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Thread: Building a greenhouse?

  1. #9
    Grow Pitcher Plants! DroseraBug's Avatar
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    In my opinion building a greenhouse by your own plans can save you money compared to most kits and you'll get what you want. I just built a hoop house with with the entire frame materials from Lowes except for the cross-connectors a few specialized brackets for framing. I agree with those above, a greenhouse is not an easy task and is high maintenance. I probably do not have the time for it but will make the time for it as a hobby. Once you build one there will be endless tasks to be added on such as heating, ventilation, exhausts, replacing plastic, shade cloth, building benches, adding electricity, water, tape, wiggle wire, polychannel or batten tape, staples, on and on but fun so far.

    I used the bender sold at this website and was happy with results. I did not using there framing methods because I wanted a different frame and I want exhaust fans and shutters. You may see websites that say oh yeah we built it in a day. I call B....S.... on them. More like two weeks plus, plus maintaining it for years to come. They might have built a greenhouse for the dog in a day.

    If you want strength use galvenized metal framing or all wood (more expensive) and extra support for the snow. Just my opinion. There are many people on terraforums that know much more than me about this though.

    See http://lostcreek.net/
    Last edited by DroseraBug; 03-14-2011 at 06:27 PM.
    "And this is what happened, and this is why the caribou and the wolf are one; for the caribou feeds the wolf, but it is the wolf that keeps the caribou strong."
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  2. #10
    Not Growing Up! GrowinOld's Avatar
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    Owning a greenhouse is definitely a learning experience!
    We have a lean-to style greenhouse off our den:

    Here it is from a few years back:


    The first year we had it up, we cooked everything during the summer and froze the remaining plants in the winter!
    The first 4 years we had it, we hadn't put heat into it. Even then, it got to be over 100 degrees on some sunny winter days. Weird to have it freezing out and roasting in the greenhouse. We even opened the doors and used it to heat the den! But the heat doesn't last, and it gets freezing at night (without heat). So eventually, a heater was put in (when we could afford it). Even then, it extended the "zone" we are in, and we were able to grow plants from warmer zones than our own.

    Learning what to do, and when, has been an on-going learning experience, and we are ever learning more on what we can and can't do. In the past few years, more and more CP's have resided in it, and it currently houses most of our CP's on a rotating basis, depending on what time of year it is, determines what plants are in it! (Some move outdoors in spring, while others move into the greenhouse from indoors where they wintered over. And the reverse takes place in the fall/winter.)
    It has been wonderful to own, but indeed a lot of work. Amazingly, it isn't that costly to operate and heat, but indeed you need to know what to do to keep the costs down, and to make the most out of it. It isn't as difficult to operate as many people think, but you need to learn a lot about how to do things for your particular setup, and that has taken us years to learn and understand. It is definitely NOT for everyone!
    As one person said to me, "I always liked the "romance" of having a greenhouse full of plants, but once I had one I realized it took more effort and understanding than I was able to give."

    I do want to warn you, if you get a small greenhouse, it is like having a small pond or fish tank... a smaller one will "foul" faster, as temperature fluxuations will be greater and environmental stability will be harder to maintain. (Temps, humidity, cooking hot sun, water requirements, etc. will be harder to keep steady in a smaller greenhouse than it will in a larger one.) But indeed, a small greenhouse will give you a good taste of what operating one will be like, without breaking the bank!

    Having and operating a greenhouse has been one of our most enjoyable activities, and we would miss it if we didn't have one. (We already talked that we would want to build another if we ever moved!) But indeed, they are not for everyone!

    Besides, a decent indoor setup and/or outdoor growing space in the sun with good growing temps is not to be under-valued and un-appreciated. Having a great yard to grow in or a nice indoor growing-space is equally valuable and enjoyable, and so long as the plants like it, it is doing its job!
    Ultimately, it is about making the most of what we have, and sharing our lives with the plants we love having and growing!

