We were excited when our new Vegepod growing system arrived quickly after placing our order. All the components — growing trays, cover, and stand — were packaged together securely and compactly. The next step was to assemble our Vegepod.
Why We Bought A Vegepod
It may seem strange that we opted to buy a Vegepod when we’re living on almost two acres of rural land. I covered in detail the reasons behind that decision in my previous post, Gardening With A Vegepod – Our Experience, Part One.
The problem, in brief, is that our two acres happen to be surrounded by hundreds of acres of untamed forest and all the creatures — animals, birds, and insects — that dwell there.
Two summers of gardening disappointment had us seeking alternatives. The Vegepod, with its protective cover, seemed a good fit for our circumstances.
Another Advantage Of The Vegepod
Another feature of the Vegepod that appealed to us is the optional stand. We’re not getting any younger, and kneeling, stooping, and bending aren’t getting easier. Traditional gardening may be good exercise, but it can also be downright painful!
The Vegepod stand raises the growing beds to a comfortable, waist-level height. Sowing, thinning, and harvesting can all be done without strain while standing.
Although the stand is sold as an optional accessory, we considered it a necessity for our Vegepod.
Assembling Our Vegepod
Between various other priorities and uncooperative weather, we had a lag of a few weeks between receiving our Vegepod and getting it assembled. Finally one fine Saturday morning we had both the time and the clear skies we needed. We moved the shipping box from the storage shed to the deck and got busy building our Vegepod.
In addition to the written instructions that come in the box (as well as being available on their website), Vegepod also offers a series of helpful assembly videos. Watt watched a number of these before we got started. I’m not much of a visual learner, though, so I skipped the videos and relied on the written directions while diving into the process.
Finally ready to proceed, we put our Vegepod growing system together in the following order:
- Growing Containers
Assembling The Stand
The Vegepod stand came packed compactly in a long, slender box inside the larger Vegepod shipping container. All the stand components were well-protected with bubble wrap and plastic sleeves. The connecting hardware and an allen key were neatly contained in a small resealable bag.
We first checked the parts in the box against the supply list provided in the instructions. Then we laid everything out for easy access.
Support Platform Center Braces
The central section of the support platform for the growing containers went together first. Once the four separate pieces were aligned on our deck, we joined them together with the provided screws using the included allen key. We used our own pliers wrench for leverage in tightening the screws.
Corner Leg Braces
Next came the corner leg braces. This was the only part of the process that gave us a minor problem. We had inadvertently flipped the assembled central support section while tightening all the screws. This meant we started to attach the leg braces upside down.
We realized our mistake fairly quickly, however, and got everything turned about the right way. Assembly on this section is done upside down, so it can seem a bit baffling at first.
When set up properly, the thread end of the screws should all point down toward the ground. During assembly, however, they will point upwards towards the sky.
The longer, tapering edges of the corner leg braces should also point upwards when being attached. This allows them to provide maximum support for the legs when the Vegepod stand is turned over and set on the ground.
Our takeaway? When the instructions tell you to leave the screws untightened until you verify everything is correctly positioned, take heed! This will save you a bit of time if you discover, as we did, that pieces need to be turned around.
Once the corner braces were securely (and correctly!) attached to the support platform, we were able to add the legs to the stand. The screw holes lined up perfectly, and it was simply a matter of tightening everything together.
After the four legs were in place, we popped the plastic feet into the bottom of the leg posts. The plastic feet provide a finished look while giving the Vegepod stand secure footing that won’t scratch whatever surface you set it on.
Final Cross Braces
The last step in assembling the Vegepod stand was adding two final cross braces. These were set parallel to the center support braces we started with and attached to the corner braces.
Once the final cross braces were attached, we double-checked that all the screws on the stand were snug. The first part of our Vegepod assembly was finished. The image below shows the completed stand and illustrates how it solidly supports the growing containers with its four cross braces.
Now it was time to move on to the fun part: assembling the growing containers.
Assembling The Growing Containers
The medium Vegepod includes two large, pre-formed growing containers. The following assembly processes ready these containers for successful growing:
- Inserting the Drain Trays
- Joining the Base Containers together
- Assembling the Perimeter Wall
- Attaching the Perimeter Wall to the Base Containers
We placed the base containers onto the previously assembled stand, checked that we had all the pieces listed on the parts list, and got busy putting everything together.
Three drain trays go into each of the base growing containers on a medium Vegepod. The drain trays are held together by cable ties included for this purpose.
