Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Greenhouse concept

I think I have come up with a greenhouse that I could realistically put together next season and have ready for the Winter of 2013.  The main functions would be to house our flock, grow some winter greens, and do seed starts in the Spring. 


It starts with a basic framework of treated 2x4 lumber. 

The frame supports untreated walls that can be made from any 2x lumber in 2' intervals, making the bulk of the needed materials easy to salvage, as well as easy to replace when it rots out.  I am thinking I will use stakes to keep the bottom from bowing out.

This gives me 2 16'x4' raised beds that are 10' apart.  The treated lumber is never in contact with the growing medium.


Once the beds are filled, 4 cattle panels are arched between the beds.  This is the warm weather setup, which I plan to use as raised bed gardens with annual vining plants growing over the archway.  So I won't have a useless greenhouse taking up space during the hot summer months.

When the weather turns I will cover the whole thing with plastic sheeting and install end walls made out of 2x2s with sheeting stapled to both sides.

There will also be doors along the inside allowing us access to the beds, but keeping the chickens out.



So that's pretty much it.  The wall boards for the beds can be taken out making it easy to shovel the contents out from any side.  That way they can double as compost or vermicompost bins if desired.  I am hoping that keeping the chickens inside and using the deep litter method will produce enough heat to make the greenhouse work.  I plan to place it in front of our barn, which has tall, light colored walls.  This should block the cold North winds and reflect a lot of light to the north side of the greenhouse.  The design is somewhat modular in that it can easily be scaled longer or shorter in 4' increments (the width of 1 cattle panel).  I know that I am going to have to play around with the ventilation a bit, and I might have to spring for that "bubble wrap" type greenhouse sheathing that has trapped air cells providing some insulation value.  But I am thinking that the 3' think earth walls will keep the chickens nice and cozy on those cold winter nights.

What say ye Internet?  Is this a crack pot plan or what?


  1. Hi Josef -- Did you do this? It seems a brilliant idea? Photos?

  2. One thing you might want to consider -- chickens have delicate respiratory systems and need lots of fresh air. Their droppings are high in ammonia, so while the deep litter method is great, they still need open windows above their heads in winter for the ammonia to rise and escape. Sealed up in a greenhouse, they might asphyxiate themselves. Maybe there could be a chicken coop / greenhouse complex.