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I’ve been pleasantly at loose ends, waiting for writing to grab me and demand that I return. I’ve been on Spring Break for two weeks, which is usually a very productive writing time, but instead it has been a productive other things time- hiking, traveling, working in the yard- but in a funny way I could feel the urge to write returning, getting ready to emerge. Two days ago I realized, “Oh. Tomorrow morning I will be ready to write again.” The sun rose the following day and there I was, writing, resuming a very new draft for what will be a very long book, right where I had dropped it a few months ago without missing a beat. One thing I love about writing regularly is that I am comfortable when I am not writing. I know I will always get back to it.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t build a new green house while I was waiting!

The old one was huge, loved because it was built (almost) entirely out of found/reused/free materials, but alarmingly bowed in the middle. One problem with using recycled wood is unless someone has thrown away a really long single-piece roof beam, it is hard to build one that does the job.


Even those windows were free. Someone had replaced all the windows on an outbuilding of their house and gave the old ones away. The whole original structure was designed around those windows and the wood we had on hand from putting an addition on our house, so was a bit of a hodge-podge. The windows were the first to go as we dismantled it.


Then getting the roof pieces off. It was distressing how everything still in place shimmied to and fro as I took it apart. Really, that odd half-barn roof was beyond my capabilities when I built it.


Walls are gone now. Note the chickens come to inspect.


We saved that back wall because it was the most normal and might be useful.

Now, with the greenhouse disassembled, it was time to rebuild, shooting for something smaller, between a cold frame and a greenhouse. Again, the windows form the basis of the design. They are 5 feet wide and 4 feet tall, so the new cold frame/greenhouse will be 5′ by 5′. I will use three of the windows in the new structure, and what I can from my new pile of raw materials, the former greenhouse:


First, use the largest boards (2″ X 10″) to build a foundation frame:


Then clear and roughly level a square of ground where the greenhouse used to be:


Place the foundation on the flat ground a use bricks to get the final level:


Mind the turtle beneath the sawhorse:


Let the chickens inspect the foundation:


Install double-stud posts at the corners, pre-cut to make slots for the rails along the bottom of the windows and along the top:


Mind the chicken poop atop the sawhorses:


Add framing around windows and do a test fit (note the diagonal bracing in place behind the window; later on sheathing below the window will take that diagonal load, but I didn’t want the window frame to take it):


Another window fitting; sheathing has been added below the windows to act as stiffening along the diagonal:


My lovely assistant. Sheathing in place along the whole back wall. This is a north wall so windows would only waste heat instead of collecting it.


Added studs below and trimmed pallets we had in the yard to make platform for plants in pots or starter cups. The pallets are just resting on the wood below, not attached permanently:


The final window in place. The front frame turned out to be ever-so-slightly crooked, so I unscrewed a corner, adjusted, and screwed it back down. All the attachments here are done with wood screws, which I think hold better in old wood, and are easier to get in and out to change things. That was true of the previous structure (mostly), which made it a lot easier to take apart (and I could reuse all those screws).


The almost-finished structure. I still need to sheath the bottom front. I had this idea for putting black PVC pipe there full of water and capped at the ends, to act as a solar-gain during the day, which would then radiate heat into the space below the plants at night, but the pipe for just that small space was $40. Yikes! Either that material needs to fall into my lap before winter comes or that space just gets sheathed like everything else. I also need to deal with the half-moon gaps under the roofing. One idea we thought of too late would have been to cover the roof with plywood first and then nail down (that part is nailed!) the roofing. I may yet go back and do that, and we have the wood for it.


Along with being an inexpert greenhouse/cold frame builder, I’m also an aspiring author! Check out my ebooks at smashwords.com: