A Little Greenhouse & A Tiny Pool

Well, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but the upside of spending my evenings trying to get that damned vegetable garden under control is that… the damned vegetable garden is kind of under control.


Versus three weeks ago?

I thought we’d never get here.

“Here” by the way, means that there’s enough gravel to finally, finally put the greenhouse kit that was delivered a few months ago together.


While I’ve been trying desperately to get ahead of things– both at work and around the farm– for the last few weeks, I’ve only been falling more and more behind. And when I do feel like I finally have a handle on everything, I come home to the farm late one night to find this…


Yes, that is a raccoon. In the chicken coop.

Or, this…


That is one of my newly planted cherry trees, which used to have leaves. Before they all became deer snacks.


I have much longer stories to tell about both of these issues, but in the spirit of not turning this post into a full-length novel what I’ll say is that I finally realized it was time to do my very least favorite thing… call for help. (You thought I was going to say fold my laundry, right? Yeah. Also that.)

So, anyway, both of the tanks in my truck are leaking fuel (of course they are) which I need to get fixed (ha ha ha, when?!), and since I don’t have a working truck I couldn’t go get a load of gravel to finish out the garden path and level out the spot for the greenhouse.

Enter, dad…


And his very handy little dump trailer. Good thing my truck isn’t working or I’d be tempted to get one for myself…

Anyway, another small load of gravel and we were ready to put the greenhouse in. My mom came up for the weekend to help with that project, and it seemed like it was going to be, well, a project.


But it turns out these kits go up very, very quickly.


Well, okay, that is true, they go up quickly. But if you’re building one on a gravel spot on a hill (everything around here is on a hill) then you might spend 3 hours just trying to level and square the sill plate.

I got it finally, but, in retrospect, I should have drilled holes with my auger, gotten some sonotubes, and poured some level concrete piers to use as the foundation for this. That would have added another weekend or two to this project, but I have a feeling I’m going to regret not doing it that way in a year or two. I’m going to cross that bridge when I come to it though, in the meantime what I did do was use some bricks and steel stakes to create a level foundation to build on. The greenhouse will be anchored to the ground (not the gravel) with some rebar anchors like this.

I think it will work, but it could have been better.

Anyway, no crying over gravel foundations here… (I mean, my hero Dick Proenneke built his whole cabin on a gravel foundation, I’m sure we’re good.)

Once the sill was ready, all the side walls went up quickly… maybe 30-45 minutes.


This kit is basically insulated plastic panels in a redwood frame, and everything is connected with Simpson strong-ties. This is 100% not the way I would have built it, which is why I’m so glad I bought the kit. All the ties were in the right location, everything was marked and pre-drilled, it came with all the appropriate fasteners…


And everything was pre-cut to fit precisely.


By early afternoon, we had the better part of a greenhouse assembled…


It was also hot as hell by early afternoon, and my mom and I lost steam before we started putting the roof panels on. Which brings me to the second new addition on the farm. For a while I’ve been dreaming about having a natural swimming pool somewhere on the property.

If you haven’t heard of natural swimming pools, they’re basically structurally more like a pool than a pond (concrete sides and floor, etc) but instead of chlorinated water you devote part of the shallow space to plants and fish to keep the water clean. (You can learn more about them here.) And they are beautiful…

I want one.


I have a half-overgrown garden, and new fruit trees, and a brand new orchard to worry about, plus a half-torn apart kitchen, oh and usual farm chores. There’s a lot on my plate, so I compromised…


Yes. That is an inflatable pool. And yes, it is effing awesome to sit in after you’ve spent a solid eight working out in the hot sun. Also, it cost like $35 on Amazon and maybe 10 minutes to inflate with the compressor, so… there’s really no way to go wrong with this thing.

Right Doc?


Okay, fine, maybe it’s not quite pinterest-worthy, but it is donkey approved…


(I am so grateful to one of my before-blogging-was-a-thing internet friends Patti for singing the praises of her tiny pool and giving me this idea. If it can help her survive a Texas summer, it’s gotta work for those of us up north here too.)

And, okay, after a swim break (and maybe a bbq) I got back to work and got the roof panels on the greenhouse…


It still needs some work. I need to install the roof flashing and both the roof and back vents, plus some miscellaneous trim. And then there’s the whole stain/poly situation to figure out, plus all the shelving inside. BUT, I’d venture to say the hardest part is already done…


None of this is sponsored, but if you’re interested in greenhouse kits, this is where I got mine: Sunshine Gardenhouse

I’ve got plenty of farm-stories to share about deer and fruit trees and raccoons (don’t worry, all the Nugs are safe) and grape vines and one more thing I need to build in the next couple of weeks… all of which I hope to share just as soon as I find another minute or two to sit down and type. Until then, there will be plenty more long days filled with hard work until we get over the hump with the spring/summer projects. (And I do try to at least keep Instagram as up-to-date as possible if you want a sneak peek at what’s going on.)

