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Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

Bottles for Veg

At our school we have decided to build a greenhouse using 2litre plastic bottles that we have brought into school ourselves. As well as helping the school (We won’t have to buy so many vegetables for the kitchen, and it encourages us to eat healthily) it will also help the environment by: 

  • Recycling 1500 plastic 2litre bottles
  • Saving fuel – not so many veg delivery vans coming.

 Collecting Bottles

First, we had to collect the bottles. Everybody in the school was involved in collecting the bottles – starting in July 2010. When we brought them into school, Bridget, our caretaker, cut the bottoms off for us and then stored them under the hall. It was quite challenging but we got there in the end. Although we had a time limit (The date for building the greenhouse had been set for March 11th 2011) we managed it on time. It was brilliant for the environment because we were recycling so many plastic bottles.

 Getting the Timber

We needed quite a lot of wood to build the frame for the greenhouse. Mr Cluderay ordered it from a local builder’s merchant, and they delivered the wood for us – in long pieces. We also needed 150 garden canes, each six feet long. Mrs Bain’s father collected these for us from his field at the back of his house.

 The Corner Posts

On the weekend before Greenhouse Day, Mr Zipfel concreted four post into the ground for us. These were for the corners of the greenhouse

 Greenhouse Day

The first thing we needed to do was measure and saw the long pieces of wood which would be screwed together to make frames for the sides and roof. The bottles were then put onto pieces of bamboo and fixed with fence staples to the frame, side by side. Then the frames were fixed to the four corner posts. Some of these tasks were very difficult and we were very grateful to have the help of three parents: Derek Nixon (who was our Works Manager) Leo Crossling and Gordon Scott. They all contributed to the building of the greenhouse, and hopefully they enjoyed it! We definitely did!

Everyone in the school, including the staff, will now look forward to growing veg and fruit in the greenhouse.

Evaluation of the Greenhouse

 When we finished the greenhouse, we asked architect Tim Bailey of Xsite Architecture, what he thought of the greenhouse. Here is his professional opinion:

It looks fantastic. It is automatically attractive because you can see from a distance that is ‘put together’ with unusual materials and curiosity makes you want to investigate more. And then you discover it is a simple frame with a simple idea for cladding – recycled plastic bottles. Brilliant.

 So we know it looks good and it appeals because of the recycling agenda, but does it work? I think I can spot a few things that may prove to be a problem; equally there may be a solution to them all. You tell me.

 Firstly, I wonder whether the gaps in the roof mean that too much rain water can get in the greenhouse? In one respect this doesn’t matter; in another, that water will have a cooling effect and that may affect the growth pattern.

 Secondly, all the gaps in the wall and roof mean that a lot of air can flow through the greenhouse and I wonder if this has the same cooling effect?

 Thirdly, do the same gaps let animals, insects and other things in that might eat the produce?

 Perhaps you need to measure the temperature inside and outside the green house on the hottest days to see whether they are significantly higher inside. Perhaps there is another layer which could be added to help keep draughts out?

 How can you protect the vegetables from any bugs or rodents that might otherwise eat the food?

 I hope these thoughts are useful, please tell me if none of these problems exist, I’d love to build one myself.

 We will be monitoring these things over the growing season and if they do cause a problem, we will investigate solutions to them. But in the meantime, it’s time to get growing!

 The Story in Pictures.

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