One of the first big projects we worked on when we moved here was a greenhouse, which we built using as many donated/repurposed materials as we could. Every year sends us some interesting surprises (snowpocalypse, crazy hail, mockbird swooping in through the window to munch tomato seedlings), but we’ve managed to keep most everyone alive over the years. We’re really happy with how it turned out and every winter that we use the space, we get new ideas of how to improve it.
Here’s a little photo gallery of the greenhouse build. We don't have photos of Miguel perched on top of a ladder on top of a table to put the hoops up all by himself, but that is a thing that happened. Haha.
Repurposing materials definitely took a lot longer than building a greenhouse from a kit, but just like our tiny house, this is how we like to do things. We collected a bunch of metal hoops, old windows and doors, plexiglass panels, corrugated plastic panels, recycled wood, insulation sheets, whatever was around that we could work with. Here’s the inspector checking out some of the supplies. We did have to buy materials like the plastic skin for the top and an 80% shade cloth (Texas sun is brutal!), but I would say that 75% of the greenhouse was repurposed.
After several years of using the greenhouse, we've gotten a better feel for which layouts and plant configurations work best for our space. And just like we apply permaculture principles to our gardens, we do the same in here -- carefully observing how the sun and air flow through the space to set everyone up for success. For the first two years, we divided the greenhouse in half so we were only having to heat one side. We've since expanded into the entire space, which has come with its own set of learning curves.
Here are some of the arrangements we've tried over the years:
There's certainly still room for improvement, so we'll update this post as we go. But this greenhouse has been serving us well. And in light of the crazy unprecedented cold snaps we've had the past three years, we're extremely grateful to have it. It even got us through the crazy snowpocalypse of 2020.