Aug 262010
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The altogether autumn-like weather we’ve been experiencing in New England this week has made me start thinking about when I won’t be able to go out to the garden every day and pick fresh vegetables for dinner. Luckily, my boyfriend Bradley gave me a solution for my birthday – a design for a planter we can build that will hopefully act as a greenhouse for the first month or two of colder weather (before it gets really intolerable!)

The planter is designed to fit out on our back deck – tucked in next to the grill that Bradley says he intends to keep using all through the winter – and will be approximately 1.5 feet wide by 4 or 5 feet long. We’ll install some wiring over top and fit plastic to it to create a greenhouse of sorts. If this works, we may build several more planters of varying sizes and perhaps fill our backyard with them, or at least the areas of the yard that get sun in winter.

Our little greenhouse. Pretty sweet, eh?

So now we get into the harder questions: what methods should we use to make sure the planter is airtight enough to not let in too much cold and potentially kill the plants dwelling within? Do we want to allow some ventilation? Should we be lining the planter with material to help insulate it? What wood should we use to build it?

A view without the roof

Bradley built the planter in CAD, so we can actually take it apart completely on the computer and create our materials list and cutting schedule pretty easily. But materials and methods are not completely clear in this case, as opposed to what we might get with a pattern created by an experienced woodworker. I’m excited for the challenge though, and hopeful that anyone reading this might have suggestions for the questions I mentioned earlier. I’d love to hear them in the comments.

The plan is to go out and do some materials shopping this weekend. We’ll see what we come up with!

  4 Responses to “A post-summer planter”

  1. Kelley,
    check out the just available PVC boards – being in the plastic catagory they do not rot and can be sawed and sanded similar to wood.

    I used them recently to rebuild the top of a pop-up camper. They are not as structurally sound as solid wood or plywood, but they do last in the weather.
    I saw a recent episode of This Old House where they were used.

    The boards are not cheap though – yet!

    Also – PVC pipe is ideal for the curved structure on your cover.

  2. Kelley, Yes you will need ventilation flaps or something. Remember how hot the inside of your car gets on a sunny day? Also, there are quite a few salad vegetables that like cool weather-no plastic needed! If you intend to continue growing things after a hard frost and temps in the 30’s and 40’s insulate the root zone and leave room for a few half gal. jugs of water (they will help keep the inside temps more moderate, as will using a bubble wrap covering)

  3. Hi Grandpa George – thanks for the suggestions! I looked at the PVC boards when we were shopping for materials, and they were pretty cool. But like you said – not cheap! We decided to go with a very basic white board and maybe once I have more confidence in my building abilities, I’ll go for the flashy stuff. 🙂

  4. D. – I really appreciate your comments about the ventilation flaps, hardy salad vegetables, and insulating the root zone. We are almost done putting the planter together (blog entry update due soon!) and I will definitely keep your suggestions in mind as we are doing the last steps and starting to use the planter. Thanks!

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