Covered wagon or greenhouse?

27 Feb

Rather than  buy starts, last year I built a greenhouse so I could sprout my own tomatoes, peppers, and basil. Calling it a greenhouse is being generous. I used some scrap two-by-fours to frame out a low-slung frame that’s eight feet long, four feet wide and three feet tall – or something like that. The only complicated part was to build and mount a door. Then I stretched plastic over it all, and voila, I had greenhouse.

It worked great – I wasn’t sure how it would perform, and I actually ended up with too many cherry tomatoes, lots of peppers, and even some of the finicky basil that I had never been able to start on my own before.

After I was done with it, I parked the greenhouse in the hidden area on the north side of my house and thought vaguely that I needed to do something about the roof. (Every time it rained, the water pooled heavily on the roof, which caused it to sag and sag some more each time it rained). I promptly forgot about the plastic-wrapped wonder until recently, when I started thinking about dragging it out so I can get some new starts going. When I went back to take a look, sure enough it was filled with water and rotting leaves. Yuck.

Seeing some of the PVC-like plastic pipes some people use to tent over their raised beds, I came up with the idea of popping out the top of my greenhouse with some PVC pipes. I just needed to figure out how to secure the pipe ends without tearing the plastic. I went to the hardware store, looked around, and decided 45-degree PVC elbows would likely do the trick. So I bought two 10-foot lengths of 3/4 inch PVC and six elbows, plus some basic brackets to hold the elbows in place.

From there, I estimated how long a piece I thought I would need by wedging a piece of PVC into the roof and seeing how far I could wedge in. I quickly made a mark, cut the pipe down to size, screwed the brackets over the elbows, and wedged the PVC pipe in one elbow, bent the middle of the pipe up until I could slip the other end into the elbow on the other side, and I was done. I did that twice more, and I suddenly had a pop-up roof and a greenhouse that looks just like a covered wagon.

Now it’s time to move it to the sunny side of the yard and see how warm it stays at night.


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