Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Building a Straw Bale Greenhouse: Phase 4 by Gardener Cumax

Before I could even do the work I had to treat the lumber. Monday found me at Natural Interiors on Wadsworth purchasing a gallon of linseed oil based wood treatment. Tuesday-Thursday was spent oil each piece of 2x6x16' and 2x6x20' lumber with the oil. By treating the lumber this way I would ensure it doesn't rot. Water can cause rot, yes, but having the wood in contact with dirt is how soil organisms start slowly chomping away on your wood - which they view as food. Food, Wood, Whatever.

If I bought treated lumber there is no way that I could call anything growing under it organic because the NOSB (National Organic Standards Board) defines what is and isn't allowed in organic farming. It makes sense to not use wood that can leach out toxins into the dirt.

Mid-week I got email stating that my builder friend Glenn would be able to help after all. So on Saturday, February 6th he and my friend Larry showed up in the cool weather and we got to work. The big, long-awaited for day had arrived!

Spirits were high and organized chaos ensued! Glenn brought his professional (expensive and useful) leveling tools and put Larry to work with measuring the RBA at 1 foot intervals. I made the first of my 3 trips down the street to Front Range Lumber to get more wood for the door frame.

When I returned Glenn ordered me back to FRL to get buckets of shims. My RBA sucked, to put it bluntly. About half of it was 1.75 inches lower than the highest point of the wall. So Larry and I got busy shimming the bottom sill plate. It was ugly, and introduced a new issue: insulation. I would deal with that later.

Glenn nailed up the walls, the 3 of us put them up and then started in on heavy duty measurements for the center beam and its posts. When that was up we installed the rafters. When done with that Larry had to quit for the day while Glenn and I installed the braces that would keep everything together.

No sooner had Larry left I started feeling queasy. We finished at 4 and collected all of Glenn's tools and wiped that horrendous clay mud we all have come to loathe. For the next 12 hours, I experienced the worst case of stomach flu I've ever had. So I really didn't have the chance to savor the sweet success of completing a year long dream.

Snow fell on Sunday the 7th, creating enough ice blocks inside the greenhouse to dampen my spirits about the whole thing. Friday the 12th I had enough energy to put the Wiggle Wire base plates on the bottom sill plates and the East and West Walls. Saturday the 13th was forecasted for wind. At 10:30, with the wind picking up, I laid out the greenhouse film in the calm, dry confines of the garage. The roll I ordered was 20' wide by 55' long. I triple-checked my measurements and then confidently made the cut.

Because the film is 6mil thick and feels tough and not too flexible in my hands, it didn't get away from my sweetheart Angela and I. We got it positioned and then I put the Wiggle Wire in. It went fast. The wind didn't make it easy to get it taut. I can always readjust it later, and I think it will be best to wait until we get 3 days of normal temperatures before I do that.