    Good luck!
    Experience is the best teacher. At least it used to be.
    But then, common sense isn't so common anymore, is it.


    http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=113866

  3. #11
    Monkey's Avatar
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    I'll explain my reasoning to you guys right now. In my climate it is well nigh impossible to grow anything but desert or plains plants outdoors. Our humidity is too low and our temperature are too high/low (yes both) to grow anything else. I figured that while a greenhouse may initially cost more it will eventually wind up costing me less than continuing to fabricate indoor grow spaces that can maintain certain conditions while saving space (I live in a 4 room apartment with my fiance). I have time to maintain a greenhouse, however, I don't have the immediate funds to purchase a new greenhouse. So I was thinking I could find plans to build one and get the materials a bit at a time so I would eventually have a full blown greenhouse. I need something sturdy. Winds here get to 60+mph almost every month and at the bad times get to more than 70. Temps here reach above 100* and have full southwestern sun.
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  4. #12
    Not Growing Up! GrowinOld's Avatar
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    Cold Frame

    Hey 'Monkey'!
    (Well, you said to call you Monkey! Not sure why!)

    I took a little time and designed a rough plan for a 'cold frame' that may fit your needs ...for now. (I figured others here may be able to use this sort of option also, if a greenhouse is out because of budget or not enough space.)
    It can be made from nearly all recycled/free materials, and can be installed semi-buried and very low to the ground, so the winds you have can present much less a problem. It may work well enough to last a number of years, until you can perhaps get that dream greenhouse!
    I have built a few of these over the years, and like a larger greenhouse, you will need to monitor conditions closely until you learn what needs to be done and when (the ONLY way to learn how to set them up and operate them properly). You can get general advice on greenhouses and cold frames, but only you can figure out exactly what it needs specifically (and when) ...when in your care. Your climate, weather, and environmental conditions are totally unique for where you live, and so you alone will be in a position to know best of all, what to do.

    I have used these for many years, and they work just like mini greenhouses. (Since they are smaller, conditions will vary faster in them, so they will need an alert eye to keep them in the correct environmental "ranges" that the plants will need.)

    You'll want to make access panels (windows with hinges) so you can easily reach into it to tend to the plants. It will take you time in the beginning to learn its' responses and to get the shading, watering, etc. down-pat so you don't cook your plants (or drown them, etc.), but once you do get it set up effectively, you will be well on your way to creating an environment that your plants can love!
    You HAVE TO put in the time and effort (in the beginning especially) to learn how to set it up, for indeed if you don't, these things can easily become little solar-ovens in which to cook your entire collection in the blink of an eye! You can't forget nor neglect them at all, and many things will need to be tended to or checked on a regular basis, especially when the burning hot sun is involved!
    Indeed, I would suggest proceeding slowly, watch your temps, humidity, etc. (Check things on hot sunny days, on overcast days, freezing nights, in rainy weather, etc.) , in order to get it set-up properly, and to learn what you will need to do in response to ever changing external conditions.

    If you can't permanently dedicate the time to tend to it (and your plants) on a regular basis [especially in the beginning 'Learning to set-up' phase] then don't even bother putting in the work to building a cold-frame or small or large greenhouse in the first place!
    Greenhouses, whether very large, small or mini (as in cold-frames) will need you to learn the best way to set them up, what to do to maintain them (regularly), and for you to constantly watch for anything that may change or go wrong. (Like real hot/dry temps, freezing temps, cooking sun, a pump or fan that breaks or doesn't work as planned, and so on.) Keep in mind that you are creating a delicate environment, an artificial balance of variables, ...not just a place to put or store plants!

    Okay, enough about the work involved! Here is the 'Plan'/Drawing I created (with front and side views, showing the outsides of it [on top] and cut-away views [below them], to show the inside). The sizes of everything will be determined by what size and how many windows you can find and use, the wood you use, as well as the area you have available to put it in.
    I added in the solar pump (and possibility of using a solar powered fan or/and shade cloth) to keep the humidity high inside it, and temps below "broil"! You will of course have to make sure it has a decent water level inside at all times, along with other common sense general maintenance.



    I don't mean to over speak about the work involved, but I do want people to be aware that greenhouses and cold-frames are not something you set up and forget. They may look like the "Garden of Eden", but it doesn't just happen on its own! If you aren't up for the necessary work, don't bother! BUT, if you are up to trying, they can give you great satisfaction and provide a wonderful environment for plants to grow in!

