Polytunnels, Swearing & Perseverance

IMG_20140719_113725 copyIMG_20140719_113838 copyWe are just about starting to recover after a mammoth day of polytunnel action on Thursday. Him Indoors & I hired a van (eek, already stressy when you sign an agreement that you’ll pay £1,000s for any damage etc) so we could drive to Wallingford and take down 2 polytunnels from Close To The Veg there (Clare there is selling up); then transport them back to Hartley Farm – in the same day. Just the 2 of us. Err…

All was going pretty well: we started on the larger tunnel (20 x 60ft), with 11 hoops that come apart into 4 sections, plus the ridgepole down the middle, and side rails at the top of the elbows on each side. After slashing away the plastic (feels like such IMG_20140821_150417 copya waste; although I’ve salvaged some for stone bags); dismantling was relatively straight forward. The excellent Him then started taking down the smaller tunnel (10 x 30ft, 9 hoops, really simple lightweight design) pretty much alone, while I got on with digging out the ground tubes of the large tunnel. This was when I realised we wouldn’t be done by 5pm like I was hoping.



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Left: large tunnel; right: small tunnel

The tubes were driven in around 3-4ft on the lower sloping side, so it took much digging and swearing – especially in the concrete-like dried soil inside the tunnel – plus the higher slope had the bolts connecting the ground tubes to the uprights below ground level – so you had to dig to get at them if you’ve given up the idea of digging out the whole ground tube as well as the upright. But then because they were below ground level, several of the (ridiculously long) bolts had rusted and couldn’t be dismantled. Plus the slope also meant that these ground tubes were driven in even deeper, into possibly the world’s stickiest clay.

By 7pm and 1 snapped upright later, we had to cut our loses and leave some of the ground tubes where they were, using a combination of gritted-teeth digging for the rusted tubes, and lots of WD40 for the better bolts that would come off the ground tubes. I’ll have to try and sniff out some suitable ground tubes from somewhere – I do have some scaffold poles already on site,  but not sure the internal diameter is correct.


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Look at that clay level! Blistered digging hands are go…

Aaaannnyway, by 7.30pm I was way past caring about these triffling details and would gladly have spent over £100 on some spare ground tubes, so we loaded up and headed back towards Bradford on Avon, very tired, aching and bruised; to unload in the dark and leave the poles vaguely near my shipping container; and then go back drop the van off at the hire centre. I moved the tubes out of my way yesterday and stacked them pretty neatly away, but will probabably have to wait some weeks before I can face looking at them again and even consider reassembling them…


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