Greenhouses forum: home made wood greenhouses

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Lakeland Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropicals Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower Cat Lover Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad
Xeriscape Pollen collector Seller of Garden Stuff Region: Florida Seed Starter Container Gardener
cycadjungle
Jul 27, 2014 8:43 PM CST
A few of you have asked about my hand built greenhouses. I have four decent sized greenhouses around the 30ft x 50 ft size. I keep them short on purpose because I run all these with no equipment, like fans, or anything. I built my first greenhouse in 1989 and every few years I had to build another one. Each time I learned how to make it better and I have attached a picture of part of my best one, which is 40x60x12. Each of these are made out of lumber. I put shade cloth on top of the frame, and then tack "5 year poly" on top of the shade cloth. This poly is 6 mil and has UV inhibitors. They say it is good for 4 years, but I have got 6 years out of one batch.
Before I explain how I build these, let me mention, all of these went through 3 good sized hurricanes in a 3 week period several years ago, where all three eyes of these storms were 12 miles or closer to my location. Worst was 125 mph sustained wind. The plastic was shredded, and each greenhouse had 2 or 3 minor boards that needed replacing, but they did great. The fancy metal greenhouse kits are said to last 15 years and two of these have been in for 25 years and I've only had to replace a single board here and there over all these years. Also, if anyone had one of these things during a bad storm, if any of the metal frame gets bent, which they do, it is an expensive fix.
Thumb of 2014-07-28/cycadjungle/d171b7

Instead of worrying about this big looking greenhouse I want to start with the basic square and work up from there. This is all pressure treated wood. Take four 4x4s and bury them at least 2 feet into the ground, no need to concrete them in, they aren't as flexible during a storm and can snap. Let's make this square 12 feet x 12. Two of them should be 6 to 8 feet above ground (I like 8 way better for head room and extra room for the heat that builds towards the top) and the other two should be around two feet taller than the others. This way you have a slope for the water to run off. Nail 2x6s on all four sides, framing the top. You now have a 12x12 greenhouse that will withstand a hurricane for $70. For tacking the plastic down, I run 1x4s at the bottom. You could use 2x4s if you want, but the cheaper boards in this application seem to work alright.
Let's say you want to make it larger some day. You can go either direction, but let's say you want to make a gable end look, all you need is two more shorter 4x4s and three more 2x6s, and for $32 more dollars, you have a 12ft x 24ft greenhouse. Now if you want to double that someday, with four more 4x4s and six 2x6s, you have doubled that space.
On the one in the picture I built this one all at the same time so I didn't use as many 2x6s. It is 40 feet wide, so 4 squares wide (10 feet that way) and 60 feet long ( five 12 foot boards) In this case I cross braced the top in two ways. The short way has 2x4s going down, being nailed to the posts. The long way needed 2x6s because the pressure of tightening the plastic bends 2x4s the long way. Instead of toe nailing the 2x6s, I hung them with metal truss brackets. Hopefully that explains everything you see in the picture.
The shade cloth stays on all the time. The plastic on the top stays on during the year and lasts about 5 years. The plastic on the sides and ends I either drop down, or strap up after winter is over which means, with 8 foot sides, no real intense heat is generated in the lower 8 feet of the greenhouse. The heat rises and vents out the gable ends.
To close up these greenhouses during a freeze event one square on each end is plastic that is not attached, except for the top. The sheet of plastic is attached at the top and the bottom has a 1x4 tacked to the plastic. I use that board, which is fairly light, to roll the plastic up and I use the nylon strapping tape to strap it up when it needs to be up. When it needs to come down, roll down the plastic and I tack the plastic down with the staple hammer to the 4x4s. The next morning, after the temps go above freezing, I pull the staples on the side 4x4s and roll the plastic back up until the next time.
This works very well for me in Florida. I do have a few to several freeze events each year, but I rarerly have a freeze where it stays below freezing all day. Tom
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 3, 2014 3:11 PM CST

>> I built my first greenhouse in 1989 and every few years I had to build another one.

I have read many people say that no greenhouse is ever big enough: gardeners always fill them and want more space. I guess you proved that true and then some!

>> all of these went through 3 good sized hurricanes in a 3 week period several years ago, where all three eyes of these storms were 12 miles or closer to my location. Worst was 125 mph sustained wind. The plastic was shredded, and each greenhouse had 2 or 3 minor boards that needed replacing, but they did great.

Wow! Did that shred your cycads or peppers? It's impressive that the frame stayed up.

>> The shade cloth stays on all the time.

That sounds odd to me, but I've almost always lived pretty far north. Is shade cloth really desirable, even in winter?

