This homemade bamboo greenhouse really piqued my interest:
I’m sorry I don’t have a photo from further back. The farmer and his children were standing next to the structure and I’m trying to respect their lives by not including them on the Internet. A lot of people here are not connected to the World Wide Web and even view people with cameras as somewhat suspicious. I’m sure the various waves of tourists have been less than respectful in the past. I try not to be “that guy”.
How Was This Bamboo Greenhouse Made?
This entire structure is made from just three things: bamboo, palm fronds, and some purchased greenhouse plastic.
The bamboo for the roof was split in half and the rounded sides face up towards the plastic. Massive stands of bamboo grow by the rivers here, providing the locals with plenty of free building material. Private property is sometimes a vague concept. To put it simply, if someone is not working the land… you are free to wander it, tether your goats, harvest bamboo, pick fruit, climb the coconut trees and take what you like, or hunt.
I don’t really see this as a bad thing. Though I am a huge advocate of private property, a lot of the land here is sitting around and may be held by some far-off investor. Meanwhile, the jungle grows up and mangoes fall to the ground. We don’t have a problem with people wandering through our property. We live here, we tend to the cocoa, we plant corn, and we have made friends with our neighbors.
Back to the bamboo greenhouse. The joints are not tied with coconut palm fronds; rather, they are from some sort of a local palm of which I cannot pronounce the name.
The farmer assured me that they last for years, as does the bamboo since it’s under cover.
The high labor part of building this greenhouse was dragging all the bamboo stems up the hill and then splitting them.
As you probably saw, my own bamboo splitting skills are less than impressive:
Fortunately, this local farmer knows what he’s doing. And amazingly, he still has all his fingers.
So, why in the world would you want a greenhouse in the tropics?
As you notice, it has no sides. It never gets cold here. The problem is, the pounding monsoon rains will wreak havoc on flats of seedlings. This greenhouse gives them protection while still allowing the sunlight in.
Since the weeds grow very quickly here, I noticed many people start seedlings first, then clear the ground, then plant the seedlings when they are tall enough to have a head start.
I’ll bet this entire greenhouse cost about $20. Considering the amount of seedlings the farmer is able to start in it, it probably paid for itself in the first couple of weeks.
I asked how long it took to build and I believe he told me a couple of days. Not bad. Better than spending a grand on a prefabricated plastic structure!
When we had pounding rains for an entire month, I set up something similar out of desperation in order to save my remaining seedlings. I’m still using it, three years later. I didn’t use bamboo, we don’t have any. But I did use some free hog wire frames, plastic sheeting and PVC. I used what was on hand and built a 5 x 10 greenhouse for almost free.
I think your post is fascinating because it shows me that gardeners all over the world run into the exact same problems and make do with whatever’s on hand to solve those problems. Heck yeah, if I had loads of free bamboo handy I’d be using it!
That is really cool. Yes, we find solutions! Sometimes they aren’t pretty (at least in my case), but the food gets grown. Thank you for sharing.
Glad you answered the question i had from the git go, Why would you need a Greenhouse in the tropics? You live and learn, I start my seedling pretty much the same way, but under can aluminum carport, they get sun in the morning till about 11, then in the late afternoon and early evening. I never thought of the rain protection we need that in Florida too.
I have to ask. Do you have a older brother named John?
I loss touch with my friends that grew up in G’ville and moved to Tenn. They are two brothers John and David Goodman and I loss track of them when they moved to Tenn. in the early 90s. As I have watched your channel over the last few years and started putting the details of your life together it seemed like you could possibly be the younger brother. I know this is weird but with the same name and same residences I thought that it is possible that you could be the David Goodman I grew up with in NW G’ville in the 1980-90s? Grew up with Jonny Howard and Jay Weidner?
Anyhow, keep it up it is great. Love your channel. I am using most of the techniques I learn from you in my S. Louisiana garden.
Shucks, wish I could help but no. I’m a firstborn, myself.
I go by “David The Good” now since “David Goodman” is a “John Smith” type of name. Way common.
I appreciate the encouragement, too – thank you, Scott.
If I put the bamboo in the ground to hold it ..will it rot …I’m making a loop sorta like thing..
Yes, it will rot in the ground. Better to keep it from direct contact with the soil if you can.
You can also put some type of coating on base of bamboo, like you do wood. Something to check into that won’t harm your soil. Have lots of bamboo around me, just not the real thick kind. Love any ideas on what to use it for.
$20 ? Does greenhouse plastic sell so low where you are? In US i cant find that much for less than $150.