For the first five years of this farm, we’ve started all our transplants indoors, using a small office with grow lights. This has worked very well for us, but as we continue to expand, we’re planning to build a small passive-solar greenhouse this spring to give ourselves more space. Here’s a quick look at our plans; comments and feedback welcome.
Above you see a rough vision of the greenhouse’s shape and location, pushed up against the front of our house on the existing concrete patio slab. We’re intentionally NOT attaching this structurally to the house, just shoving it up against the wall and sealing the gap, to avoid planning/zoning interference and to facilitate changes/removal if needed. This setting and design has several benefits we’re fond of:
– no need to pour a new foundation
– the house helps insulate it overnight
– easy access to our indoor seed-starting room, and to power from the house
– can be easily removed/changed if needed, unlike a permanent structure built elsewhere
Notice that it’s divided into two parts, with a door in between and on each end. The far (east) end will be a fully enclosed greenhouse; the near (west) end will be only screened in, for hardening off plants while maintaining some protection from high winds, hard rains, and critters. The front (vertical) walls on the east end will be removable panels to allow for ventilation when needed, while still screened in to keep animals out. Water is available from a hydrant just out of view at the east end.
Here’s a rough blueprint of the framing; each half is 8’x8′ for an 8’x16′ total. We’ll be building this with on-farm cedar lumber (milling date set for early March). Tops and sides of the greenhouse will be covered with clear corrugated hard plastic for added hail resistance, sealed on the inside with plastic sheeting for double-insulation. The hardening-off area will use window screen.
As with most other infrastructure we’ve built on the farm, we’re starting small and non-permanent with this so we can learn from any mistakes and apply experience to a more permanent structure in the future if needed. We don’t like jumping into large and expensive projects head-first. This practice has worked very well with our packing areas and animal housing, and we’re looking forward to this experiment as well.