Meet our reclaimed, upcycled greenhouse.
Or that’s what I’m choosing to call it. You could also call it a last-minute, schlepped- together, randomly-constructed greenhouse. If you were a local around here and happened to have a disparaging view of neighboring West Virginia (which we don’t!), you might even call it a “West Virginia job.” But we’ll go with the first option.
We took a break from drywalling early this past week because we realized that our extremely temporary seed-starting space was no longer cutting it. We’ve not wanted to rush into building our more permanent greenhouse while we’re so focused on the barn renovations. So for our very first seedlings, we simply covered some hoops with plastic on my in-laws deck (thank goodness they are so laid back!), and used a space heater to keep them warm over night and on cold days. That worked for about a week…and then we had more flats than our plastic covered tunnel could handle. We thought briefly about just biting the bullet and taking time to invest in and build our permanent greenhouse, but we didn’t feel like a) we have the time/money for that right now, and b) we wanted to hastily construct a greenhouse in a form or location that we later regret.
Thankfully, Tim is the master of looking at a random pile of tools and supplies and having the vision to construct something we need out of it. He’s also pretty good at hanging onto things that he thinks we might use around the farm or house in the future (sometimes to my chagrin). Both gifts served us extremely well this past week as, over two days, we put up a greenhouse from the ground up. Without spending a dime.
The project was a little bit complicated by our organic certification. We’re still waiting for our application to be processed, after which an inspector will come out to look at the land, the beds we’ll be planting into, and any farm-related buildings or processing areas. One of the requirements of organic certification is that you don’t use any treated lumber in structures where you’ll be growing plants–such as a greenhouse. So though Tim had salvaged and transported down a bunch of lumber from our former animal houses, non-organic-certified greenhouse, etc., we couldn’t use most of it because it’s nearly all treated. Instead, he and his dad drove in T-posts to form the sidewalls and the base of the greenhouse structure (just one reason this will need to be temporary), and then used some of the untreated rafters we brought down from an old shed in PA to create the sidewalls and roof. We had enough untreated lumber to finish out the frame with some end-walls and a basic door and window.
Since this is a temporary solution, we decided not to put down gravel or anything more serious on the floor, but instead laid down landscape fabric that we’d already purchased for our raised-beds garden system. That’ll keep the grass and weeds at bay for as long as we use this structure.
We were lucky to not need to invest in plastic for the exterior. We happen to have an unusually large amount of greenhouse plastic lying around, thanks to my cousin who runs a hydroponics business and gave us a bunch of used plastic they were getting rid of. Old drip irrigation lines and some staples did the trick to secure the plastic to our frame.
We ‘reclaimed’ our heat source from ourselves. When we moved, we decided to haul down our Jotul wood stove, even though we would be using our new wood cookstove in the barn-house. The hope was (and is) to eventually install the stove in one of the treehouse-abodes we want to eventually build around the property. But for now, our good ol’ Jotul gets to keep our seedlings warm.
Tim had to do some head scratching when it came time to set up tables for our seedlings. Seeing as we had limited untreated lumber and also wanted to spend ZERO money, there wasn’t an obvious option. Just the day before, however, we had been wondering about what to do with a large pile of logs that had been too big for Tim’s parent’s log splitter. Tim rolled a bunch of them down to the greenhouse, screwed two long untreated boards on into them, and then placed some metal shelving we had from our PA farm on top. The ‘tables’ are actually at a great height for seeding and watering. They also look pretty cool. In fact, if we were posting this on Pinterest I daresay we might label them as an ‘industrial-rustic blend.’
All in all, it’s a great space that cost us nothing and does the job we need it to (so long as a windstorm doesn’t come and topple it all over). We’ll need a more permanent solution eventually, but for now our reclaimed greenhouse suits us just fine. Now, away from the cheery green of new seedlings and back to drywalling…