To assemble, we set three trays upside down with connection holes aligned:
We attached the trays using cable ties through the center holes so the tails of the ties hang below the flat surface of the trays:
Once we’d repeated this process for the additional three drain trays, we flipped them over and placed them in the bottom of the Vegepod growing containers. Very easy!
Joining the Base Containers
Connecting the base containers together proved another easy task.
First, a rubber strip is centered over the point where the two containers meet:
Plastic clips are then inserted to hold the rubber strip in place and the containers securely together:
Note that, at this stage, only four center clips are inserted to join the containers. The additional holes at either end will be used to secure the braces that will support the perimeter wall of the Vegepod growing containers.
Assembling The Perimeter Wall
Things got a little trickier (though not too much) when we moved on to assemble the perimeter wall that sits atop the base growing containers. There were a lot more pieces to deal with here, and a few required particular attention.
Each of the four side walls consists of two longer pieces connected by a shorter center piece.
The sections connect easily, sliding together once properly aligned.
It’s important to note, however, that the shorter pieces are not all the same: two are lipped and two are not.
During assembly, the same styles must end up opposite each other for the wall to be properly attached to the base containers. There’s a release clip for each section should they need to be taken apart to be positioned correctly.
The center wall section without the lip will sit over the center of the Vegepod where the two base containers were joined with the rubber strip. Supporting braces slide down over these pieces at each end to provide extra support to the perimeter wall.
Corner connectors complete the perimeter wall.
The final step in the perimeter wall assembly is attaching it to the base containers. For this, plastic bolts with wing nuts are provided.
The bolts should all be dropped into place around the entire perimeter wall before the wing nuts are tightened over them. This will ensure proper alignment of the wall around the edges.
Assembling the Vegepod Cover
Now that the Vegepod stand and the growing containers were together, it was time to tackle the assembly of the cover.
For us, this consisted of three steps:
- Constructing the Frame
- Stretching the Mesh over the Frame
- Attaching the Cover to the Growing Containers
NOTE: Since we are using our Vegepod first for a fall garden, we opted not to add the irrigation hose that’s included with the system and mounts in the cover. We didn’t want to be concerned about it freezing as we experience colder overnight temperatures. We will wait until spring to consider installing this part of the system but, for now, we have not tackled that part of the assembly process.
As with the stand, the Vegepod cover was well packaged in its own box:
Once we verified we had all the pieces, we set to work getting the frame together.
Constructing the Frame
The posts of the frame went together quite easily. Four long posts are joined via corner posts, creating the bottom square base that will rest on the Vegepod perimeter wall.
The curved dome of the Vegepod is created by attaching arched bars at each corner of the base. The arched bars are held in place at their peak by a straight center rod attached via a T connector.
Once all the pieces were in place, we double-checked that each rod was fully and securely inserted into its plastic connector before moving on to add the mesh cover.
Adding The Mesh Cover To The Frame
I’ll readily admit that getting the plastic mesh cover over the frame was a challenge. It sounds easy enough: the cover simply slides over the frame and is secured around the bottom with hook and loop tape (velcro). So what’s the challenge?
First, the cover fits very tightly over the frame. Very tightly! It takes a lot of tugging to get it properly in place.
Second, the hook and loop tape (velcro) is, of necessity, incredibly strong. It’s hard to get it apart and keep it apart while maneuvering the mesh around the frame. I found that, rather than trying to pull it apart, it was more effective to slide my finger between the hook and loop tape to get it to release.
Finally, the entire structure is awkward and unwieldy. It’s tough to get a good grip while stretching the tight mesh over the frame while also keeping the hook and loop tape open to wrap around the bars and corners.
We definitely recommend at least two people for the task of getting the mesh over the frame of the Vegepod cover.
Attaching The Cover to the Vegepod Growing Containers
Once we finally got the cover together successfully, we were ready for the final step of the assembly process: securing the cover to the growing containers.
Once you decide which way you want your Vegepod cover to open, it’s simply a matter of sliding hinge clips into slots along the upper ledge of the perimeter wall.
Three hinge clips are inserted along opposite sides of the growing containers while flat-top clips cover the slots not being used for the hinge clips.
The clips in the back will become the hinges that allow the Vegepod cover to swing up when lifted. The clips in front will hold the cover down securely to protect against wind gusts and curious critters.
Finally, since our Vegepod will not have support behind it to stop the cover from opening too far, we used the string included to connect the frame to the growing container.
Our Assembled Vegepod
After a few hours of effort (that included an unexpected rain delay), we finally had a fully-assembled Vegepod:
At long last, it was time to get growing. We’ll start playing in the dirt in my next post about our Vegepod experience.