15 June 2016

Notre idée : une serre adossée

All these days of lousy weather are making us think very seriously about having a real greenhouse put in. The experience with the fairly flimsy-seeming greenhouse tent we bought and set up a month or two ago has been encouraging.

What would work best for us would be what's called une serre adossée — one that you attach to the side of a building. A lean-to greenhouse, in other words. The one above is nice except that it's a little too industrial-looking, I think

The one above has more pleasing lines. It comes in several sizes and colors.
I like the green, but the silver one below isn't bad either.

It's an aluminum structure fitted with safety glass, and the best size
for our purposes would be 6 feet by 12, or about 7 m².

I think this one is the same as the two above but smaller (maybe 5 m²).

This is another one that looks functional but not very attractive.

This one is definitely a candidate too. It might be too big, though.

We probably should have had a greenhouse put in years ago. Better late than never. I found all these using Google Images.


  1. I think this would be great to grow tomatoes early and late in the season. How would it work for eggplants and zucchini? I guess any kind of bean could be trained around. Be sure not to take too small a model. Also depending on where you're going to put it.

    1. The lean-to greenhouse would be up against our house and cover the existing back doorway. That way it would be easy to access even in bad weather and it would also help insulate the utility room, where the door is not at all airtight. So it would serve as a kind of sas and a greenhouse at the same time.

  2. Ha ha, a reader survey? Then I would go for nr. 3: the lines are "softer" and the color of the material creates not too much contrast with the color of your house. And for sure: in a short while it will be (or feel) "too small". Good luck with your decision and keep us informed :-)!

    1. We do have size constraints, if we really want a lean-to configuration. We are leaning to(ward) the green color. I have made a couple of calls to find somebody to lay down a base and then set the thing up. I should have posted a link: Plantes et jardins.com

  3. Go for it.

    I was amused at lunch on the weekend with a couple of friends from Romo. She is disabled and when he turned to her and explained something her response was 'Oui, je sais, je suis pas completement serrée...' I know it wasn't an odd thing to say, but my brain always makes the connection with greenhouses.

    1. I'm afraid I don't know the term serré in that sense. I can't find it in any dictionary either. Are you sure that was the word you heard?

    2. Could it be that the lady said: "Je ne suis pas completement 'cirée'? Which is Belgian slang for 'daft', 'gaga' ... Martine

    3. I took it to mean that she wasn't that 'closed in' ie restricted/isolated. Larousse says serré can be used to mean 'enfermer qqc' (literary). I've heard the expression before, from someone else too and understood it to mean being closed in.

      However, having said all that I have no doubt that if you have never heard it then I misheard what she said, as usual (gnashing my teeth and sighing simultaneously with the frustration of this learning the language thing...)

    4. Martine probably has it right. I kept trying to think what word with that meaning might sound kind of like serré. CHM, any thoughts? There is a well-known Julien Clerc song from decades ago called "Dans mon cirage" meaning "In my daze" or state of confusion.

    5. Don't worry Susan, you're making tremendous progress. I, for one, know all about learning a foreign language and all the frustration that it implies. There is a good website, CNRTL, that I consult often for meaning, etymology and so on. Here is what is says about the different meanings of serre.

    6. One of the standard French "groaner" puns is, when you are at the table, to say to another person: "Sers-moi..." (serve me) whatever food you're having. And then to add: "Mais pas trop fort !", playing on the identical pronunciation of "sers" and "serre". And meaning "don't squeeze me too hard".

    7. CIRÉ It all depends on what kind of language this lady uses. Cirer, in the sense Martine is suggesting is slangish. Could not find this meaning in CNRTL or anywhere else. Is it related to dans le cirage? But then the meaning is different. It also depends on the age of the person who alledgedly used ciré.It probably won't be in the regular vocabulary of an older person. It seems to me its usage is somewhat recent, still considered vulgar and should be avoided in good company.

