It’s almost Spring at the homestead and we have been blessed with a few days with decent weather. Less than three weeks ago it was -12F as the high with a low of -16F (for those of you on the metric system that is very, very cold). This first week of March we had 3-4 days where it was Sunny with a high of 70F and lows in the 50’s before the weather started to turn back to typical Spring and start getting rainy and gloomy and colder.
So, while the weather was nice we started to layout the greenhouse that we are building. Our house is a brick airplane-style bungalow with a long side facing South, a great place for a greenhouse. The only downside is that the kitchen windows look outside onto the yard right where we want to put the greenhouse. Never Fear – the Mad Farmer has a plan for that!
Several years back the Mad Farmer and Miss Mercy were at the Mother Earth News Fair and met Marc Plinke, the author of the “The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse”. Mr. Plinke was a physicist before designing greenhouses and is a fascinating fellow and a wealth of information. We discussed the Farmer’s proposed plans and it was pointed out that the greenhouse should not be built directly against the brick because that would trap moisture and the brick would degrade and crumble. Great information to have! So the plans changed to build the greenhouse out a couple of feet from the wall to prevent moisture problems. That also allows for a neat space to store ladders, so win-win.
Originally the plan was to build the greenhouse to 10’x17′ to take full advantage of the area from the deck to the first kick-out wall where the dining room is built, as Jack Spirko says “no one ever said I wish I had built my greenhouse smaller”. Little did we know that in the last several months that lumber prices in Kansas have almost tripled! So, rather than fight odd sizing we scaled it back slightly to 8’x16′ to take advantage of dimensional lumber. We use recycled materials whenever possible but sometimes you have to bite-the-bullet and buy some things to finish a project.
We have been collecting windows from various sources over the last couple of years after we decided to put in a greenhouse. We picked up some excellent windows from a house that the Farmer’s brother (The Renaissance Dude) is flipping, extra windows from a co-worker and a random blessing when someone in the neighborhood was removing a screened-in porch. Sadly we haven’t been able to find anyone getting rid of polycarbonate roofing…
As with most of the projects the Farmer sketched out a rough draft with dimensions. Excuse the lack of artistic ability.
Then, because we have a large deck (Mad Farmer and Miss Mercy love decks), we decided to use screws and string to define what the back and side walls of the greenhouse would look like so we we could layout the windows and see how they might fit together in the finished walls.
To our great relief we had plenty of windows and most of them will be useful. Miss Mercy oversaw the arrangements, added feedback and helped clarify where the doors will go and various and other sundry things we think about.
The farmer took a break to attend a Pantry Management webinar put on by Nicole Sauce at the Living Free in Tennessee podcast (great content, well worth the time). Through it all our fierce guard dog Sasha kept watch for nefarious critters that might interrupt the process.
By the end of the afternoon we had decided what windows go where, adjusted the dimensions, discussed materials and type of floor (probably going to end up gravel), discussed if we were going to install a Rocket Mass Heater (probably at some point – stay tuned for that) and then labeled all the windows and sketches to show where they were going, and took the screws and string off the deck (oops, missed one, found that out the hard way)!
All-in-all a pretty productive afternoon and a great way to spend a nice day after months of cold and gloom.