have to use a staple gun to fix the sheeting into place and then you hold things into place more permanently by nailing on a baton. This was pretty straight forward and I was able to manage it without any problems.
The mini polytunnel is robust with the covering being quite thick and the wooden parts are strong. I have high hopes of it lasting a good many years. For my plants I think it will do a good job and I hope it will extend the growing season. The advantage of it being small is that I can move it around my vegetable beds to suit, so I can have it where it will do most good. I do think it could have been easier to put together and it would be nice to see either a dedicated video or at least a clearer indication of which videos are relevant on the First Tunnels site. I am pleased with the end result.