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Discussion Starter #1
My husband and I are building a greenhouse. We would love any ideas on how to maximize this new building. I have never had a greenhouse before and therefore I “don’t know what I don’t know”.

It will be 10 ft. by 12 ft. It will be attached to our small chicken barn that is 12 ft. by 20 ft. It will be attached to the east side of the barn, so have a solid west wall. The north wall is 12 ft. long. The east wall is 10 ft. long. The south wall is 12 ft. long. The door to the greenhouse will be inside the barn on the west side. The walls are 7 ft. high with highest pitch point in the roof being 10’3”. There are two vent windows in the roof.

Water will be available via a hose from the house. It will have electricity.

I live in the mountain west at 6,000 feet.

I have an extremely handy husband who can build anything wood related.

We are both in late 50’s and retired. I need the greenhouse to be user friendly in our later years.

Our garden is 30 ft. by 70 ft. We have 12 dwarf fruit trees.

Any ideas and advise would be greatly appreciated! I know that this is the right place to go to get that great advice!

Thank you in advance for all comments.
 

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Hello from the 4 corners, 7000 ft.. We built a stand alone as well as an attached. They both generated so much heat that exterior shade cloth was essential. The attached probably accounts for 25% of our home heating needs. 55 gallon drums can provide a thermal sink to carry through the night as well as creating a very useful platform for tender plants. We laid the barrels down in groups and laid horse panel on top of them to make plant holders that permit the warmth from the barrels to keep the plants warm at night. These were created in 1978 and still function well.
Hopefully the chickens are separated from the greenhouse.
We do not plant in the dirt in the greenhouses. Instead we make earthboxes. Just search on line for them, then make your own cheaply. Ours are plastic rectangular tubs, one cut off and inserted upside down in the other w/ a hole to accept a nursery plastic pot drilled full of holes. The big advantage is you can leave for a few days and the water reservoir will keep the plants happy. For glazing we’ve found the double wall polycarbonate to provide a degree of R value which single glazing does not.
Heat lovers: tomatoes, peppers,eggplant, etc. all thrive if they have heat and nutrients. A new plant to us is the Sun Berry, like a small blueberry and extremely prolific. We aren’t picky about planting medium and compost and have found aged horse manure, soil, and coffee chafe from a commercial roaster makes a great mix. Having a tractor to create compost and move the earth buckets seasonally is a big help.
Adjust your venting needs as needed but avoid the automatic wax vent mechanisms, they die if they get a little too hot, waste of money. That north wall may need insulation as it provides no gain and only losses heat at night. Attaching on the south, southeast of a structure is the ideal.
Enjoy your efforts, very rewarding and will keep you young.
 

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Ideas will depend on the budget for the project.

1. Reuse old sliding glass doors. Put these on a concrete stem wall. Also look for an old storm door to use.

2. Old windows. Find out who sells and installs new windows and see if they will let you have the old ones.

3. Corrugated Lexan sheets from HD or Lowes.

All the above will need a stem wall and any framing.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
We bought the greenhouse kit from Harbor Freight and plan to reinforce the structure as we build.

The chickens have an interior wall of chicken wire that separates them from the work and storage area of the barn.

We plan to use the greenhouse to start plants and then transplant them after frost danger. Maybe even keep a tomato plant alive after October.

Wonderful suggestions so far!!
 

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reluctant sinner
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I would add some thermomass to your unit. A 55 gallon barrel or two filled with recycled antifreeze. Hose/tubing snaked across a south facing wall/roof with a small pump to circulate the fluid to collect the heat from the sun. I would also add a scrap wood fired water heater in the loop so you can supply heat in cloudy weather.

Perhaps a rocket mass heater if you don't want to mess with fluids.
 

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You said later years as well. So when establishing benches or other things inside make sure your spacing is such that using a walker/sitter is possible as those start to come in handy around 70/80 depending on your physical condition/ if you have any injuries. I have a brick floor set in sand for my greenhouse and it works well enough to allow for good drainage but smooth enough I can sweep and keep tidy.
 

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We have just started construction of an earth sheltered green house; there will be a raised bed along the South wall. Thinking "walker", we were just discussing one of those rolling garden seats... any ideas of how high a 30" deep raised bed should be for a seat height of 17-18" ? We have a bed outside that is 18" tall, this works great for me to be on my knees.... but started thinking knee pads which led into a SEAT.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I would add some thermomass to your unit. A 55 gallon barrel or two filled with recycled antifreeze. Hose/tubing snaked across a south facing wall/roof with a small pump to circulate the fluid to collect the heat from the sun. I would also add a scrap wood fired water heater in the loop so you can supply heat in cloudy weather.

Perhaps a rocket mass heater if you don't want to mess with fluids.
Great idea! I have a teeny tiny wall mounted propane heater that I am considering using. Just trying to figure out the venting.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You said later years as well. So when establishing benches or other things inside make sure your spacing is such that using a walker/sitter is possible as those start to come in handy around 70/80 depending on your physical condition/ if you have any injuries. I have a brick floor set in sand for my greenhouse and it works well enough to allow for good drainage but smooth enough I can sweep and keep tidy.
Thank you for this. I need to remember this. You also have me reconsidering the floor. It is currently gravel. Probably not ideal.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
We have just started construction of an earth sheltered green house; there will be a raised bed along the South wall. Thinking "walker", we were just discussing one of those rolling garden seats... any ideas of how high a 30" deep raised bed should be for a seat height of 17-18" ? We have a bed outside that is 18" tall, this works great for me to be on my knees.... but started thinking knee pads which led into a SEAT.
We have several friends who are building the same type of greenhouse. Unfortunately where we are, if you dig more than a foot, you start hitting sandstone boulders. During the excavation of our house, over 10 tons of rocks were removed. They became landscape rocks for three families!

This is also why we are planning raised beds in the open garden. The soil is just too rocky.

Thanks for the advice!
 

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I do well planting in the spring, so that I have big plants going into the Fall

Days are shorter in the winter, and even if the plants are warm enough the growth will be slow. This Fall I have broccolli, kale and red cabbage that are large, and I just started bok choi and lettuce about a week ago. Honestly beets live the longest, and one Fall they gave me greens until sometime in december and then we ate the bulbs. Alas, this year was not a good year for beets and so I will not have the dark red and green leaves to improve our salads. But we WILL have leaves from the red cabbage, so that should help

I get a longer harvest if I cover the growing beds with 3 layers of plastic during the very cold weather. I leaned that from Elliot Coleman. He lives in Maine and he wrote 4 season harvest. He has a GREAT website!
 
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