Tyler Kirckof
Special to The Courier

When we think of greenhouses, we might picture a grand 19th-century Victorian glass structure, far beyond the humble setting of our backyards. Greenhouses can be an intimidating project, but the mechanics are simple. It is an enclosed structure that lets in sunlight. The light is used for photosynthesis and warms the inside of the structure. Here in northern Arizona we have many unfavorable growing conditions, but light is not one of them. Taking advantage of the light can aid in a more productive grow and prolong the growing season.

Instead of greenhouse glass, you can substitute any material that lets light pass through, such as a recycled siding glass doors, two-liter soda bottles, clear plastic sheeting from the hardware store (the thicker the better), or junk around the house, like that box of CD cases that have outlived the actual CDs. Building material can be anything from wood pallets, PVC pipe, old metal shelves or fencing material.

If you are a crafty person, try making a cube out of old windows and paint it a fun color. Repurpose an old piece like a vintage medicine cabinet – it can add a unique design element and would make a hanging herb garden.

We usually have a mild autumn with short periods of temperature drops happening at night. Now is a perfect time to enclose vegetable gardens in a “hoop house” design to extend your growing season. PVC pipes are bowed to make trusses and are attached to a base. A base is made out of 2’x4’s or PVC pipe, or use the raised bed if it is already there. Plastic sheeting is used as a covering which is attached to the base. If needed, rebar can be pounded in the ground as anchors for the trusses and base.

For spring, attaching 2’x 6’s to the back of an old window, basically a sandbox with a window roof, will make a sturdy cover for newly emerged, delicate plants. Clear plastic containers destined for the trash, like grocery store deli containers or hard plastic rotisserie chicken packaging, can make mini greenhouses. These can be placed inside on a sunny windowsill to germinate seeds and get a headstart on the growing season.

A good reference point for your greenhouse idea or for more inspiration is the internet. Chances are someone has come up with a similar idea and has posted step-by-step instructions.

Tyler Kirckof is an Arizona-certified nursery professional at Prescott Valley Nursery, 6195 Highway 69, Prescott Valley, Arizona, (928) 772-0878.


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