food garden

Build Your Own Polytunnel from Scrap

For sustainable and practical organic farming, there really is no better set up than a polytunnel. Also known as ‘hoop houses’, polytunnels protect crops from harsh weather conditions and create an optimal environment for your produce to flourish all year round. Some polytunnels can be expensive and as hi-tech as you like but if you’re on a tight budget and can get your hands on some basic scrap materials, then a great functioning polytunnel can be yours within a fraction of the retail price. Check out our basic step-by-step guide below.

1. Build the End Frames

It may seem strange to start with the end frames first but these will create the strength and structure that your polytunnel will need to last. Pick up some PVC plumbing pipe and measure it into separate sections of your desired length to create the arches of your tunnel. Around 7 foot is a good height for the tunnel as it could easily collapse if it is too low and doesn’t have the right amount of tension in the frame. Fit two of the pipes to two 11 foot long pieces of scrap wood with screws– these will make the arches for the doorframes. A 3-5 foot wide door will be suitable and you can fix this frame together with wood glue, nails and a hand saw to trim any extra pieces. Your end frames are almost finished! Just get your hands on the best quality plastic sheeting that you can find. It is best if it is UV-stabilized but otherwise any plastic sheeting that is durable enough and clear will do. Measure and wrap the plastic sheeting around each of your end frames, cut with a sharp utility knife and fix with a staple gun.


2. Lay the Ground Work

Now it’s time to get outside. Level the ground that your polytunnel will cover as much as you can. Measure where your door frames will be placed and drive four steel fence posts (two on each side) into the ground for reinforcement against strong winds. You can tie the end frames onto these with wire, wire ties or rope. Next you will need to measure and fit metal stakes into the ground where you want your pipe arches to be placed.

3. Add Infrastructures

Fit the PVC pipes onto the stakes to create the arched ribs for your polytunnel skeleton. For added infrastructure add four PVC pipes to the edges and top of the frame as this prevents snow or water build-up and reduces the risk of collapse.

4. Fit the Plastic

Last but not least, measure the plastic sheeting to cover the whole of the frame and staple the ends to two pieces of scrap wood. Get someone to help you roll the sheeting over the top of the polytunnel and then nail the wooden pieces to plywood battens laid firmly in the ground soil. You can add extra weights and bricks and the bottom to hold the plastic down even further but as soon as the plastic is covering the frame, you’re good to go! Time to get planting and watch your crops grow safe and sound in the polytunnel you built with your very own hands.

Submitted by Anglia Tool Centre

food permaculture sustainability

Tyisa Nabanye – Urban Farm in Cape Town


We are a non-profit urban agriculture organisation growing food on the slopes of Signal Hill in Cape Town, seeking to improve food security, promote sustainable livelihoods and create employment for our members. Tyisa Nabanye, consisting of eight members; Mzu, Lumko, Unathi, Chuma, Lizza, Vuyo, Masi and myself, started a permaculture vegetable garden created out of the voluntary labour or youth living on the site, among whom are two graduates of the Permaculture Design Course at Seed in Mitchell’s Plain. We hold regular markets in which all residents on the site are invited to participate, and in this way have had a significant effect on raising hope and a sense of appreciation for our beautiful setting.


To know more about the project and how you can help, contact Catherine Nicks (Project Manager) on 072 601 1013.

food garden tree

Help my Avo

Hi Everyone,

My avo tree is looking a little worse for wear. I am not sue what the issue is but the leaves have browned and it is looking a little dead. See pics.

I am sure it looks a bit like this each year in mid-winter but there are also a fair few ants on the tree. Any suggestions about how I might buck it up a bit? My son hammered a nail into it once, which helped.



food sustainability

Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables

This is amazing!

food garden permaculture sustainability



We are a brand new NPO in Durban called G.E.E.K2! which stands for Green Education Equals Knowledge and Knowhow! We go in to underpriveledged areas and educate the youths about sustainability and conservation concerns. We have just been allocated a little bit of money and want to use it towards sustainable vegetable gardens. I am looking for anyone who knows about teaching permaculture to contact me about teaching the youths about the permaculture principles and to show them how to set up a permaculture veggie garden. This information could be used at their homes as well which will benefit many people beyond the scope of the schools! If you can help please e-mail me on : or phone me on 0769160218. Thank you so much!!!!