Jane McGary via pbs
Fri, 08 Jan 2021 12:35:15 PST
After many years of  fighting to maintain an extensive series of bulb 
frames, when I bought my present place I invested in a large (800 square 
feet) greenhouse built with components from the OBC which Robin 
mentioned. It is a gable style with a twinwall polycarbonate roof and 
sides made of hardware cloth (a strong wire product with a mesh of about 
1 cm square). The supporting structure is steel, painted, set in 
concrete footings but not with a full foundation. It's pretty 
over-engineered, but what a relief to have no maintenance other than 
getting the roof and gutters cleaned! Rather than benches, there are 
raised beds on each side of a center aisle wide enough for a 
wheelbarrow, retained by concrete-block walls about 18 inches high. I 
laid commercial woven groundcloth, which Robin also describes, as a 
lining between and some way up the block walls, raised the level within 
them using discarded soil and sod from the landscaping that was going 
on, then filled on that with 12 to 14 inches of coarse sand. At first I 
planted all my bulbs directly into the sand, but there was a drainage 
problem on one corner, so I've now converted that side to a plunge bed 
for bulbs in pots; the other side is still directly planted. The plunge 
bed has a narrow path down the middle for maintenance, but a lot of the 
weeding and so on has to be done by walking along the tops of the block 
walls and stepping very gingerly into the beds when the plants are in 
growth. This is good for practicing balance. I have few pest problems in 
the greenhouse as long as I keep the door closed, but weed seeds blow in 
badly, especially from the Eccremocarpus that grows on the outside of 
one section.

Since I live in a temperate climate (Portland, Oregon), this greenhouse 
is unheated. I grow almost no South African bulbs, and no tropicals 
(this means there's not much for me in the BX). All the plants in the 
greenhouse require, or at least tolerate, dry summer dormancy. I do 
sprinkle the pots occasionally in summer to prevent excessive drying. 
Bulbs that need summer moisture and that won't do in the open garden 
grow in pots on stands on the roofed patio.

I believe in growing bulbs as "hard" as they can tolerate in order to 
keep them in character, robust and compact. My "Mediterranean house" 
offers mainly moisture control, not warmth, but having the plants in the 
ground (directly or in plunged clay or mesh pots) moderates both 
temperature and soil moisture.

I also have a little wooden shed with windows and a glazed roof 
(recycled patio doors), fitted with shelves made of plastic grids used 
for commercial greenhouse benches. I use it for growing seedlings, 
moving those that are in growth to the top shelves for full light. It 
has a potting bench and space below the shelves for storage, and is very 
handy. I had it fitted with "barn doors" that can be opened wide for 
ventilation, and I close them during bad cold spells.

It takes some self-discipline to restrict one's collection to species 
that don't need supplemental heat, but I think I got something out of my 
system at my former house, which had a heated solarium and a wider range 
of plants. I'm happy now with what I can grow with less fuss.

Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA

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