The autumn before last I finally found the time to buy a small greenhouse. It was an optimistic first step towards bringing seedlings on and then growing some of my own food. Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes, and all sorts of prices from pretty expensive to totally beyond the budget. I did the research – or so I thought – and bought a small plastic greenhouse – one you buy in a kit to build yourself. I decided on plastic because it seemed to me that it would be safer to have plastic rather than glass in the garden. The greenhouse kit arrived very quickly, and even came with free staging, so I thought I had a bargain.
I enlisted the (paid) help of a local handyman, and we made a start on building the construction. As soon as I saw the instruction sheet I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task, and the expression on the handy man’s face told me he was probably not going to be very handy at all. And then, just when we’d taken everything out of the boxes and laid each and every piece out on the grass it started to rain. That was the beginning of a very long, frustrating and ultimately fruitless day.
I won’t go into a blow-by-blow account here, because even the memory is traumatic, but suffice it to say that the greenhouse structure still wasn’t finished at the end of the day, and it took many more days of krypton factor like sessions before it was finished. By then autumn had turned to winter and the planting season was over, so I made plans to begin my seed sowing in early spring, put my feet up in front of a crackling log fire and dreamt of eating lovely fresh organic produce when the days lengthened again in a few months time.
And then the winter storms hit with full force, howling gales and driving rain. At first the little greenhouse seemed to be standing up well to the onslaught, but then, slowly but surely it began to fold under the pressure. By the end of the second day of severe gales there was nothing left but a heap of broken plastic panels and bent aluminium struts.
Late in March last year, at just the point when I should have been starting my greenhouse vegetable growing in earnest, I had to arrange to have the wreck of the greenhouse removed. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure I had the heart to start it again.
So, what did I learn?
1/ Cheap (relatively speaking) greenhouses might turn out to be a complete waste of time, money and effort. Worse than that, they would then be a let-down of your hopes and plans. 2/ Not all handymen are actually very handy 🙁 3/ If you live in a notoriously windy seaside town you shouldn’t erect flimsy garden buildings. (I think I should have put this point first on the list!)
So after the disappointment of the collapsing greenhouse, and a lot of research, I decided to take the plunge and start again, but this time with a polytunnel. It is loads bigger than the greenhouse but hopefully won’t collapse at the first hint of a gale. I have bought packets of seeds for the veggies I want to grow -and eat! And, optimism renewed, I’m all ready to begin again.