Friday, May 13, 2011

How to Build an Ugly Greenhouse

In which our Heroine waxes Eloquent on Greenhouse Structures. 

There are a gazillion good instruction sets out there on the internet for those who want to build a real greenhouse.  I really suggest you go find one of those sites instead of reading this blog post.  But if you’re in the market for a temporary, under $25 kind of structure, this is the way to do it.  Mind, it’s not pretty, and strong winds will tear the sucker apart, but hopefully you’ll get a few seedlings out of the deal.  Besides, who wants this ugly thing sitting in their teensy back yard all summer?
1.       Buy some PVC pipe and some clear plastic stuff.  Do try to plan your structure out beforehand.  Otherwise, you’ll be building it in the middle of the plumbing isle at Home Depot with your toddler in tow. 
2.       When at the checkout, make sure the high-school-aged employee has actually scanned ALL the items—especially when discussing the enthralling subject of PVC-built geodesic domes.  Otherwise, your nagging conscience will force you to pay this unlikely store a second visit in the same day.  (Seriously, though, that kid deserves a raise for his awesomeness of conversation.  No harm done anyway, because the customer service lady was so shocked at my honesty that she gave me the whole caboodle for free!)  And my conscience is clear.
3.       Build the PVC part.  It’s almost as fun as legos.  You will know how to do this if your mom was cool enough to have put PVC lengths and joints in your toy box as a child.
4.       If needed, tape your two pieces of plastic stuff together.  If you are smart enough to plan in a doorway (tent old-school style), then don’t tape 6 feet at the end.  Oops. 
5.       Draw the plastic over the top of the PVC framework.  Don’t be afraid to use random junk leftover from the previous owners of your house to weigh down the plastic.
6.       Put some old cardboard down on the floor so weeds don’t take over completely.
7.       Stick your little seedlings, and etc…, inside.
Ah, the life and times of the newbie gardener.  After a bad spell with half of my seedlings “damping off,” I have since replanted.  Some of the better seedlings have made it into larger transplanting containers as well.  My mother-in-law hacked off a section of her rhubarb root ball, which is now planted in a not-so-great place in my back yard—but hey, it’s rhubarb—it can handle it.  I have infiltrated the neighboring Methodist Church’s parking lot to destroy an offending bush before it tried to rip up the remainder of my pathetic fence.  I now have a little, ugly greenhouse which allows my Alaskan backyard to feel about 90 degrees Fahrenheit in a 4 by 5 foot space, even though it is actually only 60 degrees outside.  Also you’ll see my new flagstone area to the left of Ugly Greenhouse No. 1 in the photo.  All items for the flagstone thingy were found objects—and thusly were free, minus back-breaking labor.  Incidentally, I may leave the unsightly mess of PVC and plastic up all summer and even into the fall so my late-planted vegetables have a shot of making it.  I will string Christmas lights into the structure when extra heat is needed.  Knowing Alaska, this may happen as early as August.

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