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Posts Tagged ‘RE-store’

Look what David made for me!!! I mean, for the garden!!! From the used windows we got at the Ballard Re-Store and some lumber, we have fashioned a ginormous mini-greenhouse that fits over the 4-foot-wide raised beds in the garden.  It’s heavy and unwieldy, but it’s made from mostly recycled material that cost us, oh… maybe 50 bucks?  The windows are way cheaper than the wood, heh.

In any case, it’s fantastic and i can’t wait to get some planties in there.  It’s currently squatting over the section of the 2012 brassica bed that will grow kale (pictured below growing in the apocalypse room).  I’m hoping it will warm up and dry out the soil enough in the next week that i can transplant the kale seedlings out there, but we’ll see.  (The kale seedlings that Kate and i transplanted into the front yard a while back got obliterated by slugs- i forget that while fallen leaves shelter the soil, they also provide good slug habitat, and little seedlings can’t out grow them in the cold weather.)  Before transplanting this time, i will rake up what’s left of the leaf covering and give it to the chickens; it’s likely FULL of bugs.

We have plans and materials for another 4ft-wide by 3ft-long by 1.5-2ft-tall mini greenhouse, and three cold frames of various sizes that will be just tall enough for lettuce and other greens.  Between all of them, we should be able to start everything waaaay early this year- but we’ll see how things work out.  The tall mini green house will eventually be used to protect a few early tomato plants, and then we’ll likely shift it over to the cucumber/squash/melon bed.  Eliot Coleman, whose book Four Season Harvest i have, describes a neat system of movable greenhouses that protect cold-hardy plants over the winter, then move to less hardy plants, then tomatoes, then squash as each plant needs protection and the previous one will be ok uncovered.  The most interesting part is that he does this backwards also- the greenhouse goes back over the squash near the end of summer, when the squash are done the greenhouse moves to the tomatoes (which would be great in Seattle, since it’s the sogginess that gets them as much as the cold), and in November or so when the tomatoes are done, the greenhouse moves back to protect the overwintering veggies.  He manages all this in Maine, so i imagine it will work alright in Seattle too.  Although, his theory is that it’s the amount of sunlight that counts (as long as you can protect your plants from the cold), and so while he’s at the same parallel in Maine as Southern France (which is much warmer), both of those places are at lower latitudes and get more sun than we do here.

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So this weekend David and i went window shopping… literally- we bought windows to build a mini-green house for the garden.  There’s a store down the hill from us in Ballard called RE-store that takes stuff from old houses, buildings, schools and sells it second hand to people who are building or remodeling their own houses.  They’ve got everything from lumber to doors and windows to cabinets to bathtubs and toilets to light fixtures.  They currently have a set of three confessional booths from a Catholic church, several walls of lockers from a junior high school, and a super nice kitchen counter/sink/cabinets that i totally would have bought if we owned our house.  They have an amazing collection of windows- newer double-paned, metal framed ones and old, craftsman style lead or wood-paned ones and huge sets of bay windows and sliding glass doors.  When we own a house and have our own yard, we will definitely assemble a real green house with windows from RE-store.  But for now, a transportable mini-greenhouse made from $24-worth of windows will do.

The mini green house will sit just inside our 4ft wide beds and will be 4ft wide by 3ft long (that’s the size of the big, single paned window i found for the lid), 1.5ft tall in the front sloping up to 2ft in the back.  I brought my tape measure to RE-store and found matching windows to make the four walls; these will be arranged in a box on the ground with an open floor so that the lid will be sloping southward for maximum sunlight and heat absorption.  The lid will be set on a hinge so that it can be opened and propped up with a stick during planting and harvesting times.  There will be little triangle gaps between the side walls and the sloped lid that i will cover with some sort of hard plastic from home depot or a couple layers of plastic cloche cover or autoclave bags, which are quite durable.  I may caulk or weather seal the seams, and i may weatherize the windows with that thin plastic you can stretch across your windows and blow try smooth to keep heat in your house during winter.  If i do those things, this green house will be pretty toasty inside and will allow me to protect a 4×3 section of garden bed during one of Seattle’s biennial harsh freezes, or to start tomatoes or peppers or squash waaaaay earlier than normal.  But- lesson learned from forgetting to open the plastic cloche on hot days and frying the pepper plants this summer- we’ll have to watch the temperature and vent the green house appropriately.

I also bought 2 more big, single pane windows (slightly smaller than 4’x3′) that will become cold frames- essentially what i’ve just described above, but the side walls are made of wood.  This allows less light in but keeps more heat in, and with a southward slope these structures let in enough light to grow greens over the winter.

I’m stoked.  Must hurry up and pass general exam (November 9th!) so i can get back to gardening!

 

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