How We Built Our Greenhouse
Hello, friends! If you don't follow us on Instagram or Facebook, which you definitely should - that's where all of the day-to-day action happens! - then you might have missed that we've been building our brand new and beloved greenhouse for the past few months. It's my new favorite place, and I haven't been able to get myself out of there for the past week. I just love it so much! When we revealed a photo of the finished product earlier this week, I believe the number one question we received was, "How did you build this?!" and "Are you going to share your building plans?" Well, I can't say we'll be sharing the plans, at least not yet (update - we are working on some building plans that can be used for newer windows!). The greenhouse was designed entirely around the reclaimed windows that we'd been collecting, so it would be difficult to sell a set of plans identical to the greenhouse we have. We might, however, be able to create something similar using standard windows. When I say we, I obviously mean my dad, Kurt, because he built the entire thing. And designed it, too! He built our studios, garage, and is now onto designing our chicken coop and run. He really deserves a round of applause or an award or maybe just a really long nap. We love all that he can do and does do for us!
I'm going to try my best to walk you through the process of how the greenhouse was built. My architectural terminology is not the best, but I can tel you the cost of all the parts and pieces that went into the building! The whole structure started with windows. We knew that we really wanted to build the greenhouse out of reclaimed windows - it was the look we all wanted. When the initial cost came around for those windows... well, then we started thinking about the pop-up hoop tunnels. It seemed a little overwhelming. As luck would have it, my parents were able to find a majority of the windows used in the building for only $20! Yes! Our local ReStore Habitat for Humanity sold us windows for a dollar a piece. The gigantic window at the very back of the greenhouse cost us only one dollar. Amazing! I know not everyone will have that luxury. We also found a collection of other windows that did not end up being within a majority of our budget, but they're beautiful, and our neighbors gave us nine reclaimed windows for free. Thank you so much, John and Julia!
It took a little under two months to build. I really didn't help too much other than to document the process, help with design elements, and give encouragement. When I was little, my parents started flipping houses, but that quickly ended after the housing market crashed. Even though we don't flip houses anymore, we still love to flip and build on the spaces we live in. They made building this greenhouse look easy!
Let's talk cost. I know a lot of you have been asking how did you build it? Well, I'm not really sure how to answer that other than... with our hands! Ha! All together, the construction of the greenhouse cost a little under $1000. Here's how the building looks broken down:
- Lumber: $500
- Roofing: $400
- Windows: $30
- Gravel: $50
We were very fortunate to have found deals here and there for a majority of the building. The lumber, roofing, and pea gravel were all purchased new for the purpose of the greenhouse. My dad designed the layout on his computer around a handful of the windows we had collected. He fit them in as best as he could, and then filled in the gaps around them, and even just put some wood in places where we couldn't fit windows. As you can see, there is just a single window in each of the eaves, and the back wall has some corrugated metal along the base of the back wall, where the planting shelf is. We used treated pine for the structure.
Over time, a lot of you have asked what we did for the foundation. We dug out a 12 inches deep of topsoil and filled it in with stone, compacted, to create a footing. We did not fill it in with concrete to keep our expenses down. This worked really well for us! There were a few weeds that somehow manage to grow through the gravel, but it was not enough to be a pain.
We really love the roofing! It's a clear plastic roof, which makes us feel safer if we ever get bad hail storms. It actually lets in quite a bit of light and makes a lot of heat. We knew that we weren't going to have it be a year-round greenhouse; we just can't afford to heat it nor do we really want a large extension chord running through the yard. It will be seasonal. All greenhouses need ventilation; there are two small vents on the east and west facing walls near the floor. They both let in plenty of air! For now, we have one shelf that sits at about waist height for planting and keeping our sprouts housed. In the future, I would like to add in a second shelf above it to keep more of my decorative plantings, like succulents and flowers. We're planning on having several hanging planters from the rafters and possibly a large, tiered planter on one of the front facing walls. I am so excited for it to be filled with green! Right now, it's a little too cold to introduce some warmer weather plants, but by the time May rolls around, I will be a plant buying machine.
Our garden plot will be planted right in front of the greenhouse, with a path leading to the door. It's going to be so cute! As you can see, I took the photo at the beginning of this post yesterday, we have yet to cut that out. Not to worry - it's going to happen soon! The soil here is very fertile and has not been touched yet by weed killer, so I am certain it will be just fine for our first year.
I just can't even explain how grateful I am for this wonderful homesteading life we're beginning to live. As a family, we are so much stronger and happier than ever before. This fresh air and fresh food is changing all of our lives in so many ways. How proud I am to raise a sweet little boy in such a beautiful environment is more than I can explain! I probably failed at answering a majority of your questions, so please let me know if I can answer any more of them about our greenhouse! It is definitely a luxury and not a necessity when it comes to growing your own food. You really don't need to start seeds in starters at all. You can just sow them in the ground, but having a greenhouse increases your planting time, helps to protect your seedlings from harsh weather and predators, and is just a really satisfying and peaceful place to escape to. I truly believe that anyone anywhere can grow their own food - it just takes a little creativity! (: