Tackling the Greenhouse — Part 5

When I left off, the greenhouse was still a bit lacking. With a junky screen door on back and one broken window, it leaked air like a sieve. A trip to Habitat for Humanity landed a sturdy entry door:

An afternoon of work had it in place and secure:

Then we took the broken storm window to a local glass company for repair. You’d be surprised how difficult it is to convince a glass place to repair a storm window, it was odd. The repair cost 1/2 as much as a replacement, they pushed hard to try to have us order a replacement from a big box store in town. Strange.

Here’s the repaired storm window:

Now we’re needing to get a load of rock to finish out the inside floor. The plans are for a hotbed, potting bench and plenty of racks for sprouting veggies.

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Tackling the Greenhouse – Part 4

We finally got a nice day and were able to get several coats of paint on all of the exposed wood, including the new supports between the joists. This is the point where we ran out of steam and the project got put on the back burner. With no roof.

My wife and I tried to strip the shingles ourselves, but it turns out we’re both pretty poor at climbing steeply-pitched roofs, and we chickened out. It would have been comical watching us. After a few months of staring at it, I broke down and called a guy. Said guy had it and our barn re-roofed in a couple days:

Definitely more substantial than the corrugated PVC, but a bit more costly, Solexx is corrugated plastic that’s impregnated to be UV-resistant. It’s not supposed to fade or turn yellow as the sun bakes it, and best of all, it has a 10-year warranty. With the hail here in Kansas, I might go through several sets of old-school paneling in that time, we’ll see if the Solexx holds up.

One of the nice parts is it diffuses the sun’s light to an even glow, so we should be able to get away without using shade cloths. We think.

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Tackling the Greenhouse – Part 3

Next on the list was to reinforce the joists for the new Solexx panels that would replace the old-school PVC panels we had removed. I decided on 2x2s spaced closer together to replace the rotten 2x4s we had removed:

Not too difficult, but each piece was cut to the exact length needed, then hammered into place and screwed in.

Starting to look like something again:

With a week of rain in the forecast, we buttoned it up with a tarp until the day would come that we could paint the new supports.

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Tackling the Greenhouse – Part 2

Next on the agenda was to seal, scrape and paint. With a clean interior, a fresh coat of paint and a little insulation could go a long way.

Some insulation for the north wall:

How about some paint?

Then to the outside:

Not too shabby with a fresh coat of white!

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An inadvertent tradition.

Each year my wife and I get Good Friday off, and for the second year in a row we’ve chosen to use the day to haul rock from the local quarry. It wasn’t until most of the way through the morning we realized it had become a tradition, though an unintentional one.

I’m amazed every time our old dump truck Big Blue fires right up. It was just cold enough to put a good frost on everything, but the old 292 came to life within seconds, and was soon complaining that I was giving it too much choke.

The driveway has come a long way from when we moved in. Still not great, and it still has a number of potholes, but at least it has some rock in it now. We brought in 10,000 lbs last year in one day. One pickup load at a time, one shovel at a time. So began the Good Friday tradition. 5 tons doesn’t look like much when it’s spread out over the driveway:

Fast forward one year and it needs some more attention:

Big Blue handled 5.5 tons like a champ:

I had the rear gate open a bit too wide at first, but soon caught on and was able to spread the rock fairly evenly (notice the big pile at the beginning…):

It got easier with a little practice:

While at the quarry, I found and promptly squashed the first mosquito of the season:

Not too shabby for 2 hours of work. It’s much easier when the rock doesn’t have to be shoveled out of the bed of a truck. We just had to even things out a bit with rakes.

We still probably need two more loads, but at least we won’t have to drive through mud for a week after each small shower.

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It’s Spring — Bring the Fire!

Standing over freshly-burned earth, my buddy Neale put it in terms any Millenial could understand, “Fire is nature’s ‘reset’ button.”

Taking with it years of detritus, and in our case, invasive Johnson grass, fire is a very good thing. A sizable portion of our back 2 1/2 acres has been taken over by the awful stuff, and we want to put it back to native grass and possibly put in a small food plot for deer. The Johnson grass we have grows from 8-10 feet tall in the summer, choking out all other grasses:

So again, we scheduled a BBQ (notice a trend here?). Responding to the promise of as many bratwursts as they could eat were a handful of willing accomplices, including three former wildlife firefighters and two natural resource managers. This would probably be the smallest controlled burn any of them had ever worked.

I had mowed fire lanes last fall in anticipation of a north wind. Luckily, we had a south wind. So we set to work clearing a fire lane on the north end of the property:

The first test fire was a bit high and fast for our tastes:

So I used my dump truck to tamp down the grass, which made burning our black line much less stressful:

From there we went to the next block of grass:

The final section was the easiest:

Fast forward a month and things are looking great in the back pasture. I’ll continue to keep the Johnson grass knocked down with my mower, and plan to have a section of it tilled under and planted with all sorts of goodies for the local deer population, since it was all but wiped out by Bluetongue last year.

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Tackling the Greenhouse – Part 1

So one of the neatest perks of the property we purchased was that it already had a greenhouse built. It’s not in the greatest spot, planted right next to a large weeping willow. And it’s not the greatest feat of construction, it was definitely cobbled together from a previous structure. But it’s there.

The task of refreshing it was one that seemed easy enough. Like many projects that end up taking forrrrr-eeeee-verrrr. We scheduled a BBQ to trap unsuspecting friends into helping out, and it was on:

It was in pretty sad shape, the willow had taken its toll:

It’s just sad to see the disrepair.

We started dragging out the rotten remnants of the previous gardener. The potting bench was rat-ridden and falling apart, it had to go:

Removed also were the meager plant benches and a large and useful, but also rodent infested shelving.

Once the years of crud were removed from the interior, we stripped the broken roof panels off:

The key is, you have your most daring and courageous friend to climb the rotten roof. That or the most gullible one.

The water-weathered fascia had to come off as well.

Most importantly, we got rid of the offending limbs from the willow!

And in the end, the best part of the day was kicking back around the fire:

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