Saturday, December 3, 2011

Home-made low cost greenhouse designed to use free untreated pallet wood. Or, how to build a viable, safe, year-round food production system.




The 5 Euro greenhouse...

its organic produce..

Good companions, Courgettes and Tagetes erecta

its tenants..

Vladamir, Diavolo and Co., pretending not to notice that the quail have a big heap of compost to play in. At the end of the courgette season the quail move in to clean up the woodlice from the rotted compost so that we can plant the next lot of vegetables.

and its next lot of produce..
  
In line with tradition, we planted our garlic on the shortest day and will harvest it (hopefully) on the longest.

....and this is it




These three models of greenhouse were made on the same principles of construction. The most expensive, made from recycled glass windows and pallet wood, will cost more if you purchase the leaded light and wooden posts. Our cost was 50 Euros but I estimate it would cost around 100 Euros if you needed to purchase the above items. 



With water shortages, uncertain weather and continuing fallout from Fukushima, you can provide your family with year round vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers. The 7 Euro Greenhouse incorporates an old glass window and has purchased polythene on all sides. In hot weather, its polythene covered gable ends and the door panels can be removed and swapped for wire mesh ones, to allow for ventilation.


The largest greenhouse - which has all its walls made of recycled glass is more robust and remains warmer longer, once heated by the sun. For this reason it can, with the addition of fleece covers, be used for growing more tender vegetables throughout the year. It is however, a more difficult project. Start small - work up! 




Anybody with the ability to assemble flat pack furniture can get to grips with this design in its cheapest form.


Materials - Pallets:

For the sides and door: I used 6 of the pallet wood shelving frames (illustrated below), which if you can't get you can make from 5 standard pallets (120cm x 80cm), this would mean 3 sections each side rather than 2 in my design.
For the roof trusses: 4 standard pallets
For the bottom rails to allow raised beds: 1.5 standard pallets
To make the jig for the trusses: 2 standard pallets





The greenhouse walls were made using the vertical uprights taken from a set of pallet shelving which originally had served to hold pot plants. They were 80cm wide and 170cm tall. I was able to recuperate some wire fencing from our local dump and cut it to fit these rectangular frames. I have since recuperated several  of these shelving systems so they seem to be a standard throw-away pallet item. If however, you can not get hold of them just use your stock of pallet wood to create something similar. I used four of these frames (shown opposite) for the side walls and two more for the door and end wall.




Mass Production:
Home-made pallet jig

The first thing I always consider, in a design of this sort is to create a way of getting a uniformity of construction. This is not just for aesthetics but because it makes everything easier when you come to fit the project together! To this end I set up a simple jig - out of pallet wood of course!



 
To fabricate the 5 identical roof trusses needed for this design, I constructed a jig from two pallets joined together to create a worksurface of roughly 2.40m in length. Wooden blocks were then screwed at key positions so as to act as 'stops' when the truss components were laid onto the pallet.





Something perhaps not so obvious in the Youtube film, is that my design incorporates a vertical piece of wood at the lower end of each truss. This enables each truss to be fitted to the inside face of the greenhouse wall. Once screwed into place, this addition prevents the tendency for the truss to move outwards. I felt that this vertical piece of wood, pushing against the inside face of the greenhouse, would be more secure than just relying on a screw or nail to hold the truss in place.


Once attached to the opposite walls the trusses were joined to each other at the side of the roof apex using pallet wood planks. This way of linking each truss means the whole roof structure becomes stiffer and provides a 'smooth' surface for the polythene roofing at the apex. See photo above.


To upgrade the 5 Euro Greenhouse, purchase some horticultural grade 200 micron polythene for arround 30 Euros.



 Our Little Helpers



Now sit back and watch the film, which will give you a detailled step-by-step animation of how to build 'The 5 Euro Greenhouse':





...and if you're feeling more ambitious and have a good local source of discarded glass windows, then you might think of building our Big cheap glass design This greenhouse will achieve the high Spring and Summer temperatures needed to grow exotic vegetables, spices and flowers, such as turmeric, ginger, edible passionfruit, goji, sweet potato, moon flowers, even in colder climates like ours. It is a great complement to the 5 dollar greenhouse as it will give you a jump on the season and provide earlier seedlings which can then be transferred. With extra care it can also overwinter the perennial vegetables such as tomatoes, aubergine (egg plant), peppers and chillies, making a great saving on seeds, time and producing bigger harvests.  



...and here's a tour of all three greenhouses as we collect food for lunch:



All the best and thanks for dropping by. Please feel free to comment and ask for further information or share your own experiences.

Cheers, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014



27 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting.
      Sorry I haven't replied earlier.
      Best Wishes,
      Andy

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your comment and for visiting the site. There's plenty more to come! I'm just in the throes of making a henhouse using (mainly) pallets and pallet wood and I'm documenting the stages for the blog and my Youtube site. I'm really glad the days are getting longer!!!

