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My greenhouse journey

Posts: 2
Location: South Central Wisconsin
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As I stated in my introduction post, I wanted to share my experiences and what I have learned as I build our green house. So many have provided great information and it is time for me to provide something back (hopefully).

The Plan is to build a greenhouse That could support food growth into the winter, but yet be a very attractive center attraction for the backyard incorporating a small pond and a burn pit for the late night fire gazing.

General dimensions are simple 30'X30'. I live on a hill so when considering elevations the South wall will sit at zero grade, and the north wall sitting at -5'. West, north and east walls being a Hugelkultur berm. I want to incorporate two raised beds 4'x10' running north to south inset 3' from west and east Hugel bearms. The burn pit would be between these two raised beds at dead center.  I have an old cast iron wood burner sitting out back that I was going to nest in the NE corner, maybe build a Rocket stove inside it?... anyone try this?

What probably will be the most expensive part of this project, I want to design the roof to be adjustable to conditions. I have come up with a Flat roof style (5 degree) composed of 4'x4' panels that could be added or removed depending on seasonal weather patterns. I haven't worked out all the details entirely but this panel system would be designed to "leak" while incorporating a gutter system between the supporting structure of the grid.  I have seen the new industry Structurally Insulated Panels used on job sites and think they are quite slick, however i don't think they are that easy on the pocket book. Not to mention I am trying to build environmentally conscious. Snow load calculations put me near 65 PSF, so i don't think just stuffing an empty cavity with straw would be suffice. Any thoughts here?. Currently i'm thinking of purchasing the 2" Foil backed Polyisocyanurate sheets, cutting them in half for 4" of insulation and sandwiching them between Plywood... 1/2", maybe 5/8" if i have too.

Early this month I broke ground and have a 33x33 square graded into the hillside and obtained some free pea gravel from a family taking down a swing set, I try to justify the labor alternatively to the cost of a gym.  It sounded as if the landscaping company wanted to charge them twice what it was to bring the gravel in, to have it removed so I was doing them a favor too. Anyways, while I wait for dry weather I thought I should start this thread.

I haven't been on a lot of forums so I need to figure out how to post pictures. Pictures can probably animate the build much easier than i can describe them.

Until next time


Posts: 2737
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
forest garden trees urban
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I would use raised beds as the walls and hugel beds inside the greenhouse,because hugels settle.

Your plans for the roof panels are not so clear to me.
They sound opaque as well as insulating.
Posts: 1588
Location: Denver, CO
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A square is not the best shape for a greenhouse, generally, unless the whole roof is clear.

Also, I'm sure you know this, but I can't help saying that building a fire in an enclosed structure, either in a burn pit or in an unvented stove, is not a great idea.

Will the hugels just be in the structure, or will they BE the structure? I've heard that hugels used as retaining can sometime collapse with disastrous results.
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