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2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

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2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  navajas on 4/15/2013, 12:21 pm

So, I survived a year of gardening and I'm back for another. As a quick recap, I have a 25'x20' deer enclosure garden with five 4'x8'x1' raised beds outside Sequim about 1/4 mile back from the Straight (VERY windy). Last year was my first year gardening ever, and I made WAY TOO MUCH food. With no experience or skills in preserving, a lot of that went straight from garden to compost. :-/

Carrots, lettuce, spinach, parsnips (wintered), zucchini, broccoli, blueberries (have to be inside my 8' fence because of deer), strawberries, peas, beans, chard, thyme, kale, thyme, radishes, rutabaga and kohlrabi were all super successful.

Potatoes were moderate a success, but did not get the yield I expected. Purple Majesties were the star.

Onions, chives, basil, rosemary, cauliflower, tomatoes, chiles, celery, okra all failed to some extent.

Cauliflower: Plant grew huge, produced medium sized head. For taking up a whole foot and yielding one tiny harvest, will never plant again. Especially since broccoli gave food constantly for two seasons.

Onions: Greens grew huge! Bulbs were tiny and nasty. Think this was soil issue. Soil improved since last year.

Basil: One of four (we love basil) sprouted, never got taller than about an inch. I think this was wind issue as well.

Rosemary: Never sprouted.

Celery: Never sprouted.

Chives: Never sprouted... and then about five months later up they came. What the hadrosaur?! I had given up on them, planted something else, et voila! Zombie chives. They grew through our weird warm winter. Tiny things, but I ate them.

Okra: Never sprouted.

Chiles: Transplanted from inside, died.

Tomatoes: Ok, I know where I live, but I thought maybe I'd chance that our three cold summer trend was at an end and went for it. I started them inside. I have trellises at the north side of all three north boxes, and in one of them I planted four tomato plants. One of my transplants lived, and I replaced the dead three with starts. They all grew gang busters and produced a LOT of fruit. As can be guessed though, cold summer #4 in a row kept them all but the stupice plant (one I had started inside) green. The stupice actually made a decent harvest of red tomatoes. I made fresh salsa. Yum! I also found out that despite warnings, green tomatoes are yummy eaten off the vine anyway. (I have found lots of common "wisdom" is worthless. I was also told broccoli is inedible once it flower. Uhm. Wrong.)

GREEN HOUSE CUBE IDEA
So, four cold summers in a row, stories of folks in the rainshadow who USED to be able to grow tomatoes and chiles before the Ice Age set in
and I'm thinking I want to try hot weather stuff again. To that end I converted one of my 4'x4'x2.5' bird fence cages to a greenhouse. I draped and fastened painting plastic around the cage. It worked well. Left for a weekend and it survived moderate wind (which for us is porbably strong wind for you). But... then our first BIG wind happened and it failed.

So, now my idea is to build a sort of removable green house box. This isn't a cold frame per se', but a 4'x4'x3' or so box, with no bottom, that I fasten to the north end of 4x8. It has to be plexiglass because of the wind, nothing flexible is going to work. So no PVC, no covered wagon deals. I'd get the hot plants started in the green house, and then if it got warm enough this year, take it off. Another idea is, since my trellis is attached to the outside of the box, this greenhouse fits right up against it. I could make the back panel removable so the vines would have green house to the south, but access to the trellis, at least until they got about 3' tall.

Any thoughts or ideas about this green house "cube" idea? Any links spring to mind about how to build this kind of thing?

navajas

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  gwennifer on 4/15/2013, 1:02 pm

Hi and thanks for the recap! A thought on your extra produce: I would encourage you to poke around and find local food bank or soup kitchen type charities. They are typically happy to accept fresh produce and it's much needed to supplement all the canned goods. I was surprised at how many there are once I looked into it (only previously knew about the big name ones), you might not realize there's one nearby or on a route to work or somewhere else you regularly go so that it's not out of your way.

