From the Beginning Until Now

>> Sunday, December 20, 2009

I thought it might be interesting to look back at my greenhouse shed project from where it began to its current and still incomplete state. I have a lot more to do to get it ready for holding equipment, gardening supplies, and (of course) the plants! I put together a slideshow to share the greenhouse project's progress from August (with pictures of the site) until December (and its current appearance).

I hope you enjoy! (You may have to pause it to see the pictures as they go by fairly quickly. The total video is 4 min and 36 seconds long.)


Greenhouse Roof Finally Enclosed

>> Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Finally the major air gap that lurked just beneath the roof line has been enclosed and trimmed up. It's not air tight yet and needs sealing but the major 3.5 inch x 16 foot gaps are no longer open on the sides of the greenhouse. I'm not ready to open the champagne yet but I feel like a major weight has been lifted!

Front Greenhouse View:

I figured out how to remove the old rusted deadbolt from the front door. I drilled the heads off.  It took some time but once the heads were removed the lock and screws came out easily.  Now I can get the front door ready for use. The doors swing outward and soon I can replace the old lock with a different lock that can be keyed to match the other locks.

The East Side Greenhouse View:

This side is where three large windows were converted from patio doors. I even rigged up a nice little shelf for small plants outside the window in the back. The two patio doors toward the front of the greenhouse still need sealed up around the cracks. We left some gaps intentionally so that they could be fit in easily and figured we would come back to caulk/weather strip later.

The Back Greenhouse View:

One neat feature I'm working on is a secret door. Obviously it can't be that secret if I'm talking about it on the internet but it will be hidden from view most of the time. The door on the back opens easily without the wall-door opening on the right. I'm arranging the trim to go around the left door but freely open with the right wall-door. I'll do a post on it later once it's all put together.

The West Side Greenhouse View:

Here's the west side view. There won't be much siding to put on this side! The almost 6'x7' windows will provide quite a bit of light for plant starting in the spring. I may need supplemental light since starting seeds in February can be a challenge when the sun doesn't shine. The windows in the roof are catching a good amount of afternoon sun which will help heat the greenhouse but won't necessarily provide extra light for the plants. All my early spring cuttings will do great in this setting!

I can't wait to be done with the ladders you see inside the windows! I'll still need them to do the siding and various parts of the inside but I'm getting there, one warm winter day at a time.


The Greenhouse: What To Do Next?

>> Friday, December 11, 2009

It's been several days since I've been able to accomplish anything on the greenhouse. I'm hoping that Monday will be the day to get things done as it's predicted to be 60 degrees with only a 20% chance of rain. Usually the 20% chance of rain will happen right when I don't want it so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed. Under the picture you will see a short list of what I want to get accomplished on Monday.

The Greenhouse To-Do List for Monday


Greenhouse Security

>> Thursday, December 3, 2009

Despite recent events at the White House the security of my greenhouse shed just won't ever be as good as that of the Secret service. Since it is also a shed and will be housing my lawnmowers, weedeater, various garden tools, hoses, and all the plants I hope to propagate I need something to keep people out. Tools don't walk out by themselves do they? Our neighborhood is a very safe one but you never know when something could happen. My goal is to make sure the greenhouse shed is easily accessible through our own house key which means I may have to visit a locksmith at some point.

My biggest issue right now is the front door deadbolt lock. It came with the set of French doors that I put on the front of the greenhouse and it's extremely corroded due to age and the weather. Ideally I would simply remove the deadbolt make a new door hole for a more modern style deadbolt and install one. I have several leftover from changing the locks on our house but don't have keys for them. The problem with simply removing the lock is that the screws are stripped and rusted which makes any attempt at removing them very difficult! Any ideas?

On the left front door I installed a sliding latch to keep it stationary. I improvised a metal brace for the latch to lock into by taking two receiving plates and reversing them against each other so that the smooth ends are facing opposite directions. My goal was to reduce a tripping hazard without creating a new hole where water could collect on the threshold.

The back door has one side that will be disguised as part of the wall but can be opened like a standard gate. To hold it closed I adapted two gate latches that I picked up from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.

The picture quality isn't great since it was another cloudy and rainy day, but you can get the point! The doors are held closed with the top and bottom latches and can easily be opened whenever I need both back doors opened. Which will only be when the mowers are needed.


Putting Up Greenhouse Wall Posts

>> Monday, October 19, 2009

Yesterday I promised you pictures of the greenhouse project so today here are a few. It doesn't look like much here in the beginning but the work we did today was very important. Today my father and I put in the posts. Posts set in concrete was the best option for the shed-greenhouse idea that I wanted. Originally when I was thinking about building a shed I considered the pier idea. That works fine for shed but due to the amount of glass going into this and the fact that I wanted good drainage for inside the greenhouse I needed a porous surface like gravel.

