Monday, June 6, 2022

THE CHEAPSKATE RURAL GARDENER: Project Greenhouse - Accessorizing

The greenhouse is built but the work isn't done. I've still got a lot to do...

To start with, I'll need something to set my plants on. Just setting them on the ground would not be efficient, I need some benches.

I could go and just buy some. A six foot plastic bench would be $150-200. I'd need 2 plus a five foot bench. I'm a cheapskate, that's getting pretty spendy.

Instead, I'll build my own. I have a nice pile of 4x4 scrap redwood and pressure treated wood, which is resistant to rot, so I won't have to spend any money on that.

1x6 redwood milled lumber board can be $25-40 each but six foot long 1x6 redwood fence planks are only $5 each. That's the perfect size and the benches don't have to be perfect or pretty so I'll get a dozen of these instead.

Time to dig out my trusty miter saw.

I cut my 4x4's into 11" lengths. I'll need 15 of those, the benches will have 2 legs at each end, 1 leg in the middle for added support, a couple of fence posts will be cut into 17.5 inch lengths to provide a platform between the fence planks and 4x4's to be able to attach easily.

I lay out my 4x4's, and put my planks on top. I sink in some 2" wood screws at the end of each plank and through the middle. 

The first bench I make is five feet long so I can turn it sideways into the back of the greenhouse.

The next two benches come together quickly and are six feet long to go on the side of the greenhouse. Each bench is 13 inches high, I can add another level above it easily when I run out of room. Now I have a bench around 3/4 of the greenhouse. It takes me about two hours and a total cost of about $75 to make the three benches.

I like gardening, as you can tell, but I'm not one of those who like to manually water each one of my plants. Over the years, I've gotten quite good at installing automatic drip and microsprinkler systems so I can spend my time doing something else. This greenhouse will be no different so now I have to put in an irrigation system.

You might have noticed in the pictures of the greenhouse and construction that there is a sprinkler at the right corner, just outside of the greenhouse. This is no accident. In fact, that's a big reason I built the greenhouse where I did.

In addition to being a patch of grass that wasn't needed, the location had sprinklers. That means there's a source of water already there that's connected to an automatic timer. I could make this work to my benefit.

Before I built the greenhouse, I capped the second sprinkler by the back fence taking it out of service. Next, I dug the sprinkler in the picture out. I unscrewed the sprinkler, put in a stainless steel extender pipe, and screwed the sprinkler back on as a place holder/cap until I was finished building.

Now, I take the sprinkler back off and replace it with a $2.99 valve that I bought at our local Ace Hardware.

I got a brass hose end repair with a fluted nozzle.

I drill a hole in the plastic glass, thread a 1/2" drip hose, through it, and fit the end of my hose (I've had some sitting around left over from an earlier project) over the nozzle and clamp it on with the clamp that came inside the hose repair kit.

I run the hose around the frame of the greenhouse and attach with some plastic clips that I got from Amazon for around $10.

Next, I'll strap some microsprinklers to the side of the greenhouse. I figure I'll need 2 on each side for a total of four. This will be pretty much all I'll need for water although I anticipate that some plants in the future may need their own drip line...but that's a job for another day. It's also cheap and easy to do.

Now, I just have to go to my current sprinkler system timer and put in the schedule I want for the water to go off. I think I'll go for 4 minutes of water every other day, plus a minute or two during the hottest time of the day in the summer to help keep it cool, to start with and make any adjustment as necessary as time goes on.

I have a successful test and the wet gravel, after the sprinkle, helps keep the humidity up too.

Finally, as you can see the picture at the beginning of this post, I put a high/low thermometer. This will not only tell me the current temperature but also the hottest it's been and the coldest it's been in the last 24 hours.

This is crucial because the plants that will go in here will be too tender to survive outside when the weather gets below freezing. In the winter, I'll monitor this and be ready to either move my plants or put in a heater if it gets too cold. My hope is that it'll retain enough heat to make that not necessary but this is cheap insurance to make sure that doesn't happen.

Alright! The greenhouse is officially open for business, now I just need some plants. I've already ordered a couple of orchids to get started (you can see one on the bench in the photo above). We'll see how this goes.

Darryl Musick
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