Gardening

More on Our Greenhouse

I’ve had several people asking for further information on the greenhouse we built this last fall, and in which we now have 8 tomatoes standing at some 12″ tall already (specifically Pozzano and Frederik greenhouse indeterminates)!

The greenhouse was built using SolaWrap purchased from Johnny Seeds out of Maine. These come in 6′ wide strips which can be purchased in 5′ length increments. We purchased them at 10′ lengths so that they fit cleanly into the 10′ long extruded channels attached, one each, to the three 1″x10′ electrical conduit. We did a slight bend of the electrical conduit using a low tunnel quick hoops pipe bender, also from Johnny Seeds.

Our greenhouse is only half wide as it attaches to the south side of a small clubhouse we built some years ago for use by Eric and Joey, but which now serve as a garden shed. Putting it up cost a little over $500, as we went to Champaign’s Preservation and Conservation Association (PACA) and Champaign Surplus stores to buy a lot of the old doors and wood used in the structure.

Ideally, we would have loved to connect a second group of 1″x10′ electrical conduits on the other side to double the width of the greenhouse and to collect sun from both sides. But as this would have been only 15′ from the street, we figure this would not receive city approval.

For those considering this option, I would recommend running a 4′ wide section of SolaWrap along the bottom to create a roll up bottom section for ventilation on each side. Then you could run 6’x10′ strips along each pair of conduit from the roll up strip across the top and to the roll up strip on the other side. Building a 14′ wide by 20′ long greenhouse would run around $900 and could grow much of the vegetables for your family 12 months long.

By comparison, for years we’ve been using Agribon 19 (early spring temperature protection) and Agribon 15 (late spring and summer insect protection) row cover to extend our growing season. Our six raised outdoor beds are now filled with peas, overwintered onions and garlic, kale, beets, Swiss chard, radishes, carrots, and lettuce. It’s to build these that we first bought the low tunnel pipe bender. For these we used the 3/4′ electrical conduit.

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