How we set up the inside of our greenhouse and why?

First, we were going to just dig in the ground – easiest right?  WRONG!  The bindweed from hell grows here.  I’m not sure you could call it growing, more like a hostile take-over!  It is aggressive, gets into everything, and doesn’t care what you say or want – it’s not going anywhere (Hostile take-over right?)!

Even with our nine months plus efforts building the greenhouse, it did not stop.  We dug three feet underground, burmed the sides and had triple insulated sidewalls all around.  But the bindweed still finds its way in.  All we knew we could do is try to slow it down or contain where it enters.

We then decided that plots were the way to go.  We are also lucky that we have a food production plant near us that gives away its drainage cloth.   We asked them about it, and they gave us the distributor.  Come to find out; it is made of the same stuff that cloth weed barrier is made of only thicker.  They use it to drain leftover water from cheese (note: eventually this bio-degrades so we will have to keep watching our weeds).  We were able to cut off massive pieces of this stuff to use on our farm.  Since it is food – there is no chemicals that are left in the cloth to do harm.  In fact, we were surprised at just how clean the cloth was.

Once the decision to use plots was settled, the idea of a whole floor weed barrier set in.  We cut off chunks of the cloth (f.y.i. this is NOT light stuff – it is very heavy) and spread them out on the floor of the greenhouse.  We used standard garden stakes to hold it all in place.  The only gaps are around the outer edge where it meets the cement wall, and where we have to overlap pieces.  When it was all done it looked great:

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This pic also has the very first plot I put in.  It is what it looked like before we established all the north-end plots.It is on the far right against the wall.  Those are tomatoes growing in there.  This was late summer 2011.  You can see next to that plot is the start of another.  The ones against the wall are one foot wide, the others on the inside are 3 feet wide.  We left about a three- foot walkway in-between rows.  Wanted it to be big enough for carts to get through.  This picture is also fun because we are looking north and the swamp cooler is not in yet.

This is what it looks like now- before growing season (note the tarragon against the wall by the black cover.  There is an ever-bearing strawberry bed next to it on the right):

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This is what it looks like at the start growing season:

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This is after one month:

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And this is full production:

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There are tomatoes and peppers in with the dill.  Oh, and for all you crafters out there;  dried dill stalks make great crafting/weaving sticks – BONUS!  The top center you can see some orange mesh (It is actually used as horse fencing.  This is part of a bunch of bundles we got at the auction for about five dollars.  Works great for trellising plants.), that is where our cucumbers are going crazy.

There are Four 3’wide by 26’ long plots in the middle.  Then we have a 1’wide by 26’ long plots on both east and west sides.  All plots are made with 2’x12” painted (barn paint – non-toxic) boards with 6mil plastic lining on the inside (not bottoms) of all boards.  The plastic is the same as the greenhouse cover and is used just to keep as much moisture as possible off the board.  Our way of trying to get them to last as long as possible before needing replacement.  You can also see the weed barrier up close in this picture.  It is just a fine mesh material.

The greenhouse has been up and operating for going on seven years now.  The weeds are starting to make their way in, in some spots.  We pull what we can, and I dip the bindweed ends into vinegar in a cup.  Those of you that do not know, this is a perfect way to get to the root of the weed and kill it without killing anything else around it.  The only bummer is this is a very slow process.  The weeds move much faster than I do.

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