I suppose it’s a bit of a cheat to post this as it is not from this year, or even a winter project. I had intended this to be a day to day posting similar to my building the chicken coop. The postings never happened, but I did take the photos. In the end, the greenhouse, (solarium – as my neighbors call it), was finished enough for use last summer without a single posting.
Now as I sit here mid-winter, without much heading outside, I think, why not post the greenhouse photos?
I got the idea to build this greenhouse/solarium from photos I saw online of many charming structures built from old windows. Since I had held onto the windows I had replaced on the house a number of years ago, I had many to start with. Others, with synchronicity, I quickly accumulated from freebies left at the side of the roads in the area.
I still haven’t finished all the window trims, or painted anything yet. But last spring I started my vegetables in the greenhouse and they did very well. I have a large wooden rocking chair inside which makes it a fun bug-free place to sit in the summer.
Here’s a photo I took last summer of the nearly finished, but in use, product. (It is level, by the way, it just doesn’t appear so in this photo.)
If you want to see how it developed, read on.
I picked a spot that received the most sun, and spent several weeks transplanting all the vinca that was growing there, leveling the ground, and moving a large boulder that was in the way.
This was one heavy boulder. After struggling to lever it out of the ground, I decided to dig the hole deep enough to get it below ground where it would not be a bother.
Boulder buried, the next step was to level the ground and lay the foundation blocks. Then I built the frame, having carefully designed it to accommodate all the windows I had.
I assure you it really is level – clearly I need a camera with a level on it.
I started adding windows. They are held in place by wooden 1 x 1 slats on all four sides, inside and out. The two top windows in the front are hinged at the top to open out for ventilation.
On this side, at the back I built a screen to fill the long rectangular space. This I then shuttered it on the outside. At the back I did something similar with the two smaller rectangles at the top.
When most of the windows were in, I began to put on the roof while continuing with the windows.
The roof is clear fiberglass. This is the only photograph I took of the roof in progress. It was time consuming, but not difficult. It is anchored to all the studs so that it won’t blow away.
While I was working on the roof, grasshoppers for some reason were attracted. I spent a lot of time following this critter around trying to get a decent shot. Isn’t she lovely? I love these creatures. Their bodies are so amazing. How do I know this is a she? See next photo.
I felt a bit bad about taking this next one, surely they wanted their privacy! But I couldn’t resist.
All this greenery was growing inside the greenhouse as I put it together. The last step was to pull all the weeds and lay down flagstone which I had in abundance having been left here by the former owners. You can see here that the wood I used was rough-cut.
Then I started to think about what I’d do with the rectangular spaces at the bottom.
Though I’d never done it before, I thought I’d try filling the spaces with stone and cement. First I built a frame, gathered stones from around the yard and laid them out in a nice order. Then I lined the frame with plastic, poured in cement, and then pushed in the stones.
I let the cement harden for 24 hours. Then I lugged the frame over the the solarium, pushed out the cement and stone slab, and cemented it into place.
Here’s one cemented in, and you can just see the one at the right sitting in place ready to be cemented in.
Here most of the stone work is done, the roof is completed, and all the other non-window areas are either screened in or filled in with plywood. Here you can see roof trim which I cut to match the scallops of the roof.
In this next one, you can see the door which is the insert from a screened/storm door that was on the house when I bought it. The frame rotted, but I kept the inserts.
Here’s a view of the side with the shuttered screen. The shutters are not hinged yet in the photo, but will eventually be hinged. I did discover a design flaw. The roof overhang does not allow the shutters to open. So my plan is to cut the top of the shutters and fix them in place permanently, and hinge the lower sections. This past summer, I simply removed the temporary wood slat that holds them in place, and removed the shutters completely.
That’s my cat Chessie making her way to the greenhouse.
I still have some window framing to do. I need to attach the trim properly (It’s just tacked on), and paint. I’m going to make milk paint.
That’s about it! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.