That post would make a good article, just as it is. Or maybe a few more photos for people who don't visualize well. It looks to me like a "50-acorn article"!
Lakeland Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropicals Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower Cat Lover Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad
Xeriscape Pollen collector Seller of Garden Stuff Region: Florida Seed Starter Container Gardener
cycadjungle
Sep 4, 2014 7:37 AM CST
RickCorey said:
>> I built my first greenhouse in 1989 and every few years I had to build another one.

I have read many people say that no greenhouse is ever big enough: gardeners always fill them and want more space. I guess you proved that true and then some!

It was especially true with my third greenhouse. That one is 36x48x12. I built it and I was so proud of it. I took some pictures of this huge empty space after I was finished and thought this one is going to be good for a long time to come. I started moving cycads in it and it was jam packed in two weeks, and I still needed space. I always need more irrigated space. Just with cycads, I have about 30,000, yet alone, everything else.

>> all of these went through 3 good sized hurricanes in a 3 week period several years ago, where all three eyes of these storms were 12 miles or closer to my location. Worst was 125 mph sustained wind. The plastic was shredded, and each greenhouse had 2 or 3 minor boards that needed replacing, but they did great.

Wow! Did that shred your cycads or peppers? It's impressive that the frame stayed up.

All the plants inside the greenhouses were fine. I wasn't growing peppers back then, but they would have been fine too. What happened parts of the plastic ripped but some stayed on top. As the rain kept coming down (about 18 inches average per storm) in one place, or square, as I call each part, the plastic gets filled we with water and it looks like a bath tub of water hanging down. From the weight of the water, one 2x4 broke away to relieve the pressure. So after it was all over with, all I had to do is replace one board and the greenhouses were fixed. Once the plastic was gone, the frame won't come down because there is nothing to catch the wind. However, to this day, if you look at number 3 and look at the posts, they aren't plumb any more. All the posts lean about 3 inches out of plumb, bit all the posts are tied together. I don't put concrete in the holes when I put the posts in. If I had done that, maybe even all of them could have snapped off.

>> The shade cloth stays on all the time.

That sounds odd to me, but I've almost always lived pretty far north. Is shade cloth really desirable, even in winter?

Sounds like a question from a person who lives up north! Winter is not all dreary down here. We might get a front for a couple of days every once in a while that it is cloudy, but for the most part, it is nice and sunny down here in the winter. The shade cloth helps all year.

That post would make a good article, just as it is. Or maybe a few more photos for people who don't visualize well. It looks to me like a "50-acorn article"!


Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 4, 2014 11:46 AM CST
>> >> I took some pictures of this huge empty space after I was finished and thought this one is going to be good for a long time to come. I started moving cycads in it and it was jam packed in two weeks, and I still needed space.

That might be a record. Two weeks from "huge!!" to "full!!!".

"How many plants DO you have?"
"Only a few ... hundred ... ... thousand."

Yeah, I'm a Northern boy. Winter is when the sun WOULD be low in the sky, IF you could see it through the clouds.

Around Seattle, when you see that "round bright thing in the sky" in a non-summer month, it's usually just for a few minutes and we call it a "sun break". The joke is that everyone throws off their cloths and runs outside to soak up the sunlight.
Lakeland Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropicals Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower Cat Lover Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad
Xeriscape Pollen collector Seller of Garden Stuff Region: Florida Seed Starter Container Gardener
cycadjungle
Sep 4, 2014 1:46 PM CST
Being from your neck of the woods is even worse than people from up in NY or something. I knew someone from Portland in college that said it rains almost all the time where they might only get a few weeks worth of sunny days the whole year. In the winter, the sun is lower, but we get plenty of sun.
How many plants do I have? Since I have specialized in cycads for 26 of my 28 years in the business, most of my plants are cycads. I don't know of you have found this yet, but here is my site
http://cycadjungle.8m.com
As I said, I have about 30,000 cycads, but many are my collection. Since ALL cycads are on the endangered species list my goal was to produce as many seeds as possible and spread them all over the world, when possible. (Since appendix 1 seeds need CITES permits to send to other countries) With everything I do, seed sales are still 1/3 to 1/2 of my income. I feel I am helping the world to spread around these endangered plants, but financially, the more rate the plant, the more the seeds go for. I probably have about 350 female cycads. Since almost all cycads live at least 100 years, cycads are an investment that gives you back for a lifetime. Actually, the majority of cycads live more than 300 years and most of the Dioons live well beyond 1000 years. As it is, I have a 400 year old Dioon edule in my front yard. A young person could invest $500 and after 5 to 10 years, make a living on that investment. People give these to their children and on past then. Even though this is not typical, and it is my best story, I have a ceratozamia in a 15 gallon container that produced 3 cones two years ago and when I put the seeds up for sale, they sold over night, and I made about $4200. Now that same plant just produced two cones that I have pollinated and I can pick them this spring.
Anyway, I also need Dyckias, which are terrestrial bromeliads that are super cold hardy (16F doesn't hurt them), they love full sun, and are very xeric. In different sizes, I have about 10,000 of those and about 2000 landscape types. Then there is evening else in small numbers. Maybe another 3000 plants. I am a collector and just have all kinds of things that I love for myself and after I have tested them in my location and they do well for about 3 years, then I will propagate them for sale. I have all kinds of palms, agaves, gingers, clivias, aroids, oh yea, hot pepper plants, assorted succulents, and who knows what else.
[Last edited by cycadjungle - Sep 4, 2014 1:47 PM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 4, 2014 2:02 PM CST
Awesome website! The farther down I drill, the more detail there is.

