Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

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A Greenhouse: Part Two

6/26/2014 10:26:00 AM

Tags: greenhouses, winter gardening, New Hampshire, Bethann Weick

This is about a structure. A building, a frame, a plan, and much work. It’s about wood, and metal; hardware and screws. And, really, it’s about my Dad.

greenhouse frame

Ryan and I may have the plans and imaginings, but when it comes to the nuts and bolts of building, our ideas sorely need the skills that my father can offer. So while we stumble through our conceptual understanding of how the greenhouse skeleton should be framed into a working structure, Bob pulls out the tape, grabs the pencil behind his ear, and jots a few notes. He sketches, mulls it over, looks through the odds and ends stored in his tiny workshop...and suddenly knows exactly how he’d like to do it. He confers with us, laying out his plan as if there’s much to debate and consider, and letting us make the decisions.  But we’re not nearly so confident with right angles and level planes as we are with carrying heavy objects, growing food, or cutting wood. So we enthusiastically say yes to each of his queries, and couldn’t be more relieved to give him a carte blanche go-ahead.

We buy the hardware, and I haul dimensional timber back to our homestead on my shoulders. Using two rock bars, Ryan and I move boulders beyond the footprint of the greenhouse, then pull the bramble roots that are already trying to grow their way back inside this freshest of clearings.

My parents (my mother is a self-described top-notch helper) also prepare for this greenhouse project like, well... just like well-practiced parents. They carry over buckets of extra tools and backpacks full of hardware, plus lunch. Ryan and I head out to our respective job sites, and Mom and Dad head in to their own work. We’re lucky to have their enthusiasm.

A look over our shoulders as we leave the property for the day includes a glimpse of the five metal ribs arcing above bare ground. Brambles, stump sprouts, and saplings frame the simple lines of the greenhouse-to-be. Upon returning home, though, it seems to nestle into the landscape a bit more comfortably. Its form and function is taking clearer shape.

There are now baseboards waiting to be back-filled with wheelbarrow loads of compost and manure.  We have shoulder purlins stabilizing the ribs and preparing for the plastic to come. And the rear wall is framed with a doorway and studs. Lumber for the front wall is stacked and ready on top of my father’s well-worn sawhorses. Once I’ve brought in as much organic matter as I can to build the beginnings of deep, rich beds, the final wall will go up. Then the plastic covering. And then, and then, and then, we’ll grow a bit more food, with a tad longer growing season. And there’s two remarkably generous hard-workers over our hill with whom we’ll share the bounty.

greenhouse next to cabin

Garden work is my specialty!  Weeding, planting, mulching and pruning services available, plus edible landscapes and garden designs.  Contact Beth via b.a.weick@gmail.com for your annual, perennial, herbal, or ornamental garden needs (see Business Directory listing under ‘Garden Design & Services’).



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