7000feet

15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

7000feet
December 19, 2010

Perhaps we can encourage you to build your own greenhouse if you - like us - after looking at the options of GH kits determined we could build more for the same price if we did it ourselves. Following are photos of our GH that my wife designed and my sons and I constructed under her supervision. First step was to visit all the GH's we could to decide what type of GH would fit our needs. After drawing sketches of the GH we put together a material list and established our budget. Next we rented a backhoe and dug a trench for our electricity and water to the GH.{{gwi:310107}}

We staked out the GH foundation - verified the diagonals - then made sure the water hydrant and electrical wires were located where we wanted them. Next step was to frame the foundation forms for the GH. We used 2x12's. We did not insulate around the perimeter of the GH because we planned for raised beds.

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We framed the GH with 2x6" redwood - we wanted the side walls tall enough for the raised beds inside the GH and to make sure we had the height we needed for the doors and windows to fit under the rafters on the end walls.{{gwi:310109}}

All framing is 24 1/8" OC as required to install the polycarbonate. The windows and doors were framed to manufactures specs along with the Gable fan and vent louvers. The raised beds inside the GH were built next and were filled with top soil using my tractor.

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The installation of the triple wall polycarbonate was next but first the redwood received two coats of semi-transparent stain and varnish to protect against rot, mildew and UV rays. The polycarbonate went on easier than expected - the pitch of the roof actually made it somewhat easy.{{gwi:310111}}

After the polycarbonate on the roof was installed - the windows, doors, automatic fan & louvers were mounted. {{gwi:310112}}

Then the side and end wall polycarbonate was installed. The GH is almost complete - I still need to install remaining trim & ridge cap on the exterior and finish the remaining raised beds and wok tables etc on the interior and complete the electrical work.{{gwi:310113}}

The project was very enjoyable and satisfying and should last for years of productive green-housing and when compared to kits - the cost per square foot was much less. It seems a greenhouse is never big enough but this size seems to fit a happy middle. This post is mostly for those who want a greenhouse but a little nervous about starting and how to go about it. Good luck building your GH - it is well worth the effort in our opinion.
Follow-Up Postings:

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

What a beautiful greenhouse you have. Looks like something out of a catalog.

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

Thanks - we had fun building it. I forgot to mention that our property is located in Wyoming where there is a layer of top soil and then rocks beneath so the shallow footings for a GH house at least, work here. When our well was drilled - it was 40' to measureable water - in other words - our soil drains very well.
FYI, 7000feet

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

Thoroughly impressive!

You must have construction experience, yes? This looks like a top-notch job, and not your average DIY project. Your property is beautiful too.

I'll look forward to seeing how you set it up on the inside. What are you planning for flooring, benches, etc?

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

This isn't our first project! I was raised on a farm and taught to do it or figure it out. My wife & sons were very helpful. My sons used to be the goffers on projects when they were teenagers - now I am the goffer and actually enjoy my new roll.
We learned that the successful do-it-yourselfer isn't afraid to try anything but smart enough to know when to get advice and professional help!

I pulled the engine out of my toyota pick up and replaced it with a rebuilt (my 16 yr old) son buried it in the nearby river trying out his 4-wheeling skils but didn't bother to check the depth of the water - luckily he was able to swim out - we found the truck downstream a few hundred feet and pulled it out with the tractor. The engine gave up shortly after and of course my son bought the rebuilt and helped me replace it. I hired a repair shop to hook up the electrical cause I didn't have a clue and not interested in learning. The greenhouse was much eaiser than that!

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

That's a great story! I can only imagine the sinking feeling that must have accompanied the truck floating away. Impressive that you all got it running again. And of course, thank goodness your son was OK and no doubt learned some life lessons in the process!

Does your whole family pitch in with gardening and harvesting tasks as well? Or is the garden primarily your domain?

