The Beck Cottage Polytunnel

Press release version attached below.

By Peter Clarke:

The construction of the 8ft x 15ft polytunnel at Beck Cottage is an inspiring story of multiple re-use of materials that formerly had other purposes or were scrap.  The main structural hoops that support the polythene skin are made 63mm alkathene water pipe which was kindly offered on Freegle some months ago as 10m of alkathene left over from the construction of another polytunnel.  Actually there was rather more of it since we use 20m in the contruction and there is still a bit left.  I was intrigued by the phrase 'left over from building a polytunnel' so did some research on the web and discovered a site which shows how its done and links to a more comprehensive description.  After reading the details it was clear that a trip to a scrap merchant was needed for the scaffolding pipes which the water pipe fits over.  These are 6' long off cuts which a scaffolder had had to cut to fit the site.  They are hammered into the ground to provide the vertical up rights. 

In the spring I was cutting up and removing a large pile of timber from a pole barn in the village that was taken down because the poles where decaying (120yrs old).  This wood was destined for our log burning boiler but some lengths of 6" x 2." boards proved ideal to put round the base to fix the polythene to.  They end up on the inside so protect the bottom of the polythene from errant garden forks and also hold up a bank in one corner.

Containing the beds are lengths of slab wood, these are the off cuts from larch trees that are being sawn into board, gate posts etc so are scrap from the local saw mill.  The mill sells this in 3/4 tonne bales for very little as firewood but each bale contains lots of usable planks so long as you don't mind one side being curved. The beds contain sand and gravel dug locally and our own compost made autumn leaves vegetable waste and grass cuttings.  The surface of the path (part done in this image) is bark from the slab wood which falls off as you cut it up. 

The only items bought were the cover, some timber for the end frames and some screws.  Oh and we paid the scrap merchant a little for the poles.

The tunnel is now full of pepper, aubergines, tomatoes and salads.

Peter Clarke's polytunnel at Glassonby