Building a film tunnel yourself - DIY instructions for a simple plant tunnel

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Building a film tunnel yourself - DIY instructions for a simple plant tunnel: tunnel

If young vegetables in the garden are threatened by frost, hail and constant rain, the foil tunnel is on the spot. With reliable weather protection and a conducive microclimate, the flexible mini-greenhouse brings growth to life. Clever home gardeners leave expensive prefabricated structures on the left and build a plant tunnel themselves. This DIY guide will guide you step by step how to do it right.

Material and tool list

In the home garden, a bed width of 120 cm has been well proven for an uncomplicated plant care. A professionally built plant tunnel adapts to this dimension. The following materials are required to build a 120 cm wide, 300 cm long and 75 cm high film tunnel:
  • Greenhouse foil: 500 to 600 cm long and 250 to 300 cm wide
  • Round rods (galvanized stainless steel, glass fiber): 4 to 6 pieces, each 300 cm long
  • crowbar
  • 2 wooden pegs
  • line
  • Stones (pavers or bricks for side mounting)
  • Folding ruler, hammer, cutter or scissors
Conventional plastic film is not suitable for a plant tunnel. Instead, grab stable, UV-resistant greenhouse film. Although this is more expensive to buy, it can be reused over many years and prevents unwanted heat build-up in full sun. Instead of the galvanized round arches you can use cold water pipes for outdoor use. The pipes are made of high quality polyethylene, are weatherproof and flexible. The water pipes for the garden are available by the meter in every well-stocked hardware store. With a sharp knife, the tubes can be easily cut to the desired length.
Tip: The construction of a film tunnel is associated with frequent entering the bed. So that the earth does not compact, please put out bed plates as treads. These are simple grid structures made of plastic, which compensate the tread pressure.

Setting up and stabilizing the supporting structure - That's how it works

Folientunnel - Greenhouse

If you place the round bars at a distance of 50 or 75 cm, a sufficiently stable framework for the film tunnel is created. Drill the corresponding holes using the crowbar. How to proceed step by step:
  • Use the crowbar to drill a hole 20 to 30 cm deep
  • Insert the end of the round rod into the recess
  • Use the ruler to measure the position of the hole on the opposite side
  • Offer the rod and put it in the pre-drilled hole
  • Make the next hole at a distance of 50 or 75 cm
If you have all rods at the intended location, we recommend a supplementary stabilization. To do this, beat a wooden stake into the ground at each end of the tunnel. Wrap the cord around each bar at the highest point once. Pull the cord taut at both ends to tie it to the stakes.

Apply foil and fix it - instructions with tips & tricks

Greenhouse foil is available by the meter in different widths. When buying please pay attention to a minimum width of 250 cm, so that you do not have to attach any additional sheets later. The foil should protrude the ends of the plant tunnel by 100 cm for easy and secure fixation. Therefore, a minimum length of 500 cm is advisable. How to attach the film expertly:
  • Pull foil over the round arches
  • The sides complain with plaster or bricks
  • At the ends, gather the greenhouse film and tie it to the wooden stake
They give the sides of the plant tunnel extra security when you first put battens on the foil and then spread the stones. Later planting and maintenance work is particularly easy if you measure the film on a tunnel side scarce, as on the opposite side. To get to your plants, lift the foil up. This is much faster by hand, as on the opposite side, where the excess film width is beaten several times.
Tip: Throughout the summer, the Folientunnel plays an important role in organic crop protection. For this purpose, the film is replaced with a dense vegetable protection net to protect the plants from pests and diseases.

Folientunnel with natural heating - That's how it works

Folientunnel - Greenhouse

You upgrade the simple plant tunnel with a natural heating to a practical cold frame. If it still freezes and snows in March and April, a foil roof is not enough to generate growth-promoting warmth or motivate sowing to germinate. By building the plant tunnel over a natural heat source according to this DIY guide, the season in your garden starts earlier. This is how the plan succeeds:
  • At the intended location of the film tunnel, dig out a 50 cm deep pit
  • Enrich the excavation to one third with mature compost
  • The floor is lined with vole wire and a 5 to 10 cm thick layer of straw and leaves
  • Fill with fresh horse manure or cow dung up to a height of 20 cm
  • The soil compost mixture over the manure give up to surface level
Above the natural heating, set up the plant tunnel. In the course of the following 8 to 10 days, the decomposition process generates a pleasant warmth of 18 to 22 degrees Celsius, with the active participation of industrious soil organisms. These are the ideal conditions for sowing seeds or placing early seedlings early in the year. You can save yourself the energy-draining ditch in the frozen ground of spring by digging the pit already in the fall of the previous year.

Which plants thrive in the foil tunnel?

A simple, non-accessible plant tunnel provides habitat for a variety of useful and ornamental plants. Small vegetables and salad can be grown here until harvest. For the cultivation of expansive vegetables and delicate summer flowers, a film tunnel also offers. Under the protected conditions preferred plants start with a vital growth advantage in the open-air season from mid-May. The following list gives you a list of popular plants that benefit from cultivation in a foil tunnel:
Plants for sowing until harvest:
  • Corn salad: from February and from September
  • Fennel: March and April
  • Kohlrabi: from February
  • Carrot: from February
  • Leek: from March and from September
  • Radish: from February
  • Salad: from February
  • Celery: from February
  • Winter spinach: September and October
Plants for cultivation:
  • Artichoke: March and April
  • Eggplant: between February and April
  • Cauliflower: February and March
  • Broccoli: February and March
  • Chili: between February and April
  • Pumpkin: April
  • Peppers: between February and April
  • Brussels sprouts: April
  • Tomatoes: March and April

Folientunnel - Greenhouse

If you still have a place in your folia tunnel, sow perennials and annual summer flowers from the end of February / beginning of March. From A, like Aster, to Z, like Zinnia, the beauties of the flowers profit from a cultivation in the plant tunnel. This also applies to popular herbal plants, such as basil, oregano, sage and other Mediterranean species, which you can transplant into the bed or pot after cultivation under foil.

Tips for plant care in a foil tunnel

The following tips are for home gardeners who want to use a self-made foil tunnel throughout the gardening season. What starts in early spring with a pleasant, warm microclimate, generates during the summer time various problems in cultivation, which require a simple solution.
  • Ventilate the plant tunnel daily on warm spring and summer days
  • In midsummer, cover the greenhouse film with a shading net
  • Leave the ends permanently open, protected by an insect net
  • Due to the high evaporation rate pour more often than under the open sky
  • Ideally mulch with straw, leaves or grass clippings to protect against excessive water loss
The dry, hot climate in the summer plant tunnel is a paradise for pests such as spider mites. Regular spraying with collected rainwater or stale tap water keeps the pests at a distance.

Video Board: How to Build a High-Tunnel Greenhouse.

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