Choosing to build your own greenhouse is an easy decision to make, and it’s not as hard as you may think. As with any project, just break this one down into steps and you won’t get overwhelmed. While the build itself can be done in two days with a helper. I chose to go it alone and enjoy the process over two weeks…with an unplanned four week break thanks to heavy rains, and then heavy frost, and then more heavy rains – in case you thought this would go perfectly, mother nature has her own ideas.
This is a 12’x24’ design with a 6’8” ceiling height. You will want to keep the doors open all summer, and closed most of the winter. In total it is just shy of 300 sqft. I have a starting table, some tools and a few chairs to take it easy with friends and enjoy the view, so it’s closer to 200 sqft of growing space. Still, plenty for me.
Firstly, you will always want to run this East to West so that the southern sun can come through the long side.
If you are in the Northern states you will want to avoid shade until about 4 or 5pm during summer.
If you are below 40 degrees latitude, the sun is pretty intense and any poorly designed greenhouse can cook your plants.
Since this design does not include sides that roll up, Southern residents will want to incorporate a time or two where there will be shade from a tree or other structure. It’s hot in North Carolina in general, and in summer I have a Hickory shade it from 9am to Noon, and a birch shade it from 4pm until 6pm. This cools the inside significantly, and using trees is a great idea since the leaves fall and more heat gets in as winter comes on.
Using an immovable structure for shade can create unwanted cold in the winter. Keep these on the North side to block wind and trap heat behind it.
To power the house, energy is collected from the wind and the sun. The energy that is collected is stored in batteries, which are kept on the roof.
The Earthship comes with what is known as a Power Organizing Module (POM), which takes the power from the battery and converts it so you can use it for AC. The house can also access city grid electricity. These Earthships do not just rely on solar heat to stay warm, tire walls are used to store heat during the day and give off heat in the night.
Pick a level spot, or one that can be leveled.
Pick a spot that is up-slope of any drainage zones like hills or ditches, you do not want water coming under and getting your roots soggy.
Notice on the left edge of the photo that the low point of the afternoon sun in winter will still just touch the edge of the greenhouse. Five feet left would have been a poorer choice. Honestly, it took me two years staring at light angles to figure out where this should go, so don’t rush it.
You will need to spend some time prepping the ground if you use the native soil as a base layer. This will include tilling in anything currently growing.
You can also roll out fabric and put soil on top, but I feel that limits growing deep rooted plants.
You will then want to check the PH of the native soil and amend as needed. A soil sample will not be necessary because this layer will be beneath 4 to 6 inches of good topsoil to be brought in.
Try not to mix the native soil with the stuff you bring in – this will keep the weeds down and help control any soil diseases.
I built mine in early Spring and used leftover wood ashes to amend the soil and adjust the PH. I felt this was a great natural and sustainable option over using lime. I also made a bonfire in the middle with branches from trimming a nearby birch, an equally sustainable choice for soil amending. Went from 5.2 to 6.5.
Note: All wood used is pressure treated and should be left outside in the rain away from the greenhouse site for a few weeks. If you can afford cedar or locust then do so, but it will definitely be over $500. If you are trying to certify organic, or practice 100% organic, you may not use pressure treated wood, but this design will still work great for whatever you choose!
We are going to plant the door into concrete post holes and then tie it to the bottom frame. This is a key part of the “windproof” factor. These door frames will also be buttressed against the ridge posts, and they don’t budge one bit in a stiff Carolina wind.
Read the full story HERE: http://www.newsprepper.com/build-300-square-foot-windproof-hoop-house-500/#.WLlWkTt96Uk