Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Review: The Spring Gardener 10 x 20' Greenhouse
Two years ago I finally decided to take the plunge and buy a simple greenhouse.
It's no secret that tropical plants play a big role here at Econopocalypse Ranch.
There are plenty of plants I grow for survival... and then there are some that I grow just because I can't accept the fact I don't live in the tropics.
Buying a greenhouse was a big deal for me. I'm a cheapskate. I don't like spending money unless it makes me money. That's why we have one car, a modest house, thrift store clothes and lots of garden beds.
The need to keep things alive and start new plants during winter finally won me over, however. To jump in, I did a lot of research on various ways of building greenhouses and perused plenty of kits before settling on the model I own now - the Spring Gardener Gable Greenhouse.
It's simple enough to set up in a couple of hours the first time (especially if you have a handy-dandy direction-following wife with you.)
The frame is quite sturdy and the plastic sides attach to it easily with a simple yet ingenious method - little dingle ball attacher do-dads:
The corners velcro together sturdily as well.
When we first set this greenhouse up in 2011, I figured it was heavy enough to stand up fine even in windstorms.
One particularly brutal thunderstorm proved me wrong. After a frantic fight to unhook flapping panels in the wind and rain to keep the structure from going airborne, I had to rethink my naive strategy.
I used a post hole digger to dig holes by the bottom of each leg, which I then filled with cement with a piece of re-bar sticking out a few inches above the surface. I then used hose clamps to attach those re-bar pieces to the legs and haven't had any problems since.
The manufacturer recommends tying this thing to the ground - I just needed to find out why first-hand. Just tie it down the first time around and avoid my mistake.
There's plenty of space inside the Spring Gardener Gable Greenhouse, with 9' of clearance to the roof. You can walk around inside from wall to wall and not touch the roof with your head unless you're 8' tall.
I'm please with what I got for the price (under $700.00). It's allowed me to grow starfruit, coffee and other exotics without having to drag pots in and out of the house.
Here are a couple of extra tweaks I do to keep this thing running well.
I disassemble the plastic sides and leave just the metal frame in the yard during the warm season to preserve the plastic.
Another thing: see those 55 gallon drums? They're thermal mass. By placing them in the greenhouse, I moderate the temperature much better than it would be without them. Even if I leave the greenhouse shut on a hot day, the cool water in the barrels keeps my plants from getting cooked - and on freezing nights, the comparatively warm water keeps the temperatures from falling to dangerous levels.
My recommendation: there isn't a better deal you can find on a well-built entry level greenhouse. One day I may build a big permanent greenhouse and plant a tropical food forest inside it, but for now - this is a solid tool and I'm glad I bought it.
That's saying something, 'cause spending money hurts.
On a cold day, there's nothing like stepping into an 80 degree greenhouse and soaking up the warmth and extra oxygen while enjoying lush green tropical plants. You may not be able to buy happiness, but that gets pretty close.