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Sun, May 15
6:00 am

A Greenhouse in the Desert: Just about everyone probably has an easier time gardening than I do, out in the open desert. At one point in my life, I discovered that gardening is very relaxing for me, plus I love eating my own organic food. So, no matter where I am, I try to grow a few things. In the desert, I have to deal with poor soil, rabbits, birds and javalina, but I have found a way, so I'll pass it along. It's another "where there's a will, there's a way" story. =)

I put my greenhouse in the center of my circular driveway because that was the only direction where I cared to block the view. I have close neighbors in that direction.

I decided to use a method I had seen where you build a foundation with rebar sticking up and bend pvc pipe over the rebar from one side of the greenhouse to the other. I didn't realize how difficult this would be in a circle, but I managed to pull it off. By then, I had learned how to make a level foundation, which I did out of CMU block filled with concrete (no building codes - yay!) and I left rebar stubs poking up in 24 places. I used electric conduit instead of pvc, since it is more sun-resistant. However, I used pvc connectors because they come in more angles, to make the connections. Eventually, I had a dome with one pole for support in the center.
I covered the bottom of the dome with shade cloth for sun and wind protection. We have very hot, intense sun in the summer. I covered the top with bird cloth and coated the floor with chicken wire, so the rabbits couldn't tunnel inside. Even after all this, in the first monsoon thunderstorm, the wind cracked some of the support piping. So, I added four more wooden poles on the interior. to keep it from bending. The shade cloth had far more wind resistance than I realized. And then, the javalina smelled the compost and bashed in the door to get to it, destroying all the plants. After realizing that nothing stopped them (they travel in groups), I put an electric fence around the base of the greenhouse. That seemed to do the trick and they have not returned.

I built raised beds with CMU block and now I have a wonderful greenhouse where I can grow veggies most of the year. I left enough room for a wheelbarrow between the beds. I compost scraps from the kitchen and get horse manure from nearby homes. So, as with the house, all the work has been worth it!

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Keep it Simple - and be kind!