21 Responses

  1. Our mutual friend Patti loves her pool. And cake. And umbrelly drinks. 🙂
    The garden looks great!

  2. I love the pool idea! Sometimes you need a quick refresher.
    We have been having quite a racoon problem down here this year! We have “removed” 3 in the past few weeks from our barn and my neighbor has “removed” 9 from her barn. I’ve never had a problem like that before!

  3. greenhouse = awesome. i wonder if the nugs will discover your pool and take a dip? do chickens swim? nevermind, i need more caffeine before i think about that. maybe tossing some apples into your outer fields will keep the deer away from your fruit trees.

  4. That dump trailer is awesome!

    We’ve noticed wild turkeys LOVE the grapes so you will want to fence those off probably once they are producing grapes.

  5. We are on our second Tiny Pool and honestly, still love that litle mofo! No major pool cleaning throughout the year, no major maintenance…just perfection in the tiny!

    Glad you are enjoying it (and damn, girl, we have been friends a long time!)

  6. Wow! Great job on the garden and the greenhouse! Is that all chicken poop under the Nugs? If so, very jealous! You have awesome fertilizer! And the pool? A necessity! I’ve been known to sit in my grandson’s kiddie pool to cool down.

    No racoon problems here – just the sound of munching Gypsy Moth catapillars up in the trees doing some major defoliation. Managed to save my roses (which they love)from annihilation, but had to use Sevin to do it. Hate these buggers!

  7. I’ve lived on 7 acres for 9 years. I’ve planted — no shit — over 150 trees trying to screen the acreage next door where I know someday my luck will run out and a home will be built. I’ve had voles kill from below (eating roots), porcupine kill from above (stripping bark), and deer just playing havoc, breaking off limbs, pushing over young trees, browsing ’til there’s nothing left, and…you name it. Oh, and a severe drought last summer when I had to let about 15 of them die (couldn’t keep them watered). Of those 150+ trees, 8 have made it to maturity–one, a beautiful 6′ Norway Spruce, was decimated this winter by deer browse. I really can’t take any more. It’s so disheartening. I used to get mad, then I’d cry a little. And, now I’ve given up. Fencing is not practical. A repellent that is better than the others is Plantskyd…when you remember to apply it.

    Good luck with the pool! I put one up when I first moved to my property…the yellow jackets took it over. They were so bad you couldn’t get near the water. Oy.

    P.S. I also love Dick P.!

  8. One of our local vets swears by hanging bars of Irish Spring soap around his trees and shrubs to deter deer.

  9. Massive envy of that natural pool. If I had the room and the money 🙂 I would get one of those in a minute.

  10. I LOVE the idea of doing a consistent bit of work on a project every day/night. Sometimes it’s just damn hard to choose, but I do find if I choose, then stick, it works well for my motivation as well as my self esteem. That damn garden looks damn good! YGG

  11. Ditto on the Plantskyd.

    Dropping apples to ‘distract the deer’ instead invites them to “Come on in!” as they wander closer looking for more treats.

    More likely to work if you choose a distant corner of a field and sow alfalfa. Throw some deer feed as well for balanced meals.

    Two other means with excellent results to keep deer from fruit trees are an electric fence (bait with peanut butter to give them a taste) and an 8 foot tall fence with the top bent outward like prison fencing to throw off their perception (prevents them from jumping over). And you just may have a moment where you have the thought that you ‘should have’ extended the height of your vegetable garden with poles & deer netting.

    If all else fails, send out a GPS guide for city folk with flashy cameras to stop by and oogle the cute little deers. Sell apples for them to toss to the deer. Maybe a grain vending machine.

    Start an Etsy deer boutique to raise farm fund$ to “Feed the Starving Deer” by selling cards, T-shirts, videos with candid deer pics.

    Heck, maybe those city folk would drop extra change to support a chlorine free natural pool the deer can drink from to rinse the bits of apple from their lips. : )

    All alternatives to repairing the truck…?

  12. I have a prefabricated 8 feet by 16 feet storage shed in our backyard, which I installed in 2004, if memory serves. I put down a pile of dirt, smoothed hell out of it, then put down a separate wood base for it, which I made of pressure-treated wood. The shed was nailed to the base, and the whole thing just floats, pretty much. It has not budged an inch, and we sometimes have very heavy rain storms.

  13. Hi, nice work you have done over-there. I was wondering what kind of black foil you used under gravel. Is it regular agriculture black foil or something thicker.

    1. I use landscaping fabric (both the fiberglass and the degradable kind) both seem to work equally well.

  14. Those prefabricated green houses are ideal solution for those who are not good with construction. Even cheaper. I two years ago I was making green house on my own. I made few mistakes during construction what caused to buy more material, and it costed me couple hundreds more than same prefabricated green house.

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