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SCHS Greenhouse Build  RSS feed

 
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
10
cat chicken urban
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So.. the digger is booked for the building of a climate-battery greenhouse.. and it's terrifying! The plan has been on the cards for about 3 years.. but I've only just been brave enough (well, I'm not honestly convinced that I actually am brave enough). I couldn't get any builders interested in doing the work for me, so will be doing it myself (with some help from my nephew)- the plus side being it is cheaper!

So on September 10th the minidgger arrives to dig out the whole thing- it is only a small greenhouse at 6m by 2.6m, hopefully a depth of 1m (depending on how much clay we hit). The next day me and the nephew will be building pillars out of hollow blocks- getting them straight and level may be interesting, putting rebar in and filling the blocks with concrete.
Wait for it all to set, then put the insulation (4 inch polystyrene) in and backfill the outside. Put the plenums in (210L blue barrels), and the pipe (4inch perforated drainage pipe) and start to refill the hole- I've got about a tonne of brick and gravel to go in as well as the soil that will have been dug out. I've also got an ibc container to be underground water storage.



The insulation and pillars will come up to ground level, and everything will be left to settle for a few months whilst I plan building the top half.

Even though I'm only doing half a greenhouse- I fear having a very expensive hole in the ground for months. I managed to renovate the house over 4 years without any stress.. yet I'm worried about the greenhouse.

It will be great when it is done, if it gets finished. I have grand plans for growing grape vines up the outside, having a hammock inside and being able to overwinter plants.

current building site:


Wish me luck! I hope we can do it in a week, and there's no reason it should take longer, other than every job you do yourself always takes longer than anticipated.
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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cat chicken urban
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First step was to clear the site, had forgotten how much garden was under the brambles! There was a pile of bricks and a load of slabs laid down the side, all of which were removed. And lots of dead wood, my 'wildlife pile' which will be reinstated after building (sorry frogs). I covered the area where the soil will be dumped with some tarps to make it easier to dig up again, and protected the grass with some sheets of ply. Just waiting for the digger now- it comes on Saturday.



My 'help' (my nephew) has got a job (yay!) so now can't help me.. so I'll be building it on my own.. which should be interesting...
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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cat chicken urban
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There is now a very large hole in the garden. Not quite a meter deep, only got to 80cm.



Lovely clay! Am saving some in bags to build a pizza oven or something out of.

Have found a brick wall going down the full depth.. maybe the remains of an old wartime bomb shelter? Doesn't seem to be a well wall.

 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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cat chicken urban
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Day 2 and we put in concrete pads for the pillars to sit on, and I dug down further to sink an ibc to store water.


Day 3 and the pillars go in- hollow blocks with poured concrete. They're massive, but I can't bricklay so this is the fastest way for me to build pillars. I tried to get cardboard tubes to pour concrete piers, but they don't seem to exist here and cost more than the blocks.


And I start putting in the perforated tubing for the climate battery bit. The first blue barrel will be the input plenum, and you can see the first btis of insulation going in on the right hand side. You'll also notice that the digger knocked the neighbours fence down!


This is taking loads of effort because we ran out of room to store the spoil- so we're digging stuff out and heaping it into the middle of the hole.. where later on we end up digging it out again.
 
pollinator
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Charli Wilson wrote:- I fear having a very expensive hole in the ground for months. 



This made me laugh.  I have a hole 12ft (4 meter-ish?) x 12 ft x 17 ft deep that has been in my yard for 3 years.  I would like it to be a root cellar some day...
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Slowly getting there...



that's the second layer of pipes going in. Have backfilled on the outside so that getting around it is slightly less dangerous, and have put the neighbours fence back up! Bottom right in the photo are some white boxes- they're temperature sensors going in at all different depths inside and outside, to see if it works after all of this!

Got to go back to work tomorrow, so the rest has to wait for the weekend- I'll have some help then though!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1786
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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Looking great!
Thank you for sharing your efforts.
I think SCHS green houses have a lot of potential, and having a first hand report from a Permie is invaluable.
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Second and third layer of pipes in and buried! Lots of smashed bricks and rubble in this layer.

