The challenges we face living on a small farm and going through several years of drought are ongoing. Growing a few of your own fruits and vegetables are essential if you want to live more sustainably. But what happens when you have limited water and can’t irrigate an entire vegetable garden? What if your soil is sandy and doesn’t hold any nutrients? What if your garden is subject to frosts 6-7 months of the year?
Even though I’m still faced with these challenges, I was not going to give up on growing a few of my own vegetables this year. So, I decided to have a go but on a much smaller scale and build my own greenhouse using recycled materials.
Greenhouses are a fantastic way of creating your own micro-climate. They can shelter plants and seedlings through the winter frosts, and provide protection through summer’s harshest heat. You can purchase greenhouses from cheapie shops and different size options are available from Bunnings from around $15 upwards. But I like to use materials I have laying around that I can repurpose before I opt to purchase something new. For my homemade greenhouse, I found an old structure that used to house gas tanks for our old hot water service. This is no longer used but I thought with a bit of imagination, could be re-worked into a unique greenhouse. Great for the wallet, great for the environment.
Most greenhouse that you purchase are wrapped in plastic. This serves to generate warmth from the sun and to protect the plants from wind, rain and frost. I didn’t have enough plastic lying around to cover the entire structure, but I did have a roll of frost protection cloth so I thought I’d use that instead. This will have the added bonus of allowing any rain we do get to soak through, rather than repel so a great water-saver. Plus, as I’m placing the greenhouse in a sheltered position against the rumpus room, the heat generated from the Colorbond walls should provide enough warmth for the plants. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
In this greenhouse, I’m going to experiment with a few ideas I’ve been wanting to try, as well as a few greens and some home-propagated plants. These are:
- Propagated roses using potatoes (watch out for a future post)
- Propagated apple tree
- Avocado trees that I have grown from seeds in a glass of water
As you can see, nothing major here but a few plants I want to keep going.
To assemble the greenhouse, all I did was wrap the frost cloth around the sides and back of the frame and secure it using a staple gun. For the front, I wanted to have easy access to the plants which would sit on the ground, so I stapled the cloth to two wooden stakes (from the vegie garden) which I then draped over the front.
I used a few off-cuts of poly-pipe to create an arc over the top, stapled on a sheet of plastic and that’s it. One freebie greenhouse. Easy right?
Why not give it a go and make your own greenhouse? It’s easy and will create a great little warm environment to grow a few greens over winter. You just need to place it somewhere light and sheltered. You also don’t have to spend a lot of money to make one either. Challenge yourself and see what you can come up with using materials you already have, or can source for free. Honestly, it doesn’t have to look pretty for it to be functional. Scrounge your junk pile behind the shed, check out your neighbour’s hard rubbish, train your eyes to look at something in a new light and re-invent it into something else.
|Home Chore List
Keep track of your household chores with this beautiful spreadsheet that you can place on your fridge.