Our big project for the summer break was erecting a greenhouse. We need this to extend our short growing season, and to give us some fresh food over winter. Also we’re going to use soil blockers to go into commercial vegetable production, and we’ll start many plants off in the greenhouse.
I checked out many greenhouse kits. I would have liked a Treco greenhouse, but their 2.6m x 3.8m model was about $2800.
I ended up with a kit from Eureka Garages. Their W810 model is 2.6m x 3.7m, and cost $1580.
Another option was a Famous4 greenhouse. They have a 2.4 x 3.7 greenhouse (RC-86701D-6) for $2330. Actually this looks very much like the one I bought.
Argosee had a Sunline 980 model, 2.8m x 3.9m, for $2380. Again, similar to the one I bought.
Redpathas an interesting range of greenhouses. They have a basic model 2.5 x 3.6 for $1465, which was the cheapest offered but has sloping walls and no roof vents.
The Eureka Garages greenhouse I bought appears to be a Chinese greenhouse, with wildly complicated instructions. Normally, blokes are not noted for following instructions, but in this case it was clear from the outset that close attention was going to be required.
Alas, there were no words and just tiny diagrams, and some of the important things didn’t become clear until we’d already erected large chunks, and had to pull them apart again. About six people were involved in closely scrutinising the instructions, of both sexes. Our firm view is that this is about the most complicated thing you’d come across, short of a space shuttle.
Pat and Nicky, our French wwoofers, with a bit of help from me, got the fiddly end walls done in advance.
The greenhouse kit was not terribly tall, so we built a base from ironbark sleepers, 400mm high. I’m six foot tall (173cm) so this will allow me to work comfortably in there. We ordered the sleepers and some concrete from Goulburn Produce at 10am, got home and got halfway through a coffee before the delivery truck arrived.
We were fortunate to have Allison’s dad Richard with us. He organised the whole effort like a General, usually with a force of four or five including myself and Allison as well as wwoofers.
Truth to tell, we didn’t get the whole thing done in two days’ work and we were all completely sick of it by then. So I announced a special bounty of a six-pack of beer for any “magic fairies” who could get the bloody thing finished as we headed back to work.
On returning from work, it was 33 degrees and the wwoofers were struggling in the heat. But they did get it finished, so we headed off to Goulburn’s Astor Hotel for a great meal and some drinks.
The end result is a good sized greenhouse which seems sturdy. I have ordered two automatic vent-openers (from Famous4) which should help keep temperate under control, and we’ll put a shadecloth fly over it in summer. I’ll discuss the fitout at a later date.
Was this a good buy? The obscure instructions are a big minus, but the other cheapish greenhouses look like they’re constructed much the same way. The Treco greenhouses do look good, and would be my choice in a suburban garden, but for a farm I think the Eureka greenhouse was probably a good option. Ask me again in a couple of years.
Postscript after 12 months: the Eureka greenhouse fared poorly in our high winds, and we’ve had endless troubles with the doors. It was a bugger to erect, as described above. Nowadays I wouldn’t recommend it. The Famous4 vent openers didn’t fit.