Thursday, February 21, 2013

Making and using greenhouses

The perfect sunny window
Yesterday, I had the joy of putting together our greenhouses. Miss T, a friend who's staying with us, picked up two of these "miniature greenhouses" (from Ocean State Job Lots in Peterborough) to use in the house to get our plants started. They're not huge, and they're not really meant for outdoors, but they're perfect for in a sunny window. In fact, the window that I like to use for starting my plants is just right to have two of these lovely greenhouses perched in place.

In the box...
Believe it or not, these beauties were only $20.00 each, which is a steal as far as I'm concerned. I've seen similar online for more than twice as much! When I looked at the boxes, I was afraid they'd be very rickety, but as you'll see, I was proved wrong on that point. The parts are very simple, and the instructions don't even have any writing on them. It's really easy to put together, and the first one took me about 20 minutes. The second one went together in about 10 minutes. They really are that elementary.

The parts
The legs are made of coated aluminum, and are pretty sturdy. The braces between each level are made of plastic, and they 'click' into place as you seat them home. I learned part way through the first one that you make each 'shelf' and then put the shelf on top of the previous one(s). The legs and plastic seat together very well. I did crack one spot, but it was fully my own fault. There are two sides to each plastic brace, and one side is plain and the other side has holes for the metal shelf bars. I put the brace on backwards, and had to pull it apart. These are not meant to be taken apart after they've been assembled, and my pulling cracked a tiny bit of the plastic. Still, it was very minor. I didn't bother taping or gluing it, but I could have done so easily.

Getting it together
Once all the levels are clicked into place, the wire shelves go on. I chose to add zip ties to the shelves, to hold them in place. The shelves didn't sit very flat when I put them on, and while laying the seedlings on them would take care of that, I opted for greater security. Five zip ties per shelf held them very stable and solid, with no give. It also held the entire unit more solidly, in my opinion, which was great.

Once it was all together, all I had to do was slip on the plastic greenhouse cover. It has a zippered door that folds up and out of the way with velcro holders. These need to be undone while you slide the cover on. There are four ties at the bottom, one for each leg, for added security. I tied these up, then zipped the whole thing shut. It looked pretty great, if you ask me.

I did slide one of the plastic holders onto the top shelf, to see how it fit. It was a bit tight, but easy enough to get in. Everything sat well, and the two together fill up the space in our sunny window. We will be purchasing small lights to put across the bottom of each of the shelves (to shine down on the shelf below), to help encourage our seedlings to grow.

In their spot
Because our house is so cold, averaging 55F at night and sometimes not much more during the day, the greenhouses are a practical choice. They'll keep the heat in, keep drafts from getting onto our seedlings, and hopefully make the temperature inside a bit more steady. They're also a lot neater than last year's plastic boxes, although I will use that method for outdoor placement later in the spring.

The greenhouses can be moved to the porch (covered but not glassed in) when it gets a bit warmer, and eventually can go outside near the garden. I think this will help the transition from indoor seedling to outdoor plant, minimizing the shock to the plants. I guess we'll see!

For more of my articles on greenhouses and related stuff, check out the following:
This post was shared at the Homestead Barn Hop #100!

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