Any ideas on what to use to exclude rodents? I fear they'll eat through the Styrofoam. I was thinking of standing paving slabs up against the foam, but invariable they'd be gaps somewhere that mice may get in.

I still have tonnes of soil to shift.. not entirely sure where it is all going to go... rest of my raised beds may be getting more raised! It all take sup much more room out of the hole in the ground!
 
William Bronson
pollinator
Posts: 1786
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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I wonder if rodents will even want in.
Maybe a layer of concrete,spread or poured on the outside of the insulation.

Or back fill with broken glass....
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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cat chicken urban
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I wouldn't have thought they'd necessarily want to live in there, but have been reading horror stories of them using Styrofoam and rockwool insulation as nesting material!

The pipe system is screened with stainless steel insect mesh, so that's pretty secure (and the pipes in the ground are surround by gravel and rubble, so good luck digging).

I live in an suburban area, no readily available food sources so there aren't many rodents here. Loads of pet cats around as well, so I'm probably worrying about nothing. I know a mouse lives in the shed, and had a rat in a compost heap once (he did a lovely job of aerating it, but left after I turned the heap).
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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cat chicken urban
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So... I still haven't finished the climate battery. The hole in the ground got sorted, but the big pile of leftover dirt hasn't been yet!





I fitted 4 layers of pipes in- those immediately above each other having different routes but all pipes being the same length.

My excuse is I'm 'waiting for it to settle'. Realistically.. it keeps raining and I'm a wuss, and my car broke down, and I just haven't got round to it yet.

It's cool to stand on the big pile of earth though- I can be nosy and see into the neighbours gardens, and take photos where you can actually see the garden layout.



I'll finish earth moving next weekend, honest. I've got some bulkbags to move the earth to- to store it until I make the raised beds inside the greenhouse. Building the top half of the greenhouse will not commence until next year when the weather improves, which gives me a few months to actually plan and design something!
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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I'm back to building the greenhouse! Finally! The base was built 18 months ago, this year I intend to try and build the top half!

When I built the base (I dug down 0.8m and put in 3 layers of 80mm perforated drain corrugated pipe, connected to 80 litre barrel 'manifolds', with 4inch eps insulation around) I sunk an ibc there (1m down) for water/heat storage. Unfortunatelly I didn't fill the plastic ibc container with water before filling in around it, and not surprisingly it cracked! No worries- I have another! So we raised the sunken one, to replace it with a new one... there's 15cm of water in the bottom of the ibc hole. This puts the water below my shcs system pipes (by a few cm).

There was no water when we dug the hole (in September 2016, until about January 2017 when it got filled in). I live on a huge hill and the groundwater is meant to be be some 27m below my garden. There is clay- a layer of it I didn't manage to get through at 1m deep! I can mostly empty the hole (with a bucket) but it fills back up (seeping from the clay- takes about an hour to refill)

Does it matter that this hole is flooded? If yes.. what can i do about it? If the water is moving I guess it will take my heat away with it. Any solution has to just involve handtools!


 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Having done a bit more digging- removing all the soil/clay that has fallen into the hole when I was filling up the sides.. most of the water has now gone! I think it was full of water due to rainfall (I'd basically created a pond with clay sides!), rather than any groundwater. This should no longer be a problem once I actually build the greenhouse on top! But I have also tried to pierce holes in the clay base- I highly doubt I got through the clay (which is allegedly metres thick here)- but it makes me feel like I've done something!
 
Posts: 5
Location: UK
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Best of luck!  I'm jealous of that digger - I'm digging out for my mike oehler inspired greenhouse using pick, shovel, sieve!  Mostly sand and stone.
Where are you in Derbyshire, might be good to compare results once we are both done as I'm in Sheffield
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 334
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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The digger was just a rental, it wasn't cheap but it sure beat me digging it all out by hand given the amount of bricks and concrete buried in the soil here!

And I'm in Alfreton- so not very far from Sheffield at all.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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It occurs to me that you could place a pump at the deepest point and use that groundwater in the future.
 
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