On the allotment tarpaulins or ‘tarps’ can be used for many tasks including moving, storage or just covering up. Old style tarps were made of canvas and coated with a waterproofing layer, but were quite heavy. Today tarps are made of polyester (often called polytarps) and are very light.
They can be fixed to the ground or a structure with bungee cords to provide a temporary roof or fixed to the ground with pegs to cover something over.
The History of Tarpaulin
A tarpaulin, or tarp, is a large sheet of strong, flexible, water-resistant or waterproof material. It is often a cloth such as canvas or polyester coated with urethane, or made of plastics such as polyethylene. In Asia, and in military slang, a tarp may be known as a hootch. Tarpaulins often have reinforced grommets at the corners and along the sides to form attachment points for rope or pegs allowing them to be tied down or suspended.
The origination of the word tarpaulin is thought to be a joining of the words tar and palling, referring to the old tarred canvas pall used to cover objects and hatchways on sailing ships. It is thought that sailors were often known as tarpaulins, shortened to tars, but it could also have been because of the habit of coating some parts of seafarers clothing with tar for waterproofing. We may never know which is true.
When used for a tarpaulin, the word hooch or hoochie comes from the Japanese ‘uchi’ or house. Huts in various parts of rural Asia are known by this or similar names, and during the Korean and Vietnam Wars English-speaking soldiers came to use the word to refer to their own makeshift shelters. These often consisted of little more than a tarpaulin covering over some sticks.