This week it was finally time to reskin the Springfield polytunnel. Skins only tend to last four or five years, so after 12 years, the Springfield polytunnel skin had more holes than plastic – good for ventilation in summer, but pretty rubbish at keeping the snails and slugs out.
Everyone I spoke to about polytunnels said to me, “Never change a polytunnel skin on a windy day”, so it was with trepidation that we arrived at our Springfield site in the howling wind and cascading rain. With the winter crops out and the summer crops waiting to go in, this was our window of opportunity, so no chance for a rain check. The team consisted of me, Sophie and apprentice Sabine. Between us, we had precisely zero experience of skinning polytunnels.
The previous day, along with apprentice James, we had removed the old skin (the easy bit) and dug a trench around the structure in which we would bury the sides of the new skin.
As we were rolling out the new skin, the wind blew it here and there and we were somewhat lucky not to be flying off across Springfield Park desperately clinging onto this enormous plastic sheet. All this buffeting meant that the skin looked pretty wrinkly – if there was such a thing as a geriatric polytunnel, this is what it would look like. We spent the next two hours heaving the skin this way and that, trying to get it near to the “drum-like” tautness that we had seen on the “how to” video. As we worked, our trenches filled with rainwater, as did our boots, but finally as the sun broke fittingly through the clouds, the skinning was complete and we were filled in equal measure with satisfaction and relief.