Building the Greenhouse’s Guts: Part 1

| by | construction, greenhouse, wood boiler | 6 comments:

So with the greenhouse structure built, it was time to start working on the inside. Zach and Dave have been doing a lot of research on benches, temperature control, lighting, and watering systems, while Nemo has been designing the very important manifold for the radiant heat in the floor, and anywhere else we need heat. We wanted to make the space as efficient and easy to use as possible. But first, we had to find materials.

Constructing greenhouse benches from wire shelving.
Here’s Dave working on the benches.

One of the most important parts of the greenhouse (next to the manifold) are the benches.  We need to make them sturdy, drainable and large enough to hold a lot of trays but not too large that we won’t be able to reach each seedling. Luckily, we found an event space that had a large in house catering kitchen that was going out of business and selling all of their supplies. We were able to pick up a TONS of their shelving on the MEGA cheap. But you can find similar shelving at many big-box stores or looking online for industrial wire shelving.

Dave cut, welded, bolted and zip tied the shelves and arranged them in a “E” shaped pattern. This will give us a lot of options to have taller seedlings on the top bench and germinating seedlings on the bottom bench. We can also utilize the space in between the benches for larger pots. There’s plenty of options! And we like options.

Building greenhouse benches from wire shelving
Here are the benches built and arranged in an “E” pattern.
inside of the greenhouse nearing completion of construction.
Nearing completion, but not there yet!

Dave and Zach wound up in a heated debate about the design and layout of the potting bench. Zach wound up getting his way because, well… he was right. But Dave had a point too, dammit! (says Dave) At any rate, this potting bench is where the much of the hands-on nitty gritty work will take place. We put it in the northwest corner of the greenhouse so that it will not shade any of the plants. In the future, we very well might disassemble it in order to make room for more “E” shaped benches. But for now, a dedicated potting bench will be very nice.

building a potting bench from wire shelving
Here’s our potting area. Again, we constructed for maximum space efficiency. Storage underneath the bench and plenty of workspace.

Next, the manifold. The manifold controls the hot water that comes into the greenhouse from the wood boiler. From the manifold, hot water (heat) goes into the floor, and later (whenever we set it up) under the benches to provide bottom heat and to the water tank so that Autumn’s little seed babies get watered with nice lukewarm water and not the frigid 50 degree well water from the spigot. After all of this, the water goes back into the manifold and returns to the boiler to be heated again. Since the boiler is just a little too far away, we installed a second circulating pump in the manifold to help the water along as well as a thermostatic mixing valve to give us yet another level of temperature control. We are also able to control the temperature by partially opening or closing the ball valves on the supply and return to different areas thus restricting how much hot water they get or how long the hot water stays there. We also left open two extra supply and return valves in the manifold capped off. This way we have the ability to send heat to two other places in the future if we feel like it. Did I mention we like lots of options?

manifold for greenhouse
Here’s the manifold before Nemo hooked it into the floor. Under that black bag are the ends of all the pex that has been poured into the concrete.
manifold for greenhouse which controls the radiant heat in the floor.
And here is the completed manifold. All the copper pipe was wrapped in insulation and aluminum tape to keep all the heat from radiating out too much. Above the manifold is the junction box for the electric.

This will be one of many “building the greenhouse guts” posts. Stay tuned for updates because we’re kicking this greenhouse’s ass on the daily.

UPDATE: Check out “Building The Greenhouse’s Guts, Part 2: It’s Hotter Than Balls in There!”

6 Responses

  1. whyknocht
    February 1, 2013

    That is one serious greenhouse! Enjoying the progress updates. I commend everyone’s involvement. Job (so far) well done!

  2. February 1, 2013

    Thanks Roy! The next project update will be an information overload: water system, lighting, climate control… oh boy.

  3. February 6, 2013

    Jealous! It’s looking pretty badass! What would you estimate the total cost of something like this at the stage your in?

  4. February 11, 2013

    […] finally, the greenhouse. We’ve had electricians come out this week to help us get the last systems of the greenhouse […]

  5. February 26, 2013

    […] is nearing completion.. FINALLY! (See the first part of building the greenhouse’s guts here) However, we are noticing one major issue. It’s hotter than balls in there! The problem is […]

  6. March 11, 2013

    […] springtime just around the corner (we’re hoping), our interior space sufficiently set-up and our climate control system installed, we were finally ready to put this greenhouse to work! […]

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