The Greenhouse Project

Well I must say I was in for quite a shock moving from Southern California to Oregon. I made this silly assumption that after we moved up here, growing a garden would be a cake walk. I was leaving behind a state that got into the triple digits for most of the summer. I was gaining a more mild climate, along with rain. How wrong I was. There were so many factors I never anticipated. For starters the weather. I now live in an area where there are 4 defined seasons. Oh sure there were 4 seasons in S. CA, but down there I called it, Spring, Hell, Wind, and something moderately cool.

That being said, I now have to understand that, you just do not plant anything in the ground before Mother’s Day. Seriously! I thought oh pish, it’s 80 degrees outside the frost is over. It was, for 5 days at which point the temperature was dropping to 24 degrees at night. Lost everything I planted due to frost. So now I listen when I hear folks talking in the garden centers. Heed the wisdom! Which is what prompted me to get a greenhouse. I need to be able to control the weather, on a small scale. I researched this project for almost a year. The choice was made, a Solexx Greenhouse that was 12 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet high was purchased.  Below are photos of our assembly and comments.

I must give a lot of thanks to the folks over at the Greenhouse Catalog. Between numerous emails, going to visit them at their location in Salem Oregon and several phone calls I knew I made the right decision. Michael and Bryen answered all my questions and even provided information I had not considered.  I do not agree with some of their installation instructions, but this does not mean I had any regrets in our purchase. And I think they owe me a bottle of wine 🙂

On to the installation. I will be honest the assembly instructions say it will take a couple of days to assemble. I would say this is not quite accurate. It took us a week+ and we’re retired. Part of this is due to the fact you must prepare your area for where the greenhouse will be. We opted for laying down a gravel base. Get ready for your upper body work out folks. We sprayed the area first with vegetation killer, then put down weed guard.

And then it was time to shovel it all in place. I won’t bore you with those tedious shots. I’m just very grateful for Aleve!

Just a few 1,000 lbs of rock.

Just a few 1,000 lbs of rock.

Here we go...

Here we go…

You look at these boxes and you think, “Ok I can do this. Just one step at a time”. So a show of hands, how many of you have had to assemble a swing set, or a bicycle on Christmas Eve? Uh huh…take that and multiple it times 10. As I said prepping is key to success. You need to know where to place it on your property for maximum sun, you may need a permit depending on where you live. Will you need to run electrical to it, water? How will you get electrical/water to it? You know what they say ‘Love is in the details.’

You begin with the base frame and ribs. This goes pretty smoothly. Here is a collage of the various stages.

Framing

Framing

At one point it started to look like a giant whale bone carcass. Do keep in mind, wherever you build it, if it’s not on the site, you will have to carry it later. (Good thing I joined a gym a month before we started).

It is from this stage on that things got a bit…um…challenging. We carried the assembled frame over to the grassy area near the gravel site. Ribs were attached at the top to form the hut.

Ribs connected over top

Ribs connected over top

Front View

Front View

Panels

Panels

We put the panels out in the sun as they come curled up in the box.  And this is where assembly began to fall apart and we had to adapt and improvise.

You are directed to install the panels horizontally and slide them up and over the top. So panel one will become panel 6, and 2 will be 5 etc. Something like this –

Sliding - not so good.

Sliding – not so good.

You are told to use duct tape to help hold them together while you lift the bottom, add the next panel and slide up. Folks we had some duct tape that was so sticky I still have no finger prints and the weight of the panels (while not a lot) was enough to pull the entire thing apart.  That, compiled with a breeze we have out here all the time would lift the panels like a sail. After the 4th attempt we said “forget it let’s go another route!” First we took 4 cinder blocks and made anchors. We then secured one end and tossed the rope over the top and anchored on the side. Each panel was then slipped under the ropes and secured with a couple of screws.

Anchor 1

Anchor 1

Anchor 2

Anchor 2

Notice no duct tape.

What would have been better was to get the solexx siding the way they show it on the site. In long sheets rather than panels. Note the difference. He’s just sliding his from one side to the other thru the connector. Ah well…

This would have been easier

This would have been easier

Once you get all the sides on and secure you can put in your vents and shelves. Mine has 6 base vents, a front louver and rear exhaust.

One of the instructions on the exhaust fan says “Rough cut an opening 16 X 16”. What they should have said was measure and trace exhaust frame and cut neatly. Because if you don’t the back will look like hell. We had to build a frame out of trimmed solexx panels to seal it.

