Posted on February 07 2019
The minute I had a home of my own I began growing flowers. Perennial flowers, mostly. Our little ranch starter home was surrounded by a flower garden. After I was satisfied with my flowers, I began a vegetable garden, and I was hooked. We happened to live in a spot with the most amazing soil. It was so easy to grow things there. I didn’t know any better, so I just assumed I was a naturally gifted gardener. Then we moved to the home we built in Caledonia on a bed of pure clay. If you don’t dig a hole between the months of March and June, you aren’t digging a hole. The ground dries into concrete. Everything grows very slowly, if it’s hardy enough to survive the soggy spring season. My misguided notion that I was a master gardener ended abruptly. I spent a few years working on our home’s landscaping. I learned a lot about the soil I had to work with during that time. I also spent that time planning the garden of my dreams.
DREAM A LITTLE DREAM
During the planning stage I happened upon a blog that a flower farmer writes called floretflowers.com One post in particular blew my ever lovin’ mind. The use of landscape fabric for growing large amounts of annuals. You absolutely must click here to check it out when you have the time. I had tried growing large beds of annuals before, but keeping up with weeding is almost impossible. Indroducing landscape fabric would make it possible to grow my dream garden and have a chance at maintaining it on my own. Floret also had lots of great tips to grow your own flowers from seed. I decided to give this whole annual flower growing from seed a shot, but I would need a greenhouse. After reading all of the reviews of the quick and affordable greenhouse kits online, I noticed they all had one thing in common. They don’t last. You get what you pay for. I wasn’t willing to put hundreds of dollars into a greenhouse that would blow away in the first big storm. I had a hoard of windows in the basement that I came across for $1 each on Craigslist. I used to paint words on them, when that was the cool thing. So, I would build my very own greenhouse out of my stash of old windows. I calculated that it would cost the same as the $400 greenhouses I had seen online. It turned out to be around $700, now that I’ve added everything up, including the stone base. I’m happy to report that its been absolutely worth it.
PUT YOUR TOOL BELT ON, GIRL
So, now it was time to figure it out. Good thing for YouTube. I had never built anything to this scale before. I had some basic knowledge of carpentry from watching our house get built. I had also logged lots of hours watching the DIY network while folding laundry. I looked up how to build a shed on Youtube and watched several videos. I decided I yould buld the green house around posts, instead of building a “studwall, because all the studs would be in different places depending on the size of the window, and some of my 2x4 supports would need to be horizontal. I layed out the windows for the two sides and the back in the lawn to determine how large my greenhouse would be. I could also double check that I had enough. The greenhouse would end up at 8x10. Typcal antique windows are around 2’, so that made it relatively easy to figure out. After I picked a spot for the greenhouse and googled “how to make sure your building is square”. I began digging holes for my four corners as well as the two posts for the door.
Each door post is centered at each end of the door so that it hits both when the door is closed. I then wrapped the bottom in a treated 2x6 at ground level, and wrapped toe top with a standard 2x4 just just above the height of the reclaimed door.
Now it's time for the fun part. Determine where your windows will butt up against each other and screw a 2x4 into place at the intersection. You will need to install the screws at an angle at each end of the board. Then screw the windows down onto the frame.
I overlapped the front windows and the side windows, and screwed the two window sides together. The door is placed in the gap and gate hinges and a latch keep the door functional. I tossed the screws that came with the hinges, used extra long 4 inch screws to screw through the window frame and into the post behind it.
I built trusses out 2x4s and added a notch where the trusses would sit on the top 2x4. I also cut curved ends in the trusses with a jig saw. 1x2s were added to the trusses that clear polycarbonate panels would be screwed into using roofing screws. The roof was built using plans I found online for a shed with a metal roof, but instead of using metal, I used clear polycarbonate panels. I built a cupola using plans that I found online. I cut four boards that matched the shape of the polycarbonate roof. Two boards were added underneath the inside of the greenhouse between the trusses. Then, we screwed two boards to the top just inside the width of the cupola. We lifted the cupola over the top of the two boards and screwed the cupola on. I added flat polycarbonate panel to all of the angled openings on top and caulked around each piece, then I added 2x4 boards to close the gap between the roof and the greenhouse walls. I also added decorative trim to resemble corbles on the front. The last step was to add caulk and foam to seal up all of the gaps. I also replaced all of the window glazing, to make the greenhouse weather tight. That’s about it. I plan to take you through my gardening process step by step this year on the blog, so be sure to sign up so you can follow along. Good luck with your own window greenhouse!