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RE: Greenhouses in comm gardens

  • Subject: RE: [cg] Greenhouses in comm gardens
  • From: "Brown, Jonathan, Ph.D." Jonathan.Brown@kpchr.org
  • Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2006 12:47:16 -0800
  • Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
  • Thread-index: AcYzH55Xo042rC6ERwWdpIt1QWqGnAAFf7QA
  • Thread-topic: Greenhouses in comm gardens

Dear Janet and Friends,

For those gardens and gardeners who are concerned with year-round nutrition and access to healthy food at affordable prices ("food policy")--probably everybody!--greenhouses are incredibly useful, at least in colder climates (I garden in Oregon).  Up here, greenhouse can definitely save chard and kale and onions etc. during the rare but devastating freeze-drying weather we occasionally have; and of course everything grows larger and more quickly in a greenhouse.  Even for exclusively summer gardeners, a greenhouse can guarantee lots of tomatoes even in a "cabbage summer" when plants not initially grown in a greenhouse won't produce much at all.

So there are excellent reasons to promote greenhouse use in community gardens in many areas of the country.

Buying an expensive (to me, outrageously expensive!) polycarbonate greenhouse from a catalog may not be the way to go, however, especially when there is significant risk of vandalism.  Winter before last, I built a walk-in 10x20 foot greenhouse over raised beds fairly cheaply from pvc pipe, rebar, agricultural plastic sheeting, and "garden clips."  It's worked great.  The garden clips are still way overpriced and probably an innovative person could figure out something much cheaper.

The key "engineering challenge" is keeping the thing in one piece during a really strong wind.  The solution I found was to clip pvc pipe to the plastic where it meets the ground, and then locking that down with rebar that I bent into an L shape and hammered into the ground.  The rebar will not pull up, but it is easy to rotate when you want to lock-down or release the sides.

Beyond that, the flexibility of a featherweight design may actually help.  The first year, I didn't even glue any of the pvc pipe together.  This year, I glued the spine which runs down along the center of the top, but the whole thing still goes up or dismantles in minutes.

You can make a simple door just by clipping the plastic sheeting to a vertical pole on one end.  This year I got a recycled storm door and welded a frame to stick it into (again, secured by L-shaped rebar).  So far, it's worked excellently.


Jonathan Brown
Beach Community Garden
Portland, Oregon

-----Original Message-----
From: Janet Parker [mailto:Janetp@cacscw.org]
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 9:37 AM
To: community_garden@mallorn.com
Cc: artworks4@sbcglobal.net; gandhimind@netscape.net
Subject: [cg] Greenhouses in comm gardens

Dear Friends,
Here in snowy Madison, Wisconsin we are busy planning for the season to come!  A gardener has been looking into building a polyvinyl greenhouse from a kit at a large community garden with 110 families in a city park.  
Any stories to tell from your experience or ideas of what might work?  
Some concerns on our minds are:
- vandalism (the site is unfenced, and tagging and theft have been problems there)
- limited usefulness (no electric runs to the site, so heat for seedlings in spring won't be possible) (photovoltaic solar panels have been suggested to power automatic ventilation for summer) 
If you have ideas or tips you can share with us, please drop me a note with your phone number and a time I can call you.  Or reply to the list.
Thank you!

Janet Parker

CAC Community Gardens

608-246-4730 ext. 218

1717 N. Stoughton Rd.

Madison, WI 53704



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