Search This Blog

Friday, November 12, 2010

Greenhouse from Reclaimed Materials

Two years ago I was determined to get a head start on my seedlings.  Scavenging around the farm, I found some old pantry shelves and a couple of extra shop lights – ‘Aha! I can start the seeds in the basement.’  A month later all the seedlings were leggy and falling over and it was still too cold to put anything outside into the ground.  Throughout last summer and fall I looked around the interweb for plans, ideas, and suggestions on how to build cold frames and greenhouses.  In the barn there are several (at least 30 varying sizes) old storm windows that were saved out of various farm buildings as new ones containing descriptors such as double paned, UV protected, insulated, etc. were installed.  They had to be good for something besides dust collecting.  My stack of pallets was getting taller as well, some of that wood had to be useful for making a door or even some gable ends.  I never thought of myself as a pack rat, but I think I have become a careful saver.  I started seeing the value of reclaimed wood from pallets; it makes great framing for things like nesting boxes, mudroom shelves, and display racks for farmers market.

The project started one March weekend when cabin fever had gotten the best of me.  Snow still clung in icy clumps on the lawn and the lake was still frozen over, but the temperature was forecast to be in the low 40s and sun all day – ‘Honey, do you feel like running to the lumber yard?’  With cautious enthusiasm, DH made the 11 mile journey to the lumber yard and brought back some lengths of 2x4 and some longer wood screws – 1” were not going to hold the framing together.  I went out to the barn and started bringing the dusty, dirty windows down from the upper regions of the barn.  Armed with several windows, a drill, circular saw, some screws and a doodle on the back of the misprinted DMV schedule we went to work on the new greenhouse.

Master carpenters we are not, but everything we have built so far has stayed together even in the worst of weather.  Day one saw the completion of three walls, and a desperately needed washing of the windows.  The greenhouse is not very big (I am 5’ 8”) and doesn’t have any supplemental heat, but it was certainly enough to start everything that wasn’t going to be direct seeded.

Day two gave us a roof.  I was surprised that it came together with 90 and 45 degree angles.  To this day I am still amazed I got a B in geometry.

Day three gave us a door and gable ends to the roof.


Each day the snow receded further and on day four shelves were installed (although I didn’t take a picture of those).  Seeds were started over the next several days and by late March we had full flats of seedlings emerging.  At night we covered the greenhouse with an old pool cover (another roadside saved item which we had no idea what we were going to use it for) to keep the frosts from damaging the tender leaves of the seedlings.  We learned that the small size of the greenhouse requires some additional ventilation so we are going to work on a solar powered, thermostatically controlled fan over the winter.  The whole project cost about $30 in new materials and there are still screws and 2x4 sections left over.  Reclaimed pallet wood ended up being used in the framing as well as the door and roof supports.

It certainly is not a sight to behold, but reclaimed hinges, salvaged windows and plywood pieces make an OK little greenhouse for getting the garden started.  Perhaps when a family member has leftover paint from their next project, the whole thing will get a little ‘prettier.’  For now it is functional and it grew some great veggies this year!

No comments:

Post a Comment