I’m a perfectionist— I like it when things go right and tend to stew about things that don’t go so well. Sometimes when undertaking a project I am so blinded by “the perfect vision” that I have in my head that I have a very hard time admitting that the vision just might not be achievable—- EVER. My greenhouse is a perfect example of this phenomenon.
Last year at the end of summer I didn’t want to say good-bye to my garden, but living in New England makes year-round outdoor cultivation very difficult. “A-HA!” I thought “I’ll build a greenhouse!” I thought this was the perfect idea— there were very inexpensive greenhouse kits available that were claiming to be “winter-ready.” I decided to go with a “lean-to” variety— one that props up against a wall of the house. This way it wouldn’t be permanently attached to my house so no building permits would be needed. Also, I performed some engineering calculations (remember I do that for a living) and discovered that I could heat the thing pretty inexpensively (provided that it was secure to the side of my house).
I found the model of greenhouse that I was to purchase on Amazon.com— my husband was already becoming very skeptical of my plan at this point. He asked “do people actually buy nice greenhouses on Amazon?” I ignored his incredulousness as I often do— “I’ll show him” I thought. All I could picture in my head were the many fabulous hours of winter gardening I would be enjoying in my greenhouse. And the many fabulous veggies and flowers we would have year-round at our disposal. Surely he would come around once he saw how awesome it was!
At some point I probably should have taken that step back like Todd was begging me to, but it was much too late. The perfect vision had been burned into my brain, and nothing less would substitute! I ordered the ill-fated Amazon greenhouse—- it came in no fewer than 500 pieces with instructions that made Ikea dressers look like the EASIEST ASSEMBLIES EVER! I cannot overstate how disappointed I was upon discovering that I would have to enlist Todd’s help in constructing the thing. But construct-away we did—- for the better part of 4 WEEKENDS!
After construction was complete I made a horrible discovery— the foundation of our house was crooked where I intended to put the greenhouse so it wouldn’t lean properly. Todd and I tried to build a make-shift foundation to support the greenhouse and level it out—- but this ended up being just more work invested in a VERY BAD PROJECT. When we finally finished and placed the greenhouse, there was an unsealable gap of 4″ between my house and the top of the greenhouse—- something that my engineering calculations did not account for. This thing would not be possible to heat economically like I had hoped! Alas we decided to leave the greenhouse where it was for a little while.
A few weeks later Hurricane Irene came to visit. Todd and I, knowing that this thing was shoddily built (it was that big of a pain to put together that we had no confidence in its construction) decided to put the greenhouse in our garage for safe-keeping. It would stay here for the next 6 months— until today.
Today I tried once again to find a nice home for the greenhouse— this time up against a fence in my driveway. But looking at it from different angles, it just still looked like crap. I couldn’t envision myself wanting to spend any sort of time in this thing— not to mention that it might fall apart upon a stiff breeze. So I decided FINALLY to get rid of it. And once that decision was made, it was like a load had been lifted from my life. Finally I could see my perfect vision again— and it was one without a greenhouse in it!
Did I learn anything from my little greenhouse DIY disaster? Probably! When it comes to adding structural elements to my home, I will leave that to professionals from now on 🙂 And you should probably not buy things for $500 off amazon and think they will be easy to put together and well-designed. Oh, and I should probably listen to that husband of mine a little more often (don’t tell him that though 🙂 ). Now on to my next project!!!