Here's what we accomplished on the greenhouse today:
  • Set nine 10 foot long 4x4 posts into the ground 18 inches with 6 inches of gravel below. I may have used more or less gravel per post depending upon what was needed get them level.
  • Leveled and aligned each post multiple times to make sure they were square plum and as perfect as possible!
  • Concreted a total of 560 pounds of concrete around the posts. (14 - 40 lb. bags)
Setting the posts correctly is the most important part of this project. Since everything rests upon these 9 pillars pressure treated lumber we took extra care with the alignment. When we completed our leveling, aligning and measuring we were 1/4" off between the two sides. To me that's pretty darn good!

You'll notice in the pictures that there are several 2x4 cross bars tying the structure together. We used these to help hold the structure as we were setting and leveling the posts. We started with the right side by measuring and marking lines where the 2"x4"s should go. Then we attached the 2"x4" pieces together across the 4"x4" while they were laying on the ground. After that we raised the side and attacked braces. We did the same for the opposite side then hooked 12' long 2"x4" pieces to tie the sides together. All of this created the network of lumber you see in the picture.

The 2"x4"s will come down and be used for other parts of the greenhouse structure once the sides are framed together. Their main purpose was to enable us to get the posts leveled correctly. In the picture to the left you can see how we pieced the cross braces onto the 4"x4" posts.
There's a lot more to do (obviously) but I'm proud that the most important part was accomplished as well as it was. Having the structure as plum and square as it is will enable all the rest of our work to go better and (hopefully) faster!


Greenhouse and Shed Project: Location

>> Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Recently I highlighted a few new acquisitions to my garden under the guise of some sort of window collection. Clearly all you bright gardeners saw right through my windows and into my future plans to put together a greenhouse! Today I'll officially tell you about my plans, and more specifically about its location, even though I still don't have a solid time frame on construction.

My wife and I have discussed the location for a shed on multiple occasions due to differing opinions and finally settled on a spot we can both agree on. I want to incorporate it into the landscape as a feature and she wants it not to obscure the view of the yard. My first choice was to put it near the garden but that would compromise the view of the back tree line. We passed around a few other ideas and finally settled on a location in a semi-shady area just behind the newly formed back garden area. I know what you're thinking "shade isn't good for a greenhouse," it is in the summer and since there are deciduous trees creating the shade the winter sun should be able to beam right through the branches to warm the greenhouse. There is also a large opening in the trees from the east which will capture morning sunshine to warm the greenhouse first thing each day.

Ideally aligning the roof of the greenhouse with true south would be perfect but due to other considerations it will actually be perpendicular to south. Each side of the greenhouse will have window coverage which will allow for morning light from the east and afternoon light from the west. The spot isn't perfect but hopefully it will work. There are some great locations in our yard for sun but the problem is they are on the slope or over the field lines and aren't really suitable for building a greenhouse or a shed.  I may eventually need supplemental power for grow lights and heat mats but I'll cross that bridge later. We won't be anywhere near electrical lines and a creative solution (solar) will have to be considered.

I've been calling it a greenhouse but it will be functioning as a shed as well. It will have to house the mowers and some garden tools to make room for our cars in the garage. Imagine that, a garage used for cars! Who would have thought that?


All About The Greenhouse

>> Tuesday, September 1, 2009


The Greenhouse Project: Still Digging...

>> Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This weekend found me still digging the greenhouse foundation out. Digging out a 10'x16' area by yourself takes some time, especially when it rains more often than not. But in gardening, as in life, you take what comes and do the best you can with what you have. In three digging sessions I excavated three 4'x8' areas to eventually remove all the sod and much of the soil from the area. I still have to clean more soil from the area, dig and level a little more of the area, and add three more corner post holes plus post holes where the doors will eventually go before any serious construction can begin.

So here's the result of the "big dig."

 That was a lot of dirt!

What's next you ask?

Gravel, Setting posts in concrete, framing...
(lots of other things too but these are the most immediate things to do)


 Hopefully soon! October is usually one of our driest months but that's proving to not the case this year. I'll do what I can do between the rains and take my time with the greenhouse's construction. I still have some finishing to do on the kids' playset to make it safe and that will need to be done first.  I would much rather take two extra months to get this greenhouse-shed done than do something incorrectly.

Have you dug any big holes lately?
(And I don't mean in your gardening budget!)


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