    8. The way I understand ciré, it means drugged or drunk.

    9. Alain Rey et Jacques Cellard in their Dictionnaire du français non-conventionnel don't list ciré but they do write about cirage and dans le cirage :

      [1] Ennui, difficulté, situation de grande gêne ou d'embarras personnel. N'est usité que dans la construction : être dans le cirage.

      Exemple : J.-P. SARTRE — Quand on a une culture politique et l'habitude des coups durs, c'est facile de mépriser les pauvres gars qui sont dans le cirage.

      [2] État d'évanouissement, d'inconscience, d'hébétude.

      Exemple : Ch. ROCHEFORT — Qu'est-ce que que je peux faire d'autre ? Vraiment qu'est-ce que je pouvais faire d'autre ? Je ne sais pas, moi, c'est vrai, de quoi il s'agit ! J'en suis en plein cirage, je n'y comprends rien.

      Hist. — Vers 1930. Métaphore portant à la fois sur le (cirage) noir et sur sa consistance molle. Très usuel aussi bien au sens [1], figuré, qui paraît premier, qu'au sens [2], qui en dérive. La "noirceur" est celle de la perte de conscience.

      Le sens de « ciré » aurait-il évolué ?

    10. La façon dont je comprends ciré, c'est le [2]. Si on est drogué ou ivre, on peut se trouver en état d'hébétude ou d'inconscience. Je ne connais pas d'autre acception.

    11. Well I suppose, looking on the bright side, I should now have a comprehensive idea of what serre means. I do find it frustrating that having found a nice evocative phrase that made perfect sense in my brain it turns out not to exist (this is not the first time it's happened to me). Part of my problem is that I need to see words written down to be sure of them. Hearing them or having someone spell them verbally often doesn't help much.

    12. Such are the joys of learning a second language as an adult.

  4. As a non gardener I should keep out of it.....but I've heard that one should buy as big and sturdy as you can afford and fit in it's chosen position.

    1. I'm sure you are right but we do have size constraints because we want it to be up against the house rather than free-standing.

  5. Both Pauline and I would say the same as Susan...go for it
    greenhouses are wonderful... and extend the growing season at both ends!!
    chm asks about aubergines... those, peppers and chillies are excellent...
    but courgettes... NEVER... especially the size you are lookin at..
    we did it... ONCE...never to be repeated...
    the plants...two of them...took over.
    They became triffids!!
    We ended up removing them before they had finished....
    because they were killing the other plants by swamping them!
    They were in pots, but didn't like going outside, they hadn't been hardened off...
    But, we used to get wonderful crops of basil to go with the tomatoes...home-grown lemon grass...
    thai basil... turmeric...fresh turmeric is wonderful...
    anything...except things that might go rampant!!

    A few tips, though, based on our experience.
    chm is right in saying don't choose one too small...
    too big is fine, err on that side...it will fill up, I can assure you!
    We inherited a 6ft wide greenhouse on our allotment....
    it was way too narrow, surprisingly...
    with tomatoes on both sides...each taking up more than 2ft of space....
    we were constantly squeezing our way from one end to the other.
    However, we had an eight foot base on one of the other plots...
    I built a custom-made polytunnel on that base.....
    that extra two foot made all the difference....
    ESPECIALLY when watering and planting.

    Height is also important...best is slightly above head height at the lowest point.
    Door width is also vital... trying to get things through that 2ft door...
    actually only about 20" by the time the inner frame is taken into the picture..is tricky.
    A full tray of plants and your arms is actually slightly wider...
    so it is elbow in and round the door frame so that you can get the rest in...
    you get used to it, tho'...you have to.
    The best doorway is on greenhouse No1... you can get a wheelbarrow in!!

