Whoops! Heavy Snow vs. The Greenhouse


| 12/18/2013 8:20:00 AM


Tags: greenhouses, winter storms, Canada, Ontario, Cam Mather,

sunsetHave you ever read a homesteading blog where the writer brags about all of his or her great accomplishments and where all of the projects always work out great with no problems? Well that’s not this blog!

Do you ever watch the nightly news and when they show people who live in tornado-prone areas but haven’t built a bunker and you say to yourself, “If I lived in Tornado Alley, I’d be better prepared.” I used to think that way too, but I’ve mellowed over the years. I’ve come to understand that human inertia sometimes prevents you from getting stuff done even when you know you really should do it. It’s amazing how many excuses you can find for not accomplishing an important task.

I had one of those events during the last week of November. I had been looking forward to the fall hoping that I could start slowing down after running the CSA until October. But there has been a steady stream of tasks and projects that have kept me occupied. You can tell that the list was overly long because for the first year ever I was hard-pressed to find the time to get my garlic planted, despite the fact that I planted a fraction of what I have planted in the past. I actually dodged a bullet too because I had a fair amount planted when the ground froze up but I wanted to get more in. We got a thaw, which allowed me to finish it.

Preparing Greenhouses for Winter

One of the tasks on my never-ending “TO DO” list was to upgrade the greenhouse to deal with the snow load. I knew that since I’d used PVC pipe for the ribs it might not be as rigid and strong as I’d like. If you built your greenhouse with steel ribs you don’t have to worry about this. I had found the plans online somewhere and whoever had provided them might not have had to worry about the weight of snow, but I knew I would have to deal with it.

About mid-November I started on the project because there was snow in the forecast. I went out to the scrap woodpile to grab some pieces to build some supports to put down the center of the greenhouse. Then I remembered that I’d like to build benches to put our CSA boxes on next year. We’d like to get the boxes off the ground to help our backs so we’re not leaning down as we fill our boxes. I knew I would need a fair amount of wood for this project. And I knew that once my piles of wood got covered in snow I wouldn’t be able to access them and this is one of my winter CSA projects. So I spent some time finding the best pieces of wood and moving them to some shelves, up off the ground. This got them in one place so that I’ll be able to brush the snow off to access them later in the winter.

I should mention that we often don’t get snow here until the end of December. So far the Fall has been below the seasonal average in temperature. During the last week of November Michelle took the train to London, Ontario to visit our daughter and they had just received 70 cm (28 inches) of snow. But they’re in a snow belt where snow comes off the Great Lakes. We don’t usually get a dumping in November. But one thing lead to another and I let myself get distracted with building the scrap wood shelves and sorting through the wood piles to get the best stuff and low and behold I didn’t get back to working on strengthening the greenhouse supports.




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