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Mike's passive solar greenhouse design/build

 
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
1090
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Wow, two months without an update?!?!?!  I guess the spring and summer homestead projects are getting in the way.

Since the last photos, I've done very little construction.  I added a handrail to the platform above the compost bin.  It's turning out to be a nice place to lay and soak up the rays.  Can't wait to do that in the winter when I'm looking to get warmed up.  Still need to do the handrail along the catwalk...

I purchased some vent openers called Vent-L from Russia.  They supposedly were the strongest vent openers on the market, capable of raising a 220 lb vent.  They didn't work.  So I got two Gigavents instead.  They have three pivot attachment points so you can set them to be stronger with a shorter opening distance or weaker with a longer throw (or in the middle).  I put the first one in the middle position and it worked!  I put the second one in the weakest spot and it still operated and opened the vent further.  Yay!  That's pretty cool because the vents are 4' by 8' with a 2x4 pine frame, 4" of polyiso insulation and steel roofing on the outside.  So they probably weigh 60-80 lbs each.

So far I've found that they both start to open when it gets up to 80F in the greenhouse at ground level.  Perfect for my needs (I think).

I have two of the lower vents open all the time, as well as one person door.  Then as it heats up, the upper vents will open and let the excessive heat out.  I'm still waiting for a hot sunny day (90F) to see how hot it gets in there.  On an 80F sunny day it stayed a bit under 100F inside.  If I can ventilate this huge sun trap of a greenhouse with just two upper vents, I'll be ecstatic

In the plant department, the seedlings all grew up and got planted outside.  Some are in the front planting bed (peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, holy basil).  A patch of peas is in full production and we ate peas on June 1st.  I potted up the citrus trees to a larger set of pots a few days ago.  Yesterday my papaya, coffee and pepper (piper nigrum) seeds arrived so I got them planted.  Bananas, dragonfruit, mango, avocados, miracle berry and finger lime trees are on order and should arrive any day now.

I'll put most of those in pots and probably start some more ground cover plants and other legumes growing in the ground in the mean time.  Nothing too valuable in case I have to dig it up to run waterlines or something.

Last night we sat out there at dusk plotting where the big trees will go (so we could plant papaya seeds in the right spots).  A few frogs have found their way into the greenhouse and they started singing and it was deafening.  It will be neat to see if our local frogs will stay active and overwinter inside the greenhouse.  Otherwise I may look into some tropical frogs and snakes to add some life to the place year round.
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pollinator
Posts: 435
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Looking good! The height on the greenhouse makes for an amazing building (2.5m height restriction on garden buildings where I am!).

I wish you well with the tropicals. I failed with papaya this year (nothing germinated), but my coffee plant has ripening beans on it! It is exciting growing stuff you 'can't' grow in your climate.
 
Mike Jay
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Thanks Charli!  Yes I love the height.  It's about 17' high to the bottom of the ridge beam.  Should be plenty of room for the taller trees.  Or a ton of potted plants along the catwalk.

Just got the new property tax assessment.  Apparently the tax man thinks it's worth $16,300.  I'll probably go along with that

I don't even really like papayas but they're supposed to be a fast crop, they don't take up much room and they look really tropical.  We'll see...
 
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Hey there. I am working a greenhouse design in Maine and was wondering if I understand correctly that your foundation was only 7 inches deep? No trouble with heave so far above the frostline? i am looking for a design that uses minimal amount of concrete. I have been thinking of just some beams at grade on bigfoot/sauna tube piers but found your design interesting.
 
Mike Jay
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Hi Peleg, yes the footing is shallow.  Anywhere from 7" to 20" deep due to the contour of the land.  I think it's called a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation.  It would heave if it wasn't for the styrofoam that I installed down a foot along the outside of the footing and then out 3'.  My frost depth here is 4' and that doesn't have to be in a straight line.  So the frost has to go down a foot to get under the skirt of styrofoam and then travel 3' under it before it can get to the foundation.

No problems yet.

I've been working on other homestead stuff this summer but I'm due to take some photos and get an update on here.  As a teaser, I have bananas in the ground
 
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