Green Ambition

It all started with Deborah and I talking about what fun it would be to have a greenhouse. Imagine being able to grow basil all year round! How about early tomatoes? Frangipani? And, since my cunning plan to use the thermal mass of the rocks in the Mediterranean Garden to grow fabulous eggplants has so far yielded only one chicken-egg-sized orb, lets think about eggplants too. Excited yet?!

Needless to say, we were. So when Deborah spotted this charmingly decrepit structure on Trade Me we placed a bid.


It’s missing some glass, and the whole thing is held in place by kikuyu…


… but never mind the work, think of the potential?

And won it for $152!

That was the easy bit. Before bidding Deborah had asked the seller about breaking the structure down to move it, and been assured this would be a piece of cake. In fact, as it turned out, our greenhouse was more like a very large and very stale French baguette; extremely hard to pull apart, and quite difficult to manoeuvre in one piece.

Firstly, as we soon discovered, the seller had clean forgotten he’d glued all of the glass to the frame. Apparently a couple of panes had once blown out during a storm, leading him to slap a good bead of silicon around each of the remaining 60 or so. Removing them became an art involving stanley knives, careful leverage, and quite a lot of broken glass.

We negotiated a $50 refund and carried on.

The second problem became evident when Deborah and I tried to undo one of the hundred or so sets of nuts and bolts holding the structure together. Our seller had completely underestimated the amount of corrosion in the fastenings. Short of grinding off each individual bolt, this greenhouse was going to be staying stubbornly in one piece. Our plan to dismantle, transport and then reassemble our purchase at home was clearly not going to fly. We returned to the farmlet somewhat disheartened.

After a nice cup of tea and bit of discussion, optimism prevailed, and we concocted a new plan. We would return the following weekend with a large trailer, lift the whole frame onto it, and drive our stale french baguette home in one piece. Easy… Except for the problem of actually getting the thing up onto the trailer. That galvanised steel greenhouse frame was pretty solid, and, with the Forbearing Husband having been called away to Wellington, we were one man down. Time to ring a friend…

Or two. Stunt Girl and Nova Scotia Steve were enlisted. I enticed them away from their little piece of Kaiwaka paradise with promises of chocolate and farmlet oranges, and off we all went.

Moving a greenhouse frame

The greenhouse frame with a Stephen at each end.

The Two Stephens had never met before, but they went to work as if they’d been moving greenhouses together for years. After a few trial lifts at each end, and a careful backing of the trailer into position they flexed their powerful muscles, and that frame was hoisted up and onto the trailer. Deborah, Stunt Girl and I lifted our hardest too, and we tried our best to believe we were contributing, but really, on the day it all came down to the heaves of the Steves (sorry).

Lifting the greenhouse frame

On the trailer ready to go. Those supporting crossbeams underneath made one lane bridges a bit scary.

The final job was to triumphantly drive the trailer home, thankful for the hauling capacity of a new-to-us farm vehicle the Forbearing Husband likes to refer to as ‘The Beast’.

Mitsubishi Triton

The Beast. Pictured with a cargo of old concrete laundry tubs. It can carry anything!

At 3m wide, our greenhouse on its crossbeam supports made for a few hairy moments on one-lane bridges. The two Stephens hung out of windows, one each side of the truck, and we played a game of warmer / colder as they indicated how close I was to wedging the entire load on a concrete parapet. Fun times.

Nerve-wracking as it was, I drove concentrating on the fact that the last structure the Forbearing Husband and I moved with the truck was a one tonne, 4.5m high tiny house*. By comparison this part of the greenhouse acquisition process really did feel like that piece of cake we’d been promised.

So, the good news is that we now have a greenhouse. The not such good news is, we have a lot less glass for it than we thought we would have. Deborah and I remain undeterred though, and have been researching options for making it all lovely. I’m very keen to include a little table and a comfy chair for relaxing over a cup of tea and a book on sunny winter days. With the smell of frangipani and basil in the air I think it will be a delightful retreat. Anyone care to join me?

Tell me, what would you do with a greenhouse? The comment box is open.


* I’m in the process of writing a post about our little cabin ‘Tiny’ and her journey from Waipu to the farmlet. If you want a sneak peak, have a look at the photos I put up on Instagram back in January. You can use the Instagram widget in the sidebar to get there.



  1. It’ll be awesome once it’s operational! Trying not to think too much about what’s involved in getting it there. I thought we were going for cocktails??

  2. Wahoo what a triumph! Super women and super Steves. Like the idea of basil growing in winter and large juicy egg plants. How about fat garlic?

    • I don’t think anyone could argue with basil, eggplant and garlic being a great combination. 🙂

    • Greenhouse still glassless and languishing in the chicken run. Perhaps a Christmas hols project…

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