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Posts Tagged ‘winter greenhouse’

PostHeaderIcon Homemade Potting Bench Using Reclaimed Barn Wood

I made a rustic looking potting bench for our off grid greenhouse using all reclaimed lumber from an old barn that was demolished. The wood was left here for us to use as needed. The potting bench is built to a convenient height for my wife Melanie so that she can work in comfort in our winter greenhouse.

DIY barn wood potting bench

I first took a tape measure into our off grid tiny house on wheels and asked Melanie to walk up to our counter and table top to get a feel for the height that she wanted the potting table to be built at. We came up with about 32 to 34 inches for her comfort.

I hauled out a mess of old barn wood from the barn wood pile and cut the framing to size. I made the back legs of the potting bench 48 inches high. Then I cut the front legs at 34 inches high.

Next I cut the boards for the bench itself and then the top shelf. I used two pieces of 2×10 barn wood at 36 inches wide for the table top. A piece of 2×6 lumber formed the top shelf above the work bench.

I used scrap 2×3 lumber under the bench top for added strength to support the heavy pots and soil that will be used on the work bench.

I used 3 inch deck screws to hold it all together.

When I had the main part of the potting table together, I took the entire thing into the greenhouse for final assembly. Otherwise it would get way too heavy to carry myself.

I cut some treated lumber for the battery bank table down under the work bench. This potting bench will double as a battery rack to keep the off grid solar greenhouse batteries off the ground. I used recycled treated lumber that I had on hand for the battery bench. I figured it would resist any chemicals from the batteries better if anything ever spilled.

I ran out of screws so I had to fire up the generator and air compressor and use the framing nailer to finish the project. I figured that screws and nails give the table extra strength anyway. The screws give pulling strength to keep the wood together and the nails give sheer strength to keep the shelfs from ripping apart under load.

When I had it all finished I put it into its final home and leveled it off with treated lumber scraps. This both keeps the potting table off the ground and keeps the legs from rotting with time.

When I had it all finished I brought in some old Alpha Cell solar batteries and put them on the bottom table of the potting bench. I connected them in parallel to increase the total usable current of the greenhouse battery bank.

Next I connected a solar charge controller and a set of solar panels to complete the greenhouse solar power system. I then connected the aquaponics air pump which provides air for the fish in the large 275 gallon IBC tank. I will soon be connecting water pumps and finish assembly of the aquaponics system.

You can watch the videos of the assembly of the greenhouse potting table here:
Part 1 – Awesome Solar Power & Building Potting Bench
Part 2 – Finishing Potting Table & Set Up Greenhouse Solar Power

While you are over there please subscribe and follow our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid on a budget.

PostHeaderIcon Building A Passive Solar Heating Porch For My RV

I spent the day yesterday building a passive solar heating porch for my off grid solar RV. I will use the natural energy of the sun to passively heat my RV during the cold winter days. At night heated buckets of water will give off heat saved up during the daylight hours.

The idea is to use a common technique to passively heat my motorhome with solar heating. By building a south facing porch which is enclosed in clear plastic like a greenhouse I can collect heat during the day when the sun is shining. Black painted buckets of water will absorb the heat during the day and release that heat at night after the sun goes down.

Black plastic sheeting on the back walls of the porch will absorb energy from the sun, further heating up the enclosed solar porch. This will also allow me to plant winter vegetables and keep some fresh greens on the table through most of the winter, if not all year.

I will build a fully enclosed room at the end of the porch for my old pot bellied wood stove. The old wood stove heats up water as well, which will be pumped into the RV and pass through a radiator with a blower fan to heat the inside of the RV.

The heated air inside the wood stove room will also be blown into the RV through a nearby window which will be free to open or close as needed.

Another advantage of the solar porch is that heat loss from the main door of the motorhome will be greatly reduced. By entering the porch through a separate offset door and then entering the RV through the main front door, heat loss will be minimized.

Having the better portion of the south facing side of the RV enclosed will further insulate the RV from the raging elements outside. Campers and motorhomes are not well insulated for winter and cannot be insulated much better due to the very thin walls. By enclosing one side of the RV I can keep some of the valuable heat inside where it belongs.

