Saturday, December 29, 2012

hanging planters

The greenhouse plants are seeded into planters made from recycled rain gutters.  Above is pictured an attempt to suspend the gutters using chain and double end bolt snap hooks.  It seems to be working so the plan will be to hang more of the planters.  The multiple thermometers were recently added to allow for greater monitoring of the temperatures in the greenhouse.  Near the bottom of the glazing it was nearly 20 degrees cooler than along the north wall or in the suspended planter.  It will be interesting to scatter the thermometers around learning the greenhouse's hot spots and cool spots and where are the best places to put the planters in the different seasons of the winter.

snap hook and chain

When this picture was taken it was single digits above zero outside and partly cloudy.  Earlier it had been sunny and this thermometer was reading 85 degrees.


black buckets

Mom's greenhouse is a passive solar greenhouse.  The goal is to grow cold tolerant greens and vegetables without a supplemental heat source.  This fall our family completed the tile floor which was the last of the insulating projects.  This allows for our first real winter of  crops.  Our goal is to keep the temperature in the greenhouse above freezing.  We are using containers of water as heat sink.  We have had the overnight temperatures drop into the 20's or lower on some nights.  The seedlings in the planters are still alive but not thriving and growing.  We are adding additional containers of water.

In an effort to improve the heat absorption quality of the water containers used for heat sink in the greenhouse the exposed sides of the containers will be covered with black duct tape.  We currently have 34 yellow cat litter boxes (thanks Lisa and Jack) and 30 new white mushroom boxes (thanks Nathan and Michelle).  Today the new white boxes were covered on three sides with the duct tape.  Each box required three wider strips and one narrower strip of the tape. 

The boxes are placed along the North wall of the greenhouse where the sun can hit them, warming up the water inside.  After the sun goes down and the greenhouse begins to cool the boxes will release their heat, slowing the cooling of the greenhouse.  The yellow boxes still need to be covered and that is a project for another day.  Thank you Caitlin for your help in covering the boxes today.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

the greenhouse floor--the last major project

In this picture: Nikole, Michelle, Nathan and Reese
 The last major project to be completed in the Mom's greenhouse is the insulating and tiling of the growing room floor.  The above photo shows three steps in preparation for tiling.  In the back of the photo can be seen the floor joists and insulation.  That is covered by the plywood which is seen on the left side of the picture.  The plywood is covered by the cement board which is seen on the right.  Once these surfaces are in place the floor is ready for tile.
Nikole and Michelle begin laying the tile at the drain.  This will determine the placement of the tiles for the rest of the room.  Not pictured: Lisa and Nathan.
 The tiling process is coming along.  The spacers can be seen as well as the portable heat source necessary to keep the room sufficiently warm so that the mortar can properly set. 
Last tile!!

Nikole placing the final tile

In this picture the seedling mat can be seen
 After the tile sets overnight the grout is applied.  Since our project has big temperature extremes every eight feet the grout is replaced with caulk as an expansion joint.  Here the tile still has a little of the haze that needs to be cleaned from the tile as a final step in the grouting process.
The finished drain

These plant benches are made from recycled pallets.  The pallets originally held a specialized product that required a plywood top instead of the standard spaced boards.  They are smaller than a conventional pallet--20 X 33 and only needed legs attached to make benches to hold the plants.

To see Nathan's take on the greenhouse construction check out his blog Northland Phoenix here
for more pictures, video and commentary. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

the cornfield

This newly dug up spot will be additional garden space for sweet corn, pumpkins, melons and squashes.  The ground will mellow over the winter and then be tilled in the spring.  The corners will be squared up and it will eventually be a 40 x 140  garden plot. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

the new roof

The temporary plastic sheeting has been removed and the rafters are being prepped for the rigid plastic roof sheets.  Here the rafters are being painted white and any paint drips are being sanded smooth.  

In the above two photos the rigid panels are being readied for installation.  Each panel is comprised of square tubes side by side which are open at the top and bottom.  There is tape that must be applied to the open ends of these tubes, one tape for the top and a different tape for the bottom.  Once the tape has been applied a metal channel is tapped onto the top and bottom edges.  Then the panel is ready to be installed.  The panels are 4x12 and are like a sail if caught by the wind.  They must be fastened into place on the edges and on each supporting rafter.  There is a printed plastic film protecting the panel that must be removed during the installation process. 

In this picture the extension ladder is resting in the bucket of the loader on the bottom and resting up against a second ladder on the back side of the roof at the top.  The ladder is suspended over the roof.  The challenge here was to be able to reach to fasten the panel to the rafter without leaning on the panel.

Here is another angle of the ladder suspended over the first panel.  The panel has been attached at the left edge and bottom edge and now must be fastened on each of the rafters.  There is a plastic channel that is applied to the right edge that will have the next panel slipped into it which turned out to be harder than it sounds. 

Here is Nathan suspended over the panel screwing the panel down.  The protective plastic has been partially removed.  Our roof is a little longer than the standard length panel and the open area at the bottom will be filled in with wood.  This will decrease a little the amount of light that comes into the greenhouse but will protect the lower edge from damage.  The standard panel was a good financial choice as well as the custom panels were significantly more expensive.

Here is a picture from inside the greenhouse of Nathan suspended over the rigid roof panel.

This is Nathan at the peak of the roof.  The glazing panels are tucked underneath the shingles of the roof ridge cap and the shingles are folded over and fastened down. This completes the shingling on the north side of the roof and protects the top end of the panel from damage and rain.