How To Build A Greenhouse – Shertzer Family
Amateur Greenhouse Assemblers Save The World!
Written by Amanda Shertzer
Last winter, my husband Rob and I started discussing gardening projects for the spring. It was probably during the 87th consecutive day of ice and snow, when the kids were inside bouncing off the walls and hadn’t been in school for a month. I might be exaggerating… a little. Anyway, Rob showed me a video on youtube.com about aquaponics – raising fish and using their waste water to feed the vegetables you grow. I thought it was really genius. You don’t have to continuously water your crops (there is only something like 10% water evaporation from this system that you have to replace), and the veggies grow so fast and big! “This is awesome,” I thought! We’ll never have to shop the produce section again! The best part is, once you get it set up and going there really doesn’t seem like there is much to do except harvest and start new veggies (and fish).
Sometime shortly after that (during the great thaw) a greenhouse kit went on sale at Harbor Freight, and there was a 25% off coupon in the flyer as well. Bonus! Off we went to buy our greenhouse. Woo hoo!!! We’re greenhouse owners… sort of! Here’s what you need to get started:
- Greenhouse Kit
- Fill Dirt
Time: Four Days
When Winter finally stopped throwing her tantrums and we had a decent day, we went out to take a look at the site where we had planned to assemble said greenhouse. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “It’s not exactly level is it?”
Him: “We’ll have to cut into the hill here a little.”
Me: “Cut…into… Do you remember when you had to dig holes for the fence posts?”
Him: “Yeah, it’s really rocky. Maybe we should just get some fill dirt and build a pad.”
Me: “Excellent idea!”
The next week my brilliant hubby had found us some fill dirt. Three weeks later he was still trying to find someone that could deliver it. Finally in May, the dirt arrived.
My children cried out with glee (literally – I have video proof) as they watched the dirt spilling out of the back of the delivery truck. Then they played on the big pile of dirt and “built” it into things. Then it rained… and rained… and rained. Finally we had a sunny weekend and a friend with a “digger” (thanks Rudy). The pad was in place! Hooray!
Then it rained some more… and some more… and, yep, you guessed it: it rained some more. Then when we finally had a good sunny weekend to work on it, we had a crisis and had to fix something unexpectedly. Isn’t that always the way? Then it rained again. Sigh.
Meanwhile my seedlings had to be transplanted into pots on my front porch. They didn’t seem very happy about it. My radishes got tired of waiting and gave up. So did my broccoli. I can’t blame them, really.
But guess what? Mid-May, we had a good weekend again. Rob put the bottom frame together on the pad and we put bricks all around the outside to keep it from moving around. We got it level and then started adding sand inside the base. The fill dirt was extremely rocky and we had large pavers to put down as the floor, so the sand helped us keep everything nice and level. It took 372 bags of play sand to fill it all in. I might be exaggerating. A little. I used a 2 x 4 to smooth and level the surface for a row, and super-strong-man (Rob) hefted each 90 pound paver into place. It took an entire morning just to get the floor done, while the kids (aged 4, 5 and 7) kept offering to “help.” Rob used a shovel to get the spacing right between the pavers and then we poured sand in the cracks and swept the top clean.
I stopped and admired our hard work. Then I thought “hmmm… wouldn’t a bistro table and chairs just be so cute right here?” Ahem. Another project, another time!
After getting the corner braces up, we were done for the day. We called in family to help with the “big build.” Both of my brothers, my sister-in-law, and my nephew came out to help (and this time our kiddos did actually help out too). We got most of the structure done except the roof. The following weekend we finished the roof and put all the panels on (and clipped them into place). Hallelujah! The angels wept. It was beautiful!
So now the greenhouse is done… and empty. Because apparently there are a whole lot of ways to create an aquaponic system and we just haven’t decided which will fit our needs best. Meanwhile my plants are in the ground in raised beds (refer to rocky ground conversation above), and honestly I think they are a little bit disappointed. I don’t really blame them. But, hey, at least they haven’t gone the way of the radishes and broccoli.
We will get the aquaponics system going – and soon. I have visions of creating an inexpensive and simple system that we can master and then replicate on a community level – providing fresh veggies and fish to people who don’t have a space to garden, or who just need food. After that, wouldn’t it be cool to build systems for our local schools? Our kids could be getting fresh, organic veggies in their school lunches.
We may not have gotten the greenhouse up and running as quickly as we would have liked, but it is up, and we have our goals. We will persevere! Stay tuned…
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