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Robinson Polytunnels Limited Pasture Barn East, Pasture Lane, Barrowford, Lancashire, BB9 6QX, United Kingdom.

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Questions And Answers

Answers to your frequently asked questions.

++++ Before I buy a polytunnel . . . .

Q. What size of polytunnel should I get?

What size of polytunnel should I get?
When deciding on the size of your polytunnel, it's a good idea to imagine how you will use your polytunnel and how your "layout" will be. A typical arrangment is to have a central pathway with plants along each side, between the pathway and the side of the polytunnel. Using tomaotes as an example, you might get a crop of 50 or more tomatoes from a single plant. And in a 6ft wide x 10ft long polytunnel, you could easily grow 10 plants - that's a lot of tomatoes! But it's nice to have a bit of variety and other crops will be on your agenda which may not be as economical on your precious space. In our experience, an 8ft x 15ft polytunnel is a useful size for growing your favourite crops for the family. But when you consider that to get a 10ft wide polytunnel will cost less than £20 more it's definitely worth upgrading!

Obviously, you'll want to get as much use of the space as possible. You may be able to gain extra space by having staging along one or both sides of your polytunnel - As well as being used for growing plants in pots or trays, it's a really useful work area.

Having said all this, the final decision on what size polytunnel is usually based on two important factors. How much space you've got and how much you want to spend!

Q. What can I grow inside a polytunnel?

What can I grow inside a polytunnel?
In short, anything that will grow outside a polytunnel will grow inside a polytunnel but twice as fast!

A firm favourite is tomatoes and there are so many varieties to choose from. One that we particularly like is "Gardeners Delight", a tasty bite-sized tomato that we find ripens fairly easily as well.

Capsicums, related to the tomato plant, will grow in a similar environment in your polytunnel and can add a spark of colour to what can be a rather ordinary landscape. The smaller and hotter varieties of "chilli peppers" certainly aren't to everyone's taste but a prolific crop can be produced from just one or two plants. We have dried the chilli peppers in a warm oven and then stored them in sterilised jars. Just pop a couple of peppers into the blender, fry in hot oil and then throw into a curry pot for some authentic heat.

Salad crops can be grown all through the summer. Lettuce, radishes and spring onions sown at intervals so you have a continuous supply, ready to grab at a moment's notice. All these are also available as winter varieties and although they will be slower to grow, it's nice to still be able to have a fresh salad.

Cucumbers, courgettes, marrows and pumpkins are all quite similar to grow and require just a little more care. You'll hardly believe how much better your home-grown veg tastes compared to what you buy in the supermarket.

For the more adventurous why not try a few melons. Make sure you choose a variety that will grow in your part of the country and get them started early to make sure they ripen by the end of the season. The sweet smell of the melons in your polytunnel as they ripen is a truly delicious aroma.

In late January, we like to give our potted strawberry plants a head start and put them inside the polytunnel - there's plenty of room to spare at that time of year. By April or May you'll have the first of your strawberry harvest. Then you can move them to the open and make room for more tender crops.

So far we've focused on crop-producing plants but there's no reason why you can't grow flowering plants. You can bring on your flower plant seedlings under the protection of your polytunnel and by using crop bars, your hanging baskets get a good start to ensure they look their best.

So you can see that the variety of plants you can grow in your polytunnel is vast. It's more a case of choosing what you want to grow and planning which plants to grow at what time of year. Good luck!

Q. Which polythene should I get?

Which polythene should I get?
With our range of polytunnels we offer two types of polythene as standard and either will enable you to grow your plants and crops to a really high standard.

The polythene we supply with our polytunnel kits is "Indasol" manufactured by Solplast. This is available in either clear or diffused and both are "thermic" "anti-condensate" films.

The diffused polythene has the advantage that it scatters the light, reducing shadowing.

The clear polythene has proven better for ripening crops when the conditions are less favourable, for example during a poor summer.

For these reasons, we have suggested diffused polythene for areas of high sunshine and clear polythene for areas receiving less sunshine.

The type of crops and plants you are growing can also affect which polythene might be best for you and you can find more details on our Polythene Page.

Q. What is Anti Hot Spot Tape?

What is Anti Hot Spot Tape?
Anti hot spot tape is a foam tape which is placed over the top edge of the polytunnel hoops. It has three purposes:
  • It acts as a thermal barrier so the polythene cover isn't in contact with the steel framework which can heat up very quickly on a sunny day. This stops the polythene from degrading prematurely.
  • It covers over any sharp edges such as bolt threads which the polythene might snag on as it is being pulled over the polytunnel framework.
  • It has a low friction surface so the polythene can easily slide over the framework which is particulary useful when you are fitting the polytunnel cover.

Q. Do I need side ventilation and roll up curtains?

Do I need side ventilation and roll up curtains?
The purpose of side ventilation on your polytunnel is to help you to control the environment within your polytunnel. It allows airflow through which will generally reduce the temperature and also reduce the humidity within the polytunnel. Side ventilation is particularly useful at the height of summer when your plants may become stressed by heat.

