Monday, April 29, 2013

Greenhouse Project: Foundation

Yesterday, for probably the first time since we started this project, everything went exactly as planned! The base of the greenhouse has been set in place, leveled and adjusted in height. We checked and double checked and triple checked everything before and while pouring cement in the holes / tubes and finally locking the base in place. 

Mixing cement
So the foundation is done. I can't believe we're finally there! We are getting closer and closer to having a usable greenhouse. :) :) :)

Greenhouse foundation
We had ordered some sand a good while ago, but we won't have enough. So another load has been ordered and should arrive within just a couple of days. As soon as it arrives, we'll be able to fill the pit to bring the floor up to the right level.
Other assignments in the near future include digging (yes... more digging!) a deeper hole behind the greenhouse for the gabion. (Note: "Gabion" is a word I have JUST learned by translating from the danish word "faskine". If I am using the term incorrectly, please somebody correct me! Thank you). 
Anyways... The gabion will be part of the water evacuation system for the greenhouse. It is essentially just a big box made of grid-tubes together, covered with a textile and burried in the ground. This create a reservoir for excess water to drip in, and slowly seeps through the textile and into the ground. This helps avoid the forming of puddles on the surface. There will be a water gathering system incorporated to the floor of the greenhouse. That system will be connected with pipes to the gabion and voila! No water problem! (hopefully!)

We also need to dig channels from the house to the greenhouse for the electricity wire and the water hose. 

This is all really cool and quite important details, but what I'm REALLY looking forward too now is to FINALLY mount the greenhouse "skeleton". This will hopefully also happen within a short time. :)

Here's hoping for good weather again next weekend!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Greenhouse project: The box is open!

This is getting really exciting! Yesterday, while I was out, my wonderful husband finished digging out the 560cm x 410 cm x 20 cm hole in preparation to the building our our greenhouse. So with the area ready, we FINALLY allowed ourselves to open the boxes containing the pieces for the greenhouse frame. WOOHOOO we're getting somewhere!!

We found the pieces we needed and put the base together. After using it to carefully measure where to dig for the 6-pillar foundation, we proceeded to dig those 6 holes, which needed to be about 60 cm deep. It was really excited to see the base "in place" for the first time. It was equally exciting to dig the 6 holes. It finally feels like we're doing something constructive and getting closer to our goal!

Drilling too. 

"Drilling" the holes was fairly easy at first. It goes well with the drilling tools. However, it is impressive to feel the different layers of soil as the holes get deeper and deeper. At some point, we hit a very compact but beautiful layer of clay! I couldn't resist taking some of that pretty clay and putting it aside in a plastic bag. Maybe I can do something with it a bit later on. Some of the soil layers are pretty difficult to drill through, especially towards the end of the day when we both were starting to feel pretty exhausted. 

Am I that exhausted??

Nooo of course not! I'm just trying to free an annoying big rock that refrains us from drilling any deeper!

Ah, but no matter the layer of compact soil and clay and the rock obstacles... by the time we came in for dinner at the end of the day, all 6 holes were drilled and we were pretty proud of ourselves!

Greenhouse base placed over the 6 holes for the foundation pillars
We expect to pour the cement in the holes tomorrow! If all goes well, the base should really be in place before we start the new week. This is perfect, as it will dry/harden before we have time to take further steps. But once the base is solidly anchored in the cement pillars, we can safely mount the rest of the frame! How exciting is that!!!
It looks like I might have my greenhouse before the end of the season after all. hehehe  :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

We have a square!

Spring arrived at long last! The snow is gone and Spring flowers are bringing life onto the landscape again with their vibrant colours. Temperatures went up rather suddenly some days ago and we have been enjoying some beautiful sunny days.

Between work, school and homework, we have been able to come out and do some more on the greenhouse project. The area for the "building site" has been carefully measured and marked with very visible orange cord, which Tiana found quite interesting!

Tiana couldn't resist!
We then removed the grass layer. It was getting very exciting when we started seeing the actual "square" where the greenhouse will stand!

The grass is removed on almost all of the area on this picture. 

Now that the grass is removed and the area is clearly marked, we could start digging.

Digging... The area here is clearly visible.  Note that the  greenhouse will be smaller than the area on the picture. We added 50 cm all around for paving stones. 

