THE BIG LIFESTYLE CHANGE for the Hobbit and I when we go to live (next year) on Fernlea is to grow all our food. Bearing in mind I have never grown anything I have ever eaten this is going to be an interesting adventure. Fortunately for me the Hobbit had a business growing vegetables using hydroponics, so he has a few clues and fingers crossed we won’t starve.
In preparation for our move, we thought best we build a greenhouse…except…
The Hobbit’s idea of a greenhouse was not quite the same as mine, as you can see below.
And then of cause money comes into play, so what we want and what we can afford creates yet another tension. The Hobbit shared our plan to build a greenhouse with his mate at work, Alan, who happens to tell him that he knows of a greenhouse that is rotting in a field near his house. Plus, Alan tells the Hobbit the owners will sell the greenhouse as is for $100, bonus.
And that was that!
This sad looking greenhouse has found its way to Fernlea. Now somehow it has to go from the ugly duckling to a gorgeous, romantic Pink greenhouse.
First thing was to get a water tank. We are off grid and so will need to collect water for the plants. Then the area was leveled and posts driven in to the ground to put the greenhouse on. Morrie our neighbour owns the tractor and machine to drive the posts and he is just fantastic at helping out.
The area around the greenhouse we want to develop and we are inspired by the Italian piazza idea. A piazza, as I understand, is an open space for community gatherings, a place in a town where several roads meet. We dreamed the greenhouse and immediate surrounds would be our ‘piazza’ at Fernlea, where we can meet, have coffee and a meal and chat. Our piazza will obviously have a local kiwi twist to it. The box-like building you see in the pictures will be made heaps prettier and will be used to store food, crockery and cutlery needed for the outdoor piazza area. By the way, the box-like building was bought off Trademe (New Zealand’s equivalent to Ebay) and deserves a blog of its own to tell it’s story!
It was a challenge for the Hobbit to concede to paint the greenhouse pink, but eventually he did and consequently he has had to brave some interesting comments from neighbours and visitors who have popped in to see progress. I really haven’t the heart to tell him that painting it pink is just the first step in making the the greenhouse pretty!
The floor of greenhouse will be gravel, but the surrounding area we will have exposed aggregate concrete which is polished. We have looked at the products from Atlas Concrete, the sample shown above on left is called Longburn pepple, which we like. Once laid we will get the concrete polished so it looks similar to photo on the right. I am hoping it will be easy to maintain and not show every mark. Given Fernlea is in the country our visitors often come over with their dogs and muddy boots, our meeting place needs to be relaxed and very serviceable.
Because we want to use our piazza area all year round, we need to accommodate all types of weather from; cold, to hot, to rain, and gusty winds. So we need to build a roof, a wall to shelter us from the prevailing westerlies and at some stage an outdoor fire. We were hoping to get shutters but while beautiful they are very expensive, so a good alternative to the shutters are what is called cafe curtains.
There is an awesome business in Kaiwaka, Canvas Plus ,which produces cafe curtains, see example in photo to the left. I have already spoken with James Stewart, owner of Canvas Plus, and have a good idea of the specs required for the ‘curtains’ so we can plan to have them installed when we are ready.
And finally, the kiwi twist for our piazza is a mural on the wind protection wall, which is about 2.4m high and 4m long. Rather than just a blank wall we thought what if the wall was painted with New Zealand plants such as Kowhai and Pohutukawa.
We commissioned Jonny 4Higher , a local graffiti artist, to create a mural which is certainly going to give us great joy when we are drinking our coffee with the sun on our backs. We hope it will also be enjoyed by the visitors to Fernlea.
The pink greenhouse and piazza area is far from finished and I will keep blogging updates.
If you have any thoughts, questions or words of encouragement on progress so far for; either me, or the Hobbit, just leave a comment and we will get back to you 🙂