The Greenhouse Build

Published On: April 4, 2021Categories: Farming

Oh a greenhouse. Is there anything more charming and characteristic of the farmhouse storybook setting, than a little wood and glass greenhouse with gothic lines, fleur de lis detailing and a brick base? I think not. Well I’m here to tell you friends, that that’s not necessarily the most practical choice for a working farm. It comes down to money, time and efficiency. So while I most coveted something along these lines…

Which gives me ALL the happy feels, we realized it wasn’t quite practical.

We landed on a Climapod for several reasons. It was affordable, came in several sizes, had a LOT of accessories we would need, and they were in stock! We ended up with a 9’ x 14’ even though I wanted the 21 footer, and decided to tuck it in the woods across from the tractor path, next to the market garden.

The assembly of this thing was far from easy, the directions were vague at best, often skipping a step and then referring to it a few pages later. There was a lot of, ‘add this screw, then take this screw out, then add it back again.”

We started by digging a trench, a bit larger than the space we needed for the greenhouse. If you’ve ever dug in a rocky New England forest with lots of roots and well, rocks, you know this was not an easy or enjoyable feat.

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Digging the trench for the greenhouse… on a hot spring day. Not exactly fun.
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Matt out working late to get the foundation in for the greenhouse
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10 o’clock at night as the wind kicks up, maybe not the best time to put up an aluminum greenhouse
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Nearly there after 2 whole days of the both of us working on the panels!
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Done and moved in!
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Lot of work still to be done outside the greenhouse, including a gravel and flagstone path, finished stone walls, and turning this area into a perennial pollinator bed.
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Next, we filled the trench with ¾ in stone. This ensures good drainage around the greenhouse, and a good foundation on which to build the base. For the base we chose solid cinder blocks, two layers. This helped lift it up, and also, again, ensures a good base.

From here, things got a little wonky. Matt put together the two end panels of the greenhouse in our garage. He bolted the bottom frame to the base, after a lot of confusion as to what pieces we were actually supposed to use. He then decided he could put the frame up by himself… at night. This… was not the best plan. While the end frame went up easily enough, the middle was a nightmare. With nothing to hold it up, it took the two of us, standing on a ladder, at 10 o’clock at night, as the wind kicked up, to get it up.

We had to backtie the frame to a tree because the wind had blown the frame out of whack and the cross braces we had put up had started to bend. We got the panels on a few at a time, helping give the greenhouse structure to hold it in place.

On Easter Sunday, Matt’s parents came out and Matt and his Dad were able to get the last section of panels in. It took taking the back piece off, pulling it away, and then carefully pushing the panels back into the channels on the frame.

Next was nearly 2 whole days of accessory install; vents, louvers, heat trigger vent openers, solar fans, shelves and doors! All important, yet tedious things to install.

Finally, Matt and I shoveled some stone gravel into the floor and packed it down. Matt had a massive boulder he needed to split that was in the tractor path. He was able to make some beautiful granite steps for both inside and outside the greenhouse.

I spent the whole next day moving in. Taking my starts and lining them up on shelves, setting up a folding plastic table as a temporary solution to a potting table, and our smaller cedar greenhouse for added storage. I then spent the next morning starting rows and rows of seeds! Flowers, celery, shallots, herbs, all things I had been itching to start but had no space to put.

We will be adding some more shelving for the opposite wall, and building a proper potting table, complete with storage for our trays and a containment area for piles of compost. The area outside will need some serious layout work later; the path created by the tractor will be filled with the same gravel as inside, with some square flagstones we have. I have some creeping thyme that creates a beautiful, walkable cover that will go along the edges and hopefully into the path eventually. Running between the path and the stonewall separating the market garden, will be a perennial pollinator bed and to the left, a small apricot tree polyculture will be going in. We also plan to do a small seeding raised bed in front of the greenhouse.

A small market garden farm like ours, NEEDS a greenhouse, we simply cannot do without. While it was a pain to put together, I am so incredibly happy to have it finally up and usable. May this greenhouse be filled with, well, green very soon. Here’s to it’s first season.

As always, Cheers, Prost, Slainte Mhath!

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