Thursday, April 27, 2017

The greenhouse!

At last, my new hobby greenhouse is up and running. I thought this day would never come. So many things went wrong, so many delays, terrible instructions, installers who didn't keep their promised dates, who had to do things twice because they misinterpreted the pictures (the only instructions).

This greenhouse is pretty much a mini version of the one I had at the farm - 6' x 8' instead of an 18' x 24' commercial greenhouse in which I grew several thousand plants each season. So I knew what I needed here. No sense putting up a greenhouse if you do not follow some basic principles that will get you lovely home-grown plants.

I looked at a $200 (sale price) hobby greenhouse at Harbor Freight. After doing a good bit of research, I decided on one a little heavier, with more features. I got it at Home Depot. The one I chose had some pretty good reviews, and some pretty horrible ones. Since I always read the bad ones first, I decided I could get around the problems many purchasers had with this model by doing a more robust installation.

I hired two men to put it together for me, me being a single 75 year old woman. In spite of lifting weights three days a week, I am pretty sure it was beyond the scope of my capabilities, even with a little help. Since I wanted much more than the "normal" greenhouse, it cost a pretty penny. There is electricity run to it (how to plug in heat mats, radios, lights and fans?), and after looking at pictures of these greenhouses lying in pieces on the ground after a strong wind, I bought the tie-down kit. The installers set the anchors into concrete instead of just screwing them into the ground. They also built a 4' x 8' frame made of 4" x 4" untreated lumber (still doing that organic thing, so no treated lumber) and set it on corner posts, also set in concrete.  In addition, I bought the automatic vent opener and a shade cloth. So many people think that you want all of the sun and heat you can get, but the sun will scald your precious plants if they get direct sunlight, and the heat will cook them.

Here are a whole bunch of pictures of the project, from start (parts all over the ground) to finish (heat mat plugged in and bringing the temp up to 80℉ to optimize tomato seed germination). I have no idea what I am going to do with 300 plants. I have room for maybe 50 of them here, including the flowers I am growing. Tomatoes? I can plant about 10 of them in pots on my deck, and I'm going to try growing a few in the greenhouse. They are organic heirloom plants, indeterminate, and I'm going to try to grow them on twine in the greenhouse, where I can control heat and light. I can dream, right?

I'm happy.

The puzzle laid out on the ground

Getting there

Electricity done

Note guy wires - the anchors are in concrete!

A place for indoor growing - I'm dreaming of fresh organic kale in January.

Shelving had to be jury-rigged to get 8' of continuous shelf. Bad design! But we made it work.

French Breakfast adishes and butter lettuce coming along

Seedling tray - finally arrived and filled with organic seedling mix

Note the split door. This means I can get a cross breeze without having to keep the door open. Too many geese in this neighborhood! I can imagine them going in and having butter lettuce and French Breakfast radishes for lunch. If not geese, then the rabbits. Or perhaps Fred will go on a digging expedition.

Hoping to get a crop before it gets too hot. Blistering yesterday! 

Erin and Tim came over, and Tim got the end shelves level. I still need to add wire cable in the corner, but I'm ready to roll!

Thermostat to control heat mat. It's working on getting temp up to 80℉

At last! Growing things!!

Vent still closed this morning, but it will open as the temperature rises.


  1. Very nice. Now that's the old Susan I remember. Didn't feel the same with out your plants and green house.

  2. That is true. No chickens yet, and I think I am going to resist getting a couple of them, but it would be nice to have my own girls again.