Greenhouses and Salvage
May 23
I have seen many greenhouses over the years, and most have not made much of an impression - except that they usually smell funny and have a weird warmth that is not particularly pleasant.

But I will confess to a soft spot for greenhouses made from re-purposed items or salvage. These are definitely memorable - greenhouse, plus recycling or reuse, flowers or tomatoes growing - what's not to like (other than the smell and odd warmth)?

Here's a greenhouse made from plastic bottles. Plastic bottles are a source of nightmares for me. I'm serious - plastic bottles and lady bugs give me nightmares. Both are just too creepy for words, although lady bugs at least eat aphids, which is a plus. Plastic bottles? They are perhaps the epitome of non-biodegradable and unnecessary items destined for the landfill in much of the world. So when I saw that plastic bottle greenhouse, I cheered. But there is a downside to this one.

Have you ever looked at a recipe in Martha Stewart or Bon Appetit and found that it took up two pages of magazine space and included words like blanch or transmogrify? In other words, the recipe is so #%&ing complicated that you need a degree in god-knows-what to decipher it? Well, the directions for building this plastic bottle greenhouse are just as tough as that crème brûlée.

But you can figure it out. I cannot, but I'm sure you can. Or perhaps, you can improve on it. You may find it a challenge and decide to take this crazy/cool project on. And then you will be doing something positive with those pesky plastic water bottles - plus you would have a super rad greenhouse in your yard. Everyone wins.

Here's another option - a greenhouse from old windows or old storm doors. Greenhouses do not need insulation, so the structure is simple. Plastic bottles can be found over time, and old windows and doors can be found at the Rebuilding Center, or on craigslist, at Aurora Mills or in your neighbor's driveway. Also, a greenhouse can be tiny, just big enough for a few favorite plants, or as spacious as your imagination allows. Sound interesting?

I pimped out my back yard last year, and I don't know where I would put a greenhouse. This is my first summer with the new backyard, so perhaps an ideal place will become apparent by October. It is possible that a knee-high greenhouse out of old windows would work, especially if the roof panels lifted up and I could reach in and harvest beets. Yes, beets. Looking at these greenhouses got me interested, and research was the next step. As a budding grower / gardener (pun intended), I had no idea what might grow in a greenhouse over an Oregon winter. My research has barely scratched the surface, but check out this early list of possibles at Greenhouse Catalog. Beets and Brussels sprouts were on the my most hated list for years, but not any more. And to think they could grow in the back yard in winter!? So cool. Right now I'm still struggling to grow arugula in hay bales, but who knows what next year will bring?

If you have made a greenhouse, send me the pics. Do you have a tiny one? How easy was it to make?



Good article again Nancy. I used to grow my tomatoes in a mini greenhouse made of concrete reinforcing wire and clear plastic visqueen. Nothing fancy but in North Bend, you had to innovate to get results as a the warm days were 65ish as I am sure you remember.
Keep up the good work!

By john McCaffree on 23/05/2013

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