My Makeshift Greenhouse

Spring is just around the corner and I always get excited about starting my plants. Sometimes too soon. A couple of years ago I had built a bean arbor from some rebar and cattle fence and it was really handy to grow beans on because you could just walk under the arbor and pick the beans and not have to deal so much with the vines. Last fall, as I was building my cold frames, and needed some shade to work up my compost for the boxes, I used my boys’ old trampoline as a shade structure under that same arbor. That got me thinking that I could enclose the arbor and use it to start seeds in a makeshift greenhouse. A few online purchases later from greenhouse suppliers, I have a small greenhouse that I have started my spring flowers and tomatoes. Here is how I did it…

First, I moved the arbor to the location that we have tried unsuccessfully to grow potatoes  and moved a table I had built to work on inside the frame. Perfect fit.

arbor with table inside

Then, I had the idea to sew the plastic to create a tent to cover the arbor. This idea was eventually scrapped due to 50 mph winds that decided to use the seams as perforations and take the tent off the frame.

attempting to sew the cover

After having a frustrating start, I started over, this time without the wind and a roll of duct tape. Much better. I used binder clips to clip the plastic to the frame to fit the frame like a dressmaker and cut from there. Better fit and held in place.

white duct tape

I am lucky enough to have an electrical outlet close by that is in a flexible conduit and it fits into one corner so that I could purchase a small greenhouse heater to keep the temperature consistent as the spring gets closer. The heater has a thermostat and a tip safety feature so that it is a very safe little guy and blows a quiet stream of warm air into the little room. I had an old door that fit perfectly onto the bottom shelf of the table so that I can keep the heater up off the ground and in a protected space.


Once every thing was in place I could start the seeds. Today I started zinnias, calendulas, basil, amaranth, false queen annes lace, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Now it is a waiting game to see if the wind allows it to stay put and the seeds to emerge.

Dayton Convection Heater

My sources for supplies were Charley’s Green House and Johnny’s Seeds. I spent roughly $250 for all the supplies and now have a place to start seeds for a few years to come.

On the Eleventh day of Christmas…

100 disc cake box and spindle.

Image via Wikipedia

My True Love gave to me… Eleven Pipers Piping.

11 Pipers Piping playing bagpipes. While I am not really fond of bagpipe music, I do love my tunes. Over the past few years the music industry has drastically changed in so many ways. Both the way we purchase music and the equipment that it is listened to on. When I was in college and even as recent as when my oldest son was in college, stereo systems were all about big speakers and big boxes that took up lots of space.

Now, music can be downloaded which eliminates the plastic jewel cases that they come in at the store and the shrink wrap that they insist on wrapping them in which is better for the environment. Generally, we end up writing the music to a CD as a backup but we are starting to use a separate hard drive to back up and not using CDs. Again, less plastic.

The EPA has a great poster that shows the live cycle of a CD and DVD. According to the poster, CDs and DVDs are made from many different materials, each of which has its own separate life cycle involving energy use and waste. They include:

• Aluminum—the most abundant metal element in the Earth’s crust. Bauxite ore is the main source of aluminum and is extracted from the Earth.
• Polycarbonate—a type of plastic, which is made from crude oil and natural gas extracted from the Earth.
• Lacquer—made of acrylic, another type of plastic.
• Gold—a metal that is mined from the Earth.
• Dyes—chemicals made in a laboratory, partially from petroleum products that come from the Earth.
• Other materials such as water, glass, silver, and nickel.

Wondering what the answer could be to all this plastic, I came across a new idea of Eco-friendly CDs. They are made of 50% less plastic, but the packaging is better because it is all 100% biodegradable (alternative to traditional plastic packaging). The material options include potato starch trays, recycled board stock, and soy inks while overall reducing the carbon emissions footprint by over 85-90% compared to traditional plastic packaging. You can read more here.

Of course, the better answer is to try and eliminate as many CDs or DVDs as possible and download music and movies rather than support the plastics that the information travels on because just because something is biodegradable doesn’t mean that if it ends up in the landfill it will biodegrade.

Recycling is an option but you may have to pay the postage to rid yourself of them. The website Back Thru the Future will recycle them for the price of postage to get them there. This company also allows you to ship CDs to them and is set up to take them from individuals as well as large companies.You will be generating less trash which will help the planet and save landfill space.

Of course, you could always hang them in the yard to scare the birds away from your vegetables, they way that some people hang aluminum pie plates,but I can’t imagine you would need more than two or three. Or you could build a really cool lamp like this one. I may have to make one of these. Like I need more hobbies, right?