Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Greenhouse Idea

So, today I thought I'd talk about my idea for a greenhouse. Again, this idea is inspired by other youtubers. That, of course, is because right now the only thing I can really do is watch other youtubers with their gardens, aquaponic setups and greenhouses.

But anyway, onto the greenhouse idea. Now, I could just make what's called a hoop house (or polytunnel if you're not in the US. What is with americans naming stuff differently then the rest of the world?) But I wanted something a bit sturdier. So I'm going to model mine after Brock's greenhouse. Or sort of. You know me, I gotta put my own mojo on it. This time it's mostly because his greenhouse is all wood for the frame.

My problem is I don't know how to make joists and such for the roof with wood. But I do know how to put a pvc pipe into a fitting. I figure make most of the frame with wood and then do the roof with pvc. Pvc fittings are already made into angles so I won't have to worry about cutting any wood to the correct angles. I'll paint the pvc to help protect it and subsequently probably the wood too. Maybe paint it different colors to make it colorful.

Ok, so I drew another mock up of my idea. I know, my drawing skills are terrible. But in my defense, I drew this on my tablet with my finger and that is not easy to do. But anyway, first view. The grey filled squares are deck pier footings. I'll dig down just far enough to put those in the ground. I'll use a piece of wood and a level to make sure they're all nice and even. Then I'll put a frame all around the bottom and attach the walls to it with braces. Maybe put a little cement over the pier footings and the wood to firmly anchor it together.

Here's the side view showing the pier footings, walls and the roof. Now the greenhouse will be clear, of course, to let light in. I just colored in the sections here to differentiate what is what. The covering is one area where I'm differing from Brock's design. He has double walled polycarbinate panels. But those can get very expensive very quickly so I doubt I'll be able to afford them. Plus, you have to order them online unless you're lucky and can find a place in your area that has them or can order them.

Instead, I'll be putting some 4 mil plastic sheeting on it first. One of the big box hardware stores has sheets in 10' x 25ft sheets. This will cover the sides with a little extra. One roll should also cover the roof with some overlap and I'll connect the side rolls with the roof roll with some clear duct tape or something similar.

Oh yeah, the dimensions of the whole greenhouse will be 10' x 20'. Not sure of the height of the roof since I'm not good at calculating those sorts of things. I'll just measure the pvc to size when I get to the roof. The pier footing will be every 5' to give it plenty of support. The wall themselves will be 8' tall.

After I have the plastic sheeting done, I'll slowly buy clear corrugated panels to put over the sheeting. I've opted for the corrugated panels because I can also buy them from the big box hardware stores and save myself the cost of shipping. They are also UV protected so will help keep the plastic sheeting and themselves from degrading too quickly. When it's all said and done, I wouldn't doubt if the whole structure costs close to what Brock's did. But unfortunately I don't have the money to buy the double walled panels all at once, and buying them individually and having them each shipped will be a waste of shipping costs.

Besides, even if I could afford the double walled panels, I'd probably still put on plastic sheeting first. This is because neither the double walled or the corrugated panels will seal perfectly and will still have some gaps where cold air can get in. The plastic I'll be able to tape together where it overlaps.

This here is just a view of the front with the door and the guesstimated angle of the roof. I would have designed it with a pointed roof but I couldn't find a 4 way fitting that angled down the way I wanted it. So this should work just as well.

This should be one of the first things I'll have to build at our property since, for one thing, it will house the aquaponics setup. It gets to freezing temps in North Carolina and I want to grow tilapia and they don't like the cold. Something we have in common. The first winter will probably only have the plastic sheeting on the greenhouse so I'll probably have to put a heater in the tilapia tank. Or maybe heat the whole greenhouse somehow to keep it above freezing. If I only heat the tank then I'll at least be able to grow cool season crops like lettuces, brassicas, peas. But if I heat the whole greenhouse I'll have more options of what I can grow. Maybe even tomatoes if I can keep it warm enough.

My first thought for heating would be a rocket stove since it doesn't require electricity. But I think a better idea would be to use some sort of space heater with a solar panel and a battery to run it at night. But most space heaters are really inefficient and use a lot of power. So I may have to experiment a bit to find out what works. On further thought, maybe I'll heat the whole greenhouse but still have a heater in the fish tank. That should keep the tilapia nice and comfy.

Anyway, that's it for now. Feel free to leave any suggestions, questions or just comments either here or on my google plus page.

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