Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Saturday, March 11, 2006

GH2 - We Follow Straight Lines and Fragment

When we last left off, I had recounted my dissatisfaction at bending pipe to form a half-circle greenhouse. I decided to play with the idea of various intersecting straight lines, all made from the same salvaged iron pipe. I wanted to follow the concept of the typical pitched roofed house. Bending the pipe around a post in the barn didn't work to my satisfaction, and it became necessary to cut each required length and then piece them together. The roof top was easy. I found couplers at Lowe's that seemed made for the pipe I was working with, and like an elbow at 90 degrees. Two pipes fitted into this coupler formed my roof. Transitioning from the slope of the roof to the vertical walls proved to be challenge. A 45 degree coupler like the 90 degree coupler I used at the roof top would have proved ideal, but I couldn't find any. (It's the sort of thing that you know that someone, somewhere, makes such a thing, but I didn't want to take the time to search. I was on a roll. It was time to get to work.) I discovered that 3/4 inch conduit fit inside my iron pipe almost perfectly, and if I could bend the conduit to 45 degrees, I could fit the whole thing together. There was a pipe bender in the barn, which I finally found, but was not happy with the results. The sweep of the curve proved to be too broad, and didn't look or feel like it would prove to be as secure as I wanted it to be. I didn't think I had any options but this - it didn't occur to me that you could bend pipe with anything but a pipe bender - but I found a way. I cut metal conduit into two foot pieces, placed one end into a short length of 1" iron pipe, and put another length of pipe around the other end. With a friend standing on the first pipe, I lifted up on the second until the conduit bent to 45 degrees (this proved to be when the second length of pipe was lifted to just below my knee.) I was well underway.
The conduit, incidentally, came from a neighbor who once used them to prop up some walnut trees he planted.
Hauling everything down to the greenhouse site, I set about driving rebar straight into the ground on three foot centers. I fitted my walls, five foot long pieces of iron pipe, on top of these.
The next morning, two friends came out and helped me get the roof up. With the aid of a ladder, the branch of a chestnut tree, and several miles of plastic twine, we fit the pipes together to form the roof and lifted them up into place.
We had our overall frame, and I liked it. The lines and the dimensions were pleasing to me. The structure looked gentle but sturdy when viewed from the road, and the greenhouse itself fit well between the two fields surrounding it. In retrospect, I find myself wishing I had replicated the pitch of the barn of the roof, and drawn those two structures together in symmetry. It would have been a logical perspective for the eye to follow as it swept up the hill from the greenhouse to the barn and to the cemetery hill behind it all. I hadn't thought of that, though. Nonetheless, the two structures complement each other and are far enough apart that inconsistencies are hardly noticeable.
Next each individual rib had to be attached to the rib before and after it. I fired up the torch and blew small holes in each pipe, and then got another length of pipe and blew holes three feet apart. I bolted this pipe lengthways down the greenhouse roof, forming what is commonly called a purlin. Then I backed the truck into the greenhouse and set the ladder in the bed, for this was the only way I could reach all the way up to the top of the greenhouse. Up at the tippity-top, I screwed conduit down the length of the greenhouse, forming one more support structure. The thing was sturdy enough to climb on, and balance beam on the roof.

Next installment: Adventures with Wiggle-Wire, and, how pipes form end walls.


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