August 14, 2009

Overwintering, On My Mind

Georgia ain't on my mind - overwintering is on my mind. Idly, I decided to see what greenhouse kits were selling for, and WOW! They're hella spendy for being so flimsy. I was not impressed. Searching further, on the DIY greenhouse side, I found this article on solar greenhouses.

The idea is that you store up solar energy in the walls and floors that maintain a consistently warm temperature inside the greenhouse. It's sort of like adding a slab of stone to your oven to keep it consistently warm even when you open the door. Similar to an oven, a greenhouse can quickly get zapped of its warmth as soon as you open the door because the warmth is stored in the air.

Oddly, I was watching a Renovation Nation episode where the flipper installed a thermal wall which consisted of a lower section of wall made of glass on the outside of the house and cement blocks painted black on the inside. It was only on the lower portion of the wall for winters when the sun dips lower, and it was on the North side of the house. Pretty smart, right?

I figure I can build a lean-to solar greenhouse with attached shed and planters surrounding it to give it a cottage/non-shed/non-greenhouse look. Paint it white on the west facing portion and brown/black on the east facing portion to make it friendly for all seasons. Make the glass/Plexiglas removable. Make it small so as to not break any laws. Use cheap materials and spruce it up with paint and plants and veneer. Plant deciduous fruit trees just east of the structure for shade in the summer and sun in the winter.

I think I can I think I can I think I can


  1. For coverage on the green house you might want to check out the opaque fiberglass panels. They come in 24" and 36" wide and almost any length over 8' in two foot increments. They work well and is the cheapest bet to cover it. If you plan it well, you can put them on the outside of your framing and also on the inside. This makes a trapped air space and insulates it somewhat. They are cheap enough so it's worth doing. Also think about making a short[24"] wall and then taper the rest of the wall at 17 degrees on to the roof. The sloped roof can be made to hinge upward, held with a brace. That allows for ventilation in the summer. The 17 degrees is to get the winter sun to hit the south wall at a 90 degree angle and impart more warmth. If the north wall is another shed or the house, it will make for massive insulation on that side.

    I built one like this against our first house and the roof sloped to just above the bathroom window. Warm air flowed into the house in the day and the house helped to keep it warm in the winter. The one I have now is much bigger and have to heat with a light bulb only.

    Good luck I'll keep checking in on any progress. Bob

  2. I think you can too! great idea hope it works.


  3. Cool! Can't wait to see you do it.~~Dee

  4. You sure can! do it! Sounds like you have researched it nicely. I too thought about several ways to retain heat--gravel or paved floor etc. I did face it more northerly to capture the sun in winter and shade in summer.

  5. I'd love a greenhouse for overwintering too but like you, think they're too pricey. I would much rather store my tender tropicals in one then go thru the work of hauling them down to my basement for a forced dormancy! Maybe I'll watch what you do and follow suit??!! Good luck.

  6. Here's a site that suggests one can build a greenhouse for $50. I tried to post before, but left out the link; sorry!

    [ Jeff ] -

    Would you like to extend your growing season? Perhaps a $50 greenhouse will tempt you.


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