It’s time to build a green-house

With Spring around the corner, it's time to get our green-house project on the go.

We’ve had a mixed bag of success growing plants for food over the past winter and summer seasons. There are a few things we want to see if we can manage better:

  • Temperature
  • Wind
  • Birds
  • Pests

Temperature and wind

Johannesburg is a season of cold dry winters and hot wet summers. Winters can be very cold with temperatures dropping to just above or just below freezing. We use the metric system, so 0°C equals 32°F. We also have major extremes with winter high temperatures going up to around 20°C (68°F). In the summer we can have highs of around 32°C (90°F).

The wind in winter can also drop the temperature and the plants get affected by black frost where the leaves turn black and crispy.

Birds and pests

Birds love to eat whatever is on offer, not just the fruit on our trees. We’ve had many a swiss chard (we call it spinach) shredded by the birds.

Along with the birds are the bugs, beetles, aphids, caterpillars, slugs and more that love to munch on our food too. We don’t mind sharing but leave some for us too!

Managing the variables

As a way to better manage these different elements, we’ve decided to build a green-house over where we grow food currently. There are some ornamental plants, bushes and even a tree or two that will need to be moved. We are going to dedicate this space to just growing food.

The green-house will be made from gum poles and covered in shade cloth.

We are taking some of our design cues from another part of the garden. It has protected sides and a more open top and fared very well during this last winter. Matthew has designed the green-house and together with Clive and Mandla (our ad-hoc builder) they will construct it.

Here’s what the space looks like right now.

It’s roughly L-shaped. The giant strelitzia (bird of paradise) will have to be moved
We have some beds in place. More will come in time. The fig tree and spekboom will need a new home
More spekboom, and a lemon verbena plus some geraniums will need new homes
That’s an Australian brush-cherry (Syzygium paniculatum) that will also need moving
We have two duranta erecta plants, a large jasmine to the left (not in picture) and a mulberry tree in the corner that need moving
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