    I love the curved glass ones...as you say, they are far more attractive...but...
    and it is a BIG BUT...that curved glass is absolutely wallet emptying to replace!!
    A fellow allotmenteer had one.... and regretted it!
    We used to get lots of vandalism....
    and a stone will break the curved glass more readily than the flat...
    around here it is the Gods that do the stone throwing in the form of hail.
    Our colleague replaced his with clear plexiglass...screwed to the aluminium frame.
    But, more recently, many of those are coming with a glass-clear plastic panel for that bit...

    Most of your pix are showing the greenhouse in full sun...
    that is fine...except for one thing...temperature.
    Even in the North of England, a greenhouse that gets sunlight for most of the day...
    needs a lime wash on the roof glass...and that needs to be done at least twice in a growing season.
    And it is messy!!
    As you are going for a wall mounted one, you do have the ability to mount a "toile d'ombrage" above it.
    Less messy, but just as important.

    Along with shading, ventilation is of equal importance...
    stuffiness and therefore excess humidity...helps fungal disease spread...
    all of those greenhouses have roof vents...at the highest point...often difficult to get to.
    The best bet is to use a Bayliss automatic vent opener....our allotment inheritance had one...
    we fitted a second... they operate on temperature...a black-painted piston pushes the window open...
    they are worth their weight in gold.
    We also replaced the bottom door pane... and the one the other end...with insect netting...again vital ventilation.
    A square of varnished plywood covered those in winter to keep the warmth in.

    But, whatever you choose, it will be worth it...
    and choose a size that takes a couple of folding chairs...
    fresh bread, rosé wine, some cheese or paté...
    and just-picked cherry tomatoes that are still sunwarmed...
    just cannot be beaten as a greenhouse lunchbreak!!
    Go for it!!

    1. We have a terrace, so the greenhouse won't be a conservatory or veranda in any sense. And we don't plan to keep many plants in there except in the spring when we are starting new seedlings. Maybe some herbs for spring, summer, and fall, but not tomatoes or peppers or aubergines. Those take too much room. See my comment below about ventilation.

    2. The door on the Silverline model we are looking at pretty narrow, but we'll have to deal with that. Again, we don't have a lot of space to work with, especially in profondeur. Structure can't go more than 6 feet from exterior wall of the house, unless we want to have major work done. And we don't.

  6. Serrer is to tighten or squeeze, but in this case it could be somebody who wasn't close enough to the table or who feels like they're sliding out of their chair.
    We have a sas and it's great for insulating the entry and door, but it's on the north side of the house so it doesn't get the sun. I don't know whether it would be a furnace for you in the summer. Here it definitely would. We briefly entertained thoughts about a veranda on the east side but it would be intolerable all summer and fall.

    1. We would put the lean-to greenhouse over our back door, which actually isn't far from our front door. On hot days, we could open all the doors, as well as the greenhouse skylights, and I think we'd get good air flow through the whole place. It will be on the west side of our house if we go with the current plan, and that means it would be in full afternoon sun. When we het a little sun (as we are getting today...). The east side, though -- why would that be so hot? The morning sun, and afternoon shade, sounds good. It's like our east-facing terrace.

    2. We're near Carcassonne--lots lots lots of sun.

    3. Bit late coming back to this... some dry has meant garden takes priority!
      If you are putting it over you back door, most certainly grow a range of herbs in there all year round.
      It will be in the worst position for summer heat...but you'd be able to to grow fresh ginger, lemon grass, different varieties of basil, turmeric and don't discount a couple of cherry tomatoes early on...you can always throw them out if they get too gross...by the time you need to do that, the outdoor ones will be producing.
      And in winter, you can have nice fresh herbs in pots to save getting them from the actual garden in the rain.
      Also, in winter, the greenhouse will become part of the heating system for the house...
      it can raise the internal temperature of a house by one or two degrees on a bright day... more on a sunny day... and consequently, your heating system won't be working as hard and will save you money.

    4. We are hoping that the greenhouse used partly as an "airlock" or sas will make our utility room warmer. The door down there is not at all airtight. Rather than spend a thousand euros getting a new door put in, we'll spend the money on the greenhouse. We have a man coming to talk to us about putting the thing together, installing a base for it, and setting it all up.

