I’ve owed a greenhouse for a grand total of 4 days now. I spent several months doing very careful research on the most cost effective way to get a non-pokey amount of greenhouse space that would be suitable for my garden environment. I made a detailed plan. With drawings. Scale drawings. No, the greenhouse I’ve ended up with is not the sum total of my research.
Plan A: Buy a second hand greenhouse locally for cheaps.
I considered this to be difficult to do however, due to very limited car access and no trailer. Plus the area I live in is very windy, and my garden even moreso than village average. The prevailing wind direction is from the southwest, which in simple terms means the wind has the entire length of the open space of my garden to build up force. Indeed, not one, not two, not three, not four, but five neighbours and friends in the village have told me a wind-related greenhouse fear story. That is that the people before the people who lived here before me, had had a greenhouse. Down the far end of the garden, near where I have my foraging corner. One autumn night the wind was particularly bad, and when everyone woke up the next morning the greenhouse wasn’t where it had until then been happily living. Was it the other side of the garden? Don’t be silly. It was in the churchyard!
So er, that was somewhat off putting as a ‘ welcome to the village tell me your garden plans’ story. Greenhouses are somewhat aversive as a topic to me in general (none of my immediate family have ever had one, how do they even work?), so I decided serious research was in order.
Plan B: Buy a brand new greenhouse with extra high wind security features
Except OUCH those are expensive, even with asking for presents from family to be contributions to the greenhouse fund, as opposed to anything else. Plus then there’s the whole additional considerations of price increasing somewhat exponentially if you want it any bigger than the minimum space. Because if there’s anything I know already about greenhouses, it’s that they’re like rodent rooms; once you start to fill them up a big space quickly becomes pokey and you wish you’d originally designed at least another square metre footprint, if not more.
Plan C: Build a DIY geodesic dome greenhouse
I spent all of last summer researching greenhouses. Greenhouses made from scratch. Greenhouse producers good in high winds. Solarpunk greenhouse alternatives. After a lot of reading and finance planning I decided the best design for my garden would be a geodesic dome.
Now, traditionally, greenhouses are rectangular in footprint. They have have a pitched roof of several different designs, they may have fancy wall options, they may have acrylic rather than glass, they may have fancy doors and vents, they may be reinforced in certain areas. If they’re really fancy they might not even be rectangles. But the walls go straight up and there’s the roof.
The thing is though, there’s nothing that absorbs wind power like a flat sheet. Fine fine if you live in a low-to-medium gust area. But here?! No. To have a flat sheet that stands up to that power you’re going to have to spend a lot of money, especially if you want a flat sheep of a decent size.
However, a curved face? Those deflect wind power instead. I don’t have the DIY skills to build one from scratch, but I found a fantastic small company (Hubs) who sell you the equipment needed with the maths taken out of it. I moved my research onto trying to work out how I would make the solid sides. What weight plastic would be best? I have used thick decorators plastic inside the house for animal-based DIY so figured that would probably be best. But hmm, details.
So there I was thinking that through. I had planned where in the garden it would go, but a couple of trees needed to be felled so that it wouldn’t be in shade. Awkward awkward garden with limited flat areas and water sources already in place. In any case, no immediate plans due to the timings of that, plenty of time to mull it over.
I was bored one day, with still being mostly stuck inside the house following major surgery…
Idly browsing the village Facebook group…
Someone had advertised a greenhouse incredibly cheaply! It needed taking apart and moving, but oh gods, this is too great an opportunity to miss.
So I messaged them…
And here we are!
I make that sound so simple. It was simple in a way; the person selling it lives just a few minutes walk from my house, so as local as you could ever hope for. But oh my, dismantling it was a bitch. I read a few articles on how to do that, brought round the relevant tools, had a parent in tow to be the 2nd person (and thus had car access). But November in the wind, and actually also the rain. It took forever, with some difficult angles and some screws that just did not want to undo. We didn’t fully flatpack it, just down to flat sheets. And then walked them round to mine! Well, the glass was driven round on the whole, given the weight. I have gained a firm friend. It was fun. But I am so so dead now. And I think I may ask the other parent to help me re-erect it; someone with slightly better 3D brain imagery…
Instead of where I had planed to have the dome, it will be going in the affectionately termed ‘difficult to mow area’. There’s a tree/ conifer/ giant ugly shrub thing in the way for now which will need to be chopped down first, but that’s no sad loss. The area is currently very tall thick grass (clue is in the area name) though, so will need a fair amount of ground prep. And it will then require a concrete base, because underneath the grass, and generally in grassless patches, it’s really very mossy. So without an incredibly firm base and the ability to drill the greenhouse in, I fear it would not be too long before it starts to sink down and wonkify, quite apart from the high wind risks.
So although it will be a good few weeks if not months before I have a functioning greenhouse, this is still immensely exciting!