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written by: B

Spanish Getaway

Pebble Beach, California


When C and I actually moved into our home, we were renting. We were young, in love, and of course as all young couples do… we wanted to create new life! Creation may be a strong word, but we ended up loving the garden space left behind by the previous residents/owners/landlords, all one of the same. Thankfully, those wonderful people were my parents, and gave us freedom to improvise the space.

I got frustrated by the planting season starting so late! We wanted to get to planting ASAP, even before local folks sold any plants. Colorado’s climate was holding us hostage; early frosts, a bane of humanity’s agricultural existence. C would constantly hear about the Walipini earth greenhouses in Bolivia, talk of the potential greenhouse produce, and even put up with a visit to a local infuser for 55 gallon drums for water/heat storage. Inevitably, a greenhouse. Pure and not so simple.

At first, the early idea was centered around plastic film. Reused, rescued, salvaged- from many a construction site, dumpsters filled with translucent gold. Quickly, the sun revealed itself to be a cruel mistress. Once the tough plastic spent a season in this altitude, the stacked sheets eroded to barely-there sheets of noodles. Live and learn.

Meanwhile, all lengthy dumpster bound boards from my construction sites became columns, fusing with the existing fence posts and newly cemented small footers. First the bones grew vertical through early spring, sharing Corona filled days with my best friend. A shortage of material and a warm sun put a pause on the project, but thankfully allowed for frost-free growth of veggies galore. One roofless summer producing more squash and zucchini than any human wants to consume, deer topped tomatoes, and the rebirth of what was once thought very dead roses. Determined, we would keep the deer out next year.

Winter hit again, and with the loss of more tomatoes than last year’s Italian harvest, a now squishy garden smelled of inspiration. Horizontal wood began to span the perimeter as a roofline was formed. Center columns were connected to the perimeter. Additional rafters were added. UV protected corrugated plastic roofing was ordered (The ONLY purchase of the entire build). Halfway through spring and we were finally making progress again, the dream felt alive.

A long 13 weeks of waiting, and the sheets slid off a very long trailer. Excited, it took but a few days, a rusty pair of scissors, and a loud grinder to clad the form of the structure. We installed the roof on the rafters, and scared/scarred my wife with my confidence to walk on a structure I built from mostly trash. God bless her, she likes to make sure I don’t kill myself.

NOTE: In remembrance of our fallen brothers. RIP 3 cucumber, 2 tomato, 1 corn plants. (If you plan on building over a garden during growing season, be prepared for a bit of loss)

Alas, what felt like progress was slowed SO CLOSE to the end by my own procrastination. I neglected to build and install the door. Frosts don’t come that soon I thought. I should have read the farmer’s almanac. We left for 2 weeks, and despite my efforts, the frost crept in… through an open door. Soggy and rotting tomatoes and exotic Japanese eggplants left on the stem.

Despite the blow to morale, I found myself with a bit of time and extra 2x4’s, and finished the dutch door, cladded it, and installed the remaining metal panels. Instantly all of the work felt worth it. I loved how warm the space was despite the biting wind outside. It has now become my winter workshop.  Now, just ready for Spring to bring in that glittering sun!


Construction and Design by Olaf Jean

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