Greenhouse addition for growing food and passive solar

lavender_lassJuly 10, 2011

Hi everyone!

I have been trying to find some good examples of greenhouse additions from the 1970s...or at least similar ideas. I don't want a 'fancy' greenhouse/solarium. They're beautiful, but not really good for my 3' of snow in the winter (LOL) and I want something that I can use to grow food and help heat the house.

The front, left corner of my little farmhouse, points south. So, ideally, the greenhouse should probably be on the front, off the dining room, but the side (southwest) will hopefully work well, too. I could replace the window seat with french doors, if the sunroom should be on the southeast corner.

I'm open to if anyone has seen some good articles or can recommend some books/websites, I'd really appreciate it :)

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LL All I know for sure is our front porch faces south and one side south west. It is hotter then the dickens in the summer about 3 to 4 hours before the sun goes down. Last night I looked at temp and it was 116 degrees.Our high yesterday was aboiut 75 to 80 so that is a dramatic difference. And I do not have windows on our porch just the curtains. So do keep in mind cooling in summer.

I had to put the end curtains to the front to let as much air flow through as possible for cooling. After the sun sets it cools off nicely.I have been using it a lot in the evenings to work on city stuff at the table out there. Makes a not so pleasant job much easier to deal with.

And remember winter sun is very low in the sky. We do not get as much sun in winter here because of the hill across the street.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 1:16PM
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Shades- That was one of my concerns about the southwest side, too. I could put the greenhouse on the front (off the dining room) and maybe incorporate a front porch, entry to the right (in front of the front door and living room). It would be fun to have a sun/screen porch on the front, next to the greenhouse.

Just when I thought I had my farmhouse plan figured out...but this could be a really good possibility :)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 1:30PM
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Well I hope to some day enclose half of the front porch. I will need to figure a way for cooling. There is no way to plant in front as we are too close to the street.

I would like to enclose the right side of the porch, as you face our house, which would cover the front door opening into between our dinning room living room space. This would make an air space in winter to help keep cold air blasting into the house when we enter.

Leave the other side open for a landing on raining or snowing days while standing at the door letting us in. Would also create that sunny winter spot you are trying to create at your house for us. :^))).

I need to find some sun blocking or heat stopping kind of shades for windows before I even consider enclosing this end. Maybe special insulation in the walls too. It is a project down the road. We always considered when we had the porch built on the house to begin with. Since it is all on a regular foundation like the house and actually is part of the house we just need to close it in. There are no permits needed unless we decide to do some special electrical. There is already a plug and a light.

So a some day project. I know I would use it as I am using it now in the evenings.

Here is a link that might be useful: Re-Arranged the front porch.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 2:06PM
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LL, for heating in winter, southwest would probably be ideal. But like Shades said, it will also be hot in summer. There are things you can do to minimize that heat though, like plant deciduous trees. You could also put a porch or awning on that side to block the sun.

I'd recommend the book, The Passive Solar House by James Kachadorian.

Here is a link I just found about passive solar greenhouses and things you can do to maximize solar gain in winter and minimize in summer. Here's another.

You should probably track the sun in both locations and see which one is best though most sources say it should be within 30 degrees of due south.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 2:22PM
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I was just sketching and came up with a great idea! I could put the greenhouse on the front of the garage, which faces southeast. This would give me access (from the mudroom to the garage) and then into the greenhouse...and no stomping through snow to go pick a tomato!

My husband really wants a garage, but he doesn't run the cars in there, so it shouldn't hurt to have the greenhouse attached, with one entry from the garage and another from the outside, by the garden. We could easily add a sink and power (since it will be attached to the mudroom. I like this idea...and I can still have my window seat in the dining room!

Marti- Thanks for the links. I'm going to look at them right now :)

Shades- I think a winter entry is a wonderful idea.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 2:40PM
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Since I've been playing around with my new house plan, I'm wondering if a greenhouse has to be on the south side. It can get pretty hot here, in the summer (as Shades already mentioned) and we couldn't really use the greenhouse at that time.

Can you have a 'greenhouse' on the northeast side? I could have some grow lights and even a radiant floor...but I want something that could be a greenhouse year round. Without lots of fans and maybe even air conditioning, I don't know that it would work on the south side.

I could have skylights, if it was on the northeast side....but it would be too hot to have them on the south side. What do you think? If I'm not using it for passive solar...more for growing food and tropical plants...would it work? Thanks for any input :)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 2:51PM
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I know little to nothing about it but am interested in learning. will look up that book. I'd love to have solar panels here to run off of as much as possible really - I just think it'd be too expensive to put in. I know it isn't something I could do or even help do anymore.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 1:35AM
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I'm thinking about a greenhouse in SC eventually. What I'll do is put it in the best location for winter sun, and simply empty it out for the summer. Depending upon what you grow, any kind of northern exposure will be nearly useless in the winter. My grandmother had a big greenhouse way back in the 50's, and she took all the plants outside for the summer.

Bear in mind that a greenhouse attached to your home will impose a lot of heat and humidity upon the wall it is attached to.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 11:46AM
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I thing that Jay;s points are correct. Put that greenhouse by the garage and be happy to have easy access in the winter. Having that heat-maker glass house attached not to the house, but to the garage, means that it will not impose a lot of heat and humidity in the summer.

A local restaurant here used their greenhouse to grow herbs. It had tall columns of water in plastic tubes. The water absorbed the heat of the day in the winter, and released it to keep the greenhouse warmer at night. Look into using water to help regulate the heat in your greenhouse.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 10:51PM
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