Jan Cooper wrote:For those who want a greenhouse, I saw a FREE potting shed. With a lot of friends AND RENTING A CAR TRAILER, we rolled it onto the trailer and up onto our property, then added windows on one side. A whole walls of windows, for very little, we have an 8 foot and 8 foot high of growing space for starting vegetables, with shelves and growing fluorescents.
I myself was desperate this spring for a space to start seeds. I only have about two linear feet of sunny windowsill space available in my current living situation, and literally no money to spend on even the cheapest greenhouse solutions.
So I built a single-season temporary seed-starting greenhouse out of literally sticks and string and plastic sheeting and stuff on hand. Six thin-walled steel pipes (left over from a defunct above-ground swimming pool frame) driven into the ground, a ten-foot sapling from my woods in each one, curve the tops over and tie together with string, more saplings tied on as triangle bracing, whole thing covered with a single 10x25 piece of plastic sheeting ($8.00 at Walmart but I happened to have one), stapled on with an Arrow T-50 stapler stapling through little cut squares of glossy (hence slower to dissolve in rain) cardboard salvaged from product packaging. Old pieces of swimming pool vinyl on the floor to keep weeds from filling it, stack of salvaged pallets for a table/bench inside, dozens and dozens of bottles of water from 1-liter to 2-gallon stuffed inside the pallets to provide thermal mass.
It's ugly and it's been far from perfect and I have indeed lost a few of the most tender seedlings on cold nights. Plus the whole thing is a gamble in our Oklahoma wind conditions, I figure it's about even money whether it will survive through the spring storm season without catching a wind too strong that carries it all away. But it's bright and I can stand up inside and it's wind-protected and humid and much warmer than the outside air, and I have many happy seedlings going. It uses way too many plastics and it's way too disposable for any sort of sustainability, but given that all the plastics are recycled and repurposed, I don't feel too bad about it.
As I was reading your post I was thinking that a less than ideal solution, but very viable might be a old car, station wagon or newer style van, something with windows. Think of all the heatgain vehicles with lots of windows receive. If the vehicle is destined for the scrap heap, anything done inside and out (think mat black surfaces) would facilitate heatgain. Sure it would be ugly and water inside would make for some issues, but I remember a friend in high school that was sort of nerdy, so a lone ranger(no riders), except me, had a bad weather seal on the back door. Inside was a healthy beautiful maple tree of about 2 feet in height.
Can you imagine a heatbank quickly dug in during the heat of summer, a trench filled with used tires, PVC tubing run back and forth through it, covered with rock and a dirt layer. The auto rolled on top of the heatbank, hoses hooked up to a radiator or two fastened to the ceiling inside the auto. Maybe use used antifreeze picked up cheap at a service station to run in the pipes. The vehicle can bank heat for 6 months, I sure wonder how much BTU's that setup would hold?
A thermostat to maintain 40-60 degrees grow bed area. Tarps and bubblewrap used to cover and insulate during night time. Maybe use that setup to heat your home?
Too hot? Roll down some windows, if the vehicle has electric windows set up a thermostat to do it for you.
Well, since I am in the initial building process on my land, I would be spending it on tools, and building supplies.
I need to finish the garage/storage building, then the cistern, then the humanurecomposting pits, then the building to live in. It will cost @$1300 for the bob-cat rental to do the excavating for all that.
You know you are rural- if you get a big black stain on the seat of your daily wear pants and no-one knows for a month...
Finally....cedar raised beds for my very clay-ey soil and some organic top soil to fill them. Have tried for YEARS to amend this soil, only to find I have too many soil problems and this year I'm finally going to take the bull by the horns. Yes, A little over $1000. Now I can actually plant things and get a crop! Also, this was the only way my husband said he'd help in the garden after 28 years of doing it mostly by myself.
A greenhouse is what I'd want to spend it on. I already have a tiny one. I don't want any attention from the city code enforcement so not sure if I'd take the chance. I probably would. I'm about out of room to plant trees.
I'd like to replace my treated woodfence with cedar, but I think I'd need at least another 5000.
For anyone interested in beekeeping, I say go for it. It's very interesting, and it's really rewarding to have your own very local, totally treatment free honey. You could do it pretty cheaply. I bought my hives and caught my bees, but you could build a long hive and use top bars very cheaply. You can build swarm traps out of pretty small pieces of scrap or pallets. I've caught one swarm in a trap and three in trees. It's fun! I've only harvested a couple gallons because I've been splitting the hives to make more bees. I'm up to ten hives, all from the four swarms, all local, three were most likely feral bees.
A bee veil is 14.00. You can use any wide brimmed hat, maybe with a little duck tape. An old long sleeved shirt. Gloves are around 20.00. Smoker about 30.00. A hive tool is basically a small flat bar. I got a set of two sizes at Walmart for 5.00. I'd recommend buying the best gear you can afford, but it really doesn't have to cost much.