Saturday, November 24, 2007

Greenhouse Project

Back to the greenhouse...

My original plan was to build a 1 1/2 story octagon. Planned it down to the last square inch. Something wasn't right, though. There wouldn't be enough light for the amount of floor space, not to mention that the cost for the roofing materials was, well, through the roof. Back to the drawing board.

So, I designed a simpler one based on recycling the materials at hand. It will be 15' long by 11' wide with a simple 12 in 12 roof pitch. Very traditional. Not exactly my taste, but easy and cheap to build.

I have two sets of glass patio doors that are about the same size - they will make up most of the south-facing roof (south by southeast if you want to get technical.) [There's a third set, but they don't match. I might use them to make a pair of passive solar air heaters, one for the greenhouse, one for the residence.] Then I have a stack of used windows. Four of them are fairly large, 30" x 60", as I recall. They will make up most of the south ( by southeast) facing wall. The remainder of the windows, along with some other glass, will be used on the two end walls. I think I have a storm door somewhere for getting in and out... The North wall (and north facing roof) need to be insulated and reflecting.

Framing could be simple, but that's no fun. I like to celebrate wood. Why use a perfectly functional 2x4 when you can use an oversized log? This wouldn't be practical for many of you, but I live in the middle of a forest. Frankly, it's easier for me to thin out a couple of cedar trees than to go pick up a load of lumber. I choose cedars because I want a rot-resistant wood for the greenhouse, but it also happens to be that they are quick and easy to cut down and de-limb. Well, they used to be. Now that I'm disabled, one is all the work I can handle, on a good day.

Hewing flat sides on the timbers will likewise be a slow process for me. But I do what I can, when I can. It will get done eventually.

Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later, because I need to begin working on 2008 seedlings by February. The 2007 lot filled the master bathroom before it was all said and done. And I do mean "filled." I had seedlings all around the tub, all around my sink, on the floor - I even had a tray of seedlings on the back of the toilet. My wife is 100% behind my greenhouse project.

I think I mentioned before, my neighbor came over and helped dig the footing. I use the term footing loosely. It won't be a footing exactly, but more of a drainage area filled with rocks and gravel. The framing is basically the same as a pole barn - the cedar posts will be set in post holes in contact with the ground. All the weight will be transferred to the posts, so a load-bearing footing isn't necessary. The wood in contact with the ground will rest on this drainage gravel, extending its lifespan.

So far there hasn't been much progress. I do have the ground pretty much ready to accept the building, and I've cut one tree down. It's ready to drag across the lawn to the worksite, where I'll prepare the timbers. I have the truck today, so I will probably go outside later and drag the pole up with a chain. Like I said, slow and steady.

Building this greenhouse out of hand crafted timbers will pay off later when I'm spending lots of time in there. There will be a nice ambience between the mix of natural curves and hand-hewn sides - sort of Japanese styling. I can sit and work on the logs when I'm letting the dog out for a walk, or whenever. I hope to inspire some of you readers to build your own, in your own style, of course. More updates and photos will be on the way intermittently, so stay tuned!


Elizabeth said...

Johno - how did you decide on the greenhouse site?

Name: Johno said...

Elizabeth, I knew I wanted it near the garden, but in the end it made the most sense to have the greenhouse entrance right in the garden, by the garden entrance, to reduce the number of steps it takes to get all those transplants where they are going. Also, I'll have a sink set up in there to wash vegetables before bringing them to the house.

Elizabeth said...

Smart to have a sink - will it have running water, or will it be a tub that you have to carry water to? So you didn't site it based on sun conditions at all?