Greenhouse Update

At sometime I may have mentioned that there was a greenhouse in the works. Then it rained for two months and all the work of maintaining a large vegetable garden (with labyrinth) was compressed into three six-hour blocks of sun while the weeds had a field day. Or a field month, as it were. Which somewhat delayed the construction of said greenhouse.

However, greenhouse planning remained on the schedule,  and we finally got to start it today!

Actually, the construction started last week with driving 18 three-foot long pieces of rebar two feet into the ground. (That, by the way, is a lot of work.) This formed an astonishingly lethal array of spikes in the back yard: good for fending off a prolonged siege, but slightly less than ideal between the house and the playground. Hence, the pressure was on.

The first step was to put t0-foot pieces of electrical conduit over the spikes to prevent catastrophe. (This was not included in the instructions, but I think it should have been.) Thus what we had for the weekend was a double row of 1/2 inch thick pipes sticking up nearly to the height of the house. Very artistic looking, and vaguely aesthetically interesting, but since I was not making a statement, I decided not to leave it that way.

One of the first things that we bought for greenhouse construction was that nifty gadget in the foreground.

It is a pipe bender with a 12 foot radius, developed for the explicit purpose of making hoop houses. You can get one of your very own at Johnny’s Selected Seed. We used ours on the ground with one of us pinning it in place and the other one doing the bending.

We were using it to bend only the centre portion to create a gothic arch, greenhouse shape of improved wind and snow stability. (So sayeth the experts, namely the guy who had to build more than one before he came up with a design that withstood his winters. Plans are here (PDF), since there’s an error on the page between the article and the plans.)

As always, we have made some modifications. The first one was to use 1/2 inch conduit, because that’s what everybody had previously mentioned. Also, the 3/4 inch seemed a little slack over the rebar. However, we’ll see whether this stands up in the snow. I’m not entirely convinced. There’s a certain amount of prototyping going on here, since the frame turns out to be one of the least expensive parts of the greenhouse. If it works out, we have visions of temporary (non-winter-proof) greenhouses popping up all over the yard. Maybe with one of these super domes over everything else! And then we could get a cow, and a llama, and make our own flour with the wheat from the front yard, and run a power grid off the stream and… Hey, can we keep a cow in the garage?!?

Ahem. I’m back now. (Aren’t you glad you don’t have to live with that every day?) (Did I mention the internet’s been off for four days?)

OK. After a couple of starts, we decided to bend the pipes from the 2-foot mark to the 8-foot mark, giving us enough flex to span 11 feet. After growing here for nearly 5 years, we also decided to skip using our own soil, going straight for high raised beds. We’re building over a base of sand for additional drainage and to keep our feet out of the standing water that plagues our yard. On the plus side, we hardly ever need to water. We also are incorporating some of the features from those fab domes, but the greenhouse at the end of this evening stands thus:

Now, if only we can keep the landscape fabric from blowing away…