Putting up a greenhouse

Seamus

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Just wanted to share a couple of pictures with the forum of a greenhouse we're putting up at our place here in Vermont. My mum applied for and won a grant that is paying most of the expense. We've done a little more work on it since this picture was taken, but this is about what it looks like now:

60877_441516943521_588023521_5096375_2285312_n.jpg


The dimensions are 26 by 84 feet. You can see the front of our tractor, a 35 hp machine, on the far left. We're planning to grow fall, winter and spring greens (spinach, chard, kale, lettuce, etc.) and onions in it primarily so that we have fresh food to eat all year, and we are going to sell to our local food coop.
 

unk

A Disturbance in the Force
Are you going to plant in it this fall? And how much does a greenhouse that size cost? I'm in NH and I built a small 3'x10' hoop house structure to attempt fall and winter greens. I used hollow core cinder blocks filled with hay and dry leaves topped with a solid block. I'll put plastic sheeting hoop style over it when the temperature drops. My neighbors grow for the food coop and they had harvestable spinach out uncovered until about mid-Dec.
 

Seamus

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Hi unk,

We are planning to plant this fall, but we haven't figured out how much we are going to plant. Our plan is to roughly follow the system laid out by Eliot Coleman in the New Organic Grower and the Winter Harvest Handbook which calls for rapid succession plantings in the greenhouse (for continuous production) in the fall and early spring. The greens are covered by an additional row cover within the greenhouse, for added protection from the cold. His research indicates that this system is like moving the greens 3 USDA zones south. For us here in Northern Vermont it would be like moving those rows of greens south to Virginia or North Carolina for the winter (zone 7).

I'm not sure exactly how much it costs, I think around $6,000. I think it depends alot on what kind of "extras" you build in, like extra bracing for wind and snow load, 1 or 2 layers of plastic, metal vs wooden end walls, etc. We did get extra bracing, which was not yet installed in the picture I posted above. There's also alot that goes into it beyond the cost of the greenhouse, like the site preparation, adding amendments to the soil, getting running water to the site and of course actually erecting the thing. Anyway, if you're interested, we purchased this greenhouse from Ledgewood Farm, which is in New Hampshire, so you should contact them if you are ever considering a commercial greenhouse. They make them on the small size as well, I think their smallest is 14 feet wide by 22 feet long, which would be much less expensive. I'd be happy to share the information about the grant with anyone who's interested as well, I believe they are planning another round for next year.

The greenhouse you built sounds like a great start. If you cover spinach it should hold all winter. We've had great luck with two varieties of spinach called Space and Winter Giant, with different varieties of kale, fordhook giant chard, a plant called Clatonia, or Miner's Lettuce and different types of mustard and arugula. Good luck!
 

Voyageur

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Seamas said:
Here's a picture from a couple of weeks ago that my aunt took.

149139_1726437726487_1404747918_31835116_4841323_n.jpg

All is very nice Seamas, great job, good location & good on your mom for finding the grant :cool2:
 

Seamus

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Thanks Parallax!

Its been great to have in the last 2 months, nice and warm inside even with snow on the ground outside. Today we're having thunderstorms and rain and warm weather, so we're hoping the last of the snow will melt. Inside the greenhouse we have pak choi, swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, garlic and kale growing. I'll post more pictures when I have time.
 

Gonzo

The Living Force
Wow, Seamas, you must be proud of your efforts.

I have a friend who has been harvesting 4 seasons up here in Ontario, Canada, using a hoop garden. He has two layers of plastic, with a dead air space of several inches (I'd guess about 8") between the layers.

When I last visited him in the winter, he was growing certain squash, tubers and winter greens (spinach, swiss chard, etc.).

I was surprised to see that he had to vent out some air because it was too hot, in the middle of winter!

They were using large containers of water to help hold temperature with plenty of mulch and hay for added insulation.

I found a forum a while ago dealing with 4-season gardening at _http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/fourseason/, if anyone is interested.

I'm glad you posted. Eventually, I'd love to have a greenhouse/patio combination where I could sit and have my breakfast and morning cigarettes in the bleak mid-winter. But I have to start somewhere within my means, perhaps by starting with building cold frames.

Thanks again,
Gonzo

Gonzo
 

bngenoh

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Gonzo said:
I found a forum a while ago dealing with 4-season gardening at _http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/fourseason/, if anyone is interested.

Gonzo

Very timely thanks
 

fabric

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That's a very nice green house! :)

Thanks for posting.... you've inspired me to look into doing something like this. We have a decent size yard at our home in the city, so I could probably get a small one put up. It's great to be able to grow your own food!
 

Voyageur

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Thanks for the garden forum link Gonzo - came across these series of videos on larger Hoop houses and snow removal strategies. _http://www.gardenguides.com/107574-build-hoop-greenhouse.html
 

Griller

The Force is Strong With This One
Gonzo said:
I have a friend who has been harvesting 4 seasons up here in Ontario, Canada, using a hoop garden. He has two layers of plastic, with a dead air space of several inches (I'd guess about 8") between the layers.

When I last visited him in the winter, he was growing certain squash, tubers and winter greens (spinach, swiss chard, etc.).

I was surprised to see that he had to vent out some air because it was too hot, in the middle of winter!

They were using large containers of water to help hold temperature with plenty of mulch and hay for added insulation.

