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Quictent polytunnel/greenhouse from outdoorline.com

quictent polytunnel shot at night with flash gun
The polytunnel intact after two days and a frost!

Polytunnels - not cheap are they? We were thinking about getting a shed for our allotment and scuttled around eBay, tut-tutting at £250 price tags, and also all the ground preparation that has to be done for even the tiniest shed. I noticed polytunnels on there too and thought, “Hey, those things are much bigger than sheds, and you could grow things in “em too!

But the price tag was even higher than for sheds - not sure why: of course people need to be paid a fair price for the products they make, but it’s basically a big sheet of plastic and a few hoops.

Greenhouses were considered too, but it all seemed horribly awkward - we don’t have a vehicle that could transport great big sheds around, or the tools and skill to lay concrete foundations and suchlike.

So how exciting it was for us to find this Quictent item from outdoorline.com on eBay. It appears to be built like one of those “family” tents - it’s all powder-coated pipes that slot together, with the help of some bolts and wing-nuts in places. And the cover is one piece. It’s rip-stop material too, so it shouldn’t all shred as soon as it gets a little hole in it. The same company also sell gazebos (gazebi?) and various “temporary outdoor buildings”. At £70 (including postage) I hope it’s a little more than “temporary”, but at that price, a few years of life can’t be complained at, and it should be possible to bodge some repairs on it and extend the life.

inside the quictent polytunnel
Here’s where a forest of onions should appear!

It took two of us a little time to put it up, but it wasn’t particularly stressful. And the big advantage is that it can be moved! I’m planning to use it to cover ground and dry it out in winter - we can even dig it over in the rain, and it’s certainly warmer inside than out. We’ll also use it to keep things warm while they have a chance to grow. I’ve planted some rather late onions in it, in the hope that they get big enough to survive the winter before I move the tunnel somewhere else.

For mobile operations, I reccommend some string to hold the frame together, because several joints are loose. Also it comes with no anchoring system, so you’ll need to come up with something (we tied rope to the ridge and weighted it with big stones, and put stones all round the edge on top of the cover.

It has air vents to keep it cool in summer, and they could also be used to stop it filling with wind and blowing away in winter! In fact, that’s what I’ve done after it blew down rather spectacularly in a storm. However, nothing seems to have been damaged and I got it back in one piece on my own without ripping the cover. It also survived snow and frost. The zip door feels like it would be easy to break, especially if the frame gets skewed and you try to force it closed. There may also be a risk of water gathering in sags in the farbic - I may need to make some drain-holes if that is the case.

quictent polytunnel shot at night with flash gun
The other end of the polytunnel

So have a go - probably the cheapest way of getting into the world of full-sized greenhousing. It’s so much nicer to be able to get in with your plants, rather than growing under glass or those various other “mini-greenhouse” things. Happy gardening!