OK; it’s not all salvaged material, but a lot of it will be.  Unfortunately, it is hard to recycle concrete walls so that part will definitely be new.  I was able to get a bunch of discarded thermal-paned windows – absolutely free – just for hauling them down three flights of steps (yes; the more you haul the heavier they get.  Fortunately, I had help).  Only a few of the windows in the building from which they came really had issues, but the decision had been made to replace them all.  Whatever; I was happy to get the ones that I did.

I have done numerous concept sketches for the greenhouse; even the one I’ve committed to will no doubt change during construction!  I am already aware going into this that there are several potential problem spots… mostly I am concerned about properly ventilating the space so that it does not get too hot during the summer as I had experienced with a previous, free-standing, greenhouse.

So, I’ve decided to just jump in, start building, and iron out the trouble spots as they occur (and they will).  I am reluctant to have operable window units in the roof area because they always, always, leak.  Operable units on the south may be an option, but will be hard to access once the garden is growing.  So, the current plan is to have the east and west ends operable, with the north side (adjacent to the house) ready to harness in various ways if needed.  I’m not afraid of making mistakes; doing so in the past has proven to be an effective learning mechanism!


The nondescript facade is about to get weird. White lines on the ground indicate the footprint of the greenhouse while the orange lines show the center aisle which will be excavated after the structure is completed.


Concept sketch of finished appearance. The vestibule at left will anchor the end of the greenhouse and be built in conjunction with it. I envision the wood ribs between the glass panels as being painted a vibrant Chinese Red much like the quonset ribs of Bruce Goff’s Ford House, but will probably end up with a more drab red to match a nearby garage. The window units will be covered with a layer of clear corrugated plastic with hail cloth above that.  All surfaces (other than windows, doors and trim) will eventually be either corrugated plastic or corrugated metal.


East end concept drawing in progress (subject to multiple changes).


Sketch showing section through roof – glass will be below the corrugated plastic.


Work started last Fall. First, I deconstructed part of the concrete retaining wall.


Next, I removed most of the cap from the remaining wall. Then I took the blocks I had just removed and rearranged them to create a stepped wall – this will allow me to more fully berm the greenhouse foundation. Here the blocks are laid up dry to see how they would fit.


Next, I mortared the blocks permanently. The cap will some day be graced with glass cullet à la Goff.


After that, I dug the footings, greatly anticipating the building of formwork and the pouring of concrete.


Winter arrived earlier than I had allowed time for.


Finally winter went away. I couldn’t have gotten the formwork done in just a few days without Jim’s help – he did the lion’s share and made sure everything is on the level!


I added pins where needed during the process.


Then I finally dug out the remaining cube of earth under the hideously ugly carport. This is where the greenhouse entry will be (accessed from the future vestibule).  The carport, by the way, will be deconstructed and restyled in the future as part of the greenhouse/vestibule project.


East end. The vertical boards are forming the entry to the greenhouse. After they are removed, the smaller vertical strips will remain and provide a nailer for a future door jamb.


Formwork completed!


Tomorrow I will call to schedule the concrete pour.  I’ll do a follow-up post when that day arrives!


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