• Gardening adventures,  Humor,  Permaculture and Edible Forest Gardening Adventures

    Building a Rion Eco-Grow Greenhouse


    Greenhouse in a box!

    Yes, I finally decided upon which greenhouse to buy.  It took a year and a lot of research and waiting.  I did go back and forth about just throwing some plastic over bowed PVC pipes, but I wanted something that lasted and didn’t look like a piece of junk.  Most greenhouses that I wanted were over $1,000, and that was just not going to work.  Also, I needed diffused light rather than clear glass or plastic because most of the year here the sun really cooks things.  Diffused light will help keep the seedlings from scorching.  Since I’m absolutely not a carpenter, and would be assembling this myself, I needed something that went together fairly easily.  I found the Rion Eco-Grow, a small greenhouse that snaps together and yet can be enlarged later (http://www.riongreenhousekit.com/rion-ecogrow.php).  It isn’t made of aluminum, which can bend easily, and the double plastic ‘windows’ diffused light. It is delivered by standard carrier, not flatbed truck, so the packages are manageable and you aren’t expected to help unload them.  It came with a seven-year warrenty and had very good customer reviews on other websites.  I not only bought it on sale, but it came with a choice of a gift, and I chose the solar light.

    I guess they didn’t fit through the little package door!

    Last Wednesday I came home to find a couple of friends waiting for me.  The boxes were about 60 pounds apiece, but I just levered them onto my garden cart (the best thing I ever bought!) and hauled them down to where the greenhouse was going.

    Sorting the parts and leveling the ground took a whole afternoon.

    Well, it wasn’t easy, putting that thing together.  After sorting parts, many of which were not labelled, and then leveling the area where the base would be constructed, it was already an afternoon shot.  The next day I started fitting pieces together and trying to figure out the miniscule diagrams.  It really is ingeniously thought out.

    Pushing together the hardware was fun.

    Only when it came to fitting glazing on over the roof panels did the very, very bad time happen.  I worked for a day and a half on just those glazing; they wouldn’t go in!  They recommend soapy water.  I had so much soapy water that it was dripping in my shoes.  Finally I brought down my electric kettle and poured hot water on some  of them.  It worked for all except one end, which still isn’t going anywhere.  It will have to stay like that.

    In pergatory they make you try to assemble the roof parts… forever.

    When I started work, the ground was pretty dry.  Then a puddle was forming in the mud at my feet and I realized that there was a leak in the pipe nearby, so I shut off the outside water until I can fix it.  Then I was hurrying to be done before the rain last week, and I didn’t make it.  Then, since it was very muddy and I was having so much trouble with the roof I thought I’d back out my riding mower out of the shed and haul the roof inside onto level flooring to see if that made any difference.  I didn’t get far.  I started the mower, tried to reverse, couldn’t clear the entrance way with the mower deck, then realized in only about two minutes time that the exhaust had filled the shed and I was getting sick.  I shut off the mower and got out of there.  That was the end of that work day, as I recovered my breathing and severe headache in the house.  I tasted exhaust in my mouth for a long time afterwards.

    Sophie checking on my progress.

    Then it rained again, and I spent a day running errands.  Today I constructed the door and then noticed a spot in the middle that wouldn’t brush off.

    What is that mark in the middle….?

    A spider had worked its way down between the lines of the panel and made a little web!  He would certainly die in there, and I’d be watching him do it.  So of course I took apart the entire top part of the door, wedged out the panel and blew down the lines, and he popped out the other side.  Nothing I can do about the web he left, though.

    A spider! Had to get that poor guy out of there

    I managed to complete everything except for placing the roof on the top.  Tomorrow I’ll have help and we’ll do a ‘barn raising’, or, at least, raise the roof, after that, I’ll finally be able to start my project on organic greenhouse production

    All ready to raise the roof!

    Assembly tips: sort out every piece of equipment.  Not all of the pieces are labeled, and some of the panels are only a hair’s difference in size, so measure and mark them all… it will save a lot of re-doing and cursing. Wear gloves.  Not so much that the panels will cut you, but they really help save your hands when you are pressing and pressing and pressing and sliding your hands up and down plastic pieces to get them to fit together.  If you have issues with your hands and wrists (as I especially do now!) this will be tough on you.  Use lots of warm soapy water, and for pieces that either absolutely won’t go together, or for those that did and now need to come apart because they popped out of place, pour boiling water slowly down all pieces concerned.  It really does help!  Be sure to work on a level surface, even for constructing the roof.   Give yourself a break and go do something else for awhile, then come back to the problem.  Don’t use a rock to force a piece into place because the plastic will chip off.  Ahem.

    I’ll post a final photo when I set up shop!