Building a greenhouse

I’ve been growing Walking Onions for a few years. These are green onions that grow bulbs where their flower should be. They propagate by falling over, but if you stake them so they stay standing, they can triple and quadruple bloom. I gave some to my mom at one point, and she put them in her garden that is surrounded by concrete and a pool. This was the result last July:

Compared to my own, the growth on these is insane. My theory is the water and the concrete are keeping the temps up in the spring and winter, letting them grow better. This made me start looking into greenhouses.

I’ve built a number of coops for my homing pigeons before, but I felt like a greenhouse would probably be over my head, so I started looking at kits. The 10 x 12 greenhouse from Harbor Freight had a lot of reviews, a lot of them being negative, but all the positive ones saying that if you reinforce it, it ends up being pretty good. So I took the chance. When I bought it, it was $999, but I used a 25% off one item coupon and it was only $750. It looks like the price has dropped to $899, so it can be had for even cheaper than $750 with a coupon. (Harbor Freight has them on their website all the time, New Years and around the 4th being the two major times).

Here’s a few pictures of the build, don’t mind the messy construction site of a backyard – now that the greenhouse is up, it’s time to redo a lot of it. It took me a while to fully build it – it took me a few months to get a tree removed, then the foundation took me a while to get flat. After that, it was about 2 weeks of casually working on it in the mornings and evening by myself when it wasn’t too hot out (late june / early july probably isn’t the best time to setup a greenhouse). Getting the roof beams up would have been a pain, but two ladders and some twine to keep it secure while putting in the nuts and bolts worked well. The only real issue I had was getting the roof panels in, putting the vents in and then the panels below the vents before doing the rest seems to make a big difference – otherwise I was standing on the ladder shoving the roof hard in one direction trying to get it to fit. After taking all the panels back out, then doing the vents, it got a lot easier and nothing got stuck like that again. I did the bottom panels first, and had no issue with those.

A number of mods are recommended, I sealed all the panels (other than the vent and door panels) with aluminum tape – apparently this keeps the panels from decaying as fast. As long as I get 5 or so years out of them, I think it will work out, cost wise. I plan on adding cross beams made of EMT conduit when I get my autovents – right now it’s getting 120f+ on 85f+ days with no ventilation, so I can’t do any work in it right now. Shade cloth is definitely going to be needed, but I need to sort out fans first. The cheapest option for that seems to be buying a large 12v automotive fan, then running that from a large solar panel with a regulator to drop the voltage, no batteries or controllers. a 1000+ CFM 12v fan seems to be about 120w, it seems like used 250w solar panels can be had for under $100 if you look around, that should be enough to run it when it’s very sunny out, and hopefully on a fairly overcast day it should get decent airflow. I’d like to add some seed mats for the winter, but that requires batteries or proper electrical so I’ll probably wait a few seasons for that.

Over all, I’m satisfied with it. A majority of the reviews are from people in areas that get worse weather than me, so I’m not too concerned about it falling over or anything – the worst I get is gorge winds from the east, but I think the trees, houses and my aviary block most of it. It’s pretty secure

Besides videos on youtube, this is a good blog explaining how to assemble it – – “Building our Harbor Freight 10′ x 12′ Greenhouse” – lots of information about building it and mods to make. Definitely worth reading along with the official instructions (which are trash)

Hopefully my walking onions do as well as I hope. I think they will, but even if they don’t, I have a lot of other ideas I can use it for. I feel like I’ve learned a lot building this, not just about making buildings but also just heating and cooling in general – I also most want to build a greenhouse onto my house now just for free / cheap heating possibly, I’m almost certain I could save a bit of money if I had some way to vent the excess heat into the house. (I really like being warm! I’m basically a tortoise, or a tropical plant.)

also, it’s been a while since I posted on here – I’m letting lapse since my desire to write comes and goes, the tools were migrated to this domain (links at the top). I think I need to find a better workflow for writing since I write a lot, but editing is *always* my worst enemy. I could reformat this paragraph forever, so I’m just gonna finish this sentence and that will be that.

What the heck is a Kohlrabi?

A few years ago I was on a big gardening kick and came across kohlrabi. It’s some sort of cabbage / mustard relative that’s normally harvested when it’s young. I decided to let them keep growing (I had no idea what to do with them), and they ended up with some looking like really weird aliens.

Kohlrabi. I think you normally harvest it a bit before this.
same date as above (timestamp says 8/9/2014)
Some of the kohlrabi above left in the ground for waaaay too long. (11/25/2014, almost 4 months after the above)
a grotesque monstrosity (11/25/2014)

I never actually tried eating them but I’ve seen them occasionally at Winco – when I do, they are usually about the size of a small apple – ones like these are too woody to be edible, I think. I’ll have to find a recipe and pick some up next time. They are definitely going in my next garden, if only as a weird decoration.

an overgrown kohlrabi with all the leaves taken off (2013)
early winter overgrown kohlrabi

Categorized as gardening