Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The (Long Overdue) Greenhouse Post

It's been a while since I announced the beginning of work on the new greenhouse in this post. What can I say? Good things take time and life comes up with other demands on our time. We completed the greenhouse itself, but then sort of lost steam and didn't connect the electricity for the fan and vents. That was finally completed, though the sink and water connection still aren't finished. At least with the fan and vents functioning, and the shade cloth thrown over the roof, I could move a large number of houseplants out so we could paint one of the bedrooms. Now that the greenhouse actually has plants in it, I thought it was finally time to share it with you. The greenhouse is an 8' x 10' Sunglo purchased as a kit from Costco.

Skipping over the initial groundbreaking, setting the timber foundation, lining it and filling it with gravel, below you can see the framework starting to go up.

More framework.

The greenhouse walls are made up of two layers of acrylic, a corrugated inner layer and a smooth outer layer. I thought the protective blue coverings on the smooth panels were interesting. The static made them fun to pull off, too.

Lower panels going in.

Here you can see the sides of the door frame and three walls with both smooth and corrugated panels inserted. The third wall only has the smooth panels at this point, showing the difference adding the corrugated panels makes.

The walls are completed and the lower vent is inserted.

I took a day off one weekend to attend the open garden at Rare Plant Research. Meanwhile, my father and brother built the roof and attached the door.

Someone thought it would make an interesting statement to leave the blue protective layers on the door.

I disagreed. Annoyingly, the blue layer went under the door frame along the edges. I had to take a knife and carefully cut the blue plastic along the frame without scratching the glass.

The next weekend, I set up the benches, and that was the last anyone did with the greenhouse for several weeks.
Jump forward to last weekend and the electricity has been connected so the thermostat, fan, and vents can function to help regulate the temperature. The shade cloth also helps keep it slightly cooler and protects the plants that are now in it from the brightest rays of the sun.

My mother got the drop on me and was actually the first one to put plants in the greenhouse. The trays of soil in the photo below hold lettuce and parsley seeds.

Also among the first plants in the greenhouse are these two peppers I started from seed. They got a very late start (obviously) and I don't expect to get anything out of them. I expected the greenhouse to be ready weeks before it was, in which case there might have been a chance of getting one or two peppers off of them. At this point it's just an experiment to see how fast they will grow in the greenhouse. Next spring I'll be able to start seeds early and have big plants to put in the vegetable garden. For the curious, the plant on the left is 'Alma Paprika' and the one on the right is 'Jimmy Nardello'. Last summer I grew the same two types, planted earlier in the garden but still a bit late, and both produced ample crops of peppers that didn't quite have time to ripen. The early start afforded by the greenhouse should take care of that next time around.

The cedar benches now hold just a few houseplants (maybe 2-3 dozen) as well as a few plants I've propagated for fun, like four Begonia 'Little Brother Montgomery' that will hopefully go to good homes this fall.

Taller plants and those that I was more worried about exposing to even the reduced light through the shade cloth went under the other bench. Still lots of room. I am a bit dissatisfied with the benches, though. Attractive and spacious as they are, I wish I could customize them a bit. What if I had some taller plants that wouldn't fit on or under the shelves? I do have lots of little plants and with my tendency to propagate plants, horizontal space will soon be limited. I've been thinking a set of smaller shelves half the depth of the benches, either simply set on top of the benches or possibly mounted to the wall above the benches, would be useful for smaller plants, seeds, and cuttings.


Still to be done in the greenhouse: connecting the sink to the water line, attaching the hose, etc. The kit came with a small automatic drip irrigation system. I may set that up at some point but the plants that are currently in the greenhouse are so varied that hand-watering is the only way to go. Most of these plants will be coming back inside before summer is over, but others might just stay to enjoy the heat and light so they can grow faster than they would inside. In winter the plan is to keep it above freezing, but not really warm, so anything truly tropical will have to come inside. Most of my vireya rhododendrons, agapetes, and a few other things will enjoy a cool, humid greenhouse this winter over a warm, dry house, though. Now it's time to start looking through seed catalogs for next year!

13 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Evan. The greenhouse looks great (better without the blue door). Adding shelving will just be the icing on the cake. Looking forward to reading about your vegetable garden plans. Raised beds?
    Did I hear you say seed catalogs? You are incorrigible :-D (it is such fun going them, isn't it?).

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    1. We already have substantial raised beds made of cinder blocks, 4' x 10'. That reminds me, I've been meaning to do a post about a few things in the vegetable garden.
      Yes, seed catalogs. Now I have a protected spot to start them, there's nothing holding me back (until I run out of space).

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  2. I see lots of fun ahead, customizing and making it your own...and filling it up, of course. It's a handsome addition to the landscape.

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    1. Oh, yes, lots of fun. It's time to think about what garden plants I can start from seed.

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  3. Greenhouse is such fun, and in no time at all yours will be lush and full of fun plants!

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    1. It's going to fill up so fast, I'll be wishing we had gotten the next size up.

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  4. A greenhouse is something I dream of. Congratulations on getting yours in place.

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    1. I still dream of my own greenhouse in my own garden someday. Technically everything here is my parents' after all. I've only got another year (hopefully) to use it before I move away for grad school.

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  5. What a wonderful fall and winter awaits! Going up is a reasonable way to make space.

    My best tip is for shade: use binder clips to attach dollar store disposable tablecloths to the frame where you need a little summer shade. I didn't pay attention and bought around tablecloths. They worked fine with a bit of folding.

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Jean. The kit came with a shade cloth, which is surprisingly good. I moved houseplants straight from indoors to the greenhouse and didn't see any sunburn.

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  6. How exciting! Congratulations on the completion of your greenhouse. Can't wait to see what it looks like as you progress through the year.

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  7. Wow, it looks great. I like how simple, straightforward and clean the design is. Here's a silly question...how much do you really need a sink in there? I would be tempted to leave that out and gain a little more space for plants (addict talking).

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  8. It's cool to see the greenhouse go up, and what you will do with all that space to grow things. Have fun!

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