You may well remember that Mud had promised to build me two mini polytunnels to cover the longest of my vegetable beds, as we already had some timber that could be reused and a roll of polythene. However, after measuring the bed which is 6m by 1m, he decided that we didn’t really have enough polythene and that it may be easier in the long run and more effective over all, to look at the ready made alternatives available in the local garden center.
So a couple of weeks ago and armed with a note book and pen, I paid a visit to the garden center to see what they had and if there was anything suitable for our needs.
The garden center is one of my favourite places to be and I love to have an amble around looking at everything, especially when I don’t have Mud muttering on about garden centers being more like gift shops these days (although he does have a point) and the Mudlets continuously begging to be allowed to go look at the fish …… or the dinosaurs for that matter! Yes our garden center has a large T-rex, Velociraptor and Triceratops hidden amongst the ferns and Yuccas, as well as King Kong!
Anyway, I eventually got around to the plant protection section and soon spotted what appeared to be the ideal choice for us – a 3m long by 1m high and 1m wide tunnel which was just under £50 for the hoops and cover combined. I also priced up the bubble wrap needed to insulate the little greenhouse which at £8.99 for a 30m roll, I thought was good value.
So this weekend we had a family outing to buy one of the tunnels.
“Here they are,” I said, handing one of the covers to Mud, “That would be big enough and it looks quite durable.”
“Yep,” He agreed and then look around and sounding perplexed asked, “but where are the hoops?”
With the cover in hand we scoured the area for signs of the hoops that went with it and made up the offer but we couldn’t find them anywhere and so asked an assistant for help. He couldn’t find them either and eventually asked another assistant for help, only to be told that the stock was end of line and although they had 5 of the covers left there were no hoops available! Great! Mud and I were a bit confused as to how on earth you could end up with that many ‘spare’ covers, as surely people wouldn’t just buy the hoops without a cover. In fact we would have thought that customers would be more likely to buy the covers to replace old and/or torn ones and so the hoops would be spare. But what do we know.
Of course we now had to rethink what to do and decided to browse through the stock they had and see if they had anything else we could use. The extremely helpful assistant suggested the ‘Botanico Seedling Growhouse’ as a viable alternative and as they already had one erected for display purposes, we were able to get a good idea of the quality and potential durability of the product.
At 2m long by 1m high and 1m wide and at £45 each, Mud decided to buy me two of them and I have now built the framework (which took me all of 10 minutes) and placed them in position on the long bed. Although each one came with 6 fixing pegs, Mud has decided that he is going to secure the frames to the sleepers which edge the bed, using the heavy duty ‘U’ shaped nails he has which he also used to secure the gazebo ropes to the fence and the lawn edging sleepers, at the beginning of summer. Despite the extremely high winds of last weekend the gazebo is still standing so we know these nails will do the job. I also popped one of the covers over a frame to see what it was like but that has now gone back in the box until the frame is secured.
Obviously the real test will be if the actual tent part of the cloches can withstand the winds but the vegetable garden is relatively sheltered. So there we have it. I should have the frames securely pegged and the covers on the frames over the weekend and then I will leave the ground to warm up for a week before planting out the cabbage and cauliflower seedlings along with some kale, under one and I intend to put onion sets, garlic and something else, although I’m not entirely sure what yet, under the other.
I am really excited now and have only to finish lining the little greenhouse about which I shall do a post shortly and to sow another tub of carrots to hopefully see us through the winter and my first ever winter garden will be good to go.