I have had a ton of you (my lovely reader friends) asking a ton of questions about our greenhouse.

  • Why did we do it?
  • What do we do it for?
  • Why Plants vs. flowers?
  • Why inground instead of on tables?
  • Why so big?
  • Why build it ourselves vs. hiring a company?
  • How do you keep it hot?
  • How do you keep it cool?
  • How do you water?
  • How do you feed the plants?
  • You do you use pesticides or garden naturally – how?

These are just a few you all have been asking me.  This wonderful spring month of March, I am going to try to share our reasons for doing what we are doing in the greenhouse.  What works and what doesn’t work will be shared.

I’m going to split this up into several weeks and just post on Saturdays about this.  My other posts will be about other Helberg Stories (farm or family).

leveling the ground

(The spot we picked to build the greenhouse.  We had started to level the land in this photo.  You can see the piles of dirt saved on the far left side)

The first question I am starting with is “Why did we decide to build a greenhouse,” which also goes with “Why so big?”

Most of you that are following me already know that we were raised on an 80-acre farm in Wisconsin.  The love of soil is in our blood.  In my teen years, the folks sold the farm and tried their hands at bars and restaurants.  My father had this dream of having a great, famous place that he could pass on to his daughters (He even named one Rachel’s Café after me…that almost worked, but that is a story for another time.).  Through bad timing and a tough economy, we ended up in Denver, Colorado. Yep, big city – by our standards “HUGE” city.

I was 21 when we moved there, and it was great fun at the time.  So many different places to go, people to see, parties to be had; it was amazing!  Then life happened, and I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl!  Her daddy skipped out on us because she was born disabled and he was not ready to be a father.  I made a decision at that very moment that I did NOT want her growing up in a big city.  I wanted to be back in the country again.

Time went by, as it does, and my daughter was in middle school (1 grade away from high school) when the Columbine shooting happened.  All schools all over Colorado, but especially in Denver, went to major lock-down security.  The kids had to pass through hired police and security details to get into school.  Once in it was locked up tight.  A very scary time for the kids and the parents!

I had my home; my younger sister had hers and mom had just passed away about a year earlier.  Our older sister was settled with her husband and son, but I was very unsettled with worries of my daughters’ safety.  One evening I approached my younger sister (I will call her “D” for these stories) D and asked if she would keep an eye on my daughter while I go to see farms with an RE Agent.  Instead, she proposed that we go in together on this.  She wanted out and back to farm life also.  Thus the search started!

After about three months and over 3000 miles, we found what we wanted.  We knew what was already on the property and in the house, but then we discussed what we wanted to do with our futures.  This is where the greenhouse idea came up.  We had several ideas that would take us from the current stage (me in my early 40’s and she in her late 30’, and my daughter about 14) to the end of our lives.

  1. We wanted animals – preferably ones we did not have to kill to make money off them.
  2. A structure that we could turn into some type of shop so that we could sell off the property instead of spending money to rent a store.
  3. A greenhouse to grow things in year-around. We saw the land that was already there but decided that adding a greenhouse would give us an extra advantage.
  4. We wanted to build this place into a perfect place that we could retire. Worried that Social Security won’t be available when we need it, we wanted alternative sources of income.
    1. Land and greenhouse for year around produce
    2. Goats for the fiber (hair) to turn into clothing items.
    3. Chickens for eggs to sell and meat for ourselves.
    4. We also picked Yaks for fiber, milk, and meat (This is another whole other story!).
    5. And we started with Angora rabbits – again for fiber to turn into clothing.

(This story is about the greenhouse.  Someday I will go into all the fiber animal do’s and do not’s.)

So; the biggest reason for the large greenhouse was to be able to grow enough food in there, all year long, to preserve for our family and us and sell extras for additional income.  Eventually, we planned to sell processed foods as well.  Ahh, best-laid plans of mice and men! It is good to have a plan in everything you do, just make sure you leave room for “life” to interfere – because it will!

I hope this explains why we chose the greenhouse and why we built one so big (yes, we built it ourselves – see blogs from 2011-2012 about this).    The next one will be how and why we decided to plant the way we do in there.

Please feel free to ask any questions and thoughts about this.  I love getting input and sharing our experiences!

setting the footer boards

(Leveled land covered in bindweed – yes we get TONS of the stuff – and 2”x12”x12’ boards used to build the footer/base of the greenhouse)

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