Switching to a glass greenhouse: one year on

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Well, I guess by the end of this month it’s time to stop talking about the new greenhouse… Olive will be one year old! I think there should be cake.

So this week, the thought of it being a whole year with our first “proper” greenhouse (polycarbonate didn’t count as proper), got me thinking back about our journey as gardeners, and I thought I would share with you guys, as I know not all of you were here in the beginning. So sit back, preferably with a cuppa and a biscuit and let me tell you a story.

The gardening section of this blog came about back in Jan 2012, when Kate and I bought Ar Bruadair (our house). Before then we’d lived in flats (apartments) and didn’t have a garden. In fact, neither of us had ever had a garden. I did, however, begin my gardening adventure shortly before then, with a small balcony, where I tried to grow peppers and tomatoes – with absolutely no success.

But funnily enough, the garden was the one thing we both wanted, so our focus on buying a new place, was on having a garden, some outdoor space. My dream was to grow my own veggies and Kate’s dream was to have hanging baskets, a lawn and a Japanese maple in front of the house. Ar Bruadair was born (ar bruadair means our dream in Scottish Gaelic).

In fact, I was at work when Kate called to tell me the offer on the house had been accepted and she called and all she said was, “You better buy some wellies.” Of course, being great at puzzles, I had no clue what she was telling me, so she had to spell it out. The house is ours, our dream has come true. You are a gardener now! (Wellies are wellington boots)

We were a few weeks into getting the garden sorted (demolishing an old shed to make space) before the first greenhouse was built. It was a polycarbonate job as we weren’t sure yet if we would genuinely take to gardening, so this was a cheaper option to test the waters.

It was a nightmare to put together. And not entirely solid. But it was mine. My first greenhouse.

You can read all about the fun of installing it here: http://www.eliapplebydonald.co.uk/blog/epic-weekend/

So skip on a few years, and we’re growing tomatoes, peppers, flowers, even pumpkins at one point.

Always though, winter was a nightmare. The winds around here are strong, and every year we’d lose parts of the greenhouse, usually the roof, to the winds.

Greenhouse wind damage

And it was a nightmare to clean every year because the polycarbonate panels in the roof had channels which filled with mould and algae.

But, this was our garden, our special place and we loved it. It’s where we sat and enjoyed the sun on a summers day, had BBQs with friends, de-stressed and its where we got married. Right beside the greenhouse.

You can read all about the wedding and see the pics of the garden looking awesome here: http://www.eliapplebydonald.co.uk/blog/our-wedding-the-little-things-that-make-life-fun/

I’m getting all gooey and soppy thinking back through all of this.

So as you can see, the greenhouse is more than just a greenhouse to us, it’s part of a much bigger dream that we are enjoying. It makes it possible for us to grow on seeds in the Scottish spring (read cold and wet). We can grow tomatoes and peppers, and it’s a place we can shelter from the sudden, driving rain and have a laugh. Oh yes, ask Kate about the weekend we build and painted a fence in the pouring rain!

Now I am painting a bit of a rosy picture here, so let me clarify. As much as that little polycarbonate greenhouse was a huge part of us discovering our love for the garden and we love our garden… I HATED IT! There I said it. I feel better now. I hated that greenhouse!

The thing is, that greenhouse was quite cheap, and you do get what you pay for. It leaked, a lot. It was drafty. The roof came apart every time it was windy to the point where we were using duct tape to hold it together. And it was dirty and a nightmare to clean. So the day I had finally saved enough to get a proper greenhouse, I was ecstatic. Along came Olive (so-called because that’s the colour she is).

Olive is strong and sturdy and one year on I can say she doesn’t leak and isn’t drafty. We are about to do the winter clean, but I don’t think it will be too much trouble 🙂

She isn’t perfect, I’ve still managed to find niggles. Namely the automatic window openers. They activate far too early, even on the optimum setting, so the greenhouse is usually only about 14 or 15 C when the window starts to open. I’d like to have a bit more control over this. But still automated, rather than me having to come home from work to open the windows if you know what I mean. But in comparison, I can’t really complain. I suppose the full year hasn’t passed so I’m assuming she won’t be much trouble to clean, but until we do at the weekend, I guess we don’t know.

So…. what I thought I might do with you guys is…. let’s celebrate Olive’s first birthday with a wee Q & A. So send us your Ar Bruadair questions and we’ll do our best to answer as many as we can. They can be about the greenhouse or gardening in general or I suppose cooking our garden produce or something else random you are desperate to know. Ask away and if I can answer it I will.

By then I should be able to tell you about cleaning Olive too 🙂

How do we ask questions, Eli?

That is a great first question. You have lots of options.

On a separate note

You can also read more about our wedding and the garden as the venue in the fantastic book released by our Celebrant Tim Maguire talking about his experiences as a humanist celebrant and the joy it gives him: https://humanistweddingsinscotland.blogspot.com/2019/02/we-do-your-wedding-your-way.html

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