So I think building a sturdy little greenhouse to go over one end of one of your boxes is certainly doable. It's small enough that full wooden construction and plexiglas covering isn't going to make it too heavy if you want it to be removable. You'd also have to sink anchors in the ground for it to attach to if you want it to not blow over but still be removable. Just quickly, here's a picture of a large greenhouse built with wood and hard plastic siding: http://windyacresnaturalfarm.blogspot.com/2010/11/new-greenhouse.html

If you're just wanting to get things a start and then remove it as things grow, you really only need a cold frame. Do a search for that - many people use old windows or glass shower doors to build those. The important thing either way is ventilation. This link should bring you to an image search on removable cold frames: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=removable+cold+frame&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&biw=1280&bih=896&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=7DFsUcjHG4aAiwK8pYHYAQ

Keep us posted as to how you go about it. Sounds like you've got a great setup and are doing well.

gwennifer

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  navajas on 4/15/2013, 1:13 pm

Yeah, my converted bird cage, which is just a 4x4 frame of cedar balusters with chicken wire walls, was attached to the outside of the box with hook and eyes. I have two of those cages and my intent was to just move them around as I planted. I always had an eye for them eventually converted to green house things which I why I made them so tall. I thought I'd move them around to keep the birds off the seeds, and then leave the greenhouse one where needed. Since it hasn't been getting warm until VERY late, I wanted it tall enough to give them a while to grow.

I figure with the green house box I'd need something sturdier than hook and eyes though, maybe a couple latches.

EDIT: Oh, this is almost exactly the kind of thing I'm after!
http://www.raicesculturalcenter.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/IMG_4129.jpg
It looks a little beefy, and it doesn't look to be able to open up for temp control or do my back up against the trellis trick, but that's a good start. It looks like he's just screwed the glass right to the frame doesn't it? Hmm. Thanks!

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  plantoid on 4/15/2013, 3:52 pm

Navajas, perhaps consider throwing a section of cheap bird netting over the cages and weight them down with bricks on the excess netting for the time being .

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  navajas on 4/15/2013, 3:58 pm

Not 100% what you're suggesting but I think it's because I haven't explained what my frames currently are. They are 4x4 cedar balluster frames with 1" chicken wire cages up to about 2.25' or so. On their own they are windproof and perform their task admirably.

However, when you take something with almost zero wind resistance, and cover it in flexible plastic? Well, no matter how good a job you do, and I did a pretty good job, enough wind will tear it right off. My frame stayed put with the hook and eyes, but the plastic tore itself free. Well, one sheet did and then I took it all off to keep the chicken wire frame from caving in more than it had.

Thanks for your thoughts!

navajas

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  navajas on 4/21/2013, 8:11 pm

Well I ended up compromising with myself. I built the frame and then went ahead and tried doubling up the painting plastic for the walls. I'll try that and if it rips out bite the bullet and buy the acrylic which is... EXPENSIVE.

Here, I'll post some pics.

Hmm. Or maybe not. Can you upload pics to the site?

EDIT: Does this work?

EDIT 2: Ugh, yeah it works, but kind of ugly. Oh well.

Here's what I originally tried to use. My bird cage. I just draped and binder clipped the painting plastic over it.


But the first big wind came and I had to dismantle it. This is what it looks like post wind squash:


The green house box is attached with eye hooks against the wind.

navajas

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  gwennifer on 4/21/2013, 8:42 pm

New box looks great. Hope it holds up for you!

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  navajas on 4/21/2013, 8:50 pm

It's been moderately windy today and there are no issues. Inside it feels solid (yeah, I crawled under it). Nothing seems strained or stretched. There are drain holes in the roof against rain, but I've been debating whether or not to add vent holes in the walls, especially west/east to relieve some wind resistance. I'm just worried about putting enough holes in this thing to make the whole green house idea moot! Smile

Thanks for the well wishing!

navajas

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2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  Frenchbean on 6/20/2013, 2:25 pm

navajas I have just read through your post what a fantastic garden you have.  clap hyper:hyper:I love the green house box.

