Tuesday, March 30, 2010
We've had some greehouse questions, so I'm including an aerial view of a section of our backyard, taken two years ago during construction to our house (standing on our roof)! Our greenhouse is a very simple passive solar design, meaning facing due south and absorbing the sun's heat through the glass and using rainbarrels filled with water and painted black as a heat sink. We also have a permaculture "keyhole" shaped bed that is sunk into the ground and built as a raised bed style, which also holds heat and moisture for plants that are directly planted in it (this is where we plant our winter greens).
The greenhouse - we built this greenhouse ourselves in the second or third summer we were living on this property. It seemed a crucial outbuilding to have, as we wanted to grow greens in the winter as well as have a place to keep our seedlings in spring before they went out to the garden. Ideally, we would have liked to attach the greenhouse to our home, creating a warm sunny living space filled with edible greens, kitchen herbs, etc - and using the passive solar gain to heat our home. However, sadly, given the layout of our urban property, this design did not work for this house - attaching a large enough south facing greenhouse to our home would have meant it would have been directly on the sidewalk.
So the greenhouse is in our backyard, attached to an old "barn" with second floor loft that was pre-existing on the property when we moved here. The greenhouse is solid wall construction on the north side, and the southern side has fibreglass reinforced plexiglass windows (4x8 sheeting at $65/sheet - for the person who was wondering how much it cost. This was the cost about 7 years ago). We used the plexiglass rather than old storm windows made of glass (which are usually a great option, and often available for free) because we have a large black walnut tree towering over our greenhouse - it would have damaged the glass with the large walnuts raining down in the fall! As it is, the plexiglass has slowly accumulated a dark stain which we can only assume is from the dripping of the black walnut leaves. We'll have to do some serious cleaning this year, if not even buy new plexiglass soon.
Along the north wall we have our rainbarrels, a long planting table to work on the length of the wall, and shelving to hold our trays and plant pots, garden tools and watering cans. The interior wood for shelving to hold seedling trays is reclaimed from various construction projects including some shelves made from beautiful rustic 100 year-old wooden beams and flooring boards.
Some useful greenhouse/coldframe resources:
- old Harrowsmith & Mother Earth News books/magazines
- The Greenhouse Gardener's Companion, by Shane Smith
- Four Season Harvest, by Eliot Coleman
- The Winter Harvest Handbook, by Eliot Coleman
- Solar Gardening, by Leandre Poisson and Gretchen Vogel Poisson
- The Solar Greehouse Book, by James McCullugh (Rodale Press)