1 The greenhouses were designed, manufactured and distributed by ClearSpan Fabric Structures of FarmTek at the factory in Dyersville, Iowa. Everything was neatly stacked, organized, and ready to go in the warehouse. These boxes on the lift were part of my greenhouse order. http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/home
2 The greenhouses were packaged as kits, with a lot of nuts, bolts and other little pieces - a bit reminiscent of the original Erector sets we played with as children.
3 These are Sunlite insulated polycarbonate sheets that were used for the fronts and backs of the greenhouses. This material has the same light retention as glass, but it is much stronger than glass and much lighter in weight.
4 This is Sun Master poly-film, which was cut from big rolls. Two layers were needed for each of the greenhouses - an inner layer and an outer layer, which were clearly marked for easy installation. This plastic works to transmit diffused light for uniform plant growth.
5 The framing included triple-galvanized structural steel square tubing. Each piece was packaged carefully, and every piece arrived in great condition.
6 This is additional pipe tubing for the greenhouse frames. All the pieces for the greenhouses were grouped with like pieces, and then pulled as needed for specified greenhouse kits.
7 The pipes started off straight before heading to this machine where they were bent to the appropriate specifications for the greenhouse models.
8 Marking was very important. Labels were affixed to every piece, and matched to coordinating numbers in the instructions manual. Assembly was straight forward, and FarmTek provides greenhouse specialists in case of any questions or issues with the materials.
9 Everything was packed tightly to ensure minimal movement during transit. As you can see, the instructions manual was very well labeled.
10 The two greenhouse kits were loaded onto the truck and secured. FarmTek uses as few vehicles as possible to minimize chances of damage.
11 The same truck drove the greenhouse kits from Iowa all the way to my farm in Bedford, New York.
12 Meanwhile, as the greenhouses traveled across the country... the outdoor grounds crew began prepping the sites and painting the baseboards. One greenhouse was planned for the space next to the head house of the main greenhouse. A slightly larger one was planned for an area next to the equipment shed.
13 All the baseboards were painted Bedford grey to match the other exterior paint colors at the farm, of course. They were also sealed from moisture. Doing this before the greenhouses were erected was more efficient than painting them afterwards.
14 The process for building the greenhouses was similar for both structures. Work began as soon as the materials arrived. At the location next to the equipment shed, the area was graded and then the ground posts were installed. The two wooden stakes indicated where the doors would be placed.
15 The posts were evenly spaced on both sides of the greenhouse footprint. These ground posts were designed to anchor the greenhouse and to keep it safe during inclement weather. One of the benefits of owning a greenhouse is the ability to enjoy growing vegetables all year round.
16 A mason's line, a heavy string used to align a series of objects, was used to ensure all the ground posts were straight. Another benefit to owning a greenhouse is that it provides protection for plants that would otherwise be exposed to the elements of winter and predatory pests.
17 A special removable cap protected the ground posts as each one was pounded into the ground.
18 I chose a Gothic style for both greenhouses - notice the pointed arch in the roofline. This design minimizes snow accumulation in winter. Covering the top and the sides of the greenhouse is the double layer of poly-film.
19 At the back of each greenhouse is a high efficiency Modine boiler. I wanted the greenhouses to have both cold and tempered water for the plants. The floor of the greenhouse was covered in a layer of peat gravel.
20 The end walls were measured for the corrugated polycarbonate sheets. These polycarbonate panels are lightweight, easy to clean, and designed to stand up well to wind and hail.
21 After fastening the corrugated polycarbonate sheets to the end wall framing, a utility knife was used to cut off any excess material.
22 This was a delicate job. The sheets needed to be cut precisely in order for the greenhouse to function properly.
23 Tin snips were used to cut notches into the edge guards, or closure strips, so that they could be bent and molded tightly against the structure's edges and pointed arches.
24 The notches were made every couple of inches along the length of the strips to give them more flexibility.
25 The edge guards were then carefully installed on top of the polycarbonate sheets and poly-film. Weather stripping was also sandwiched between the frame and the edge guards to eliminate possible drafts.
26 The notched edge guards worked well around the Gothic style pointed arches.
27 The single door came as a whole unit and the frame for the door was installed between the beams. On each side of the door is an aluminum shutter which allows air to enter and cool the house on very warm days.
28 Once the greenhouses were completed, all the plants were moved back in.
29 Inside the greenhouse next to the head house, I now have room to keep winter plants and young seedlings.
30 The sides are meant to roll up for air circulation in warmer months. Hay bales were placed on the sides to help eliminate drafts. Because we outfitted this particular greenhouse on a slab, and not anchored to the ground like the other greenhouse, concrete weights were made in these black tubs to help keep the structure grounded.
31 These weights are very heavy and definitely keep the greenhouse in place during stormy weather - this winter was a good test.
32 The larger greenhouse near the equipment shed houses my citrus plants. Having the greenhouse allows me to enjoy these beautiful citrus fruits all year round. In a future blog, I'll share with you how these greenhouses work to keep plants so productive and beautiful.