Gardening · Homesteading · Urban Homesteading

Raising The Greenhouse

Marriage warning: Building a greenhouse can be a great activity. It might also cause fights 😉 Just remember that. Thankfully we apologize. Eventually. Lol….

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This all started with a lengthy discussion of where to put a greenhouse in the backyard. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut 😉 It would have involved a lot less work…lol

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So less than a year ago, when we started the project….we put in a framed kids play area. Which turned out the boys hated. Sigh. It was just too hot, always in the sun.

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So like normal people….we moved the whole stupid thing across the yard, to the area behind the house. It is only in the sun for a few short hours, so is useless for gardening. The house happens to shade this area nearly all afternoon in summer.

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Did I mention we had to move all that stupid mulch a second time? I never want to do that again!

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Although….now with it moved, the boys are out there all the time. It’s in the shade in the afternoon! And they love picnics right out of the back door at their little table. They went from never playing out there, to being outside a lot more on it.

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Once everything was moved, well we had a huge 20 by 20 foot square that was mostly flat and grass/weed free. Then we started thinking about do we build from scratch, or buy a kit?

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I knew SunGlo Greenhouses was made locally, just a few miles away from us in Kent, Wa. I called, and asked if we could come look in person. They even gave Kirk a tour in the back of their manufacturing area. I loved the look of them, with the elegant “onion” top.

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Two little boys playing inside one of the examples….

The long story is that after we had looked at them in person, we were sold on it. US made, by a local company, able to handle high winds (80 MPH!!) and designed by Boeing engineers….these greenhouses are nerd-tastic.

Then I noticed that they were being sold on Costco in 2 models, for a considerable savings. And they came with all the goodies – the heater, the racks, everything. We ordered that night. And the best part? The guys actually delivered the parts to us personally within a few days. Talk about service. They even talked about our site prep and all that.

I am not going to lie….it isn’t easy work to build one. That is, if you do it right. Trust me, I’m lazy. Thankfully Kirk isn’t and is a stickler with his levels…..SunGlo actually comes with highly detailed instructions, so you will do it right. That is the difference between a US made one, and a cheap import from China (cough Harbor Freight Tools cough). Really read the instructions. Realize it won’t go up quickly most likely, especially if like us, we do it after work, and on the weekends. We can’t work all day out there, as it gets really hot midday. Any questions we had though, the company was happy to answer. And Youtube. The videos for installing it were extremely helpful.

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So, with everything humming along…the digging started. We used the tiller to break up the land, then dug it out. We used the extra soil to fill in a bed we were making. So. Many. Rocks. I came up with many ways to use those rocks I might add…..In the end we went down 6 inches, which here with Cascade Concrete felt like 2 feet!

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Another view of the dug out area. We decided with the space it would go greenhouse, walk path, then garden bed.

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As we put in the foundation. The greenhouse is 12 feet long, but can be extended with kits. So we carved it to 15, and built the frame so we can easily add it on.

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After the foundation was built, we lined with plastic, then sand to level, then insulation, then gravel (with more sand in it) and leveled that. Why so much? This is to help with the insulating of the greenhouse for winter. We won’t be growing in the ground, and will run the heater in winter, so very important.

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Foundation done. It was a job in itself. I learned a LOT doing this, and am glad Kirk taught me. I felt like I had accomplished something pretty monumental for myself!

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First wall supports going in.

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Lower 3 walls done and capped on top!

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Putting in the double walls was a bit tricky at first, but with a lightly soapy solution in a spray bottle, we got it done. You really need two people to do the ceiling.

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We added in the shelving system, which Kirk stained. You can pop out sections of the wood, as needed.

Overall, we built 99% of the greenhouse in Spring, then let it sit all summer – in fact, the door didn’t start shutting at night until late September. During summer, we ran a box fan to circulate air, powered off our deep-cycle RV batteries (that are fed by solar panels). This winter, we will run the included space heater via solar power as well.

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The last major thing we did was this past weekend – we finally installed the two upper black vents (one on each end). There wasn’t any reason to do it till it got cold, we’d have left them open anyways.

The citrus trees are inside now, and quite happy, though I need to position them still (when built the foundation, we brought in plastic conduit pipes for the water and electrical – and we haven’t finished that interior part yet.

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However, one huge thing I have noticed as the nights gets cold is our foundation worked perfectly. There is no condensation inside! With our previous pop-up greenhouses we had (that were fabric), it was always so wet inside. I hated going inside it, as I’d get a shower. Literally!

It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t’ fast. But I can say that I am very happy with our greenhouse. It’s gorgeous and functional. And more so, I learned a LOT about building.

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