Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our Greenhouse

A reader asked for information about our greenhouse. We got the original idea from Elliot Coleman in his book, http://www.amazon.com/Four-Season-Harvest-Organic-Vegetables-Garden/dp/1890132276/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266364291&sr=1-1 He gives instructions for making a greenhouse out of hoops made of concrete reinforcing bar, covered with black plastic pipe, with the ends buried in the ground and then covered with clear plastic. With this set-up, you take the plastic off during the warmer months and thereby avoiding any buildup of insect pests. This greenhouse is for wintering over cold-hardy vegetables. The first year, that is just was we did. Then after that, my husband made it much nicer. He fabricated ends for the structure, attatched the rebar to a sturdy wood foundation and we bought real greenhouse plastic. The first year or two, I grew the vegetables in the ground, but for the last 2 years, I have had a raised bed, 4 feet by 16 feet which is filled with "Mel's Mix" described in this book: http://www.amazon.com/All-New-Square-Foot-Gardening/dp/1591862027/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266364586&sr=1-1 It is a mixture of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 fine vermiculite and 1/3 compost (which should be a mix of 5 different kinds of compost - but I could only find 4.) I start planting in August (we live in zone 5). When it looks like we will have a frost soon, then we put on the plastic. When the weather gets more severe, we stick wire wickets into the bed at intervals and cover it with floating row cover. I don't remember how much it cost. If you are serious about wanting to do something like this, I urge you to buy or borrow a copy of Coleman's book first. Then you could make your plan and call around for prices. The hardest part was building the ends, but the truth is, you don't have to have official ends with a door and all of that. It just makes it more convenient. The vegetables we grow in the greenhouse start, as I mentioned, in August. When the weather gets really cold, they stop growing, but are very much alive and can be harvested all winter and then as the season warms up, things start growing again. It's wonderful! Once established, it is not hard work at all, and it's so nice to go out there on a February afternoon and bring in things for a salad or a stir-fry. The outside dimensions are 12 feet by 20 feet.


  1. your leafy greens look wonderful! Now I want a green house!

  2. Oh thank you. I just got Eliot Colemans book Four Season Harvest and am devoring it. I built my greenhouse with cattle panels and T-posts. I have a friend who's husband built her one with cattle panels and T-post's too but he did it different than I did. I am thinking about building another one beside the one I have and making it like his. I will have to take pictures to share. I noticed from another entry that you grow mache and Coleman talks about that in his book. Do you like it. I had never heard of it until I read your blog.
    take care and thanks for sharing.

  3. I LOVE mache. It is very very hardy, mild in taste and versatile. Equally good in a salad, a sandwich, soup or a stir-fry. I think this August, I will plant mainly kale and mache with a few other little bits of things. For my taste, those are the things I enjoy having the most. There are several different varieties of kale to be had, also. Scallions in the winter are wonderful too. You'll just have to try out different things.


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