Thursday, 11 July 2013

Spending on Plastic of a More Frugal Type.

Putting up the Poly Tunnel.

Creating the Frugaldom microholding is incurring some basic 'getting started' costs but we are doing our best not to go over the top whenever we have a small windfall. I mean, the compensation payment from Scottish Power after surviving for almost 4 days with no electricity should probably have been ploughed straight back into winter emergency supplies, but it didn't - it got spent on plastic, but not of the 'flexible friend' type. This was more of the physical, literal sense of spending on plastic - or polythene.
 
In order to be able to even start contemplating growing enough vegetables to last the household all year round, it takes time, preparation and, of course, some cash to get it all started. Some people are fortunate in that they have a huge bank balance, no debts and simply downsize to live the good life, but we didn't have that option. Ours was scrape by on the minimum while saving every other penny, then buy a fixy-up. Taming nearly quarter of an acre of wilderness before transforming it into a microholding without a proper budget is time consuming. Living in the fixy-up has been an experience, to say the least, but progress is slowly being made whilst we pursue all manner of frugal living routes.
 
In the garden, I am trying to be organic and follow the basic principles of permaculture, but it also takes time. The good old Scottish weather is usually against us when attempting to grow anything posher than a potato and the slugs, snails, birds and beasties do a fine job of demolishing everything in their path. The plants need protecting and the homemade plastic greenhouse is full to overflowing. This is the review of the putting together of the  recently acquired 'Palm Springs' poly tunnel, one of my frugal bargains that I decided to buy now rather than wait any longer. Make hay when the sun shines! It's also done in memory of our recently departed, frugal friend, Sandi, whose sudden death was another sharp reminder to us all that we need to live it while we can, even if it's on a frugal budget.

Here goes with the plastic age of Frugaldom...

Instructions
Why are these things always so sparse? They list the parts with a few numbers and then have a semi-accurate diagram showing you the structure without any indications of where to start. It was fairly straight forward, other than finding it impossible to line up the holes accurately to drop the bolt through the top of the arch, so we cheated - the neighbour came round and drilled them a millimetre wider. Then went home and ordered himself the exact same poly tunnel - that's a good recommendation for it right away, wouldn't you say?

Process of Construction






 I thought this would be the easiest way of explaining it and showing just how daft I was to think we could start at 9pm and be done in an hour. Oops! :) It now needs to be well secured so any high winds don't lift the full thing - it'll be rocks around the edges for now. The builders' bags were an ideal size for lining the ground, it took three of them opened out into strip to do this and there's still some left over for laying elsewhere. That's us gained nearly 15' of lovely undercover space, but it is extremely warm in there at the moment.

Likewise, the heat inside the little plastic tunnels is amazing. These were the ones costing £9.99 - not all that substantial but worth the money, I would say, as they are really easy to build and take apart, so can packed away for winter. They're none too small for the price, either, as each one measures a full 2 metres long and a metre wide. I haven't even thought about what will go in these but I suspect they'll be filled pretty quickly, none the less. The space where these will be used in future years is currently filled with potatoes, so they may end p being moved about the place until later in the year.

The mini potting greenhouses are great! I've already turned one of them into a cucumber house by
fitting it over the top of two fish crates containing 4 cucumber plants. Another two crates will be fitted alongside and these will be covered by the second little greenhouse. £12.99 bargains, in my opinion and again, these can easily be dismantled and stored during winter.

I realise that this may all sound a little bit extravagant and expensive, some may even say it doesn't sound frugal, but I have been saving for 10 years to get to the point of being mortgage free with a garden big enough to create my microholding. My entire life was spent wishing I could afford to buy a smallholding but it's just not going to happen and I don't see the point of wishing any more of my life away - this is it and we need to make the most of what we have and create a lifestyle we love. Being completely debt free is the reward for years of scrimping and saving and doing without any luxuries. It will be some time before the house is completed, so still years of frugaling and on top of that, no regular, guaranteed income other than what we can earn from home while developing the microholding. It has to become self-sustainable, especially as I'm going to be working at it fulltime! The spends are investments in my frugal micro-business in the hope that they will reap rewards in the future.

Frugaldom.

19 comments:

  1. It makes total sense to me to invest in these things. If you have a bad summer you still have a good growing chance - plus automatically extend the growing season! Love your story and have followed along for a while now.

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    1. My thoughts exactly and I appreciate your following and commenting. :) If all else fails, it will make a great tropical house in summer and duck/hen shelter in winter - if it stands up to it. LOL

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  2. Really loving these regular posts. Makes me wish I had a garden. It's a wise investment

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    1. Thank you :) I'm trying to be more organised with the blog, rather than sporadic. But I sometimes forget to stop. I could talk all day as well, but I guess everyone has already guessed that.

