Pictorial series on the greenhouse project.
The is a totally “raw” location, with only a quick scratch in the dirt to show what I’m going to have to deal with:
Hours later, I’ve got the general dimensions dug out:
It’s difficult to tell the scale, but the next picture shows how deep this is.
I’m down about 40″ here:
Dimensions are 40′ long x 26′ wide. It’s big enough to grow all the food I’d need and then some.
Water installed, there’s also a french drain (inside) which you can’t see installed, and the footing forms installed:
Footings poured, ready for walls:
Walls going up:
Walls are done:
Those “cutouts” are 8′ doorways for sliding greenhouse doors.
There is a TON of work involved to get to this point. The design of the greenhouse is “pit set”, which required many tons of dirt to be excavated first. And now I’ll have to put a lot of it back, burying the walls on the outside, grading the ground all around, building in a driveway to and from both doors, etc. It’s a lot of dirt! I’ve been handicapped of late due to surgery, so it’s been slow going and more then a little painful at times.
The purpose of this pit set approach is to take advantage of the the thermal sink in the Earth. Depths greater the 3′ have proven to be less useful for greenhouse designs, although if you were building a house, you could go as deep as you desired.
I will probably line the north-most wall with black water barrels, including fish tanks, to be used for solar absorption during the day, and radiation during the cooler nights. The inside design is another entire topic altogether.
My intention is to also do aquaculture, recirculating the water from the fish tanks into the plant beds, providing nutrients and water. I will also be using various bed “methods”, such as vertical beds and elevated beds constructed from PVC.
But first I will need to work out all the performance issues (heat retention) and whether or not I will install any solar collectors for the cold months here. Plus, there are huge number of other issues on ensuring the greenhouse actually works as intended (grows food).
As nice as it sounds to “grow your own food”, it is fraught with many, many pitfalls and problems and cannot be relied upon as any sort of a guarantee. Greenhouse can help both the novice and the expert, but they do not guarantee a harvest. They can extend your growing season — or if things go wrong, help wipe everything out that much quicker.
Outdoor raised beds work well here, but the weather has been extremely erratic. We’re having a deluge of rain every day now, and this would cause problems for any exposed beds. I’ve got some tunnel covered beds, encased in plastic tunnels, but the wind is also causing issues (something we never used to get here), blowing the plastic off. I’m seeing climate change first hand, but nothing compared to what other parts of the country and world are experiencing.
To read about the rest of this project: