Sunday, February 12, 2012

People in glass houses.....

Well, it's a polycarbonate house, actually, and since yesterday marked the first harvest (a green capsicum) I really should put up something about our new greenhouse.

While our climate is great for growing most things, it doesn't quite make it for some warmer weather crops such as peppers, chillies and aubergines. And over the last few seasons the tomatoes haven't been ripening quite so well, probably because of the surrounding trees.

So we decided to build a greenhouse.

Building from scratch is outside my skill set, so we did some research on kits, and found one from Israel (they know about greenhouses there) made of extruded plastic sections and glazed in two-layered polycarbonate. It came in four very large cardboard boxes that contained hundreds of parts along with a detailed manual. Jeannie's eyes gleamed at the prospect, so while she worked out how it was done I excavated a stance and made foundations from sleepers and gravel.

What's in the box?
Just a bit daunting: there were four like this.

Many pages of instructions, but they made sense.

All the bits were labelled, and none were missing.
One piece was too long, and a couple of holes hadn't been drilled.

First stage of construction, the gravel arrives.
Nifty driving to get down our steep drive.

Not too much excavation required.

Angus and George came to help.

Critical moment: does it fit the foundations?? Whew.

The section were fitted together with little plastic studs, pressed in a with a simple tool (mercifully, they also came out again, so mistakes could be rectified), and the pre-cut polycarbonate glazing slotted into grooves. We had to build the roof first, then the walls, after which we collected four strong young men to lift the roof at each corner while Jeannie and I rushed round and married all the uprights and glazing panels.

One of the fiddly bits: snapping in the glazing channels.

Construction detail: it was all very precise.

Ready for the lift.
No picture of the actual lift: everyone's hands were full!

Nearly done.

A door, two roof vents and two side louvres and the construction was complete. We also had an automatic opener for one of the roof vents and soon realised that we would need another one to ventilate the space properly. Indeed we soon found out that we would have to use the shade cloth (supplied with the kit) to keep the temperature at reasonable limits.

Now with the shade cloth.

We didn't get all this done until just before Christmas, which was really a bit late to start growing our target crops, but we rushed out and bought some mature peppers, chillies, sweet basil and an aubergine, and transplanted a bush tomato that was looking a bit spindly in the garden. And they are all growing nicely. I visit them several times a day to say encouraging things to them, and to keep the water up. I think they appreciate it.

Something growing at last. Hardly crowded though.

First fruits: some dwarf capsicums.