Assembled

Assembled

Front Louver & Shelves installed

Front Louver & Shelves installed

The flooring I got was a tarp that will also help with weed retardant. You can see the exhaust fan in the back, cords will be dressed up a bit more later. The exhaust fan is on it’s own control. You can set it to come on at a specific temperature. This will pull the hot air out of the greenhouse by pulling cooler air from the floor via the floor vents. But the real cool thing is the solar opener.

Solar Opener

Solar Opener

This little device is set to automatically open the front louver when it reaches 65-70 degrees. Trust me you want it to. Some might think but that’s far too soon the greenhouse will cool too fast. It won’t. This is power free by the way. It’s operated via wax in the tube. Wax gets warm, expands and vent is opened. As it cools the wax contracts and closes the vent. Really neat!

Below the electrical is going in. We hired a certified electrician for this because we needed it to code and pass inspection. Some things you cannot cut corners on.

Wall Switches going in

Wall Switches going in

Overhead Outlets

Overhead Outlets

Ready for Plants

Ready for Plants

So here is the inside all done. I also have 4 light panels of T5 lighting. I do not have a heater yet as I don’t want to try and grow in Dec and Jan when the highs are in the 30’s and lows in the 20’s. It would be just too costly. My herbs were moved in and it’s starting to look like a real greenhouse. Next spring I will update with more pictures of what I’m growing. In January I will be taking the Master Gardener classes and get my certification. I am sure that the knowledge I get there will help me immensely with greenhouse gardening success!

Did I mention at night it becomes a beacon for alien space craft?

Alien Beacon?

Alien Beacon?

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17 thoughts on “The Greenhouse Project

  1. Wow Denise. Look at you go. I am simply amazed at how your brain works. Very excited to hear how your master Gardner class goes. You guys are living a very exciting life!

  2. Great job, D&D!! I hope you enjoy your greenhouse as much as we do ours. One word of warning that we learned the hard way – don’t know how you feel about ‘sprays’ but we did learn to leave plants just purchased or given outside for a day or two and spray them to kill anything that you bring home. Once some of these critters are in your greenhouse, they love the comfort and will settle in. Easier to get rid of them beforehand. Have fun!! (and, I’m sure you’ll lerarn everything you need to know during your classes, but this hint will help now. ) 🙂

    • That’s a very good idea Jean thank you! I have a natural insecticidal soap for plants. I’m in the process now of harvesting seeds from my Krim tomatoes, dill, ground cherries. Hopefully soon I will have my own stock of seeds.

  3. Hello From Solexx. Solexx is in the process of changing the instructions so that you will be applying the paneling in a different fashion. Soon you will start to panel from the top ridge down, this will make paneling the unit much easier, there will be no duct tape used during installation and this method will allow you to get your ladder into the greenhouse while paneling the top of the unit, making it much easier to put the screws into the top panels. We are also adding info on how to easily trim the opening for the exhaust fan. Along with a few more changes. Thanks for the Feedback, it helps us to improve our product, Here at Solexx our customers are one of the most important aspects of our company. With out you, we would not be. Thank you to all of our Solexx Customers. “People Who Love Plants, Love Solexx!”

  4. Hello Denise, I loved taking this walk with you as you journal your greenhouse buying experience. Very well done. I have been growing veggies in a Solexx Greenhouse for 6 years and have found that for the small amount of time and effort I give to growing my own food, I am rewarded with an abundant harvest of delicious vegetables all year. Enjoy!
    Kathy

  5. Denise ! Michael here from the Greenhouse Catalog. So glad you shared you’re experience with the greenhouse construction. You did a nice job ! The thing I liked the most about working with you was your desire to be thorough and ask a lot of questions… and you asked a lot of questions ! It shows how much you enjoyed the process of putting the greenhouse together and doing the research, you cared about the purchase and knew to do the research before hand. A large part of the joy of working at the Greenhouse Catalog is working with folks like you that are just as passionate about getting things to grow as I am. You were a joy to work with and your enthusiasm will ensure your success, just as our enthusiasm shows in the quality of our greenhouses. Thank you so much for working with us and sharing Green Acres with us. Oh and by the way, I recollect it was 1 bottle of merlot and 2 aspirin….I’ll make sure Bryen gets those included in the parts list for the greenhouse !

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