Thursday, February 2, 2017

Mini Greenhouse Tables

The blog has been quiet lately while I've been working on a project to grow fresh greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula, etc). The problems I'm trying to overcome are slugs and turkeys. Slugs not only eat holes in the leaves, but contaminate them with slime. We have rat-lung disease in this island, and slug slime can pass the parasite. And of course, turkeys can eat the entire crop in less than a hour. 

For the slugs, I've tried hand picking, using ducks, using traps, and spreading around slug bait. While all these help keep the numbers down, I still get slugs. But when it comes to safely eating fresh greens, I need to have zero slugs. So far the only zero slug environment has been achieved via protected hydroponics. I don't have a hydroponic system at the moment, but I might go back to a small one in the future, or maybe an aquaponic system. Right now I don't have the time to devote to it. Aaaaah, a future project! 

I figure I need to create something the slugs have a hard time accessing, or is easy to exclude them in some way. Plus a way to also confound the turkeys at the same time. What I'm building for my fresh greens could also be used for other crops. But I'm going to start out with lettuce, spinach, arugula, and other fresh greens. You know....the stuff that gets eaten raw. 

Ok......take wood pallets, some repurposed 2x4s, salvaged 1/2" plastic pipe, a worn out garden hose, and a donated roll of poly plastic sheeting. I have old paint (every color mixed together... it comes out a funky rosy grey) on hand for projects like this. I sprung for a new box of nails and a box of screws. Yes, you could use new stuff, but I'm opting to re-use when I can...low input/low impact farming. But in the end I wound up buying a few more pipes and a roll of plastic sheeting to finish off the last of the tables. 

I used 24" long pieces of 2x4s to put legs onto the wood pallets. Much of the time the tables were stable enough, but for the shaky ones I added bracing. 

Next I painted them. Just because it will look better in the end if they are all the same color. 

Took the pipe and cut it into 10' lengths. I could have used longer or shorter lengths, but the pieces I had lent themselves well to 10'. Drilled holes in the ends for the nails as they got nailed to the pallets. They're fairly shaky, so I attached a top rail (with screws) to connect the two hoops together. Then bracing was added (guava saplings cut to length) and screwed into place. Now the hoops were pretty stable. 

Attaching the poly plastic sheeting was a challenge. It was just difficult to work with with the lovely dang tropical breezes. It took a lot of patience and a bit of cussing. Short pieces of the old garden hose holds the plastic to the hoop. Just slice the hose so that it opened up and wrapped snugly to the pipe hoop. All that's needed is one screw to hold it in place. 

A short piece of scrap wood nailed over the plastic holds it to the pallet. 

That's basically it. I leveled up the table by propping a rock or piece of wood scrap under the legs. 

What's under the tables? Depending upon the spot, either worn out tarps or/and well used drop cloths. I have access to old linens which are handed out to people who need them, but some are too worn or stained for people to want. These get added to my drop cloth collection. 

So far I have 16 of these built. Perhaps I'll add a few more. We'll see. 

Next I'll show you what I'm growing in these mini greenhouses and how I'm doing it. 



  1. Have you tried copper tape for slugs?

  2. Not yet, although some day I plan to conduct a few experiments with it. So I don't know how effective it would be. But I do know that it would be expensive considering the size of my gardens. I have well over an acre in annual veggies now and plan to significantly expand. The mini greenhouses themselves represent a garden bed 3' wide by 72' long. That would need a lot of copper! Since my emphasis is on low input/low impact, buying copper foil isn't presently in my plans,