January 23, 2012

Champagne Greenhouse on a Grape Juice Budget

When I asked why others haven't accomplished their dream of a greenhouse, many responded that cost held them back. Others say they have old windows they are saving for that purpose. Many of the Pinterest greenhouse fancies are more like garden ornaments or conservatories than working greenhouses.
Conservatory in the US Botanical Garden -- borrowed photo.

I've been looking at online pics of greenhouses. Some are chock full of plants, but some are styled with a table and six chairs; a bathtub, or a bed. Others are artistically arranged but with few plants.
I wrote a Statement of Need:

  1. Home for tender plants and cuttings
  2. Place to start early seedlings
  3. Running water and electricity
  4. Getaway for Lunch or Tea
  5. Retreat for the gardener and pets on cold/rainy days
We decided on a least expensive model rather than a more impressive one. If the
greenhouse idea failed, the foundation, water service and electricity could be used for some other function.

Multiple outlets provide more places to access electricity for
heaters, fans, timers and fun things like this pineapple lamp.

I wrote a Statement of Desirables
  1. Water feature
  2. Potting area 
  3. Frost-free water hydrant for  running water
  4. Storage for tools and equipment
  5. Heat sink to modulate sun's heat and winter's cold
Running water is the first sound when you enter,
from a small fountain under the south bench.

Potting bench with an old medicine cabinet for supplies.

The water faucet is enhanced with a Y-connector and insulated with a jacket of black foam. Not particularly pretty but very handy. I finally decided to store plastic pots and other bulky supplies off-site to make more room for plants and protect them from the sun.

The blue skirt hides fifty gallon barrels of water. Staples are hidden by
colorful Duck brand Tape/
The green stripes are a placemat that covers the back of a folding chair.

In the South, sometimes cooling is more desirable than heat. Heat Sink materials help in moderating both cooling and heating. Water is the best heat collector, followed by concrete, rock and soil. It takes a lot of water. The heat sink does not 'heat' the greenhouse, it slows the loss of heat gained during the day so that less electricity is required when the sun first goes down.

My table base is from an old birdbath.
Love the patina from years of weathering.

Every little bit of concrete helps. Concrete does not have to be freshly poured. I use 'urban stone' saved from old buildings, stepping stones, ancient salvaged bricks and limestone rocks for paths and decorative uses. I fill the benches with as many potted plants as possible in hopes they help keep one another warm after the soil warmed during the day. Thin plastic pots sit in ceramic cachepots as many as possible. This is an on-going project, in its fifth year.

Flowers and text are from the garden of Nell Jean blogged on Dotty Plants Journal in humid Southwest Georgia.

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