This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
August and September are often taken as the time to repair plant houses and build new ones. A few hints in connection may not be out of the way. Summer heat shrinks wood, and very often loosens glass, and makes leaks, through which water drips in fall and winter most annoy-ingly. This is worse when there is putty. This is used now only to lay the glass in. The glass is pressed down on it, tacked down by brads, and only painted on the outside. The laps of the glass should be as narrow as possible and white - not dark - paint used. Never use dark paint or dark material about the house if possible, and most positively avoid tar.
Water tanks, collecting rain from the roof, can often be introduced to advantage. Where the earth is solid no stone or brick need be used. Put on a thin coat of mortar, say a quarter of an inch, and on this a coat of cement about as thick as a sheet of brown paper. The thinner the cement coat the more chance of its being waterproof. We have known one barrel do for one thousand square feet of surface, and be as imperious to water as glass. For large ranges of glass there is nothing that equals hot-water pipes for heating. For small greenhouses well-constructed flues answer. Flues should be near the ground but never touch it. If there are cracks in flues, permitting the passage of smoke and gas, it is no use to plaster over it. Work out the whole mortar near the crack - that is, make the hole larger - and fill in with new mortar. Never paint or whitewash flues. A flue of any length, even on a dead level, can be made to draw by building a fire at the end of it. By this we rarify the air, making it lighter, and the heavier air rushes in at the furnace end to take its place. A close reflection on this fact will always enable one to build a flue that will, to a dead certainty, draw well. There is no excuse whatever for a badlv drawing flue.
In small bay windows, fitted up for plants, close curtains may be drawn across to cut off the atmosphere of the room; and if double glass be used for the windows, or the window itself be in a sheltered place, a good oil lamp or two will generally suffice to keep out frost.