Friday, January 30, 2015

Your Greenhouse: DIY or Pre-Fab?

It's a question I had to answer recently: purchase a pre-fab greenhouse like this Groundworks Walk-In greenhouse available at Tractor Supply,
or build my own lean-to style like this:
Maybe you're struggling with the same dilemma.  You want a greenhouse to start those spring and summer seedlings earlier and to protect your plants during the winter, but with limited time and budget which is better?  As you can see from the picture, I chose to build my own.  Why?  Well, the cost and size of both were comparable (both are about 6'x10' and cost $129 and $137 respectively), and the covering material on both can only be trusted to last one year (maybe longer if we're lucky; I had to use cheap 2mil plastic due to budget constraints; there are better, more expensive options), but I chose to build my own because I wanted it attached to one of the windows in my living room.  This benefit gives me passive solar heating on sunny days in both the greenhouse and our own house, venting the extra heat right into my living room.  It also gives me a great view into the greenhouse from the living room and a convenient pass-through window for extremely cold nights when I need to bring my baby seedlings into the house.

Another reason to DIY is the experience you get from building it yourself.  I learned a lot about what works and what doesn't, and since I built it myself, I know how to re-cover it when the plastic sheeting wears out.  I won't have to buy another cover from the manufacturer or try to figure out how to retro-fit my own sheeting onto someone else's design. 

How's the new greenhouse holding up?  So far, so good.  Today we are expecting wind gusts up to 30 mph, and my greenhouse seems to be handling it just fine.  We'll see how long that lasts!

At any rate, whether you build your own greenhouse or buy a pre-fab unit, they certainly make starting and accessing your seedlings much easier.  I'm hooked! 

How did I build it?  Feel free to contact me for more information, or hang on for another blog post in the near future.  I'll let you know!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Phase 3: The Future Food Forest

I've been keeping you posted on the small permaculture area I designed for a wonderful senior who attended my "Create a Farm in Your Backyard" class in October. We're almost finished with the project. The only thing left to do is plant the trees and fruiting bushes when they arrive, trellis the raspberries, transplant the desired perennial vegetables, and get the annual veggie seedlings ready for a spring garden. So here are some pictures from the work I did last week. First, here's the plan as I designed it for her, and you can see it take shape in the pictures.

The latest work was on the food forest area at the top of the drawing, the place where we'll put her fruiting trees and bushes and some companion/beneficial plants alongside. Here's the "before" pic:

Here's the "in process" pic: 

And here's what it looked like upon completion:

Another angle:

And the total space:

It's going to be a highly productive area that mimics a natural ecosystem, catching water in swales, attracting beneficial insects, maintaining fertility, providing food and beauty for years and years to come.

Would you like a personalized permaculture "backyard farm" plan for your home? Imagine diverse, ecological food production instead of common, boring landscaping. You can do it! Contact me (Tim) at 919-815-6601 or click on the "Custom Backyard Farms" tab above and I'll get to work for you.