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.
Because there were actually more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My blogging hiatus continues due to all of my free time going towards our house addition. The addition was bricked a couple of weeks ago and it turns out that I ordered entirely too much brick. Apparently that is difficult to do, so I have a hidden talent. If you ever need someone to over estimate the number of bricks you need for a project, give me a call! Anyway, I had our brick layer come back this week and use some of the extra bricks, to brick the greenhouse. Check it out:
The above picture was taken just after finishing the greenhouse, in that brief moment before all the plants went running inside.
Pretty nice, huh? It’s just a little sad to see my nice cinder blocks covered up. But now the greenhouse perfectly matches the house and looks a little more official.
And here’s a photo of our addition, all finished on the outside. It’s getting close to being finished on the inside, as well.
It has been untypically cold in Oklahoma over the last couple of weeks. Oklahomans are used to some severe weather in all seasons – hot summers (sometimes humid, sometimes dry) with temperatures above 100 F, and cold winters with temperatures in the teens and snow and ice on the ground. But it is pretty rare for us to get into the single digits or near zero. I live in USDA hardiness zone 7a, which is a winter minimum temperature between 0 and 5 Fahrenheit. However, it has been a good 6-8 years since we have dipped near 10F. This year we have been hit pretty hard.
We have actually reached 0 F on two different nights over the last 2 weeks. And we have gotten some real snow on the ground, in three different events! Last week the all-time low temperature record for the state was broken when a temperature of -31 Fahrenheit was recorded in Nowata, Oklahoma. At the same time, it was +16 Fahrenheit at the North Pole. That’s just hard for me to believe. The previous low was -27, set in Watts, Oklahoma in 1930.
My electric space heaters have done remarkably well keeping the temperature in the 60s in the greenhouse. But the electric load has been trying for a single circuit. Last week I woke up and checked the greenhouse temperature from the warm confines inside the house to find that it had dropped to 38 overnight in my greenhouse! Prior to this my greenhouse had only gotten into the low 50s on one or two occasions. I ran out to the greenhouse to find that the heaters were not on and would not respond to me hitting the power buttons. The fuse had finally given out and the heaters had been off all night long, letting the temperature plummet (actually, it was more of a gradual decline) to a temperature that I can only imagine my plants didn’t like.
I found that having two space heaters plugged into the same outlet was not wise and since I didn’t have them plugged into a modern surge protector, they were drawing a higher load than the wiring could really provide. Thankfully our old screw-in fuse when out. I replaced the fuse and plugged my main heater into a modern surge protected power strip, which will flip off when a large load is being drawn. For the following nights, I ran an extension cord from another outlet out to the greenhouse to supply power to my extra heater.
It looks like I might have come through this debacle with only minor damage to some of my plants. I don’t think I lost any plants outright, but some have lost leaves and will have to slowly recoup.
Last year for Christmas my parents-in-law gave me an unusual gift: a mixing bowl. I feigned gratitude until I opened my next gift: a box of bolts. My mother-in-law was snickering, telling me that they went together. Okay…
Next gift? Directions for building a potting bench! Ah, now it makes sense. My father-in-law told me he had bought the lumber and would deliver it to my house shortly. They explained that the mixing bowl was for mixing my various soil ingredients and that I could cut a hole in the table top (if I wished) to hold the bowl recessed from the surface.
So, for the last 6 months or so I’ve had some really nice lumber piled up on the side of the house, and our picnic table has been covered in my plants so Christie hasn’t been able to enjoy her lunch breaks outside like she likes to do. I had a free weekend a couple of weeks ago, so I pulled out the circular saw and went to work. Just a couple of hours into it, I had something resembling the components of a bunk bed. Another day of work and I had a very nice looking potting bench!
It fits very nicely along the wall of my greenhouse, right next to the door. It also fits nicely under the eave of the house, where it gets a little more protection from the elements.
Now I have it loaded down with plants, leaving just enough room for repotting a plant or two on the work surface. The lower shelf holds my bags of potting soil and extra pots.
I plan to stain it soon to protect the wood from long-term weathering.