      Have you space near a window for a micro-garden or herb planter? I love my herbs, even the quickest growing mints. I'd happily send you mint cuttings if you wanted to give it a go? :)

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  3. Well, a wise investment whould repay pay you over and over. it's not as though you've frittered the money on a new hat!

    Looking forward to hearing your progess.

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    1. Fingers crossed, Carol. All going well, my November challenge could help prove a theory I have about working this as part of my microholding. I'm going to try and run my Deki Tenner Challenge from the poly-tunnel. Budget of £10 and all profits to Deki, so it doesn't allow for much but you can follow my line of thought. :)

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  4. Could you lash it down with some kind of rope, slung over the whole thing in 3 or 4 places and put pegs into the ground? I don't have a poly tunnel (no room at all) but I do know airing it can be a problem. I once saw someone who had made a net door so it could have air in but keep critters out.

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    1. Hi DC, I think we'll be trying everything, including paving slabs over the edges of the cover. I know there's going to be extra expense involved but it's going to be contributing to my income as a microholder and as a feature in the garden. :)Critturs are such a pest... mum's given me old net curtains in case I can use them anywhere - wonder what she'll say when I tell her they've been used on the shed and poly tunnel doors? Knowing my mum, she'll want a poly tunnel! LOL

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  5. Wow. Its looking great. I can't believe how much you have done in just 2 years actually. My garden looks like a disaster, my only get-out is that I claim work exhausts me! hah!

    Just be careful with the polytunnel in the winter. I know a few people who lost theirs in the winter storms last year, so if it isn't covered by your home insurance, it could be awful. I don't know out if it is best to leave it open in truly bad weather so wind can just go through it (albeit damaging your plants and hens), but could act as a lifting motion from inside, or if you should try and nail it down to such an extent that nothing can get under it at all, but it just gets buffeted from the sides. Then you just have to worry about tearing I guess.

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    1. Thanks, Tonia. I have had one of these types of greenhouses before, several years ago, but the blogging from then was on a different platform to this one. It was brilliant until the storm of winter 2009/10 took it out completely. I have much preparing to do in order that this one stays standing and know from experience that keeping it closed and standing as tight as possible to keep wind from gaining access underneath it works best. If we decide to leave it where it is, there will be paving put right round it and the ducks & hens wouldn't be in it unattended, they would simply be weeding it and digging/fertilising the soil for me. :) I'll try to link to some old posts so you can see the last one but there are photos of it in the forums at http://frugaldom.myfreeforum.org if you go to the gardens section and click on my microholding challenge thread. :)

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  6. An excellent investment.

    I made the door for my poly tunnel with plastic mesh panels and only fitted the polythene covers in late Autumn each year. That way bees and pollinating insects could get in but nothing bigger, and it kept the temperature almost workable right through the Summer (if I went out early morning and early evening to get all the jobs done).

    I'm going bigger once we move and the old frame which is in pieces in the trailer (our polythene was ripped off by high winds just before we moved here)will be completely covered in plastic mesh, so I will have a mesh tunnel side by side with a poly tunnel, both 25ft by 12ft. Should keep all sorts of critters off my food, I'm getting sick of sharing it with deer and rabbits :-(

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    1. Wow! That sounds fab, Sue! I'll bet you can't wait to see what that will produce for next year! :) Bet you are really excited about the move - can't be long now, surely?

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    2. Does Mr Hawkeyes work at keeping rooks away from hen food? They're stealing my duck food at the moment, as are the magpies.

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    3. They do work remarkably well, ours is on his last legs, a couple of missing panels and not as bright eyed as he used to be but still doing duty keeping the deer away.

      He worked a treat in chicken world before we moved here. The geese have taken over his job here ...when they can be bothered that is :-)

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    4. I always fancied trying to hatch out some Sebastopol goose eggs in the incubator - they are gorgeous birds and I'm sure we have space for a couple of them here. :)

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  7. A good investment for your microholding. We have a poly tunnel which DH built a couple of years ago, and I love it. (we live at the top of Scotland) Lots of things growing including a grape vine and kiwi plant.

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    1. Is your poly tunnel clear plastic or the green rip-stop type? I'd love some place spacious for my little grape vine but wasn't sure if there would be sufficient direct sunlight through the green plastic to ripen any future grapes. (Or any other more exotic fruit - now that I know the kiwi survives up north. :)

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  8. Really love the little mini 2 M x 1 M poly tunnel .I realise this is an old post but searched all over for them and cant find them anywhere Could you tell me where you sourced them and if they are still available ?

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    1. This is my friend referral link to topcashback - www.topcashback.co.uk/ref/Cyberdosh - if you haven't joined it yet, copy the link into browser to join and then look for site called Greengfingers. If you use the link there, you can get 10% cash back. I have had several bargains from their site, as they have clearance sales every month. :) I don't see the 2m polytunnels listed at the moment but it's handy to know where to look. Good luck bargain hunting.

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