Let’s shelve that idea

Last week was very exciting for me.  Even more exciting than sowing seeds, and that is a big call because sowing seeds is one of the highlights of spring.  There is something almost magical in taking inert bits that parted company from the parent plant a long time ago – for some seeds that could be years ago and plunge them into moist warm soil and voila… they come back to life.  How can you not marvel at the wonder of that?

The centre of the dome
It is good to know the centre of the dome is in the centre of the dome.

But what I marvelled at the wonder of last week, was my amazing builder’s ability to take the vision from my head and with his technical skills turn it into a reality.  Last week we built shelves for my geodesic biodome.   It has been a long time coming.  Originally it should have been done last season when the dome was finished, but the dome didn’t get the glass on until late in the season and the urgency was gone.   I had spent the season juggling plants on the floor of the dome and did my best not to stand on them, kick them over or be tripped up by them.  They seemed to do well enough huddled underneath the temporary covering of the plastic pallet wrap that clung tightly to the exterior of the dome.

Drain in the dome
I’m delighted to find the drain we put into the floor of the dome works and so when I need to hose things down the water has somewhere to go. My last greenhouse had a lip running around it and so the water had nowhere to go.

Then I spent a great deal of time pondering and wondering.  Often, I find my best ideas are ones that I’ve sat on for a while and given mental space to develop into something great.  Normally the ideas that I have and immediately race out to convert into a reality are never my best work.  So, I’ve been thinking about these shelves for a long time.

Deciding how big to make the shelves
If you are going to make something it is important to make sure it is big enough to do the job. Using my biggest seed trays as a template seems like the best idea

Ordinarily I think about how I want it to look at the end and then think backward to figure out how to achieve it.  Sometimes I need to go back and change the original concept because of an unforeseen problem in the design.  This time I even asked anyone who would listen, what they thought about it, what they would do if it was theirs.  This just confused me even more.  But at the end of the day the same design kept coming back to me – a set of shelves that ran around the entire interior perimeter of the dome.    I just knew that is what I wanted.

Staging area
As much as this was a great idea, the execution wasn’t the greatest and it could have probably been done better!

The big question was how?  I know for a fact that my woodworking skills leave a lot to be desired.  You only need to see what I did with my hardening off staging to cringe with horror.  >It’s all staged<  I’m surprised I even posted that project for all the world to see.  It is clearly not my best work!  Knowing and appreciating my limitations, in the face of urgency for the new growing season, I began to worry.  I really didn’t want to have another growing season starting out on the floor.  In the depths of worry, in the middle of the night, I came to the realisation I wouldn’t be able to do it myself, well I could but it wouldn’t be great.  I decided to ask my builder to help.  After that peace came and I stopped worrying.  It would be ok.

Shelving frames.
Hmmm…. simple but effective shelving frames. And this is why you get in the professionals. I hate to even begin to think of what I would have come up with!

A week later my amazing builder turned up with a load of wood, screws, tools and the all-important technical knowhow.   Before he arrived, I emptied the dome of all the items that had found its way in there and with some coloured chalk I began measuring things out so we would be able to make a plan.  I may not have known how to build it, but I could come up with a starting point.  It isn’t an easy shape.  There are 18 points to it and every other diameter is 10cm shorter than the other.  Then I needed to decide the span of each section of shelving around the outside and how wide and how tall?  It was hard to tell.

Connecting the shelves together
Once the frames were connected the whole plan just seemed to fall into place.

So with no real major decision made and me with a great idea with how it should look firmly in my head and my amazing builder with a vague idea based upon my grandiose descriptions that lacked any really useful information other than ‘it’ll be fab’, we set to work.

getting the angles right.
There was a bit of trimming and re-cutting to get the angles right – but it didn’t need to be perfect – it was for a greenhouse after all.

We started with the frame that would hold the shelves, so depth and height of the shelves was the first decision based on arm’s length and the placement of my largest seed trays.  Height was determined by the height of a kitchen bench – if it is good enough for the kitchen, then it’s good enough for me and also the length of the wood meant we could cut three lengths without wasting any.

greenhouse shelves
Eventually we worked around the dome and shelved the entire thing and I couldn’t be happier.

Once each frame was constructed, we loosely positioned them around the dome and started to play with the span of each section.  Once we decided not to tie it into the angles of the dome itself but sit it as snuggly as we could within it, it made wider spans possible, which meant less wood and less work and made so much more sense.  We started with the section immediately across from the door and made sure it was lined up with it to make it aesthetically pleasing and gave us a starting point for the rest of the shelving.  Working out the angles of each section so it butted up nicely with the next was where I would have become unstuck.  That is a technical ability way ahead of my capabilities, but the wood was cut with a skill I had to admire and over the course of the day shelves began to appear.

Happy plants
And my plants look so much better up on shelves than down on the floor.

My amazing builder kept saying ‘I can’t believe how good this looks’, and I kept saying ‘it’s just like I imagined it would be.’  We work well together with thinking through problems and me holding the wood being cut so it didn’t fall to the floor.  We didn’t get it completely finished as there is still most of the shelves on the bottom layer to do, but we ran out of day and wood.  So, one day soon it will be finished, but for now I have all that I need.  My plants have somewhere to grow.

Come again soon – there is digging and weeding and sowing, transplanting and all good things about spring to be done.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

14 thoughts on “Let’s shelve that idea

  1. What a satisfying sight! (I shall try not to be jealous, with my two small leaky sheds and my garden tools piled on the laundry floor.) It seems so seldom in creative endeavours that the results match the vision, so relish every moment of it!

    1. Sometimes it is best to make my creative endeavours match my vision – professionals need to get involved. (I do still have tools in the bedroom wardrobe! – a tool shed is next on the list) : o)

  2. Sarah that is just how I imagined it to be and once the bottom shelves go it it will be a good place to store your seed trays and pots when not in use. I can see you grinning like a Cheshire Cat, the one that got the cream. You will have lots to video now.

  3. Looks fantastic and still seems to give you space. I thought maybe the shelves might make it seem really enclosed but not at all. Such a cool green house Sarah. It will be interesting to see how it treats your seedlings 🌱 happy growing season.

  4. What a fabulous set up you have, enjoy it all!
    Could you help me please, Sarah? I have pea and bean seeds just coming through. I have used a heat mat to give them a start. I’ve only tried growing from seed a couple of times previously, and gave up, and went back to buying seedlings. But you have inspired me to try again.
    My issue is what to do next? My previous efforts have all resulted in very leggy, straggly plants, that flop all around the place. How should I treat these seeds now? I only have one small window in my potting shed. I have sat things in front of it other times, and rotated them so they don’t grow in one direction. Am I better to bring the seeds inside, to a more light filled room? And when should I pot them on? Sorry to bother you, but I would so appreciate some advice.
    Many thanks

    1. I’m glad to see you have had success with germination. The key to preventing seedlings to going leggy is lots of light so your shed may be too dark, so moving them into a more light filled space will help. You could plant your peas out now – they won’t mind at all but beans like it a lot warmer – around 18C so I’d maybe repot those and keep them in a warm sunny place for now. I hope this helps. : o)

      1. Thank you so much. I guess poor light is not conducive to strong and sturdy seedlings (like I see you are able to produce 😀) so I will find the best alternative I can. They may live in my house for a bit! I appreciate your response, thank you.

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