Feeling bubbly

I always thought that bubble wrap was for protecting precious cargo or more importantly, for obsessive bubble popping sessions but it turns out that it is also an excellent insulator for glass houses – if you can get it to stick to the glass, that is.  In an effort to conserve heat this winter, we have decided expend some energy now in putting bubble wrap up in at least one of the greenhouses.

Fred and Dan began this project last week with a thorough greenhouse cleaning – they washed the glass (the “dirt” you see on the glass is left over shading painted on the outside.  It will be etched off by frost.) and they even scrubbed and polished all of the aluminum and fixtures.  This place hasn’t gleamed so prettily since restoration was completed in October of 2005.  On Tuesday they and I started to install the bubble wrap by spraying it with wishes along with a water and glycerin solution and patting it in smallish sheets directly onto the windows.  It is supposed to stick with watery surface tension alone and the glycerin (plus wishes) is a little extra stickum insurance.  The first few sheets went up pretty easily but as the day wore on there was nothing we could do to keep the sheets from falling back down onto our heads.  Curses!  By Wednesday, most of what we installed had fallen down.  Foiled again! 

This kind of thing brings out the obsessive in me and rather than taking out my frustration by having a good bubble popping session, I tried again.  Turns out that first thing on a dewy morning is the ideal window of opportunity (pun intended) because so far most of those sheets have stayed attached.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow morning is dewy enough to finish the job and that all of those pieces stay put and my good humor remains intact.  If necessary, we are armed with an alternative adhesive arsenal – 3M 76 spray.  I’d rather not use that because I can’t hold my breath very long and it sticks so well we might need chisels to get the plastic back off again in the spring.  Do you or does anyone you know insulate a greenhouse with bubble wrap?  Do you have any advice?

So far, the bubble wrap, some advice and the 3M spray has all been generously donated by Stephen Wacha of Heritage Greenhouse Builders, Inc. – the contractor who, the summer of 2005 so beautifully restored/rebuilt Blithewold’s original Lord & Burnham greenhouses.  Stephen has been back all this week to install manually operated side vents in the house we’ve been wrapping.  No doubt, our efforts have been providing him with excellent entertainment…

Gail usually sets a date to start moving into the greenhouse right about now and thankfully there are still no frost warnings in the extended forecast.  It’s much easier for all of us to do what we need to do in there without having to stand on plants!

Meanwhile in the gardens, I think the praying mantises have been gearing up to feel bubbly too.  We’ve noticed several with enlarged abdomens – either they’re eating very well, or they’re getting ready to lay their egg cases.  – Perhaps both!  Anyone know for sure?

2 thoughts on “Feeling bubbly

  1. Any idea how much fuel will be saved with this better insulation? Also, does it cut the light levels in the house? Lots of work and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it all stays put. Your shoulders must be tired.

    Layanee, I think it’s supposed to be equivalent to redoing house windows with insulated glass. But since a quarter to a third of the sheets fell down over the weekend, I’m not sure we’ll ever get a good idea of how much energy is saved! (My energy for the project is just about spent!) -kris

  2. Yikes…this sounds an awfully tough way to save $$$ and energy. Nothing ventured etc. , I guess. How about using that florist goop, green chewing gum stuff? At least worth a try on q few panes/

    ginny

    Ginny, I’m not really familiar with that particular goop – I wonder how it would hold up to temperature fluctuations and blazing sun? Anyway, Fred is determined to try the heavy duty stickum so we’ll see how that goes! -kris

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