Growing up my grandmother (who grew up on a farm) always said never to plant anything before Easter because there would always be another freeze and kill it all of. Well, so far in my short gardening career, that has proven true. Now that we’ve got the interior of the house all cleaned up and remodeled, carting seed-starting trays in and out for the next month and a half isn’t going to be a popular activity with the Wife.
After some quick google-ing, I decided to make a green house out of one of the raised beds. This will hopefully serve two purposes.
- give us a spot to start seeds outside
- if successfull at #1, provide a spot we can grow salad greens, tomatoes, etc through the winter. (at the cost involved, I would very quickly convert 2 more beds for extended winter growing.
Our beds are 4×10 raised beds. Depths vary depending on the grade of the hill where we built them. Here are the materials used today:
- 4ea 1/2x10ft cpvc pipe
- 10ea 1/2in copper pipe clamps
- 20ea screws (use galvanized so they’ll survive the elements)
- 2ea 2x4x10 pressure treated.
- some duct tape
- staple gun & staples
- 19 feet of 10 foot wide 6-mil clear plastic.
All of this set me back about $42 (had some of the stuff around already).
First I attached the downhill side of the tubing into place, then when attaching the up-hill side, I doubled over the plastic and screwed the brackets through the plastic to hold it secure. This was done because I plan on accessing the bed from the down hill side.
Next I unrolled the plastic, which confirmed that I needed a brace at each end to give some stability against the wind… enter the first 2×4. I grabbed two pieces from the pile that were bout 4.5 feet long. screwed them into the bed-frame, then attached the top of the hoop with a clamp.
Next I folded up the corners and screwed a short piece of 2×4 over it to hold it tight (the plastic was cut in a rectangle, and I intentionally left it that way to increase utility of the plastic when it is not on the bed).
Finally, I got my 10 foot 2×4 and rolled the plastic on the down hill side around it, stapling it every so often. I screwed 3 blocks on the front of the bed which hold the 2×4 in place (quite tightly I might add). The hoop-supports offer plenty of structural support to pull up this piece of 2×4 and rest it on top of hoops to provide a “doorway” of sorts to allow easy access to the entire bed.
All of that, including 2 trips to the store, took less than 2 hours. Before i was done (11:45ish) there was already condensation collecting inside the plastic. Only time will tell, but I think we’re going to have a successful greenhouse here.
I’ll grab a thermometer to go out there and see what our temps look like over the next week. If they are good, I’ll go ahead and start seeds in a couple of weeks. If it gets too cold at night, I may add a low-watt light bulb on a thermostat to keep it warm enough to start seeds early.
For what its worth, I think this could be done with a simple box frame and some tent stakes, and you could just set the frame over your seed-starting trays in the lawn. But you’d want to make sure you had it secured to it wouldn’t blow away.