Saturday, April 30, 2011

Greenhouse Extension

For 3 weeks now we have desperately needed a more room in our greenhouse. The original 25x25ft of growing space was excellent to start the season off through the cool nights, however, we have hundreds of tomatoes outgrowing their 4" pots and even more pepper plants needing potting up. So a couple weeks later that we would have liked it was time to build an additional 30ftx30ft of growing space. To make this happen on a small budget we decided to build the greenhouse from scratch.

Earlier this week was spent preparing all the metal. The hoops of the house are comprised of 2 - 20ft lengths of pipe welded together, which are bent and drilled. To bend the hoops we set up a jig on one of our flat deck trailers. The jig is made of 2x4's screwed into the deck creating an arc that will give the metal an arc as we pull around the 2x4's.

Next we stood all the hoops upright and screwed them together, starting at the end of our existing greenhouse. Plans are to cut the wall out between the two sections when we start potting up all the plants this week, so you can walk right through both structures. The new sections is 5 ft taller than the previous which will allow more height for the tomatoes vines in the summer.

To attache the plastic to the metal hoops we use wiggle wire & wiggle wire strips.. It is a pretty cool system that will secures the plastic firmly to the metal, yet allows us to take the plastic off with ease at a later date if needed.

All in all creating the structure was quite easy. It took half a day to prepare the metal, half a day to bolt everything together. Next all we needed was a calm day to put up the plastic. If you can picture the plastic, it is a 40ftx60ft kite under the right conditions. Because of this there is generally one rule and only one rule to putting up greenhouse plastic. Never Put Up Greenhouse Plastic In The Wind. As it happened the day we wanted to put up the plastic was a bit breezy, much stronger wind than I would have liked. But with so many plants needing more room we gathered a good crew and took our chances. We were able to pull the plastic over in 15 minutes and get it secured before the wind blew it into the trees.

So the home made extension seems to be a success. The only issue now will be heating the new structure. Our wood stove was only just able to keep the smaller space warm on some of our cool spring nights. The goal is to heat the greenhouse without natural gas which will pose some challenges. Plans are to implement a number of passive solar techniques to capture heat during the day to be released throughout the night. Once we get everything set up I will take some more pics.

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