More digging... 

We need to go 20 cm down on the whole area. It is hard work, but it's also a lot more fun than cutting down trees and digging out roots! We did about 1/3 of the digging step in one afternoon. The rest will need to wait to the weekend. The "hole" will eventually be filled with sand (possibly two kinds, in layers) and paving stones will be layed on top as floor in and around the greenhouse.

With the good weather finally here, I am looking even more forward (is that possible) to the greenhouse being up and usable!
We'll get there... :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Greenhouse project

Last weekend, we finally got the area for the greenhouse cleared. Stumps, bushes, shrubs, rocks, as well as old fence panels and posts that had to be removed have been removed, and we now have a "blank canvas" to work on. This means that as soon as we have time and decent weather, we will be able to take more fun and constructive steps towards our goal!

Blank canvas... Ready for more interesting steps!
We did have a little bit of protest from Kashew, who did not seem to agree with us removing her scratching post. :(  I must say, though, that she has many other "scratching posts" in the garden, and probably even some out in the forest nearby. So I do believe she'll be alright. ;)

Sorry Kashew. :( I promise I'll grow catnip for you this summer. 
We are hoping the weekend will bring good weather. Next steps include removing the top layer of grass on the area, digging out channels for water hose and electricity wire, digging out holes for the foundation posts and moving sand onto the area as an underlayer to the future paving stones. 
It's going forward... slowly but surely!

Windowsill gardening

While the greenhouse project is a lot of work, my preparations to the gardening season must also be given some care. This will be my second summer with a real vegetable garden, and I still have a lot to learn. One of the things I am trying to get a good balance on is what to sow indoor and when. Reading on the seed envelopes is a good start, but judging how the weather will turn and how much time will go before all those small plants can come outside can be one big puzzle. 
I have in any case sowed many things, and we will see what happens. Learning by doing... trials and errors. I'll get there!

I was having the issue that my seedlings were looking for light, even though they are sitting right by south or east windows. This resulted in long, thin and week seedlings... and a good deal of disappointment. 

A good friend of mine who is also into gardening gave me a couple of good tricks. One of them consists of making a shield with aluminium foil for the light to reflect on. This gives a more evenly distributed light around the young plants and helps them grow stronger. 

Aluminium foil shields - Light traps!
I was amazed at the difference in amount of light on my plants after I installed the shields! Now I do not have to turn the plants many times a day to try and get them to grow straight! 

Another good advice my friend gave me was to also consider the temperature in the room. Seeds need warmth and moisture to sprout, but seedlings can tolerate cooler temperatures. After sprouting, they can be moved to a different location, like a spare room, where the balance between light and lower temperatures will actually make the plant grow at a slower rate, which will hopefully allow for stronger, healthier plants. When the weather allows it and the plants can come outside (or in the greenhouse!) in the heat and full light, they will pick up their growing. So I have been preparing a new "nursing station" in my bedroom, where we always keep it quite fresh.  I already had trays there with seeds and seedlings, but I now organized it differently. I have not yet moved the plants around, but the place is ready with a light shield and all! When I have a moment, I will move the sprouted stuff in the bedroom, and the not-yet-sprouted stuff in the dining room. 

Thank you my friend for good and valuable advice.  :)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The stump is out!

The good weather has finally arrived. A lot of the snow has melted away and it smelled like Spring outside yesterday and today. At last, my husband and I were able to move a little bit forward on the greenhouse project. 

After over 12 hours of sitting in dirt and mud, digging, clearing and cutting roots, the stump from the tree we cut down in the beginning of March is finally out! The following picture doesn't do justice to how complicated and hard work it actually was. The many roots were big, and often closely crossing one another, making it very difficult to clear from soil and cut free. But the joy we felt when we finally cut the last root was worth all the energy used and resulting body aches!

We finally tipped it down! All the roots are cut free. 
Now we have a crater!
So that is one step closer to being able to put the greenhouse up! I thought I would have it by the end of March... now I hope it will be up before the end of April! Next step is to remove yet another tree :(. The evergreen by the fence needs to come down, as it will be too close to the back of the greenhouse. 

Greenhouse status: Snow almost melted. Tree and stump gone.