In November of 2009 we began
Our Greenhouse Experiment

Our goal was to be able to build an inexpensive greenhouse with normal everyday materials you would find at your local hardware store or builder supply.

The greenhouse is 8' wide, 6' high and 50' long. It cost approximately $700.00 to build. My greatest concern with the greenhouse was the wind. Several times a year we have very strong winds. Well, 3 weeks after we completed the greenhouse we had one of the worst wind storms we have seen in years. Gusts in our area were clocked up to 100 mph. We were pleased to see the greenhouse still standing in the morning. The wind blew so strong it pounded some of the steel pipe 4" further in the ground. Because of this the plastic was a little loose on the hoops but other then that there were no adverse effects.

First we poured the concrete for endpieces. These endpieces which provide access to the greenhouse as well as connection points for the plastic sheeting. Maranatha is driving the cement mixer and little Noah is supervising.

Next we built a welded metal frame with a door. This frame we covered with inexpensive plywood. (If this design works we will later cover it with more water resistant material) Hope and Zane are painting the plywood on the endpieces.

The hoops are made out of 1/2" PVC pipe with a 1/2" x 20' rebar inside. The PVC pipe comes in 20' lengths from the local plumbing supply. We cut 2' off each length of pipe so that 1' of rebar sticks out each end. We bent each PVC/rebar into the shape of the endpieces. Every 2' we pounded a 16" piece of 1/2" steel (gas pipe) pipe into the ground. These pieces of pipe will be the sockets into which the hoop ends will be inserted.

With the two endpieces in place and the 24 hoops installed we then connected the plastic to the endpieces. Once the plastic was connect we stretched the plastic tight by pulling on one end with the tractor. Our plastic is 10 mil and comes in a roll 20' wide by 100' long. Since the hoops are only 18' long (we cut 2' off the PVC) we have an extra 1' of plastic on each side to weigh down with dirt. This dirt hopefully with be sufficient to hold down the plastic in the wind.

The same day we installed the plastic we began planting. We planted two narrow rows on each side and 3 rows in the center. We planted the typical winter crops. (lettuce, radishes, chard, broccoli, carrots, spinach and peas) For fun we also planted some corn, basil, beans and flowers.

Four weeks now and many of the plants are coming up. Here are Hannah's bachelor buttons. Next to them are some tomato plants.

It's been getting colder at nights so we installed some 4" ABS pipe vertically inside the greenhouse. The ends are capped and the pipe is filled with water. During the day the sun warms the water and at night it helps keep the plants from freezing.

The plants are about five weeks old now and dad is pulling some of small weeds growing in the rows.

It's been 5 weeks now and the Ping Pong radishes are ready to harvest. The leaf lettuces is just about ready and most of the plants are doing well. Something is wrong with the beans though. They don't seem to be doing very well. Maybe they don't like the high humidity or the extreme changes in temperature from day to day.

We installed some raised beds on the North side of the greenhouse this week. We made the raised beds out of 1/4" x 4" x 20' steel. (bender board) The bottoms are of 1" expanded metal and the legs are 3/4" square tube. Ever since we got that portable Miller mig welder, Hitchin Post Iron sure has been selling us a lot of metal.

We plan to sow our starter plants in these beds. In a couple of months we will move these plants into our main garden.

December 22 - - We got our 1st bunch of Dixondale Yellow Grannex onions yesterday. Last year we planted our onions in late February. This year we thought we would try a few of the onions early in the greenhouse to see if they will grow. 9:30 last night Win and I planted the 60 onions in the raised beds with flashlights :). (upper left of picture below )

December 23 - -You got to love Arizona. We woke up this morning with 3" of snow on the ground. What a rare privilege for desert dwellers. It was so serene and quiet. There is nothing like the clean freshness of a desert snow.

By mid morning the good old Arizona sun was bright and shining. By 11am most of the snow was gone and the greenhouse temperature was up to 70 degrees. A little while later it was over 80 degrees inside and the plants were loving it.

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