By Billie and Robert Nicholson

The growing season is just around the corner. We finally decided the greenhouse kit we purchased several years ago had stayed in the garage long enough. We opened the box and were delighted that the kit came with an instruction book. Yes, a multi-page one. As we poured over it, we soon realized that one, we were thankful for the book and two, it was way more complicated than we had assumed. To be honest, we decided we needed some professional help from someone who had actually built something. Thanks to our handyman Mr. C.18_Greenhouse2.5

First step was site preparation. We measured the space for the foot print, squaring it off with string. Instructions said dig out a 5” deep trench 4” wide and level the inside. Next, we covered the area generously with professional ground cloth to discourage weed growth around the foundation.

Next came digging trenches for utilities. We wanted water for a sprinkler system (extra) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter and Arc Interrupter protected electricity to run lights (extra) and a vent fan (also extra). Fortunately we have an available irrigation zone with piping already accessible and an electric line in an adjoining workshop, otherwise, these would be big extras. Once the utility lines were in place, we could get back to the foundation.

The foundation sections were assembled and placed in the trench, making sure they were level and fit together squared up. Then it was time to get pea gravel to add into the trenches. For the 12’ x 10’ structure, we needed 22 – 0.5 cu. ft. (11 cu. ft) bags. Once the base was stabilized, the metal framing was assembled and bolted into place, four corner posts with braces first, then tying these together with the roof pieces.

18_Greenhouse1Vent windows in the roof were installed, followed by bird deterrent (extra) to keep the birds from sitting on top and doing their business all down the windows. We may get some of that, but it will be fly-by. Next came hanging the doors and getting them level enough to close.

Wooden framing was built next to hold the sprinklers, light, shelving and work benches. After these were complete it was time to add the electric outlets and piping for the sprinklers. Then, to keep it from blowing away in a storm, we will add building straps. My dad encouraged this based on his experience of completing the assembly of a small shed right before a thunderstorm. He dashed inside to get out of the rain and watched helplessly as a strong gust of wind grabbed his shed and tumbled it across the back yard. It was worthless.

Our new greenhouse will allow us to start our own seedlings, grow out of season veggies and tropical plants not suited to this area. We also reserved a space for aquaponics or other special projects.

The greenhouse helps expand our homestead skill-set and puts delicious produce on our table year round.

Billie and Robert welcome your comments or questions. Contact them at