This is my first year SFGing and wanted to ask you; did your Greenhouse box prove its worth to you?  I am over here in England and my garden can be very windy. I simply love all your ideas. I wished my garden was as big as yours. good job!

I like the idea of your box and wondered how you made it as I have no man idk and will be trying to build one myself.
Thanks for reading this

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  navajas on 6/20/2013, 2:35 pm

My green house box has been wildly successful. Too successful really as I had hoped growth would be slower so I could take the box off in the middle of summer once it got warmer. I'll take pics today or tomorrow, but the tomatoes are exploding in there.

It was technically easy to build, but fairly tedious. I made some big mistakes along the way so you won't have to.

I'm busy with the kids right now but will try to remember to post later. If I don't reply to the thread as a reminder.

navajas

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  nurzemjd on 6/21/2013, 9:09 pm

Well done with the green house! Anxious to see pics Smile

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  navajas on 6/21/2013, 9:24 pm

Did in fact forget to post and am now super busy. Took pics though and will compile when I get the chance!

navajas

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  navajas on 6/30/2013, 9:58 pm

EDIT: So, I can apparently no longer edit the original post. Perhaps a moderator can so that the description represents the content better now?


Ok, here we go. I've had some interest both in progress, plus a write up how it's built. I'll try and edit the title of the thread as well.

First a quick catch up. The green house box was super successful so far. All the plants in the box, save the celery which I am convinced is actually a myth, did well to great. The tomatoes and cilantro doubly so. The only problem I've encountered is that the box is too small / works too well / plants grow too fast. All the tomatoes are now the 3+' tall allowed by the box. I had thought that would take me into the mid summer, but I guess I'm just going to have to let them fend for themselves from here on out.

Now, construction. The box requires only four cuts (*and honestly it would have been better to not do those) and is made from stock lumber. It is just two simple square frames of 4' 2x2 cedar balusters, one raised above the other by four of the same balusters cut to 3'.

Now, this is the measurement that works for MY boxes. If you've made 4'x4', or 4'x8' boxes you should lay out the frames and make sure they fit before you screw them together. If you've made simple 4x4s with the staggered butt joints in the book, these should be a breeze.

Step 1:
Make two simple, butt joint frames. I'm a perfectionist and never assume square. Use a square!

Step 2: Pick one frame and attach the four baluster that will be the wall supports. Here's a pick of the corner. (It's sitting on the garden box proper.) I used crappy screws. I recommend against that. I staggered two 3" wood screws in one side and another through the other angle. Repeat four times and on to Step 3.


 
Step 3:

You've now got two 4x4' frames, one with four legs sticking up in the air. The legs will be a little wobbly at this point. Don't worry. Put the one without legs on the ground, and fit the other one, legs down, inside it. Go around and screw those into the second frame and, depending on the length of your legs, you've either got a 4x4x4' cube, or, like me unfortunately, a 4x4x3' box, frame made of cheap cedar. Depending on how well you've made each corner, it might still be a little wobbly. It's not a chair mind you, but you can reinforce it if you want. I didn't it and it lived through coastal winds.

I chose the 3' length because I had no idea how sturdy this thing was going to be. It has been bullet proof against very strong wind and I probably could have gotten away with that extra foot which would be really handy RIGHT NOW. However, maybe it would have caught too much wind and torn apart. An extra foot is a LOT of surface area. Who knows?

Step 4:

This is actually the hard / time consuming part. I'm not a millionaire and so forwent the acrylic windows I wanted to use. I used 3.5 mil painters' plastic, doubled up on itself. I was very worried it would be too opaque. Luckily that fear was apparently unfounded.


