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Lake Grove Elementary in Lake Oswego, Oregon recently purchased Solexx Greenhouse Covering to use on their custom school greenhouse. During my visit to participate in their dedication assembly, I must say I was impressed by their outdoor learning environment. Lake Grove Elementary is advanced with their plans to retrieve rain water and utilize rain barrels, also using several compost bins on site. A special holder had been built to display the solar panel, as a demonstration of the activity of the fan (a solar powered exhaust fan)—direct light or the slow down from the students’ shadows. My favorite part was the outdoor classroom set up next to the greenhouse. Benches were made of logs from local trees—summer camp meets gardening, can’t get much better than that!
A Plethora of Plants
Dale Plank is an enthusiastic, spry gardener who has been tilling the soil for over sixty years. He tends a marvelous vegetable and flower garden that spills onto a bike path through a bucolic suburban neighborhood in Corvallis, Oregon. Dale and his wife Beverly like to work with native plants. Attracting butterflies and hummingbirds with scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) to their garden is a top priority. Their side garden has a large collection of vegetables, vines and annual flowers. Strawberries line the public bicycle path where passersby can munch happily on their way while enjoying the garden views.
Shade cloths provide a way to reduce the ambient temperature inside the greenhouse. It allows filtered light to pass through the panels to keep plants from being scorched and overheating during hot summer months.
Materials and Time Required
1 polypropylene shade cloth: $65.00
1 roll neon colored nylon kite string: $5.00
6 pack camping stakes: $5.00
Installation took one hour with two people.
Tools Used Materials Used
• Broom handle or long stick
• Rubber mallet
• Utility or pocket knife
• Nylon twine
• Polypropylene shade cloth
• Six camping stakes
Installing the electrical a few weeks ago, we found a hole dug under the greenhouse frame. We covered it up figuring a little critter trying to find a warm place to sleep on a cold spring nights. But then the hole came back larger last week. Piles of mounded dirt were spotted both outside and inside.
I have stored birdseed in the greenhouse for years with nary an uninvited guest. The seed is kept on hand to encourage wildlife to visit our garden.
Keeping Our Cool
Visiting the Solexx greenhouse headquarters, Beverly gave me a tour of the various greenhouse styles they offer. She also showed me growing and cooling techniques they are currently trialing. One such cooling method caught my curiosity, so I decided to test it in my own greenhouse.
Bev demonstrated how she took plastic Rubbermaid® trugs filled with water to lower and maintain the ambient temperature inside the greenhouse. The containers are low tech and not very sexy looking. I’m happy to report however, they seem to be working. Amazingly enough, the water in the containers remains cool.
Over the years we have had requests for a small greenhouse using Solexx covering. Many of our customers have limited space to put a greenhouse and needed a greenhouse with a smaller footprint. The Lit’l Propagator is a 4′ x 4′ greenhouse that is actually tall enough for most gardeners to stand in at 72″ tall. Built in shelf framing is included so you can easily make shelving to store your plants.