Most growers will use the doors at each end as the main method of ventilation and for smaller polytunnels this is quite adequate. When growing in a larger polytunnel, closer to a commercial scale, the side ventilation option could well be worthwhile and you are likely to be able to produce a better quality crop.

++++ Questions about delivery of your order

Q. How long will it take for my polytunnel to arrive?

How long will it take for my polytunnel to arrive?
We can usually dispatch your order within a couple of days as we try to make sure we always have all the component parts in stock. It then takes the delivery company between 1 and 3 days to deliver. Bigger 'tunnels might take a day or two longer as will deliveries to outlying areas such as northern Scotland.

We send you an email when your order is dispatched and so you you can normally expect to receive your order within the next couple of working days. Within this email there is a "clickable link" which directs you to the delivery company website and shows the status of the consigment. You can see haow many packages you will receive and you can also see when these are scheduled for delivery.

Q. Does the price include delivery?

Does the price include delivery?
We have tried to make our delivery prices as concise and as fair as possible and you can see the full details of our delivery pricing structure on our DELIVERY page.
For most orders over £100, the cost of delivery is included.

For outlying areas, there could be a surcharge which is necessary to offset our additional carriage costs.

And smaller orders, where the value is less than £100, also carry a surcharge which is partly necessary due to the cost of actually processing each individual order.

The cost of delivery also takes into consideration the weight of the items, which is particulary relevant for smaller orders which are likely to be sent by Royal Mail.

Q. How do I know if I've received all my Polytunnel or Fruit Cage Kit?

How do I know if I've received all my Polytunnel or Fruit Cage Kit?
It's understandable that it's not easy to check that you have received everything when your order is first delivered.

We try to make this as easy for you as possible. First, your order consists of several packages such as boxes, rolls, packs of steel for the framework and packs of timber for fixing the polythene. On one of the boxes, we have a checklist which is completed by the person who packed your order. This lists the number of packages that make up your order so when your order first arrives you can check that you have the correct number of parcels.

Inside one of the boxes will be a complete packing list and an instruction booklet with illustrated parts list. You can then identify each part against the packing list.

It's not common for anything to be missing but if you find that you are short of something, just give us a call or send an email and we can usually get you sorted with minimal fuss.

Q. How will my polytunnel be delivered?

How will my polytunnel be delivered?
For most items we use an independent carrier company to deliver on our behalf. We will pack your polytunnel into a number of different parcels, each weighing up to 25kg and up to 2.4m long (or possibly longer for bigger polytunnels).

The carrier company will have all your details, including your telephone number and any specific notes that you included at the time of ordering.

The carrier company will deliver on weekdays from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and very occasionally on Saturdays. Anything that may become damaged by rain is wrapped in heat-shrink polythene to protect it.

++++ Constructing my polytunnel

Q. How long will it take to build my polytunnel?

How long will it take to build my polytunnel?
You need to allow at least a full weekend for a couple of people to build a polytunnel.

The actual amount of time required will depend on the size of the polytunnel and the options you have chosen, such as side ventilation.

It's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the parts of the polytunnel before your kit arrives and you can study the relevant instructions on our Construction Page.

Q. What tools will I need to build my polytunnel?

What tools will I need to build my polytunnel?
Our instructions explain what tools you'll need to build your polytunnel, most of which you're likely to already have.

Below we've listed the tools that we would recommend to make the job go smoothly.
  • Hammer
  • Wood saw
  • Spirit level
  • Cordless drill
  • 9mm drill bit
  • String line
  • Staple gun
  • 13mm spanners or sockets
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors or craft knife

We are able to supply most of these tools on our Construction Tools page.

Q. Do I need to use string-lines?

Do I need to use string-lines?
We find it surprising how many people DON'T use string-lines when they mark out for their new polytunnel. We think it's well worth doing and it makes the job easier, resulting in a better finish.

Reasons for using string-lines are:
1. The distance across the polytunnel is set to the right width.
2. The width is set parallel.
3. With an "end" string-line, the base can be set "square" using a 3-4-5 triangle.
4. By sighting across, the height of the base rail can be set parallel.
5. Using a line level, the framework can be set level across the width.

So you can see why our recommendation is to always use string-lines.

Q. Will I need to buy anything else?

Will I need to buy anything else?
All the parts required to build your kit and you chosen options are included.

You won't need to buy additional bolts, screws or nails unless you decide to make some of the options yourself. Make sure you have selected the options that you want such as "Timber Base Rails" or "Ground Anchor Plates".

The only other thing you might need buy are materials to make concrete (or bags of "post-mix").

Q. What about the weather?

What about the weather?
It's always nice to be doing your outdoor DIY jobs when the weather is nice and a polytunnel is no exception. But don't think it's essential.

When it comes to fitting the cover it's important that there is very little wind so that you can fit the polythene without it flapping in the breeze. You can also take your time and make a better job of fitting the cover neatly.

The temperature isn't so important with our polytunnels, as you can always re-tension the polythene using our foundation tube tensioning system. Simply push the hoops upwards into the polythene and lock them in place with the locking collars.

If the weather isn't so good you can always assemble the doors, ready for fitting to the completed polytunnel.