You will need;
- Two lengths of decking boards.
- Tape measure.
Step 1 – Using the saw cut the decking boards in half and cross the ends at the top marking the centre line cut the required angle to join the pieces together neatly.
Step 2 – Using a Tape measure, cut them into 1m lengths and saw them so the end is horizontal to the ground.
Step 3 – Ensuring the left-over boards are around 1m, place the flat edge to the apex and secure the legs using a small square of wood or board.
Step 4 – Brace the apex with a square or wooden support and screw securely together.
Step 5 – Repeat as required for a second Apex, together they will support a 3m width net or scaffolding material.
Once built we transferred to the allotment, the legs are dug in up to the 50cm wooden marker which should allow the soil to fully support the structure without requiring a centre brace.
As these were reclaimed decking boards, so the cost was in time and fixings, I have since added decking boards around the frame to make a raised bed. It would be much better with scaffolding board; however it is now one of three home-made cloche’s that I can use to rotate the crops that require protecting.
These are mainly Brassica’s, cauliflowers, broccoli and cabbage as they are easily wiped out by the annual butterfly population and their offspring. In the first year I chose not to plant them due to the lack of protection on our site, this year I have had a succession of great crops due to the planning of last year.
This project cost around thirty pound due to the addition of scaffolding fabric, however if you check the prices of shop purchased cloches, simple plastic tunnels are around ten pounds offering very little coverage and rarely last more than a season due to the fragility of the products. The scaffolding material is secured by small screws which anchor the ribbon strip through the centre and edges, this ensures it does not blow away in ever changing weather!
I also acquired some re-bars from an allotment neighbour and after setting them to form arches in the side of my pallet compost bin, primarily to shape and finally to stop my children being caught on them. I have used them as arch supports for fleece and netting to protect or add shade, however, you choose to protect your crops it is worth thinking of long-term solutions and avoiding products suitable and designed for the shelter of a home garden!
Polytunnels are great, but for me I feel I have the structure I need for now to ensure I can grow a variety of crops, with three cloche covered beds, three large expanses of land for main crop rotation such as potatoes, pumpkins and corn. The change from our first year were the few cabbages I planted were protected by meshed bean canes is tremendous, but these things take time and resources which in most cases are minimal or free.