Category Archives: Projects

Greenhouse repair, stage 2

Before leaving for my annual trip to Florida, I was able to get the greenhouse put together again.  I spent about 10 hours (total) cleaning out the broken panel and patching it with clear tape.  If I told you there were 576 holes I would probably be lying.

Patched panel

Because there were actually more.

Patched panel

Once it was finally patched I sealed the ends with tape again and put the end caps on.  I put the panel back on top, flipping it over so the patched side is now down and the suspected stronger side is now facing up.  Some caulk and screws were all that was needed to make it official.

Greenhouse roof re-installed

It doesn’t look great on the inside, but from the outside it looks okay and at least it is closed in once again.  I am hoping it will last a while before I have to actually replace any of the panels.

Greenhouse repair, stage 1

It has been four years since I built my greenhouse.  All in all, I am very happy with it.  This Spring we had some severe thunderstorms roll through (quite typical for central Oklahoma).  One of them dumped a lot of hail about the diameter of a quarter.  Many people in town got new roofs after the hail storm, but our new roof withstood the hail without any damage.  The greenhouse didn’t fair so well.

Roof of greenhouse riddled with holes from hail damage

The roof and walls of the greenhouse are made of triple wall polycarbonate.  There is one seam in the roof.  Based on my damage assessment I’m guessing that one of the sides of the polycarbonate must be tougher and more resistant to damage than the other side.  I had no idea when I installed the sheets.  Nor did I realize I was putting different sides up on the two pieces.  The repeated pounding of the hailstones punctured through the upper surface on one of the polycarbonate sheets and left the other sheet unharmed.  I wish I had known this when I was building the greenhouse.

The panel on the left is completely without blemish while the panel on the right has hundreds of holes.  You can also see where the panel has filled with water (top of the image).

At the time of damage I couldn’t just remove the sheet and replace it.  For one, replacement material is expensive and difficult to procure.  I had to buy a huge sheet (8′ x 36′) and cut it down to manageable sheets to get it home the first time around.  It was also still getting down near freezing some nights at the time, so I couldn’t leave the greenhouse unprotected.  Because I used triple wall polycarbonate the holes weren’t actually exposing the interior of the greenhouse to cold air from outside.  There was still a layer of protection.

Seeds from our Sycamore tree and other junk has been washed off the roof, right into the channels of the polycarbonate panel.

I stalled and life was busy and in the meantime, the holes of the roof allowed all sorts of water and junk to get inside.  Because the ends of the panel were sealed shut, the roof actually filled up with water, to the level of the lowest hole in each channel.

Water draining from one of the channels after I removed a screw attaching the panel to the frame.

What to do now?  Well, I have removed the damaged sheet, which was very heavy with the added weight of the water.  I drained the water and I am in the process of cleaning it out.  This is a time consuming process and I’m afraid the final outcome will not be a clear panel.  The walls and other roof panel of my greenhouse still look about as clear and clean as the day I installed them, but this roof panel will likely not be as pristine.

Typical hole punched by hail

Once the cleaning process is complete I will be patching the (hundreds of) holes with clear packing tape.  I have patched some areas and then tried to shoot water through those channels to flush out the junk.  That didn’t work as well as I had hoped, so I am going to try to use the holes to wash out the junk, and maybe also use a shop vac.

My patch job . Not the prettiest thing around, but hopefully it will do the job.

After the junk is out, I will do all of the patching, re-seal the ends of the panel, flip the panel so the repaired side is down, and then reattach it to the roof.  With the repaired side facing down any “leaks” would just be allowing the warm air from the greenhouse into the cell, rather than cold outside air into the cell.  Also, if it is true that the sides of the polycarbonate differ in strength then this puts the stronger side facing up to weather the next inevitable hail storm.

Stay tuned to see how the repair progresses.

