Nope, not a fence (as many of our followers suspected). Ben connected all the palettes to create parallel walls that will be the knee walls for our greenhouse. Yup, larger-than-life 10×30-feet greenhouse!
The work began when the temperatures suddenly soared from zero to 60! Really. And the big melt meant some very soggy conditions. It seems that Sadie (pictured above) is a fan of having mud squish between her doggy toes.
Once the walls were parallel, square, and set, Ben added a sort of cleat or gusset along the top edge of each palette wall, using 2-inch and 1-inch strips of plywood glued and screwed into place, to hold the edges of 4×8-foot hog fence panels. As we placed each panel, we would place one edge into the lip/cleat/gusset on one wall and bend the panel upwards into a half-circle until we were able to push the opposite end into the lip/cleat/gusset on the opposite wall, resulting in a 9-foot-tall structure.
Once all the panels were in place, forming the classic “hoop house” shape, we rolled out our plastic to the length of the structure, and attached it by securing the plastic on one side, then pulling the sheet up and over the top and securing on the second side.
Looks good, right? Just need to add a ridge beam, secure the ends by building a wall of barnwood on the back end (closest to the pond), and adding more barnwood and a door to the end facing the bus. The open spaces along the lower sections of the palettes will be covered with additional plastic that will be able to be rolled up for ventilation when needed. We’ll be ready to start some seeds in our new greenhouse in just a few days!
Or so we thought…
Fewer than 24 hours after the photo above was taken, a huge wind grabbed the plastic-covered roof and, in Ben’s words, “turned it into a huge Pringle,” (he’s referencing the funny-shaped chips that come in a tall, skinny can). Ben was working to install the cross bracing supports and ridge beam when a gust of wind came up and pushed the center of the roof down and picked up the outside edges of the plastic-wrapped roof, folding the hoop in half and forcing Ben to dive out from underneath it for fear of being trapped under the collapsing roof. When he cut the plastic, the whole thing exploded outward into pieces!
And now, I would like to turn your attention to our tagline: An experiment in homesteading. The grand hoop house/palette project is one experiment that did not succeed. Lesson learned: Do not design a greenhouse around using a fabulous antique door and by modifying plans found on YouTube.
And so we have moved on to Plan B.
And here it is! Greenhouse, take two. We decided the hoop’s height was a major problem on Plan A, so we ditched the palette knee walls and decided to take the hog fence panel almost to the ground. This baby is only 6 feet tall and measures 8×15 feet. The wooden frame is built from reclaimed redwood that had a former life as Ben’s parents’ back deck. Ben designed the structure so that the hoop house has long raised beds down either side.Once the hoop was in place, we worked on framing out the ends (lesson learned, see above) to give the structure some heft and reinforcement of its half-round shape. We framed 36-inch-wide doors on both ends, and girders on either side of each door.
Next, we attached the plastic to one end by stapling it to the wood framing, then pulled the long piece of hoop-covering plastic into place and secured the two pieces together by rolling/folding the ends (much like preparing a foil packet for the grill) along the shape of the hoop. Then, we repeated with the second end.
A full day’s work is done and it’s quitting time! We still need to build the doors (simple frames covered with plastic) and install a ridge beam, but it has been several days and Plan B is still standing. With any luck, we’ll be starting seeds soon!