Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tabletop Mini Greenhouses

This is my latest experiment. I haven't completed constructing it yet, but I figured I'd post how far I've gotten then update you in a couple of days. That way I'd have the incentive to finish up by the end of the week. 

Why try this? We'd like to try growing leafy greens that are eaten raw, while protecting them from damaging rain and slugs. Most of the time the rains here are gentle enough, but several times a year the rain comes down like Niagra Falls. It beats fragile crops flat to the ground. So I'd like to try something to give them some protection. 

I could simply make poly tunnels to block the rain, but that wouldn't exclude the slugs. Slugs here can carry a very nasty parasite that causes rat lung disease, which makes excluding slugs from raw foods highly desirable. One option is to use hydroponics. Another is to use elevated tables with slug protection.

I opted to take a low tech, low cost approach for my first attempt. So I piled up some pallets to make tables. 

I leveled them by wedging a rock or small block of wood between the pallets as needed. 

I then used some recycled half inch plastic pipe to make the hoops that would eventually hold the plastic covering. I drilled small holes and nailed the pipe to the top pallet. 

Because the plastic pipe flexes, I added braces. I used some guava sticks which I nailed to the pallet then screwed to the pipe. 

I then added a ridge piece. This will keep the plastic covering from sagging and thus gathering rain water. 

I then covered the top of the pallet table with a sheet of cardboard (from a dismantled supermarket box) for a bit of stiffness. Atop that I applied a sheet of plastic (feed bags cut open and laid flat) so that the slug bait wouldn't melt away through the cardboard when it get wet. Yes, plywood would have been better but I didn't have any on hand and I'm not about to run out and purchase expensive new sheets of the stuff. The repurposed plastic should work......hey this is an experiment afterall. So we'll see. 

The next step will be to apply the clear plastic sheeting. If I get to Hilo in the next week I'll purchase a small roll of real greenhouse poly. If not, then I'll use the cheap plastic sheeting from the hardware store. It won't have the UV protection but it should last 9 months. That's long enough to see if this idea works well enough to continue with. 

If this works, then it will be one way to grow lettuce, arugula, spinach, and other fresh salad greens. And strawberries might work too, giving us the opportunity to eat fresh berries. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Now this is pretty cool. Maybe we should try it next! (See how enthusiastic I've become?)