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Year-round vegetables in a greenhouse she built herself for $120.

"My greenhouse was a great investment--I spent only $120 on materials, and now I have vegetables year-round," explained Juanita Farley of Chico, California. With the help of Roger Cole, Mrs. Farley designed and built the sturdy structure shown on these two pages.

She uses the unheated 9- by 12-foot greenhouse to grow turnips, beets, carrots, lettuce, chard, peas, and other cool-season vegetables through the winter. She has also discovered that the greenhouse is a perfect spot for hardening off flats of young seedlings in early spring and for rooting cuttings in summer.

Mrs. Farley gets better results if she sows seeds of winter vegetables in early fall. This gives plants time to develop before cold weather arrives and slows their growth. If you plant later, it's best to use started seedlings.

Located on the south side of the house near some deciduous trees, the greenhouse gets plenty of sun in the winter. When the trees are in leaf, they help keep it from overheating during the hot Chico summers.

(Although this greenhouse works well stuated with the long axis running east-west--"We didn't have any choice!"--ideally, the long side should be oriented north-south or nearly so.)

To support the base, two 4-foot-long redwood 4 by 4's were sunk 3 feet into the ground at each corner. A post-hole digger was used, but no concrete footings, though concrete with gravel below would give posts a longer life. Pecky cedar 2 by 2's form the base and also outline the planting beds; redwood or pressure-treated fir, while slightly more expensive, would be more durable.

The screen door (it was bought used, and is covered with plastic in winter) is framed by 8-foot-long 4-by-4 posts sunk 18 inches into the ground and bolted to the cedar base. Double 2 by 4's nailed to the tops of the posts make the header over the door.

Two parallel beams, each made of two 2 by 4's bolted together, link the top of the doorframe to a similar frame in the back that holds a 12-by 18-inch openable window. Diagonal 2-by-4 knee braces between the posts and beams give the building rigidity.

Each arch consists of two 20-foot-long pieces of redwood benderboard linked with small blocks of 2 by 3's (see top photograph above). The 4-inch-wide, 1/2-inch-thick benderboard was ripped in half with a table saw. Glue and one or two screws secure each small block to the benderboard. For additional stiffening, longer screws attach the small blocks to the beams.

The greenhouse walls, window, and screen door are covered with 4-mil translucent polyethylene, which has lasted through one season; the sun may damage it in another year. Heavier polyethylene with ultraviolet ray resistance is also available.

A mulch of almond shells covers the 3-foot-wide dirt pathway in the middle of the greenhouse. Any mulch or small gravel that's easy to walk on would work.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1984
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