Tag Archives | protected cropping

Haygrove Hotel


After an article in the Organic Grower last year I started dreaming of more protected cropping and I started talking to Haygrove Polytunnels. I had never approached them before as I thought they would be way too expensive, but I was proved wrong and wish I had done so earlier.

Their range, specification and technical info is impressive, and it’s all built on the direct experience they have with fruit growing all over the world. The caterpillar tunnel I have had for 2 seasons has been great, but I had to take it down for most of last winter as it was so so stormy. At 20mph winds the caterpillar looked like it had a life of its own and was going to turn into some kind of winter moth and fly away.

Moving all the metalwork took a while


Auger action!

 So the Super Solo tunnel I have opted for (NB., other profiles are available!)  is 26m long, 8.5m wide and cost £2500. That includes a metal top bar along the entire length, additional bracing (windy kit) and roller doors. It has some straight profile at the edges (essential if you want to use all the space) and the potential for some major ventilation come summertime. As you can see, it’s like a Spanish tunnel that goes down to the ground, but is roped up the same way.



I did have to borrow my Dad for half a day to screw in the ground anchors (70 0mm) with a hired auger, but apart from that it was straighforward enough for one person to do. I even skinned it myself when I could see a quiet day forecast, although it would be much more preferable with more. It therefore has some great advantages in cost (no concrete or timber or outside contractors), probably some planning advantages as it is clearly a temporary structure, it can be closed down for the worst of the winter (spring bulbs!) and still grow summer crops because of the ventilation. I estimate it is probably 4-5 times cheaper than a twinspan polytunnel covering that size, all things considered.



The handy see-saw ring for roping up, definitely easier with two..

 The only slight niggle is with the plastic for the doors, which tends to billow in a bit in windy weather, due to the enormous tractor access opening. Haygrove do sell a stiffer door material which I would well recommend getting delivered with everything else. Their instructions, manuals, technical information and after sales support were all really good, you can find them on the world wide web of wonder here www.haygrove.co.uk.


Ashley Pearson

Caterpillar Capers

I was growing vegetables full time, I looked down on cloches. Too far
down, too much bending down and far too much pegging down. All that
ground level shenanigans, just way too undignified in order to gain a
very small ribbon of protection. And then you can't see whatever bad
omens may be hidden beneath the plastic, either weeds, pest or diseases, and a
false sense of security was guaranteed.



I now find that I have spent the autumn and winter thus far wrestling
with a caterpillar tunnel, which I now realize is just a really
expensive and humongous
cloche. I
can't even stand up in it, which is the first major design fault you
might observe. However, I am limited by the 6m standard sizing of the
PVC pipe hoops, resulting in a mildly stooping scenario.



idea comes from the USA and has been covered well by the Growing For
community (NB. They call polytunnels 'hoophouses' over there).
There is an introduction to the concept here by
Lynn Byczynski.

The main features are portability, no footings, hoops that fit over
steel rebar 'pegs', and rope lashings (lots and lots!) that produce a
segmented appearance and the caterpillar profile. After spending a
small fortune reskinning a twin-span polytunnel this year, we thought
we'd give it a go, especially since you can move them to fresh ground
so easily.

played it safe however and have only put tulips in it this autumn,
just in case. There have been a few hiccups and several improvements
along the way, notably bigger and bigger hoops, after the Mark One, pictured below.


It has been keeping
me slightly fretful on stormy nights but we'll keep you posted about
the spring blooms and whether we can get enough air flow through it.
It has seemed to cope with the winter snow so far though, and near
flooding, although it may just yet prove to be the ultimate vole



The River Thames coming up to say 'hello' last year.