Greenhouse Planter Boxes

This week we worked on getting the greenhouse ready for planting. To do this we needed to build planter boxes. Actually, more like a foot wide border around outside of the tables as you can see on the left. First we cleared the bench tops, as over the winter gardening stuff had piled up in this convenient location. The legs of the small table between the two larger tables needed to be shortened, as they were about an inch higher then surrounding tables. Since I did not want to use a plywood bottom for the boxes; I stapled poultry fencing to the table top where the bottom of the boxes would go, so that the black plastic that would hold the dirt and not sag into the spaces between the boards. A future project is to take a mesh across all the boards so that water can pass through but my tools will not. There have been many times when I have had to get on my hands and knees to pick up a small tool that fall through the cracks.

After clearing off the tables and attaching the chicken wire,I cut the boards to the proper lengths. Since I wanted to leave space for tools and such, I made the boxes only one foot wide and 5 feet long (the benches are two by six feet).  If you calculate it up that is 14 square feet, which means 14 different warm weather crops; that still gives me quite a bit of space for planting. The greenhouse this year will contain only peppers but next year I will try a greater variety. Though it doesn’t stay so warm that I can grow orchids. I would have to grow them at work near all my computers. As you can see on the right, while I was leveling the small table, I also added some reinforcement to the legs so that it would not wobble as much as it did previously. Another benefit is that I now have real place to put those planting pots that were just sitting on top of the small table. After cutting the boards, I dry fit them to make sure everything would fit according to plan.

From the picture to the left, we now can see how the boxes will look in their final location. My 4 foot board, in the middle, was 1 1/2 inches longer than my calculations (I must have miss added somewhere). Oh well, back to the saw and soon everything was ready for screwing it together. Some people ask why I use screws instead of nails. There are a few reasons but the two most important are that the wood’s contraction and expansion will not pull the boards apart as it could with nails. The other reason is, if you need to take it apart, you will be able to reuse the screws afterwards. The downside of screws is that you should pre-drill the hole for each screw to prevent the wood from splitting. From the picture on the left as well as the one below you can see that once I had made sure that the lengths and spaces were correct, all that was needed was to screw in the three screws for each corner.


The next step was to put in black 6 mil plastic to hold the dirt and direct the water to specific locations by strategically placing holes. This ability to direct drainage was the reason I did not use landscaping cloth to line these boxes. I secured the black plastic (and the dirt it would contain) by placing a staple gun staple every 4 inches. I then tested the drainage by pouring in about 2 gallons of water and watching it drain. In the spots water pooled, I punched new holes into the plastic over a clear drop to the ground.

Finally, all that remained was marking the 1 foot increments with my mason’s line and stapling the line to the box. I then added the dirt, watered it and stuck my Plant Sensor into a square so that in 24 hours I would be able to read the “plant’s view” of the square.  Now my greenhouse is ready for even greater use.


Black Plastic Stapled to the Box

Fresh Dirt and Markers showing off the finished product

As for the other plants around the house, the magnolia tree is in bloom. It is actually very beautiful considering it is tall and spread out because of its shady location. I like how the tree produces large flowers before displaying any foliage. By time the foliage does come in the flowers will be gone, so here is a picture of a magnolia flower now.

The Cherry tree is also doing quite well and I took this close up of the brand new foliage to show you how far it has come in such a short time. One thing to note for next year, if we buy any trees at Costco, they only have bare root trees for a short time – so plan ahead.

The peach tree is still dormant and needs better drainage around it’s root system; so when I borrow my father’s compact tractor to add the drainage along side my driveway, I also plan to add some drainage in my new orchard to prevent my fruit trees from getting root rot. Since it is a peach tree, my research leads me to believe that there is the potential for it to suffer all types of diseases and calamities.

One parting note, I finally started transplanting my plants outside (yay, I was running out of room under the lights) and I was able to plant all my warm weather plants for future transplanting once the weather gets warm enough (night-time temperatures of 55°F+).

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