November 24, 2017

Getting the Wee Pop-up Greenhouse Ready for Winter

The south wall of the greenhouse

Pineo Photo | The south wall of the greenhouse

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• By Janine Pineo •

Other than providing cover for my purchased seedlings and a half-hearted attempt at starting a few of my own seeds, the wee pop-up greenhouse served more as a home for the gray tree frog that took up residence last spring.

Greenhouse summer location

Janine PIneo Photo | The greenhouse's summer location

There wasn’t much need, of course, to grow things indoors over the summer, so the wee structure sat in the back of the yard until frost began to threaten. Then it became a bustle of activity, with me attempting to save plants by carting them up across the lawn and tucking them inside the protective dome.

This did help, although it was inevitable the cold would eventually win.

But why? I asked myself. Coudn’t I try to save a few things in the greenhouse? Couldn’t I think of a way to keep it warm?

Enter the Growers Supply catalog, just loaded with greenhouse goodies. I purchased TekFoil and greenhouse bubble insulation, along with foil tape to join it all together and a piece of plastic fabric flooring to cover it all up.

Assembling the floor for the greenhouse

Pineo Photo | Assembling the floor for the greenhouse

My plan was simple. Move the greenhouse to the little deck off the back deck. There it would get sun for most of the day, and it would be close enough to an electrical outlet so I could use a heater.

I would lay the fabric flooring down, put down a layer of TekFoil with its magnificent heat reflection properties, and then another layer of flooring so I wouldn’t be blinded by the TekFoil glare.

Around the north and west walls, I would run the rest of the TekFoil to fight off those cold north winds. And with the clear bubble insulation,  I would run it up and around and over until all the walls and ceiling were covered with the insulating magic of air.

The idea was really a greenhouse skin within the pop-up greenhouse, which should be fairly snug, my mind kept telling me.

Hanging up the clear bubble insulation

Pineo Photo | Hanging up the clear bubble insulation

I also had been saving milk jugs and planned to line those up inside the base after filling them with water. I had lots of bricks and fieldstone that I figured could hold things down floorside while at the same time would warm up and provide another source of heat.

My sister and I spent a full afternoon setting up this magnificent concept on a weekend in early November 2011. First we had to take everything out of the greenhouse and move it to the little deck area. Then we had to build our floor, place the greenhouse on it and run the TekFoil and bubble insulation before we could even think of moving in the furniture.

By the time that was done, I was looking at the plants I wanted to save with a rather jaundiced eye. Did I really love them enough to do this?

I kept telling myself how great it would be to grow greens in the middle of the winter.

And that kept me going until we had a spiffy looking greenhouse all snug for the winter, just waiting for those first pots of lettuce and spinach.

Next time: The reality of cold weather sets in