Greenhouse: Things that helped

This post and the rest of the series applies mostly to the Planta Sungrow Greenhouses since that’s the company I chose.

Most Important Thing–Attitude: Be Cool. You can do this. Assembling components, like an arch for example, may take a while to figure out. That can be frustrating but once you’ve done the first one the rest of those components are all the same and go together quickly. When you finish you’re thinking you could build another in no time. Take it easy. It will happen.

Videos: In the internet age we all watch 500 how-to videos before starting a project like this. Home made videos of people building these greenhouses show attitudes ranging from a woman sobbing that it’s so hard, to a guy who says this was so fun a project that went fast and smooth.  I was somewhere between those two depending on the day. Happy to report that the sad lady was all smiles at the end, standing with her arms wide, ‘Hoorah! I did it!”  You want to get the latest how-to videos Planta has put out. In my case it was their 13 part series for the 2021 Sungrow Urban that walks you through each step.  It’s very good. The techs put it together in such a way you can stop and rewind or freeze the frame at places you’re figuring out.  As I mentioned in the ‘Planning’ post, the middle sections of the greenhouse are all the same width and construction so it doesn’t matter if yours is longer or shorter than the ‘Sungrow Urban’ in the videos. You build the ends just the same as they show you and with the middle sections you can make it 2 meters or 100 meters.

With Freeze Dryers, we talked about how the company that makes them (Harvestright) is always improving components. That’s good because the thing works better but there are scads of old videos out there  (both home made videos and videos from the company) that no longer apply. People don’t take them offline so you’re scratching your head trying to figure out what you’re missing. Same holds true with Greenhouse videos. Some are great, full of good ideas. Some others drive you nuts.

The Manual: Is also good. Especially when you’re working outside where the computer monitor doesn’t show up in the sun. If you put bolts of the same type in labeled bags you’ll know which is called for. But if you find yourself holding a bolt that could be one size or another, there’s a page in the manual that has a schematic of all the bolts in their actual size. So you can hold your bolt up to the page and be sure what size it is.
Usually if there’s a place where the manual looks different from the video, go with the video. In one place though, door assembly shown on page 25 of the manual is what you want. Look closely by where the door handle will go. You’ll see a hole in center of the diagonal [piece 14] about 8 inches up. That’s how piece 14 is supposed to go. The eye bolt for the door latch will live there. (see that on page 32–it’ll make sense). On the video, the tech puts it on upside down by mistake so the hole is near the top close to the hinge. You can see it on the video, Step 6 Door Installation; at minute 4:38. I had put the door together and attached it to the frame by the time I figured this out. Rather than take the whole thing apart, I just measured where the hole was supposed to be and drilled through piece 14 with the 3/16 metal drill bit. The same drill bit you use for drilling holes in your polycarbonate panels. No big deal. In fact, it helps to know that even guys who do it for a living can get a part turned around.

Tools: On the table above: Going clockwise from 12 oclock:
Scissors: for cutting tape and some poly carbonate trimming.
Markers: to put a dot on the UV protected side of the polycarbonate panels. That side has to face out. (You can leave a strip of the plastic protective coating on the UV side but if that gets knocked off you may not be sure which side is which). Also markers to mark your bottom metal fastening bands.
Hand socket driver: For all those hundreds of nuts and bolts. In the videos the techs use a power drill but I like the hand-held because I’ve got better control. Sockets you’ll want are metric. 8mm and 10mm.
Clamps: If you’re doing a lot of this on your own, you’ll be glad to have several light ones. You don’t want clamps that squeeze so hard they crush the polycarbonate panels.
3/16 inch metal drill bit: And a power drill, natch. for drilling through polycarbonate.
Various tapes: Right to left: clear tape comes with the greenhouse to seal top and bottom of polycarbonate panels. Double sided tape comes with the greenhouse to seal profile joints between roof panels and side panels. Greenhouse tape for bottom of polycarbonate panels; I bought this from a garden supply  place to use instead of the clear tape because it’s supposed to let condensation weep out the bottom. Metal tape, bought this as a back-up for the clear tape because I was running out. Masking tape to label parts, hold pieces in place temporarily, etc.
Compressed air cans: To blow out little plastic crumbs inside the polycarbonate ribs. Blows a lot of them out the other end but isn’t necessary since they’ll all just shake down when the wind blows.
Utility knife: To cut polycarbonate panels.
Phillips head screwdriver: Nearly all the bolts and screws are phillips head.
*Metric tape measure: if you don’t have a metric tape, do yourself a favor and get one. The greenhouse comes from Europe where they use metric. Measurements are given in both metric and standard, but the standard measures are given in inches with decimal parts of inches instead of fractions. Meaning if the measure is 987 mm in metric, or 38.85 inches, you have to figure out what’s the closest fraction to .85 of an inch (that’s a hair under 7/8 of an inch). or you can just get a metric tape and measure 987 mm. So much easier.
Other stuff not shown:
Step ladder
Sturdy, self tapping screws:
to secure bottom metal fastening bands to the wood base.
Long phillips head drill bit: for screwing the angle brackets to the wood foundation. You’ll be drilling at an angle because of the frame above. A 6 inch shaft bit will keep the drill off the frame.
Awl: To stick through pre drilled metal holes in frame then push a pilot hole through polycarbonate.
A friend: You can do most of it yourself but you want another set of hands for aligning doors and holding the polycarbonate sheets while you’re fastening them to the frame.
Cargo strap: If you’re working alone, you can use one or two to hold polycarbonate panel in place while you’re making sure everything is lined up.
Beer or wine: to toast everything that will grow in your greenhouse.

photo by Scott Burton