How to build a fruit cage or polytunnel

Here’s the plan of the fruit cage (click to enlarge) I’m working on at present… hopefully my very last construction job after having completed a shed, lockable storage bin, chicken hut and run, greenhouse and tree house for the grandchildren. Phew!

I’ll be covering the frame with scaffold netting to give me a fruit cage with a microclimate that’ll enable me to have a longer season for vegetables such as tomatoes. Use plastic sheeting to create a polytunnel instead.

Blue mains water piping is the main element, with a 2ins (5cm) internal diameter… yellow mains gas piping will do as well, or any strong piping you can lay your hands on. If you’re lucky mains piping is available for free… most reasonable sized building sites will have spare bits lying around. My supply came from the adjacent cemetery after new drainage was installed. Of course it would be on the far side, so had lots of fun dragging all 100ft to my allotment, even more fun hauling over the fence without flattening everything in sight.

You need posts that fit tightly inside the pipes, I’m intending to fix with screws as well. Some square fence posts I’ve got are having the top 1ft chipped away to shape at present, see photo below. These will be hammered into the ground at intervals… the plan shows every 5ft, probably advisable if you’re building a polytunnel which needs more support for plastic sheeting, but scaffold netting is tougher so I’m going for 8ft intervals. Planking is then screwed to the bottom of the posts, ideally so it’s partially below ground level to stop couch grass and other weeds creeping in, partially above ground level to protect the covering from spade related accidents when you’re digging.

After making holes in the piping to fix spacing battens, the final work will be to fix the door frame before measuring lengths of scaffold netting, stitching them together and fixing over the frame. Of course I’ll pick the windiest day possible to do this part of the job, as usual. The blog will be updated with periodic photos of progress.

Really making progress with planting. Lettuce and beetroot seedlings out this week, as well as raspberry canes. Sweet corn, French beans, spinach, pumpkins and butternut squash all in pots. Snapdragons and celeriac growing. The greenhouse is bursting with life, really encouraging. Got into the habit of checking with wife Linda what needs planting next before I cycle up to the allotment. She’s organising me much more effectively than if left to my own bumbling efforts.

Samson the cockerel has settled in. The girls don’t give him quite such a hard time unless he pushes his luck when the favourite titbits are given out, such as cooked spaghetti. Avert my eyes when he sneaks up on one of the hens and does what a cock a doodle do.

Not going quite so well on the sports front. Another failure at squash and I’ll have handed the month to David again… lost 0-3 on Tuesday, but the scores were 7-9, 8-10, 9-10. A handful of mistakes on my part made the difference. Sunday’s pool and darts competition got off to a bad start when I couldn’t hit a double at darts. Ended the night only winning two darts games and one (yes, one!) pool game. Note to self: must stay off the home made apple wine before the sons pick me up. And finally pitch and putt yesterday against David (John was off to Cheltenham for a night out with cousin Rob). Can feel myself welling up at the thought of it so I’ll keep it short. David won the first hole 4 shots to 5, said that was it and he’d be in the lead for the rest of the eighteen holes… and he wasn’t wrong.



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  1. Anonymous5:04 pm

    Fantastic. Can't wait to see a photo of the fruit cage all up.

  2. Ingenious :) I can see debris netting in your beetroot pic and your post about Gardman tunnels. What do you find it like for light transmission....we were wondering about it over a fruit cage instead of bird net.

    Great blog.

    1. Would work well for a fruit cage, Murdo. Only restricts a small amount of light.


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