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

We are empty nesters now but my sons (5) and daughters (2) picked up on the "independent/self reliant" life style and we all help each other. We have work parties when any of us want to do a project and everyone comes and helps. Then with gardening - I grow the cold weather veggies and beef for everyone cause I have the acreage and equipment (but short on time) - another son grows the corn and tomatoes because he lives in Utah - everyone has their own families and gardens but we get together to harvest/canning/etc. Our new greenhouse will enable us to grow tomatoes now that we have dearly missed. I see you love them too! I have to admit that I have never eaten one (that I know of) like your tomatoes though - should we try them? What the heck are they? We usually plant early girl or beefsteak cause of our short season.
Do you get help from your husband/kids on your place - I don't think there is a weed there - someone spends a lot time - it looks wonderful

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

What kind of heat are you using and what temp are you able to maintain?

The GH looks great and no matter how big you make them they are never big enough.

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

More cabin fever reliever. Thank you!

Dan

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

We are not currently heating the GH because the winter temperatures drop to 0 to -40. Please read the soil heat cable thread on this forum. we are experimenting with soil cables for winter use. If you have any suggestions other than gas/wood/solar or electrical let me know. The cost to heat it doesn't offset the produce during winter months in our opinion.

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

7000ft, I am totally convinced you ought to write a book. Your family sounds very interesting and it sounds like you all work as a cooperative of sorts. How much of your food do you produce?

The tomatoes that I grow are primarily for sauce, so I use Roma-type tomatoes. They are odd-looking, being long and quite large. The variety I grew this year was Super San Marzano. I've tried some others, but this one is the best. The sauce-type tomatoes are awesome for making sauce. They are very meaty with minimal juice and seeds. Making sauce is a breeze because you can skip the steps for squeezing the juice and seeds out. According to the catalogs, some varieties have pectin in them that helps to thicken the sauce.

We ended up with 25 jars of sauce in the freezer. That is a record for us, so we are pleased! That's 25 dinners during ski season that I don't have to cook. :)

I also grow a cherry tomato and some sandwich-type tomatoes. I've had good luck with Early Wonder, which is early yet tasty. (way better than early girl!) Inside the GH we enjoy our first tomatoes in mid-July. Without the GH we are lucky to get any red tomatoes at all. I'm sure it's the same for you.

My gardening efforts are pretty much solo, but my husband was instrumental in building the GH and in helping look after things as needed. He is an expert at raising seedlings because I tend to travel a lot in the spring. He also built a root cellar and he is fully on board with our quest to grow as much food as possible. It's a bit of an oddball pursuit, so I'm happy that he's into it!

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

My wife told me she bet they were Roma-type tomatoes. We need to get into tomato sauce - we do have a juicer and bottled tomato juice last fall. Thanks for the info on the variety you like - this year will be a first for tomatoes in a GH.
Thanks for your recommendation about writing a book - maybe when someday when I retire - I may have the time then - should keep getting photo library in case it ever happens? We are not a cooperative - just a close family that gets along and enjoys getting together for work or play. We stay our of each others business but love to do stuff together. I'll invite you to our blog if you are interested.
Have fun skiing!

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

Very nice!

Just wondering what the height is of the roof?

And...

Budget?

Thanks

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

qrper,
The height at the top of the ridge is 16'. The height allows for a lot of air movement inside plus hanging planters. It also allows for plant growth like pole beans in raised beds - the cubic feet makes it difficult to heat in our zone though.

The cost of the GH can vary so much based on the material you use - Redwood/Cedar/Fir/Pine - Wood Stain/No Stain - Cement/pole barn construction - polycarbonate/GH plastic - layers/thickness of polycarbonate - windows/doors - raised/no raised beds - top soil for raised beds - electrical/water - etc etc. The labor is also an issue - we saved 1/2 the cost by building it ourselves. You can see that there are a lot of variables. You would have to develop your own budget based on how you wanted to build it. To give you a rough estimate - a GH like this would cost approximately between $8-20K - plus labor.
Hope that helps.

RE: 15'X28' Do-it-Yourself Greenhouse

Wow!

It sure looks higher than that. I'd guess from the photos it was at least 20 feet high at the peak.

Yes, building practices and labor will have a big bearing on costs. I can't even get a price of red wood here in Ohio.

Again, looks great.

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