Greenhouse Progress


Greenhouse North End Wall

After we got done putting up the ribs the whole greenhouse structure was a bit on the wibbly side. Grab one end, shake and it felt like giant slinky. With the addition of the end walls and extra diagonals the structure is much more rigid.


Greenhouse North End Wall Shadow Patterns

The north end wall will be mostly closed to block out the cold north winds of winter. During the warm seasons we’ll open that up for cross drafts when growing plants in the warmer space created by the greenhouse.


Greenhouse Impersonating Moby Dick on Beach

A sub-goal with the greenhouse is that it will offer us an extended growing season when the pigs are not using it for farrowing during the winter months. We’ll be able to start seedlings for transplanting as well as growing somethings in there that would like a bit more heat and longer growing season than we reliably get here on Sugar Mountain.


South Herd Sleeping in Nest, Unknowingly Awaiting Greenhouse

We are located in a USDA Zone 3b area where the “Average Annual Extreme Minimum Temperature” gets down to -35°F to -30°F. We had a taste of that the other day when it dropped to -34°F. The deep pack bedding and wind block of terrain, trees and bales keeps the pigs warm. With this cold we’ve been having challenges with engines starting as it has been not quite that cold each successive night but too close for the comfort of machinery. We and the animals handle the cold better than machinery. The dogs positively love it with their deep triple thick fur coats.

Outdoors: 4°F/-22°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/57°F

Daily Spark: Now we return to abnormal.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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13 Responses to Greenhouse Progress

  1. Mike says:

    Did you ever hear of leaving the north end open and closing up the rest ? The wind pressure is supposed to stop incoming snow or rain.

    • I have a structure that I inadvertently did that in and it resulted in snow deep through the whole structure. The wind brings in snow that settles. Because we have near constant wind from the north it means more snow than you get from vertical snowing as it’s wind blown. This is how it settles and fills in depressions that can create deep traps on the landscape.

  2. Edmund Brown says:

    It looks like the door headers on the end walls are composed of a stack of dimensional lumber laid flat, so to speak, as opposed to on edge and sistered together. Out of curiosity, why did you elect to build them that way?

    That is going to be a pretty slick pig house set-up btw.

    • Simplicity and strength using existing scrap material. This is strong. Our soils are interesting, shall we say, so putting in posts is a difficult. Rocks, ledge… We never know when we’ll hit bottom. I wanted to get them as deep as possible for strength and ended up getting them deeper than I expected, a good thing, making them shorter than I needed, a bad thing. The scraps built up the pillars a little. Incidentally it gave me a chance to shorten the span by doing the typical barn doorway that comes in a little at the corners which aren’t needed as the tractor tires aren’t that tall, just the roll over bar.

      • Edmund Brown says:

        I understand the little post extension ledges. They make sense to me. I was trying to ask about the members that span the bay doors. Why are those longer spans composed of “flat” pieces? Ease of nailing to the post cantilever ledges? “Standard carpentry” would have them on edge and then attached to each other.

        I’m not worried about the structural integrity of your hoop end walls. They look plenty strong from here. Just curious.

        • Ah, that has to do with what we had available for scrap pieces of salvaged wood from other projects. I wanted each of the three bay doors to have at least one piece that was continuous. A single 2×8 was sufficient strength. Two is better. By layering the three over this odd distance I got at least two in all places. The strength you’re thinking of comes more from the stud wall and plywood sheathing above.

  3. am in the pm says:

    Any plants you were planning grow that previously were unable or have difficulty previously growing ?

  4. Walter which greenhouse package are you building? I was recently looking through a catalog and didn’t see the size that you had quoted

    Joshua Rockwood
    West Wind Acres

    • We have a modified version of the 103758 from Farm Tek which is 38′ wide x 96′ long. The frame is just over 15′ tall at the center ridge plus the post foundation that brings it up to about 21′ tall.

      Instead of having ground posts we have feet that anchor the frame to the wooden header on the foundation instead of the typical ground posts.

      We added extra diagonals and a will be doing a center ridge pole for extra support since we’re in deep snow country and I don’t like the idea of it collapsing. The end walls also strengthen the building.

      For a covering we’re using the double layer film so as to maximize light which is something the pigs had on their list of favorite features. The typical livestock cover blocks about 50% of the light. In our dimmer climate that’s a lot of lost light, especially in the winter which is when we need it.

      We’ve had a series of fairly temporary hacked together greenhouses over the past decades and I’ve long wanted to build something much larger to give the animals better lounging space in the winter as well as getting a longer growing season. The two goals are quite compatible as they key together in time. Over the winter the animals add nutrients to the space the plants will grow in the warm months as well, another good interrelation. For the livestock, having a space that blocks the wind while letting in sunlight makes a big difference. Cold isn’t so bad but our near constant wind is hard for all of us. All of our various open sheds have achieved that to varying degrees. With the big greenhouse I hope to take that one step further shifting January to be more like October or November for at least a small space.

  5. Luise says:

    Woah, I love greenhouses! One thing I’m wondering about though, is that you’re using wood for the walls. In the greenhouses I have been in it’s always been very moist, wouldn’t the wood rot very quickly in such a moist environment? Or do the drafts keep it dry? Can you enlighten me? :)

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