Thursday, January 20, 2011

Greenhouse Blues

January 19th, almost a month before our average last frost date, and I've taken down the greenhouse.  Oh how I loathe it, let me count the ways:

1) There were virtually no instructions on assembly.
2) Upon its arrival 1of 2 zippers were broken meaning it wouldn't close properly.
3) 3 joints would not stay connected.
4) It blew over in just a minor amount of wind the very first day.
5) When it blew over, the stakes that came with it ripped right through the cover.
6) It took some major creativity to get it secured enough to handle the lightest wind.
7) The 2nd zipper broke the 2nd day.
8) We had a very moderate rain, light in comparisons to some that come through FL, yet it collected an enormous amount of water.  I went out twice, in the rain, to dump water off the top... yet the frame still broke.
9) The weight of the water tore some holes in the seams on the top... nice gaps in just the right place to let any heat out and completely defeat its purpose (yet not in places that would allow the water to drain).
10) It was rendered useless just as we discovered 2 major roofing problems, the washing machine broke, I learned about tax issues regarding my deceased father's business, some more rather pertenant tax information conveniently hid from me and facing a very major family decision.  The last thing I needed right now is for my stress relief (gardening) to be saddled with bitterness.

But, I'm not sending it back.  It will cost $20+ to ship back and only cost me $70.  Instead, I will put the pieces to good use and still wind up with a very good greenhouse.  Here's what I've come up with:

1) I'm going to use the dog kennel as my greenhouse frame.  We use it in the summer to house the sheep at night, but the sheep are in the pasture with the goats during the winter.  It's 6'x10'x6'... a perfect size.  It costs about $200 new, but some neighbors gave it to us when their dog repeatedly climbed out of it.  It has served us VERY well!  I've seen them on Craig's List for about $100.

2) I'll lay 2x4s across the top along with a piece of welded wire fencing with small openings (2" or less) to create a stable top (that won't sag with rain) but one that will still allow light in.

3) I'll rip out the seams of the greenhouse cover and use them to create a new cover to fit over the kennel.  A 4mil drop cloth worked great as my new closure and is very inexpensive so I can use that on the larger sides to make a good fit.

4) The shelving that came with the greenhouse is still good so I'll keep that inside.

5) The big archs of the frame will make great trellises for vining plants.  It costs about $8 to make a large trellis out of electrical conduit and then when they're not in use, they are difficult to store.  These will work perfectly and I can take them apart to store.

6) The other aluminum framing pieces I can piece together to make smaller trellises for tomato plants and such. 

So all in all, I should have listened to my wise friend who said the portable greenhouses were too flimsy.  Oh well, lesson learned.  I'm still licking my wounds (as the rain drips through the roof and the laundry piles up), but my plants should make it through the rest of winter just fine.

And for others looking for a greenhouse, I'd suggest obtaining a used dog kennel and some drop clothes... I think it would be constructable for about $125 or so.


  1. well that surely squelched any notion i had of buying one...

    i get by with big, clear plastic tubs, overturned over my seedlings... not perfect, but good enough.

  2. Your average last frost date is middle February??!!! Wow, when can I move to Florida? Enjoy!