Hopefully this won’t jinx the whole thing but I am starting this post before we finish the greenhouse – since it is taking so long!!!
I really cannot think of anyone who would dislike greenhouses but for me, greenhouses are my happy place and this greenhouse has been in the works since we bought the house. After purchase we asked my brother-in-law to check out the part of the garden/house where we wanted so we could build the greenhouse before we had even arrived in Canada. Fortunately, he told us to wait until we arrived since it would be complicated, and he was right.
Originally, we wanted a greenhouse attached to the house. We were in contact with BC Greenhouse and they designed one for us based on our specifications. BC Greenhouse delivers greenhouses into kits and you assemble them yourself. The greenhouses are $15’000 for a basic model and can get much more expensive. The attached greenhouse was expensive but that isn’t why we had to scap the idea, there ended up being regulations restricting building a roof under where the electricity cables attach to the house, and the south side of the house is where our electricity cables attach to the house.
We had the option of putting an electricity pole in the middle of our vegetable garden and then running the cables underground to the house, thereby removing the part of the roof where the cables attach, but that would have added an extra $10’000 to the budget. Also, I didn’t really want a pole in the middle of the garden. So we decided to buy a traditional model and put it the required distance from the house.
Things did not get easier though. We wanted to place the greenhouse the permitted distance away from the house but in the same location but we already had a peach tree there which produced the most delicious peaches. Alternate locations were in front of the house (didn’t work because of the septic tank + field), or in the corner (didn’t work because of the same power lines), or on the edge (didn’t work because we needed a buffer between the property line and the structure). After many exchanges with the district and our contractors, we finally decided to go where the peach tree was. We then applied for the permit and settled on the second contractor we spoke to (the first just stopped e-mailing after sending us the quote…)
Now came the first fun part, moving the peach tree. I called 4 landscapers/tree care companies and none would move a tree. One said he would think about it for $500 but I should just do it myself with a digging machine and it would be easy. Well, instead, I watched a few YouTube videos and tried myself with Rob. I dug a huge hole where we wanted to put the peach tree, watered the peach tree for a couple of hours and then started digging around the peach tree. You can look at the pictures to figure out the rest! Surprisingly, however, the tree is doing well months later. We will prune off all flowers next year, as suggested by our neighbour Gerald to Rob, to make sure the tree puts all its energy into the roots and survives future years.
Then came the wait for the permit, the inspector’s visit and the foundation work. We loved our contractors, Trust in Trades, they helped with advice, getting the permit, and are generally great people. We’ll even use them for other projects like changing the siding on the house that also needs to be done soon.
There were so many steps to building a foundation. I hadn’t realized. The initial digging, making the forms for the footing, pouring the concrete for the footing, building the forms for the walls, pouring of the concrete for the walls, removing the forms and, finally, the backfill.
We had the option of paying a little more for parts of the greenhouse to be pre-assembled in the factory, and to have someone come to our place for 10hrs to guide us in building. Money well spent!!! Within 10hrs, Rob, the helper (who turned out to be the son of the owner of the company and had already built 1000’s of greenhouses) and my sister’s boyfriend, Kirk, built the whole thing in the 10hrs. Without getting those extra steps it would have taken us weeks to figure that kit out.
Then the concrete truck had to come back a third time for the pouring of the slab. We poured the slab after the greenhouse was built because of the weather conditions. It was never going to dry in November covered in snow. This meant that it had to be poured by 4 people carting wheelbarrows full of concrete from the truck to the greenhouse. It took a day and they sloped the slab on our request for drainage – there is a pipe from the middle of the greenhouse that drains to outside. Rob had stayed home every step of the construction to watch over things and help out but on that last day he came out with us. When we got home we all put our handprints in the concrete.
When the concrete dried we needed an electrician to come and hook everything up. In a couple of visits, an electrician sent to us by our contractors had the sub-panel, lights and 4 outlets installed. The outlets power 2 heaters/fans that we run in there. We hesitated between propane, a wood stove, heated flooring, solar panels or electric heaters for heating and settled on the electric heaters. There isn’t enough sun in our valley for solar panels and we couldn’t keep a wood stove running 24/7 for months, not to mention how hard it would be to control the temperature. Electric is also cheaper than propane so we chose electric. When nothing is growing but we don’t want the plants to die we keep the minimum temperature 5-7°C in there, and when we will start to grow we will increase the temperature a bit and heat the soil with mats (since the temperature of the soil is what matters). The lights are also very bright and sufficient for seedlings, so we will not make a germination chamber for seedlings. We will just grown on our tables and see how it goes.
If Monty Don has taught us anything about work in the garden, it is that a finished project needs to be celebrated. We also love our neighbours and it was an excuse to have people over. So we invited 12 neighbours over for drinks and food after completion. Sixteen of us fit comfortably inside and we stayed in there late into the night talking. A perfect way to pass from finishing the building to the PLANTING!! Oh, but first Rob needs to build a ton of tables of different heights and shelving for the 50 seed trays we will have growing in there. Good luck with the tables Rob and thanks for the greenhouse.