Painting plastic is pretty cheap. I bought a 10' roll that was, I don't know, WAY long, 100s of feet. You're going to need to come up with your own method of cutting your sheets. They're going to need to be as wide as your frame is tall top to bottom. That is, edge of wood to edge of wood. Of course they need to be twice as long as the span of the wall, again, edge to edge, but plus at least a couple of inches. Give yourself slack here because extra length will be hidden inside the box, while extra width will poke down past the bottom.

Step 5:
Get your cube and lay it on edge. Working INSIDE the box, lay the doubled up plastic down on the frame. Size everything up and keeping it as tidy as you can, start stapling. I started with a couple of keepers near on corner and then went towards the other. Unless you have forearms like a lineman, I suggest an electric stapler. I used this and these. It's not the greatest stapler in the world but it's worked for me. I've used it for everything you see in my garden from this green house to the deer fence to the grid.

I used lots of staples. Here's a pick of the bottom of one wall.


After you've gone all the way across you need to gather up the edge and attach it to the corner. This is a little trickier. Leaving slack on either edge makes it a lot easier. Remember this slack will be INSIDE the box. Remember, you're stapling the plastic to the wall's upper and lower part of the frame, BUT AT THE EDGE, you're folding it back and stapling it to the corner strut, like so:


Here's a look at how the walls come together in the upper corner of the frame:


You've got four walls to do folks. Best get to it.

Step 6:
Make the roof panel. It's the same deal, but, it'll be a different cut. It also goes on the outside of the box instead of inside. It's the least pretty part of the whole build, but what are you going to do?

I cut six or eight little 2" or 3" 'X' shapes into the top of mine for vents and to make sure water doesn't pool up on top and tear it apart.

Step 7:

You're done!? Well, maybe. But I wasn't. Remember, wind was a big concern so I wasn't going to trust those staples, I really think you shouldn't either. Most of the work is actually done by these things called "sealing washers". They are a squashed conical shaped washer with a nice thick black rubber sort of boot on the bottom side. They pinch down HARD on the plastic over a nice big surface area, unlike the staples which just poke through and could conceivably tear. Here they are in action (with some extra junk surplus screws I had laying around, again, get better hardware than I did):


IMPORTANT
: Do NOT try and just drill a screw through the plastic you just spent hours attaching with staples. It will wind up and tear a huge chunk out of your wall. You MUST drill a pilot hole for the screw. (You should really always drill pilot holes for all things all times for ever.) However, IMPORTANT AGAIN: Do NOT just try and drill a pilot hole through the plastic or the same exact damned thing will happen. Trust me here, I made the mistake and had to do a whole wall over again.

Instead, get some nice thick packing tape, the shiny clear kind, and put a square over where you want the washer to go, ON BOTH PLIES of the plastic. It's a pain in the butt, and it takes a while, but the tape will send that drill bit right on through the plastic with no danger of binding.

I put six sealing washers / screws on each wall, three up and three down, on all but the windward side which got eight, four up, four down. I did one in each corner of the roof, with two more on the windward side, one each on the other three.

Feel free to skip this step. Maybe I over did it, maybe I didn't. I'm glad I don't have to find out what would have happened though and the peace of mind was worth it.



Step 8:

You're done! For real this time. Well... Now wind is a huge concern for me, so, I bought three beefy hook and eye latches. I put two on the windward side, one on the other. I put the hooks on the green house itself and the hoops on the garden box. I installed mine at about a 45 degree angle for a more solid latch.

 That's it. Let me know if I took something for granted or if you have any questions. Here's a pic of what the greenery looked like underneath a few days ago.


 It is all now well past the tops of those cages. Cool / worrisome!

navajas

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2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  Frenchbean on 7/1/2013, 1:31 pm

You are a star bear hug  thank you so very much for posting the instructions winner winner winner thankyou 

Frenchbean

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

Post  navajas on 7/1/2013, 1:39 pm

NOTE: I think my screws were actually 2.5". Be careful to line up your screws well because there's a lot of metal going through not much wood at those corner joints. Remember, pilot holes!

navajas

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Re: 2012 recap -Green House Cube - Help

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