I really like the first photo on this page:
Dyckia dawsonii
http://cycadjungle.8m.com/cycadjungle/Dyckia%20dawsonii.html

Lakeland Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropicals Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower Cat Lover Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad
Xeriscape Pollen collector Seller of Garden Stuff Region: Florida Seed Starter Container Gardener
cycadjungle
Sep 4, 2014 4:06 PM CST
I get about 100 hits a day on that site, but most of them are for my cycad cultivation articles. My coffee article is the best information that can be used for other plant types, but it was mainly to help save cycas species from being wiped out by the Asian scale. That was done about 7 years ago, now, more than a billion $s worth of sagos have been killed just in Florida. One BG in Miami had already lost about $200K in cycas species and after they read my article, they cleaned up the whole garden in 3 months. The coffee can be used on any plant without any chemical toxicity. There are other things I have done that I never wrote an article about, like being able to change the sex of a cycad from male tho female, and females to males. At that time, cycads were thought to be genetically male or female, but after my experiments, papers have been written that call it now, sex expression.
The dawsonii is only the first collector type I put on the site, I have so many more to add. Look in one of the plant areas, I started a thread just on dyckias and you can see some of my dyckias there and in the plant database.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Sep 4, 2014 5:01 PM CST
cycadjungle said: My coffee article is the best information that can be used for other plant types, but it was mainly to help save cycas species from being wiped out by the Asian scale. That was done about 7 years ago,


>> My coffee article

http://www.cycad.org/documents/Broome-Coffee-2007.pdf

I hadn't read that before, in fact I never got as far as the "Articles" section. Impressive! And done like a scientist.

I wish I could give an acorn over there.

The idea of mulching with used coffee grounds AND spraying with "solar re-brewed coffee" is as organic as anything can be. And effective!
Lakeland Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropicals Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower Cat Lover Cactus and Succulents Bromeliad
Xeriscape Pollen collector Seller of Garden Stuff Region: Florida Seed Starter Container Gardener
cycadjungle
Sep 4, 2014 9:28 PM CST
Used as a direct contact spray, the coffee tea can be used to kill all kinds of scales, mealy bugs, aphids, white flies, and even spider mites on any plant. I have not had to use anything else in my whole nursery for 8 years. Used coffee grounds will kill mosquito larvae in the cups of bromeliads, and will repel fire ants. Just think, if people made coffee tea out of all the used coffee grounds that just Starbucks produces, there would be 25,000,000 less gallons of pesticides being used each and every day! Tom
JC/NYC (Zone 7b)
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skylark
Sep 13, 2014 11:23 AM CST
tom, i think what you do is fantastic! i bombarded you with acorns ;), 'cause what you do is deceivingly simple, but produces great results.
both - the construction of hurricane-withstanding greenhouses (with geo-thermal passive heating barrel!) AND coffee-ground as pesticide ...give me hope. i am considering setting up in FL a few years from now, but the idea of hurricane destroying all my plants and endless insects devouring what is left was giving me serious doubts about having a big garden in FL. the endless search for solutions was driving me nuts. now i think i can do it!
you need to spread the word about the coffee-grounds!
and as i read on ricks posts, i realized that we chatted in container forum recently. hi, rick - i'm glad you posted the link to the article!
and then i realized also that i had cut-and-pasted and saved all kinds of cycad seed sprouting info from tom before. Thank You!
i picked up a zamia furfuraceae seed in miami and with toms' instructions that i found on the internet sprouted it too. i had 7 seeds, 4 remained, 1 sprouted after 4 months and i still have 3 more, out of which i think only one is hopeful.
the world is small, indeed.
you're doing great work, tom!

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