 

New garden installation in Galveston

For the first time in my life, I got to plan and plant a garden in a “sub-tropical” zone.  Christie’s parents have built a house in Galveston, Texas and we got to install the garden out front.  We live in zone 7a and Galveston is zone 9b!  What does that mean exactly?  That I get to grow plants that thrive in an environment where the temperature never dips below 25 Fahrenheit.  My zone dips down to zero Fahrenheit. In October, Christie and I headed down to Galveston to help her parents finish the house and have a little leisure time.

Laying the retaining wall blocks
Laying the retaining wall blocks

It was fun visiting the garden centers in this part of the country and seeing all of the plants that can be grown there that can’t be grown here.  I didn’t really have any rules about the landscaping, but I wanted to get items that can’t be grown here.  Here’s the full listing of what we planted: black Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia), Canna ‘Pink Sunburst’, pink Bougainvillea, Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia), Zamia vazquezii, Dietes iridioides, Alocasia ‘Frydek’, Indian Hawthorne, Natal Plum (Carissa macrocarpa), Gardenia,  Banana Tree, Duranta, Bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus ‘Little John’), spicy Jatropha (Jatropha integerrima), Plumbago auriculata, Blue Ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsifolia), Red Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana), pink Oleanders (Nerium oleander), dwarf coral Ixora, Yucca, yellow Allamanda bush, Brugmansia.

Plants eagerly awaiting their new homes
Plants eagerly awaiting their new homes

We did more soil preparation for this garden than I have ever done before.  We purchased more than 30 bags of soil, manure and other amendments to mix with the sandy soil that is filled with shells.  We wanted to build the flowerbeds up about 8 inches in some areas and about 16 inches in other areas.  There was a lot of shovel work, but once the ingredients were mixed and spread, and the retaining wall was in place, the planting was very easy.

Bird's eye view of left side garden finished
Bird's eye view of left side garden finished

I look forward to seeing how the garden matures over the next several years.  Hopefully the plants will be happy enough without someone there full-time to tend to them.

Finished garden on the right side
Finished garden on the right side

A place for mounted orchids

I am always trying to figure out better ways of arranging my plants, especially as fall approaches and I know that all of the plants scattered around my yard are going to have to go back into the greenhouse soon.  When I set up the shelves in my greenhouse, I had more shelves per unit than I wanted to use.  I put two of the shelves to use by making separate bases for them and giving myself a low bench in one of the corners of my greenhouse.  The other shelf I sat aside for future inspiration.

Some of my mounted orchids hanging off of a pot
Some of my mounted orchids hanging off of a pot

Well, inspiration came recently!  I have been hanging my mounted orchids in various places in the greenhouse, some from the fronts of the shelves, others from hanging pots or other mounted orchids… I decided that my little collection of mounted orchids would be better cared for if they were consolidated in one location, and it would also eliminate some of the accessibility problems I was having when I would hang them on the front of a shelf and not be able to reach back to other plants.

My new rack with most of the mounted orchids in place
My new rack with most of the mounted orchids in place

So I mounted that shelf piece vertically between studs and… Voila!  Now I have a hanging rack for my collection of mounted orchids, which numbers about 15 right now.  I have a couple more orchids that need to be mounted.  As soon as I can find some suitable mounting material and some time, there will be more orchids added to the rack.

Project: Homemade orchid basket

I made a couple of orchid baskets out of sticks and wire last year.  Those are cool, but they are not quite as sturdy and permanent as I was wanting.  They tend to come apart pretty easily.  I was looking at some orchid forums online and came across some similar baskets that were constructed a little differently, so I decided to give it a try.

Completed orchid basket, ready for a plant
Completed orchid basket, ready for a plant

First, I needed to get some sticks with a larger diameter and then use my table saw to cut them lengthwise, yielding a smooth edge.  Then I attach these with small nails to upward supports in each corner.  The bottom was a little more improvised, using paint stir sticks.

Stanhopea oculata in new orchid basket
Stanhopea oculata in new orchid basket

I lined the basket with a coconut fiber liner and then potted a Stanhopea oculata in sphagnum moss.