      Best Wishes, Andy

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  3. Great website! I love the greenhouse design out of pallets.
    Looking forward to seeing the henhouse build :-)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by and commenting, much appreciated. We are just about to set up the Hen House, all the sections are made in the workshop but we need to get a lull in the terrible weather we've been having lately before we can set it up. We will be making a film in two parts and also writing a couple of posts on it as it is a big project.

      Best Wishes,
      Andy

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    2. Film - Part one - Design & Construction, now up on Youtube, will be writing post shortly. Cheers Andy

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  4. I may sound funny, but I have a thing for roof trusses. Hehe. I enjoy just looking at it without a cover. Anyhow, you have a nice greenhouse there. Surely, your plants will grow healthy inside as your greenhouse controls the interior temperature, light, and moisture level, to ensure a very habitable place for your plants.

    Galliena Gornet

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  5. Clever, money saving idea! Thanks for the instructions and photos.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! If you need any help or have further questions, just get back in touch. All the very best from France, Organikmechanic aka Andy

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  6. You make this look so easy, I may have to try it myself if I can't get my husband interested. Last year's garden was a disaster thanks to birds, mice and rats eating everything in sight. I'm going to start collecting pallets right away!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Linda,
      Yeah have a go! The most difficult part is the erection of the greenhouse - an extra pair of hands will save you a lot of time and energy! For the rest you shouldn't find it too demanding. For the roof trusses I was fortunate to find a source of non-standard size pallets which enabled me to achieve the span with ease.
      If you have any questions that I haven't covered in the blogs, just drop me a line.

      Good Luck and Best Wishes for 2013,
      Andy.

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  7. This is a very great looking greenhouse! You have so much in it! I like them for the fresh food.

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  8. Glad to have found this! We live in the desert and believe it or not, really need a greenhouse. The sun is too intense. My son and I will give a whirl at this. We are learning to use hammer and nails and saw.... great starter project!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nancy for your comments, much appreciated, don't hesitate to contact me if you would like any clarification or help. I have a new computer and am hoping within the next few weeks to start producing working drawings for all my projects and posting them here on the blog - so stay tuned! In very hot bright sun, which we do get here by the sea - we did hang shade cloths along the inside of the roof structure to cut down glare. You may need to staple them on if you have a constant problem of intense sun. The polythene will keep in the moisture and the cloths cut down the glare. When you finish it I would love to see a photo! All the very best and Good luck, Andy

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  9. Great DIY project. I have to make this green house. Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I am hoping to post working drawings soon. All the best, Andy

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  10. I like the greenhouse design out of pallets.Great !!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank-you for stopping by and commenting. If you head over to my youtube site Organicmechanic
      you will find many more pallet wood projects, which I have not got around to writing blogs on yet. All the very best, Andy

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  11. Hi
    Thank you so much for giving us such kind of handy content which will be most useful to me as well.... I will follow your blog always. Thanks!!! Santa Barbara Green building

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  12. Nice. Thanks for sharing. We're planning to build a hoop green house this Spring and hope to let the chickens use it in Winter.

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  13. I understand using the untreated wood, but don't your structures rot fairly quickly without some protective element? 3-4 years ago, we used some bunk bed slats we found in the alley to make a rabbit fence around the garden using slats and chicken wire. However, several of the slats have already rotted out. We've got plenty of slats and they're easy to replace when needed, but I'd think that sort of thing would be sorely inconvenient for structures requiring more effort to build, wouldn't it? How long do your structures last in their natural state?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you are right about the untreated wod rotting and the time it takes to deteriorate varies from about 3 years up. I do treat some wood with linseed oil which seems to work, but the best thing is to improve the design so there is less of a problem. This I have already done with the hen coops where I've made the roof to have a large overhang thus protecting the walls from the rain.
      With the low cost greenhouse the biggest problem is from condensed water running down the polythene and becoming trapped between it and the wooden frame. Bear in mind that the first season the walls were covered in wire so the wood was exposed to the elements but after 4 years the wood is still in good shape. On the other hand the last of our three greenhouses that I built has had rot on one lower wall member but this I have replaced with relative ease.
      I have found that the quality of the wood varies dramatically from pallet to pallet but I do have sufficient to pick and choose to suit the wood to the job. I obviously slipped up on the last greenhouse though!

      The oldest untreated pallet wood structure I have is that of the roof trusses in the greenhouse I constructed using recuperated glass. This greenhouse was built 5 years ago and to date there is no rot.

      Thanks for your comment.
      Best Wishes from Normandy, Andy.

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  14. This is brilliant! My husband "thanks" you for this new project I'll be giving him!

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    1. Thanks Andrea, if there are any more details you or your hubby needs, drop me a line. As a low cost greenhouse it has stood up well to the weather here in Normandy, but I would recommend using a higher grade of polythene if you can get it, this to save replacing the cheaper material every 18 months to 2 years.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting.
      Best Wishes, Andy..

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  15. Thank you, very great idea, I will try to do it.i

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mariella,
      Thank you for commenting, if you need any extra information on the design or construction of the greenhouse, please feel free to contact me.
      Good Luck,
      Andy

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