I found a forum a while ago dealing with 4-season gardening at _http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/fourseason/, if anyone is interested.

Glad to hear! Since your friend is in Canada it can't be too warm winters there... I suppose -20C the lowest at least in his area? If so, you just set me at a great ease friend. I've been planning to buy a piece of land in two years from now, to start some larger scale gardening, winter gardening in a greenhouse like your friend, and I've red about winter greenhousees briefly but didn't think it might be possible without a lot of extra heating tricks in this climate. Did my research on those tricks already, from air heating pumps and right colored material and reserving fireplaces to plants that produce heat and how you utilize sunlight better for heating, that's linked with reflecting and black materials

If that greenhouse warms up so efficiently, then building one right next to the living house for humans might actually save a pretty penny with the warming expenses, ground heat pumps are quite expensive. Thanks!
 

Mr.Anderson

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I bet you get some serious cold up there. Are you going to add lots of mass (water or concrete blocks) to hold heat at night? Looks great! Congrats.
 

davey72

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Gonzo said:
Wow, Seamas, you must be proud of your efforts.

I have a friend who has been harvesting 4 seasons up here in Ontario, Canada, using a hoop garden. He has two layers of plastic, with a dead air space of several inches (I'd guess about 8") between the layers.

When I last visited him in the winter, he was growing certain squash, tubers and winter greens (spinach, swiss chard, etc.).

I was surprised to see that he had to vent out some air because it was too hot, in the middle of winter!

They were using large containers of water to help hold temperature with plenty of mulch and hay for added insulation.

I found a forum a while ago dealing with 4-season gardening at _http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/fourseason/, if anyone is interested.

I'm glad you posted. Eventually, I'd love to have a greenhouse/patio combination where I could sit and have my breakfast and morning cigarettes in the bleak mid-winter. But I have to start somewhere within my means, perhaps by starting with building cold frames.

Thanks again,
Gonzo

Gonzo
Wow, this is awesome. This may be the direction i have been looking for with regards to my own life. Is there any type of link you may have to show me how to keep the heat in the winter?
 

Seamus

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Hi guys, thanks for the encouraging words. We've done a ton of work on it this summer, so I'll see if I can get a few more pictures up in the next few days. There are a bunch of tomatoes in it that we're growing for the local restaurant I work at and we're planting about half of it to winter greens spinach, chard, and kale.

Gonzo said:
I'm glad you posted. Eventually, I'd love to have a greenhouse/patio combination where I could sit and have my breakfast and morning cigarettes in the bleak mid-winter. But I have to start somewhere within my means, perhaps by starting with building cold frames.

Thanks Gonzo, sorry I never wrote back in the spring. It was really nice to go out there in the spring and on a sunny day and work in a t shirt when it was 0F outside. Cold frames would be a great place to start. If you'd like a great reference book you might try Cold Climate Gardening by Lewis Hill. He lived one town over from me and was a friend of mine before he passed away a few years ago. There are lots of simple ideas in his book, like using old hay bales to build wind breaks behind tomatoes, and plans for cold frames and hot boxes.

davey72 said:
Wow, this is awesome. This may be the direction i have been looking for with regards to my own life. Is there any type of link you may have to show me how to keep the heat in the winter?

Griller said:
Glad to hear! Since your friend is in Canada it can't be too warm winters there... I suppose -20C the lowest at least in his area? If so, you just set me at a great ease friend. I've been planning to buy a piece of land in two years from now, to start some larger scale gardening, winter gardening in a greenhouse like your friend, and I've red about winter greenhousees briefly but didn't think it might be possible without a lot of extra heating tricks in this climate. Did my research on those tricks already, from air heating pumps and right colored material and reserving fireplaces to plants that produce heat and how you utilize sunlight better for heating, that's linked with reflecting and black materials

If that greenhouse warms up so efficiently, then building one right next to the living house for humans might actually save a pretty penny with the warming expenses, ground heat pumps are quite expensive. Thanks!

Mr.Anderson said:
I bet you get some serious cold up there. Are you going to add lots of mass (water or concrete blocks) to hold heat at night? Looks great! Congrats.

It does get cold in the winter. In December, January and February the night time temperatures regularly drop to -20F/-30C, and there are usually a couple of nights when we get a -40F/-40C reading just before dawn. I picked up some funky little black heat retention tubes at a greenhouse auction, and I've tried big 50 gallon barrels filled with water, but I think the mass of the ground is what is most important. We are building raised beds, which will help keep the frost out on the edges, and we might eventually replace the cedar logs we have now with bricks or concrete to add thermal mass. We used both clear plastic and spun polyester fabric, one brand is called agribond, to cover the crops inside the greenhouse. So you end up with a little mini greenhouse inside the big greenhouse. We found that second covering really helped to moderate the temperature swings in the spring, which lessens shocks on the plants.

After reading the Vegetarian Myth I have mixed feelings about this greenhouse. I am proud of all of the work that went into building it and I'm looking forward to all of the food we are going to grow this winter, but I am also struck by the enormous amount of petroleum energy that went into producing all of the metal and plastic. We purposely chose a growing system that doesn't require supplemental heat, and we are focusing primarily on growing winter greens and treating traditional greenhouse crops like cukes and tomatoes as a secondary crop.

Anyway, nice to log in and see your comments, I'll add greenhouse pics to my to do list. :)
 
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