On Saturday October 1, Our Kitchen Table held a DIY Greenhouse and Hoop house workshop in the Eastown neighborhood, one of the four target neighborhoods of our Food Diversity Project. Urban gardener, Taylor Voss, led the workshop in his own backyard, where he has a small greenhouse, hoophouse and cold frame unit extending his growing season.
The greenhouse was constructed of cast-off storm windows that Voss foraged from area garage sales. He used hinges to fasten them together and calked the seams between the windows. In the rear, an open space keeps the greenhouse ventilated. He fashioned the front window of the unit as a sliding door so he has easy access inside and out.
Approximately six feet long, three feet high and four feet wide, the hoophouse was of even simpler construction. Voss used PVC plumbing pipe to form a frame, which he bowed by tying cords to hold the tension. Over this, he laid plastic sheeting, they type used to cover windows in winter. Both of these inexpensive materials were from the big-box hardware store. Because of its light weight and simple construction, Voss can move it on and off the garden bed when he needs to water or pick produce. He did say that once it snows, this small hoop house would cave in. He plans on using it to extend the fall growing season for his collards. In the spring, he will set it back up to get starter plants going earlier.
Voss’ cold frame was also built from a cast-off storm window. He attached the window with hinges to a wood board base with slanted sides that welcomed in more sunlight. His cold frame is sunk about six inches in the ground. Cold frames can also be easily placed atop raised beds.
To prevent plants from freezing when temperatures drop, Voss places plastic jugs filled with water in particularly sunny spots within the cold frame and greenhouse. These absorb heat during the day and keep the structures warmer through the night.
With a few tools, a wee bit of instruction and very little cost, any urban gardeners can construct similar greenhouses, hoophouses and cold frames to extend their food growing season. Even so, these projects might seem a bit intimidating. The OKT team hopes to provide the resources and support to encourage qualified urban gardeners in our target areas to engage in these types of projects. If you live in Eastown, SECA, Baxter or Garfield Park neighborhood or if you have small children, are pregnant, have economic or health challenges that can be addressed by growing your own food, drop OKT an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call, 616-570-0218!