Pig For Victory No14: Make do and Mend - DIY Greenhouse Staging

Make do and Mend Greenhouse Staging, Life on Pig Row

At Pig Row we have been looking at putting staging in the glasshouse for some time. Staging will give us more space, more flexible space to grow in the glasshouse and start off plants before we build the two coldframes we need (more of that later on when we have collected enough bricks). As you all know, we work on a tight budget here but we also work under the make do and mend principal from our Wartime Garden. We wanted to see how much buying an off the peg garden staging would cost us, close to like for like in wood as we could get it for our needs, the prices varied from £500 to a whopping £1200. The following staging was built from wood which came from donations, searching on Freecycle and the time honoured hobby of skip diving. What we have built up may owe more to Heath Robinson but it cost us virtually nothing.

Planning your staging beforehand will save you a job.

It started with a simple plan built to Andrew's measurements. The idea is for Andrew to be able to work in the glasshouse without stooping over, most staging is a little low for Andrew who is 6' 4", and means even the simple task of pricking out can become a problem with his back. He finds it easier to stand rather than sit down, as he can walk around when his spine spasms, and what we have built has been built for Andrew's condition; there is simply nothing that is off the peg that will do that. We all find that whatever we buy is not always suited to our dimensions and what we have built could be built by anyone who can use a saw. The staging is 120cm high, 366cm long and 92cm wide, they were also built in  three sections of 122cm. There will be two sets of them on either side of the glasshouse.

You shouldn't be afraid to make your own garden staging.

Four sets of legs had to be constructed, the base width bar (92cm) is set 40cm from the bottom of the feet and the top bar is set lower to accommodate the rail that will join the legs together and allow the slats of the staging to sit on. These legs will also have a diagonal bar added later to keep the staging square.

Take your time to get you staging right.

The above photo shows how the first section is screwed together, we have not added the diagonal bars at this stage and we advise you do this at the end before adding the slats. The four length rails (122cm) joining the legs sit on top of the width rails (92cm). The length rails are screwed onto the substantial legs, these are 120cm x 76cm x 50cm (3" x 2"), when joining the length rails to the middle legs you should leave room to screw on the next rail. It's advised you mark the 38cm (1 1/2") mid point on the legs where the length rails are to be screwed. You can see from the photo above that we have left space for the next length rail to be attached. Keep building up the sections until you have completed the carcass of the staging.

How to build greenhouse staging.

It is at this point that you add the diagonal bars running from top left to bottom right. You will need a spirit level for this to make sure the carcass is straight. Place the spirit level on the vertical of the leg, it won't be straight but don't worry. Screw the top left part of the diagonal bar in and then pull away towards the back of the staging until the spirit level shows that the carcass is level and screw the bottom right screw in. You may need a hand here. You can see the diagonal bars in the bottom photo.

Greenhouse staging for virtually nothing.

You then need to cut your slats, ours are 92cm long and are not screwed to the carcass. There are several reasons for this, it creates flexibility to take out slats and grow through from the bottom tier. The slats are recycled decking.

Completed staging with diagonal bars.

We'll stain the decking later in the year to protect the wood. The downside of building with recycled wood is that it does take time to collect all the wood together. The wood here took six months to collect from numerous sources but all it cost us were some screws at £2.78 and our time. That's a massive difference from £1200 and is built to accommodate a disabled grower. UPDATE: See how the staging is going five years after we built it.

Some of the Wartime Garden links:

Wartime Garden: Harvest Festival

Digging for Victory: The Guardian Blog