Monday, June 2, 2014

Construct a Greenhouse using Free supplies

On top of planning the construction of our Cob home, we are planning to construct a Greenhouse using readily available recycled materials.  
Greenhouses allow you to extend your growing season up into the Winter, and grow your starter plants earlier in the season. Plants like Tomatoes, peppers, and melons have a long growing season, which is why it is crucial to begin these plants as early as the beginning of February. 
I have the fortunate opportunity to use my home (Mother's house) as a greenhouse. I started many vegetables indoors at the beginning of March, and had to keep these plants indoors up until April till I could sit them out during the day. Even then, I had to bring my starter plants back in every night until the beginning of May. You can imagine my Mother was shocked to have so many trays of growing plants taking up half the living room, utility room, and our bedroom. 

Finally, at the beginning of May I started leaving the starter plants on the front porch at night. For two months, my morning ritual began by taking all of my starter trays outside on the porch, and at night I would bring them all back in the house. 

The perfect Greenhouse would be large enough to house hundreds of starter plants, and even fruit bushes and fruit trees. I would even like to construct a greenhouse that was half underground and half exposed for growing tropical fruits. For now I would start small.

We have thought of many different designs, for example a recycled bottle greenhouse (like in the picture below). For a step-by-step tutorial on constructing a bottle greenhouse, click the link here for the PDF.

picture source: Khakibos
Another cheap Greenhouse option is using transparent plastic with recycled wood, see below. Considering I do not drink water from plastic bottles, and because constructing with plastic bottles would take longer-- a 6'X10' greenhouse with recycled wood would also be a simple, cheap construction. You can easily find wood pallets (for free) at sawmills, factories, and behind other stores. Wood pallets can be deconstructed in order to use the wood to create the structure of the Greenhouse. I have posts on how we constructed raised beds out of wood pallets here and here.

picture source: Bepa's Garden
A third option are polytunnel designs using PVC pipes. Polytunnel designs are equivalent in efficiency and cost, it simply depends on the materials you can scavenge for free or have around your house. Piping is easy to come across, as you can ask many people if they have any around, or go dumpster diving.

picture source: Home design
There are of course simpler Greenhouse methods that need no construction, for example in the picture below, you can purchase a small, pre-fabricated Greenhouse at many store outlets. However these come at a higher cost. Even a mini pre-fab Greenhouse as the one in the picture below may cost as much as $40, the same cost for all the Transparent plastic you would need to construct a much larger Greenhouse.

The cost of a 8-ft L x 6-ft W x 6-ft H Metal Polycarbonate Greenhouse at Lowe's is up to $800. Similarly, Palram 6-ft L x 4-ft W x 6-ft H Metal Polycarbonate Greenhouse at Lowe's cost up $500. Much larger Greenhouses, Palram 16-ft L x 8-ft W x 8-ft H Polycarbonate Greenhouses at Lowe's cost more than $2200! What would possess people to pay that much money when they could construct the same size Greenhouse for a 1/20 of the cost?

This isn't the only project people pay 1/20 of the cost for. As I have mentioned before, cob homes made out of clay soil, straw, and sand are virtually no to little cost because of their availability. Actually the only cost when constructing a home out of all natural materials is the cost of gas in transporting these materials. However, if you're obtaining these materials on your own land without the need of transporting materials, then you will be constructing your own at a cheaper price. Even growing Winter Wheat to dry out to use for straw will allow you to save money.

My perspective of our world is this: with all the waste and trash our society produces, we can feed, house, and clothe our nation's poor. Much food, supplies, clothes goes to waste because of the mass production in America. We simply discard food that we barely touch, and yet it is illegal to dumpster dive. What makes sense in this? (Recently I heard of volunteers get fined by the government from feeding the homeless/poor). 
Not only that, but America demands clothes and supplies from other countries instead of producing our own. Why are we raising cows in India, have them shipped, then stripped of their skin in order to be shipped to America to use for "leather", "suede", "fur". As of now, we could end mass producing clothes with all the clothes in second hand stores.

National Geographic, from their article "Feeding 9 billion" states "A bumper crop of corn piles up outside full silos in Brazil's Mato Grosso state, which sends much of its grain to China and South Korea to feed pigs and chickens. The demand for more crops to feed livestock is one reason experts say we'll need to double crop production by 2050". And what makes sense that America destroys forests and land in order to raise cattle when we could raise crops for feeding our poor?
We hear often that other countries grow grains that get shipped to America which could have fed them instead, in other words, they ship more food than they are able to eat! These imported grains also feed our nation's livestock.
On a final note, this post is to be focused on using Free resources to construct Greenhouses in order to produce free food, which is exactly why I bring up the "idiocracy" of our America's corporations and industries waste. We can easily build greenhouses and our homes with free, readily available, all natural materials or free, discarded trash.


  1. Tiny homes & Cabin & Greenhouse design:

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