    Lastly, by not living where you do, I really cannot say for sure whether a cold frame or greenhouse is really appropriate for where you live, and for the plants you intend on growing. But having built and used many cold-frames (and a couple greenhouses) over the years, I can say that I myself would certainly try!

    Good luck!
    Paul


    [Note: In the Plans/Drawing, I put the pond liner below the soil level of the "yard". This takes digging out a "hole" to whatever depth you choose. However, you can also simply put this on level ground or even a concrete patio. Digging it lower may help by utilizing "ground temps" as well as protecting it from the wind a bit more, or give you an opportunity to anchor it with pieces of rebar or spikes hammered thru the timbers and into the soil/ground. It is ultimately up to you to decide what is the best route for you to take.] Again, good luck!
    Experience is the best teacher. At least it used to be.
    But then, common sense isn't so common anymore, is it.


    http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=113866

  5. #13
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I don't know a whole lot, but I'm sure of one thing; in your climate, you'll want to invest in shade cloth.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

  6. #14
    Monkey's Avatar
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    That actually looks fantastic, Paul! Having it down in the ground would help keep the water temperature down in the summer and probably help keep the water temperature above freezing in the summer. I can see this possibly being the perfect solution to growing temperate plants here. Dormancy would be taken care of naturally. I actually have very high hopes for something like this. Thank you very much.

    ---------- Post added at 11:21 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:19 PM ----------

    I would rpobably nee to implement plexiglass, or some other sturdy material. We get some pretty wicked hailstorms....
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  7. #15
    Not Growing Up! GrowinOld's Avatar
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    Indeed, people underestimate the potential of cold-frames. They function like a mini-greenhouse that you can't walk into! In fact, some people combine the two forms to make what is referred to as a pit-greenhouse! I created another plan/drawing of one for you. Picture digging out a 2' wide trench down the middle of the cold-frame floor, deep enough to walk thru, and a "door/hatch' at one end instead of along the length. See below and you'll get the idea.



    Indeed, the smaller the greenhouse (or cold frame) the more you will need to keep an eye on conditions and keep them from fluctuating too far beyond the needs of the plants. But if you take the time to set it up well, and think things thru with a good amount of common sense, you should be able to create something that will work well for years to come.

    I have seen a few Pit Greenhouses, and they are actually very cool! (ie: interesting designs... not necessarily cool temperature-wise!) However, speaking of that, having them underground does indeed help to cool and stabilize the inside environment! (As you thought, yes it does!) It may not do miracles, however it does indeed help to bring you closer to the "zone" you are shooting for.
    (Greenhouses simply recreate different zones, depending on how we manipulate their inner environment and workings.... temperature, moisture, humidity, heat, cooling, etc. by how we implement and use things like shading, heater, A/C or swamp cooler, pumps, humidifiers, lights, etc.)

    If you don't have much to spend, then patience, work, ingenuity* and effort can get you there. If you don't have those, then indeed lots of money works too!

    Well again, good luck.


    *Think about it.... even with no electricity, a small solar powered pump and solar powered fan can be used to make a small solar powered "Swamp Cooler'!
    (I did one some time back! Small, but it worked!)
    Indeed, living in the south with hot temps, modifications to the basic design to keep plants lower, where the cooler air will be, would be possible... but will require stooping down to tend plants. Not a bad thing if it gives you a good place to grow and you don't have bad knees!
    Things are only impossible until someone thinks of a way to make them possible! It wasn't that long ago when flying was impossible for man, let alone walking on the moon!!!
    Last edited by GrowinOld; 03-18-2011 at 11:49 AM.
    Experience is the best teacher. At least it used to be.
    But then, common sense isn't so common anymore, is it.


    http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=113866

  8. #16
    Grow Pitcher Plants! DroseraBug's Avatar
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    Wow,

    Very nice drawings. Why don't you write a book/paper on growing Sarracenia in greenhouses per zone. I'd buy it and can tell you there's nothing out there on it that I've found so far. Thanks for posting.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 03-18-2011 at 01:02 PM. Reason: N. A.
    "And this is what happened, and this is why the caribou and the wolf are one; for the caribou feeds the wolf, but it is the wolf that keeps the caribou strong."
    — Farley Mowat

    My Growlist

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