    5. I suggest you place the greenhouse in such a way the utility room door is in one corner and next to the greenhouse door. That way, it will be easier to go in and out and you'll have more room for plants; also they won't be disturbed by drafts and the like.

    6. We shall see what the paysagiste has to say about all this when he comes over to advise us next week.

  7. je ramasse les copies dans 3h !!
    Sujets de la série L Littéraire:
    Sujet 1 - Nos convictions morales sont-elles fondées sur l’expérience ?
    Sujet 2 - Le désir est-il par nature illimité ?
    Sujet 3 - explication de texte : Hannah ARENDT, « Vérité et politique », 1964.

    Sujet de la série ES Economique :
    Sujet 1 - Savons-nous toujours ce que nous désirons ?
    Sujet 2 - Pourquoi avons-nous intérêt à étudier l’histoire ?
    Sujet 3 - Explication de texte : René DESCARTES, Principes de la philosophie (1644)

    Sujet de la série S Scientifique:
    Sujet 1 - Travailler moins, est-ce vivre mieux ?
    Sujet 2 - Faut-il démontrer pour savoir ?
    Sujet 3 - Explication de texte : MACHIAVEL, Le Prince (1532).

    » Découvrez les sujets des filières générales ici.

    Sujet du Bac Technologique:
    Sujet 1 - Pour être juste, suffit-il d’obéir aux lois ?
    Sujet 2 - Pouvons-nous toujours justifier nos croyances ?
    Sujet 3 - Explication de texte : MERLEAU-PONTY, Causeries (1948)

    1. Merci Jean. Arendt, Descartes, Machiavel, Merleau-Ponty -- ouf !

      Travailler moins, est-ce que c'est vivre mieux ? Oui. Surtout quand on a déjà travaillé beaucoup.

  8. While you didn't ask, I like the one in the second photo.

  9. I love the first dark green one with the curved lines. Less like a big glass box on the side of the house.
    I imagine winter mornings when you can go out and putter around with the plants, regardless of temperatures and rain.
    I have a huge screened "lanai"/porch attached to my home .. I would love it if it was all glass ..

    1. You are lucky to have that nice lanai, especially in that Florida climate.

    2. Yes, it looks out onto lawns then a pine forest with great big turtles and small foxes coming out now and then to check us out. Not to mention the birds .. oh my. I am working very diligently on being a little old lady bird watcher.
      Right now I am just a woman that likes the idea of egrets in the yard and bright green lizards on my screens.

  10. Any greenhouse is better than none!
    You wouldn't regret it I'm sure. In the UK we had one with automatic opening windows which were very useful for the days when it was too cool to open them before we left the house but then the sun came out before we got back. It saved our plants from being frazzled many times and they were quite inexpensive low tech expansion mechanism jobs that simply lifted the windows up to open them.

    1. Well, we've talked about the windows that open automatically according to temperature. The fact is, we don't need that, because we just live here and don't go out to work every day. It takes getting used to, this thing about working vs. retired.

    2. My husband had a year of adjustment to the Not Working thing. He drove me crazy at first then we went on a trip. He planned it and he did all the work and I went along and had fun without the fuss of planning etc.
      Only thing is, one of those trips was to Argentina and well, we all know what became of that !
      (we moved there 6 months later).

    3. The transition from a lifetime of working for a living to the slow pace of retirement is not an easy one. It took Walt and me 5 or 6 years to slow down. But we got a lot done over the course of those first years.

  11. Replies
    1. Thanks for the vote. I'm not sure if this is the primary or the general election. Shall I ask the Donald?

    2. Don't ask Donald anything... I keep hoping if he is ignored he will go away.

  12. I'm late to this conversation, but I agree with the commenters above, that the green mullioned structure in photo #2 is the most attractive.


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