The Greenhouse Incident

Sometimes my wife Snowball’s projects don’t even sneak up and build slowly, they explode fully grown from the start. An example of this is the hobby greenhouse that we have. Pearl Harbor could not have surprised me more than what happened on a late spring day many years ago. We were sitting on the front porch enjoying a refreshing beverage. As the UPS truck pulls up Snowball says, “Oh that must be the greenhouse I ordered.” This being the first I had heard of any plans for a greenhouse, my mouth opened but no words came out. I just walked over to the truck and helped the somewhat overwhelmed delivery guy haul four 200-pound boxes to the garage.

It took me a week to put together the kit for this structure. When the greenhouse was done Snowball asked me how many hours it had taken. I said about 40 hours. Then she showed me the ad for the greenhouse where it said construction time was 4 – 6 hours. I told her that was a misprint – the hyphen was not supposed to be there. In no way was it possible for one person to build an 8′ by 12′ greenhouse in one day.

I don’t think Snowball had anything near a fully formed idea of what she was gonna use the greenhouse for. I know for a fact she hadn’t researched what was needed for a successful one. The list of things we did wrong begins with setting it on a concrete pad which was right next to the garage. So no building plant beds on the floor inside, limited light from the north side and very questionable drainage. Of course in her defense I didn’t know any of this stuff either till I bought some books and did research. In my defense it wasn’t my idea to build this beast in the first place – nor would it have ever been.

So it’s been almost ten years and the greenhouse is still standing. Every fall we put potted garden plants that we want to save from the harsh winter into the structure. I insulate it with, of all things, one inch bubble wrap. I caulk up as many holes as I can find. I MacGyver a couple of electrical heaters for cold midwestern nights and a propane backup heater in case of power loss. Last fall I went a little nuts and used expanding foam around the bottom which really helped with the drafts. I have to admit that it’s a great place to go hide on cold but sunny winter days. Its warm and you can smell the wet earth and dream of summer.

There are a few plants we leave in there all year round. They shade what gets put in there for protection from the summer sun. Occasionally raccoons and possums decide to try to take up temporary summer residence. We found the best way to scare them off is tuning a radio to an all talk station – they think a person is out there talking. We try to be humane so we avoid turning on the Rush Limbaugh show. Even poor, dumb animals should not have to be subjected to that.