Thursday, May 15, 2014


Last posting, I mentioned that I had to get back home from a ride on some ridiculously twisty roads to do chores.

You might know that I occasionally do some things not related to the scooter -- like work for a living.  But I also have to keep up the old homestead and make sure several vehicles besides the bike are alive and kicking. Seems like a full-time caretaker/mechanic is needed. 

I think those are amongst the reasons my wife has me around. 

My bride decided last year to do some vegetable gardening in the back yard.  She planted a bunch of crops in containers on the patio and had luck with a few of them.  This year, she asked if she could buy a greenhouse to get an early start on the growing season, and so that some plants could winter over without dying in the cold.

Of course, she had one all picked out.  The one she spotted was about 6' by 8', item #47712 at Harbor Freight Tools.  It was on sale, after all, and they always have coupons for a further percentage off.  She claimed it to be such a great deal that we couldn't afford not to buy it. (Can't argue with logic like that!) 
Not my wife
The thing came in a corrugated carton in about a thousand pieces, with marginally passable instructions on how to assemble it.  My engineering degree was taxed significantly trying to figure out the whole scheme, however.  The aluminum extrusions that form the frame are as light as they possibly can be and still survive the assembly process.  In fact, if you don't have a couple of helpers in the early stages, the pieces all collapse into a spaghetti-like heap on the ground. 

Oh, by the way, it doesn't come with any kind of a foundation or anchoring means.  My architectural engineering skills were tested as I tried to devise the best way to support the thing and keep it from blowing into the neighbor's yard in the next windstorm. Concrete is too permanent, a lot of work to install, and causes the tax man to come around, so that was not an option.  Maybe wood? 

I settled on a perimeter frame of 2x10s set on edge with a deck board floor so my wife wouldn't have to soil her shoes in the dirt.

The whole thing is supported on an array of several patio blocks, and anchored with these twisty things [engineering term] from Amazon: 

Liberty Outdoor ANCFR16-ORG-A Folding Ring Anchor, Orange, 16-Inch

(Be sure to call your utility company before you screw them into the ground.  If there is an electrical or gas line under there, you could be in real trouble.)

And don't try assembling the greenhouse pieces in any kind of wind.  It can't be done, even in the gentlest of breezes.  (I know.  I tried it.  Twice.)  

Once the wooden foundation and floor were assembled, I began constructing the aluminum frame on top of it.  Did I mention to you that it is like screwing together a gob of cooked linguine?  Well, it is pretty much like that, anyway, the frame pieces by themselves being feather weight and flimsy. 

That's me in there. 

A little further along. 

There were more than 120 screws and nuts to hold the frame together.

Once the majority of the framework was screwed together, the house began to have some substance to it, and it would stand on its own.  I lag screwed the bottom flange to my wooden base.  Finally, I felt confident that it wouldn't take off on its own.

With the corrugated polycarbonate panels in place, the thing was actually quite sturdy. 

The sliding door operates smoothly once I got the whole house square, straight, and level.

Of course, I couldn't let well enough alone.  I had to provide running water and power and gas for a heater so my sweetie would not have to over exert herself to keep the flowers and vegetables perky. 

There is a concrete sidewalk next to the greenhouse, under which these utility lines must be run, so out came a piece of plastic pipe attached to a garden hose to burrow beneath it.  After many hours of trying to get this done, I decided that there was no way to do it in the spot I had picked, so the power comes in by a heavy duty extension cord and the water runs in a hose across the sidewalk.  Must be some rocks or concrete under that sidewalk. 

I will worry about the gas line when it gets closer to winter again.  Nothing like procrastination -- with good excuse, however. 

The area surrounding the greenhouse, of course, could not be left in turf, so I had to till it up and kill the Bermuda grass (nearly impossible, I might add, it being the closest thing to a weed that money can buy).

My loving wife next advised me that she had invested in a pond liner so we could install a fishpond for some fish we don't have.  I was quite critical of this because it would require extensive manual labor to dig a hole that needed to be, oh, say, about 12 feet deep, it seemed to me.

I was also more cognizant than she of the fact that the neighbor's several cats might be very good fishermen.  ...or at the very least, the resident raccoons would finish off any fish we might supply.

Nevertheless, the pond was a go.  

It took a while to figure out how to make the hole in the ground the right size for the blow-molded plastic liner.  The way you do it is to dig a gigantic hole, level a place in the middle with sand, set the liner in place, then pour many more bags of sand around it.  The plastic liner was warped, too, adding to the challenge, so I had to partially fill it with water, then pack the sand under and around it to force it back into its correct shape.

MacCourt 50-Gallon High-Density Polyethylene Pond Liner,
Model #: LP5718

(The local Lowes store manager loves to see me come in lately. Lumber, pond liner, electrical and plumbing supplies, sand, etc., etc.) 

Did I mention the rocks? Well, any good pond in your garden needs rocks around the edges.  So we went to the rock store and brought a trailer of rocks home.  Each one was carefully placed, per instructions from my supervisor -- er, wife.
This is too much like real work!  (I'd rather be out riding, but I didn't let on to my wife.  ...and I was enjoying the project, I'll admit.)

To provide entertainment for the fish we don't have, and for any onlookers that might be about, she got a little pump that connects to a cast toadstool that has a frog sitting next to it.  The frog squirts the water out of his mouth and back into the pond.   High class, yes?

There is a downside to the spitting frog, however.  When sitting in our lawn chairs nearby, the trickling sound of the water makes you feel like you need to go trickle too.  It is very effective at this, I might say. 

Four tiny goldfish were hand selected by my wife at the pet store, and relegated to the deep.  We didn't see them for several days.  I was sure the cats had gotten them already.  Instead, I think they were hiding from us -- and from the cats and raccoons.   They are a little less skittish now, so we occasionally get a glimpse of them at feeding time. 

Plants galore were purchased to set around the greenhouse and in the new garden.  Perennials, and tomatoes, and other neat things were dispersed into almost every available space.


Did you notice those round stepping stones.  That is a story too.  My wife poured them, using pretty glass globs in each form for decoration.  She did this all by herself.  Great girl, she.

This well-behaved tortoise seems to like it here.  At any rate, he hasn't tried to move out yet.  

Our Republican mascot has a prominent place.

Another view of the pond, now with seashells surrounding it.  The fish feel right at home with the seashells, I am sure.

What do you think of the project?

That was certainly a chore, now completed.  It looks nice, and it makes my wife happy.  That makes it worthwhile.  And the greenhouse might provide us some vegetables later. 

Lest you be overly concerned, I did manage to get in a few rides between the work in the yard and the greenhouse. 

1 comment:

rc5695 said...

Looks great !!!!!!!!!!!!