Gardening with a little help from my friends

Published 6:27 am Thursday, April 21, 2016

Gardening can be a wonderful solitary pursuit. There’s no better meditation for me than methodically weeding or putting in new plants. It’s calming and provides great satisfaction. Sometimes, however, gardening involves other people — visitors, colleagues in social and service organizations — and especially friends.

Way back in January a friend posted a photo of a small greenhouse on Facebook.  It was constructed with old windows and placed on a table. With its gingerbread trim and old door knob, it was utterly charming, if not altogether functional. I’ve always wanted a greenhouse but have never followed up on that desire. This time I was on a mission.

I showed the photo to my trusty garden assistant, and he started making suggestions — needs to be bigger; needs a way to control the inside temperature on hot, sunny days; needs steps; needs holes in the floor; and on and on. A few days later, he called to say that he had found a stash of old but quite sturdy windows and French doors at a local junk shop. He figured that we could build a greenhouse for less than $50. My dream of a greenhouse was about to become reality. 

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Here’s what he did. He made the sides of the greenhouse two windows wide and two windows high and attached them to a floor of repurposed wood into which he drilled holes for drainage. The windows aren’t moveable. He used two French doors that he hinged together for the roof. They can be propped open for ventilation. A third French door was used for an entrance into the greenhouse. Two steps at the entrance and some Plexiglas to fill in under the peak of the roof completed the construction. Oh, and my garden guy added legs so that the greenhouse looks as it’s on a large table. He likes the look. I suspect he figures we can use the space underneath the greenhouse for storage. We’ll see.

At the moment, the greenhouse is mounted on skids. We’re trying to find the perfect location for it and hope to figure that out by the end of the summer. Once the location is  settled we may remove the skids and legs and mount the greenhouse on a foundation of old brick. We’ll see.

And we have other plans for future improvements, such as adding a wing and using corrugated fiberglass sheets for the roof; adding a lean-to potting shed to one end; building small raised beds in front of the greenhouse; putting hanging baskets under the eaves and maybe a shelf for small pots midway up an exterior wall; adding shelves and a table inside; outlining the roof with fairy lights for nighttime sparkle; putting a small table and chairs for early morning coffee in front of the greenhouse.

Then we got to thinking about a smaller, less permanent version of a greenhouse that we could put near the kitchen porch. What about a half whiskey barrel topped with one of those deep, clear plastic bubble umbrellas? It just might be a quick, easy way to extend the fall season for salad greens. Research on this hare-brained idea is ongoing.

As you can see, my garden guy and I are on a creative roll that’s going to last for several years. All because of a random Facebook post. You just never know when you’re inspiring someone else to undertake a fun and useful project.

CYNTHIA WOOD is a master gardener who writes two columns for The Herald. Her email is