Monday, October 17, 2011

A Greenhouse for Winter

At Patio Joe's.
Neither one of us can remember if we bought the greenhouse in 2008 or 2009 – either way, it’s been a project that’s hung over our heads for too long.  Kel found the ad on craigslist and we drove into Oklahoma City to take a look at it.  The man selling it – we called him Patio Joe because he was in the pond business (think koi and lily pads) – took us to his back yard and there it was – an oxidizing metal skeleton with its various part strewn around, some in buckets, some heaped in piles.  Joe lost the mojo somewhere along the way and had never finished putting it up.  (We would later relate very well to that sentiment.)  Black plastic shelving lined the open walls.  Kel examined it carefully and then we drove away, getting only a few miles before deciding to make an offer.  Joe accepted and we told him we’d be back the next day to disassemble it.  

It took us two days in the hot sun to do it and Kel said that we should be taking pictures and we should be marking the parts so that we could more easily put it all back together – but we didn’t mark anything and we took only a handful of photos. (None of which, by the way, actually helped at all later.  As the photographer, I can say this.)  The second day I was sunburned and my muscles were sore, but the hard part was over.  We loaded everything onto a flatbed trailer that we’d borrowed from a guy we knew who ran cattle and headed home.

Side three goes up.
Everything was unloaded into the barn and there it all sat – a victim to inertia and to unforeseen bumps in the road that kept us from immediately putting it all back together again.  Then last spring we finally got after it and fairly quickly we had holes in the ground and the pipes cemented into place.  Beams and crossbeams were bolted together.  It started looking like a greenhouse.  We put down sheets of black plastic to kill the grass inside and then fall came with its high winds and circumstances took us away from Oklahoma for a while.

This fall the mornings have been calm so we’ve been able to work on unfurling the long, thick rolls of plastic that will cover the structure.  I didn’t think that the two of us alone could do it without sailing away or getting tangled in the sheeting.  Kel as usual does the really hard and heavy parts and I watch nervously, ready to dial 911.  So far three sides of plastic are up and flapping a bit in the late afternoon breeze.  I have no idea how we are going to get the top covered.

But now I’m getting excited – finally seeing it come together.  We already have things to move into it: several fig trees, lemon, lime and grapefruit plants, a big pot of lemongrass that I have for cooking but can’t bring myself to cut and use – and pots of rosemary and various kinds of thyme.  I’m looking forward to having fresh greens available throughout most of the year.  To getting a jump on spring planting; to having tomatoes tied to the rafters next summer, heavy with fruit; to carrots and radishes safe from nibbling rabbits; and whatever else we can coax to grow there.

Side four should go up today - wind and bodies willing - then we'll tackle the top.  We can see the light at the end of the greenhouse.  Just in time, too.  Winter is coming.   


  1. So very cool! I want one...maybe not that big, but I do want one!

  2. When you talked about a greenhouse - I've been visualising a greenhouse - not a polytunnel! My word, you two do undertake mammoth projects, even if it is over time! Like the idea of doing that, though; gives you plenty of time to decide exactly where it should be placed. It's a bit big to move once erected!

    Good luck with all your vegetable and tree planting and may you and Kel enjoy the fruits of your labours for many years to come!

  3. Awesome! Looks great, can't wait to hear about the harvests!

  4. I too am looking forward to updates on this project.


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