Here’s me watering the tomatoes in Greenhouse 4. Do you notice anything different? Clue : it isn’t the sunshine, or my shorts – though both are remarkable enough for April.
Ah, I see now I’ve rather given the answer away with that caption, haven’t I !
The timber ‘exoskeleton’ around Greenhouse 4 was 15 years old, and had deteriorated a lot in the last couple of years. Rot had set in where timbers had been in contact, and moisture was trapped between them. However, the most important joints had been treated with mastic/sealant before tightening the bolts (I remember helping J with that) and almost all of those joints were in perfect condition.
We will make a new exoskeleton in late summer, but until then we’ll let the tomato plants revel in all the sunshine they can get – free from the shadows of the timber exoskeleton.
All the greenhouses and their exoskeletons were erected in the early spring of 2005, in the aftermath of the Great Hurricane of January 12th that year. So they’ve all reached the end of their life at around the same time. J replaced the timbers for Greenhouse 2 in 2017, and Greenhouse 3 in 2019. We had hoped to do Greenhouse 4 also in 2019 – it certainly justified it : but we just didn’t find enough time – until now. Greenhouse 1 is in better condition, J says, and can wait until next year. Heaven knows, there’s work enough for this year!
J’s design for the replacement structures uses less timber but is stronger : he says he has learned how to minimize the risk of rot setting in. I say, ‘time will tell’.
We did the dismantling together : it was definitely a two-person job! All the stainless steel coach bolts and coach screws will be re-used with the new structure. The metal bases that hold-down the main posts are not stainless, though, and were so rusty they are just rubbish now. ( J want to try and find a stainless steel equivalent for next time). The bolt set in the concrete is, apparently, marine grade stainless steel, and looks bright and blue – like it is brand new. Between us, we will saw up the old timbers into shorter lengths to put in the wood store. Some lengths of the chunkier posts might get used for renewing the low wind-break fencing around the garden growing plots, J says. The rest will eventually get sawn down to lengths of 12″ or so – for the wood-burning stove : we’ll both do our bit with the sawing, as it helps to keep us fit.