I have always disliked being indoors. I teach most of my classes outside because I can't stand the confines of a classroom. In clement weather I shut off the air conditioning and throw the windows of my office wide open so I feel less claustrophobic. As much as I can, I try to be outdoors gardening, or cycling, or just sitting around on the wine patio. I even take my writing projects outside, to the garden. In fact, if I could, I'd be in the garden all year 'round. That I live in a place where I can do this three seasons out of the year is a plus in my "Quality of Life" column.
But winter, you see, has always been a bit of a problem for someone who doesn't like to be inside, for obvious reasons. With a greenhouse, however, that problem is ameliorated somewhat. I think I knew this, on some deep, cellular level where the soul resides, when I walked into that first greenhouse. Since then, I've always noticed them, wherever I've gone. I spy the top of one through some trees or over the fence in someone's backyard and wish I could check it out. Or I find the glasshouse conservatories in the public gardens and make a beeline for them. Or I try to peer inside the sunrooms of nice houses as I ride by on my bicycle--not out of nosiness, but out of envy.
I first entertained the thoughts of having a greenhouse of my own over twenty-five years ago. But they seemed out of reach and impractical. First, they simply cost more than I could afford at the time. And second, it wasn't that I especially desired to use them for planting things--I wanted the structure made of light more than I did the plants (see above, in re, not caring one whit for the plants), because greenhouses are, well, a way of being outdoors inside. I worried that since I wasn't that interested in plants that should be in a greenhouse, I would build one and never use it for what it was intended. (Even so, through the years, I'd see a plant particularly suited for a greenhouse and think, "I could grow that someday...")
But I'm now at a time in my life when a greenhouse makes sense. They have come down considerably in cost and after years of gardening, I, too, have a thing for plants. However, the real impetus for finally deciding to build one is this realization that they are a way to be out in the garden in the winter. In fact, in what I think is a brilliant design solution to my desire to write outside, I have set it up to be the winter version of my garden writing room (I'm writing this in the greenhouse right now, at 6:30 AM, when it is 18° outside.
So shortly before Thanksgiving, I ordered a 6'x8' Palram greenhouse kit (which is all I have room for) from Greenhouse Megastore, and when the holiday school break came around in December, I commenced to building. Here, in pictures, is the story of putting it together. In future posts, I'll talk about specifics--like heating, the plants I've put in, how I've set up my writing space, and so on. The build and set up was an adventure, but not one that has ended, since my inner engineer has resurfaced as I've tweaked and refined the kit to customize it to my needs desires.
The whole build took eight days, from ground breaking to move-in. The kit itself only took a day for one person (me) to put together, while preparing the base took three. The remainder of the time it took was devoted to the tweaking and moving stuff inside (and buying plants).
Making the base level and square:
I installed PVC pipes so I could run extension cords and a water hose into the greenhouse. I've decided that at some future date, I'll have an electrician put an actual outlet in the greenhouse space, but for now, extension cords are working just fine:
The base was filled with 3/4" limestone aggregate and the next day I began to put the kit together. It was done (except for the roof vent and door) in a matter of a few hours:
I've run a garden hose from a nearby faucet into the greenhouse and wrapped it with insulation:
Starting to move plants and furniture in:
It snowed the day after I finished: