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DIY Portable Greenhouse Project

This is a small, practical DIY project for creating a portable greenhouse that can grow edible vegetables throughout most of the year, and that can be disassembled, moved, and reassembled with ease. It will also be a test demonstration of our "Green Equity Building System" since it will utilize some standardized, modular building components made from off-the-shelf building materials. Special thanks to Christa Malone for her generous support of this project.

Greenhouse Design Goals:

  1. Must use readily available, inexpensive building materials that can be purchased at Lowe’s, Home Depot, any lumberyard, or acquired at any town dump or demolition site. Some specialized parts can be used if they are inexpensive and can be ordered over the internet very easily.
  2. Must be based upon standard 4’x8’ panelized wall construction, and should easily come apart for transport & re-assembly.
  3. Must be flexible enough to accommodate slight design changes that take advantage of available raw materials, like discarded glass windows of various sizes, polycarbonate sheets, different types of in-wall insulation, etc.
  4. Must temporarily anchor to the ground to resist high winds and other inclement weather.
  5. Inside sheathing must be impervious to moisture, high humidity and temperature swings.
  6. Roof material must allow rainwater collection without contaminating the collected water.
  7. Both passive solar & active compost digester heating should be incorporated into the design. Some sort of auxiliary heating might be required on cold, cloudy days.
  8. A way to collect extra sunlight to stimulate & maintain plant growth needs to be included.
  9. A wireless environmental monitoring & control system needs to be created that can continuously report temperature & humidity, as well as prevent freezing or overheating in the greenhouse.
  10. Tools required to construct the greenhouse must be very basic, inexpensive and readily available. And nothing so intricate that Dad & Mom couldn’t figure it out.

Our Starting Point:

Our Summer garden plot was harvested and then re-fertilized with donated, aged, organic compost. We planted our Fall garden of leafy greens which have been growing quite nicely and which we cover at night to protect from the cold. We have dumpster-dived for some discarded sash-mounted windows, and a friend has some old, salvaged, loose window panes available. Another friend has some recycled 1" PVC water pipe, and we got a wireless temp & humidity monitoring system at a thrift store (hope it works). 

Current Status:

Utilizing the beginnings of my idea for panelized wall sections based on standard 4'x8' sheets of plywood, modular corner joinery units, and standardized bolt hole spacing for flexible component joinery, I have begun designing the greenhouse components. Perfecting this model before putting a saw to the wood is important because I'll want this greenhouse to be portable & expandable after it is completed. If it fully adheres to our standard panelized model, then these goals will be entirely realized and extensible to all sorts of custom homes, greenhouses, sheds, and specialized outbuildings. (Imagine a simple building system where all wall sections are fully interchangeable, so that a floor plan can be changed on the fly by simply substituting a wall with windows for a solid wall, or a wall with a door for a solid wall. Outside corner, inside connector, and outside extender joinery units will make joining wall panels into a structure extremely simple, and it will provide easily accessible chaseways between floors for routing electrical, plumbing, telecom, security, and HVAC subsystems.

Visit back here in the near future to see the first design drawings.