Sunday, March 13, 2011

Life Palletized

About four months ago I decided to build a greenhouse. First I contemplated buying a greenhouse kit; then I thought maybe I'd just build hot boxes or a build a lean-to against the south wall of my home; and I even contemplated putting skylights in an existing shed. But eventually I settled on using 4x4s from recycled pallet wood that my work typically throws away.

An unnamed local master gardener (hereafter referred to as “the unhelpful gardener”) cautioned me against using untreated wood to build a greenhouse—a mistake he’d made in the past and said that if I followed suit that it was likely that I’d get only 5-7 years out of my greenhouse. I partly decided to take the advice of the unhelpful gardener (turns out he’s not entirely unhelpful) and treat the wood myself. So I made a brew of Borax and propylene glycol to dip the ends of my wood in and saturate my fastener points and holes (I also plan on going over the whole structure before I put on the sheathing and clear panels—thanks unhelpful gardener!).

I've also been able to utilize my my Christmas present: Mister McGillicutty (aka sliding compound miter saw):

Back to the greenhouse: not surprisingly, the weekend I set the uprights in concrete was the day the snow began to fall (I even built a fire to keep the concrete warm). This ongoing project has helped me to see that I am a habitual deadliner—I do my best work when I’m under the gun. I even prefer to put off some things until I'm in the pinch. I like to think of it as the life equivalent of “cramming.” It’s my way actively working against Parkinson’s Law (work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion): give yourself too much time, you take too much time to do the job.

I would classify myself as an "idea" type of guy: I get an idea, I get excited, I work on said idea for a time, I get bored, and I move on the next, unrelated, idea. Fortunately gardening, learning about horticulture, and the related has been something that I’ve never tired of and always come back to…not sure parents didn’t garden much (my dad worked a lot and was away from home most of the time and my mom wasn’t really interested); however, my grandfathers on both sides were dairy and alfalfa farmers and most of my teenage work years were spent on the farm.

Again, back to the greenhouse: I am on my second, and I believe last, load of pallet wood; I’ve busted up a little more than 30 (4’x8’-16’) pallets with a sledge hammer to get the primary 4”x4”s.

I intended to spend as little money on this project as possible: I’ve currently spent about $170 so far (listed in order of expensiveness: excavation work ($75), concrete ($50), plastic ($20), DIY wood treatment ($15), and nails ($8). The next phase of the project is where the real expenses will come in: sheathing ($100), clear paneling ($200), roofing ($100), electrical ($75), and more nails ($20).

Recently I've watched some business training videos and have been thinking a lot about what I’m good at and what I love to do. As I struggle to figure out what direction I want to take in the next decade I am somewhat comforted that I’ll have help along the way: