Scope Out a Family Greenhouse Grown From Scraps

“I’ve never been an idle person,” says Amy Moore. Aside from caring for a household of eight, picking and selling home made honey, and raising chickens and horses on her family’s 8-acre house, she’s recently built her own greenhouse using mainly recycled substances.

When picking 26 vintage oak casement windows at no cost from a glass cutter looking to unload them, Moore determined that constructing a greenhouse would be the ideal way to expand the brief Tennessee growing year and to get her kids involved in a purposeful home improvement project. With a circular saw, a jigsaw and a battery-powered drill, she spent about a month and less than $400 to erect an 8-foot from 8-foot greenhouse on her family’s ridge. Now she’s just itching to get the first season’s crops growing.

Resources abound for salvage projects like this — folks throw construction materials away all the time, and lots of stores specialize in classic and reclaimed materials.

When Moore was a youngster, she visited her grandfather’s lake home in Texas every summer. When”Granny needed a larger closet for canning,” she says, they drove around the neighborhood hunting for construction materials and”trash” that other people had chucked out and the resourcefulness of her grandfather stuck with Moore.

She stuffed all 26 windows into her Chevy Impala and schlepped them home — prior to taking stock of what she had. Putting them into greenhouse walls was”like putting together a mystery,” she says.

Assembling the greenhouse. Moore’s husband helped set up 4-foot parts of rebar into a railroad timber foundation. Moore attached 2-by-4 framing for the walls.

She included the three youngest of her six children (Anna, 10; Sarah, 12; and Zach, 15) extensively in this endeavor. Before they move from the home or get sucked into the active years of high school and college, she wishes to involve them in as many home jobs that would allow them to get their hands dirty as possible. They aided cut roof panels, applied the olive green paint and also helped with the framing.

Fourteen days later, the walls were up.

The windows and layout of the greenhouse strongly influenced its framing. Moore says that she framed the greenhouse rather unconventionally to adapt the maximum 27- by 42-inch window length. “Strong 2-by-4 horizontal beams between each row of windows provide stability and strength into the walls,” says Moore. “The weight load is completed from the flat beams and vertical 2-by-4 jack studs, while accommodating the existing pine frames of the windows.”

Building from the bottom up, Moore squared and plumbed the structure as she went. She used decking screws to build it, stating,”They don’t back out with the swell and contraction that wood goes through .”

Moore’s house is advantageously situated on the southeast side of a tall ridge, which provides shelter from many direct winds. “I do consider the 70-foot-tall trees a potential disaster. God willing, it’ll be here for a long time,” she says.

While Moore has a home renovation along with other garden construction projects under her belt, she is the first to admit that this project wasn’t without its own challenges. “I’m not an expert builder,” she says, and involving maneuvering a 6-foot-tall ladder on an 8-foot-tall wall and cutting rafters to fit flush on the roofing, Moore had her share of challenges. “I would take a glass of wine and stroll down to the hill and sit and stare at the greenhouse and contemplate,” she says. Taking a step back, she would believe,”I could get this. If I will pack six children in the van for a family excursion, find room for bag and have access to the cooler, I will earn a rafter fit flush on the roof.”

Fourteen days following the walls were up, a corrugated polycarbonate panel roof was around. While its longevity is yet to be determined, as of today it keeps the rain out. A pitched roof was initially envisioned, but this shed roof design demanded a whole lot less trimming and less square footage — a plus when the panels cost $30 apiece.

Bringing on heat. Winter on the ridge drops to temperatures in the teens, and Moore expects to utilize passive heating to warm the greenhouse. She’ll observe temperatures in it over the winter to find out if supplemental heating is required — solar panels, possibly. She’s looking forward to growing far more in the coming seasons, and maintaining a balmy temperatures of 65 degrees Fahrenheit within the winters could make a world of difference.

She caulked the windows and then let her children have a go using the olive oil paint. Moore says she’s only a few more trips to the glass using the razor blade left to proceed.

To control air and heat flow, a transom above the greenhouse door is going to be inserted. Silicone caulking will make the joints tighter. This greenhouse will be forever, says Moore.

Contemplating that the plantings. Moore says pomegranates are essential for growing. Her grandfather climbed pomegranates and Shasta daisies in Texas, and this homage to his influence really brings the process full cycle. Avocados are on the wish list too.

She’s considering salvaged stainless steel restaurant shelving for stacking and showing the plants. For the time being, two hanging planters and heirloom tomato cuttings are examining out states over winter while temperatures have been monitored and sunlight patterns detected.

Moore is looking forward to the time she will invest in her new greenhouse. “It is ideal,” she says. “It is quiet but not eliminated. You can just sit down there and watch the trees, the horses and enjoy the home.”

Let her procedure inspire your project. Here are the materials she used:
Foundation: Salvaged railroad timbers and 4-foot rebar piecesFraming: Different lengths of 2-by-4s; various-size timber for trim, door frame and baseWalls: 26 oak-framed windows of various sizes; exterior latex caulk, primer and paintRafters: Seven 10-foot spans of 2-by-6s, stained and sealedRoofing: Polycarbonate panels using attachments and foam insertsWindow ledges: Scrap 1-by-8 oak shelvesDeck screws (2 inch, 2 1/2 inches and 3 inches)Door hinges (smaller for side windows, bigger for door)Antique wood doorDecorative door header: Scrap plate railMore: See a greenhouse that’s a workplace, also

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