The whole porch will be constructed completely out of used pallet wood. I am gathering up free used pallets to use as building materials for my solar porch and greenhouse. This will bring the total cost of the greenhouse down to well under $100 when fully finished. The only cost will be the construction grade clear plastic and black plastic for enclosing the porch. Some screws and recycled pallet nails are being used as well.

So far I have the porch footings and floor framing up. I got a hand rail installed and started on the wood stove room. The ManOfMany Thingz from youtube came over to help out for most of the project. I am very thankful for all the help he gave me. I do not think I could have done so much alone with these heavy pallets.

Building A Solar Heating Porch For My RV

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PostHeaderIcon Making Improvements To My New Winter Greenhouse

I just got this nice little greenhouse to start some cold hardy winter vegetables for $20. It is a cheap construction, but with a few dollars in improvements it is a very nice winter greenhouse.

First I used some zip ties to hold the bouncy, flexible wire frame shelves in place. They are cheaply made and bounce all over. They are also not exactly flat and do not stay in place. A few zip ties in the middle of each shelf made them nice and solid.

I went to the dollar store and got some car windshield sun shades. These are the cheap foam type construction with a foil coating on one side. I put the foil side in, facing the plants inside the greenhouse and used dollar store clothes pins to hold the sheet in place. I used one sun shade on each side of the greenhouse. These serve two purposes. One is to reflect sunlight into the greenhouse and maximize the amount of light they receive from the weak winter sun. The other purpose is that they help insulate the greenhouse due to the foam on the outside. It will keep out the cold better.

The final thing I did is only because I am starting my seeds indoors. I put a garbage bag on the bottom shelf as a drip catcher to stop any water that runs out of the planters from hitting the floor and making a mess.

I opened up a large black trash bag and simply spread it out on the bottom shelf.

The black trash bag will serve another purpose, which is to help heat up the inside of the greenhouse during the day time.

I will use some sort of mass to heat up in the sun during the day and reflect heat back all night. Maybe bricks painted black or something.

For now I have a pretty decent greenhouse for about $23.

I will be planting a bunch of cold hardy vegetables right away and then later in a couple weeks when they go outside I will use the greenhouse to plant some slow growers such as tomatoes.

PostHeaderIcon Putting Together A Greenhouse For Winter Cold Hardy Vegetables

It is now the end of February and I thought it would be a good time to get a head start on some vegetables. Some plants can handle quite a bit of cold such as some radishes and spinach. Other plants that take a long time to grow can be helped out by a very early start indoors. The professional nurseries do it, so why not do it at home.

Some of the plants I will be growing are brussels sprouts, spinach, radishes, cold hardy lettuce, mustard greens and swiss chard. Many people in northern climates use cold frames for winter greens and to get a head start on the growing season. I just got this greenhouse with built in shelves for only $20. That is quite a deal. Now I can start some good winter greens indoors and then transplant them outside later when the last frost is past.

Some slow growing plants that require a very long growing season can be started indoors as well. Tomatoes benefit greatly from an early start on life. Instead of buying plants in the spring (at a high cost), I will have my own. Later in March maybe some vine plants like pumpkins and squash can go in the greenhouse as well.

Winter Vegetable Greenhouse

Above is my new greenhouse in the box. It is made in China and comes from Ocean State Job Lot. I dont think that place exists outside of NY though. But you may be able to find something similar anyway.

So I assembled the greenhouse within a matter of minutes, but had to be very careful not to break the fragile plastic parts. This is a very cheaply made thing with very thin plastic side supports. But I got it together easily enough. This is a pretty good deal considering that you can easily pay $20 for a set of shelves alone. I got a free greenhouse with my shelves.

Finished assembling my winter greenhouse

This is basically a set of tubes held together by plastic side frames. Over it all goes some vinyl plastic material that drapes over the frame. The cover has a front zippered door for easy access. Some wire shelves go on the frame to hold your plants.

This is now sitting in the utility room facing south. One thing I will add to it is some dollar store windshield sun shades with the foil on one side and the bubble wrap on the other. This will reflect light into the greenhouse and also help insulate the sides against the cold.

After the seeds have sprouted and grown a few inches, I will harden them outside a bit at a time and then eventually leave the whole greenhouse outside for the season.