Turning screened porch into greenhouse for the winter

caocholta(7)June 21, 2009

I started this year a bunch of succulents from seed. I can't leave them outside year round and physically do not have the room inside the house to store all of them. I would like to convert my screened porch into an overwintering/seed starting environment during the colder months. My main concern is money. I can't afford to spend thousands of dollars in doing this. My thought was to get some heavy duty clear plastic and just enclose the porch that way, but then I thought about heating it, ventilation, lighting etc...

Any ideas, points in the right direction, maybe a how-to or diy article. Or if this is just not realistic, then someone slap me and tell me to start growing things within my means.

Cheers!

Logan

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PRO
Steven Laurin & Company

Logan,
I've designed many buildings which incorporate sunspaces as a means of generating and storing passive solar heat, provide an aesthetically pleasing extension to a home's living space, and serve as a primary or accessory environment in which plants may thrive during the colder months.

Most of these spaces are designed as living spaces and incorporate the means to be efficient passive heat generators with engineered storage devices, while others require supplemental heat sources to be comfortable during the winter months and colder evenings.

Putting the equation of cost aside, the success of these spaces depends upon a number of factors. The most important points for consideration include: glazing orientation relative to the optimum sun's position throughout the day, thermal efficiency to reduce heat loss and either a primary or auxiliary heat source for maintaining a constant temperature.

If these essentials do not exist and your working budget is insufficient for adequately providing for these things, then the project may fall short of success.

However, if your screen porch has a southern exposure most of the day, is immediately adjacent to the home's heated spaces for either tapping into the central heating system or allowing an exchange of interior air to share with the enclosed porch, spaces between deck boards can be covered to prevent cold air from entering, ceiling/walls are insulated or can be done inexpensively, you are fairly handy with tools - then, there is a good possibility this could work.

There are many sunspace/greenhouse books available which provide basic information on new construction and adaptive re-use of existing spaces. My recommendation is to study these publications to determine if this is a feasible project. Then perhaps the seasoned greenhouse experts here can offer tips for setting up the space for growing plants.

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 7:36AM
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seamommy(7bTX)

There is a person here in the DFW area who has done this with her back porch and it works wonderfully well. She also has a lot of succulents and they do just fine through the winter. She built a wooden framework from 2x2's with the plastic stapled to it to surround the porch and added a hinged door for safety purposes. They keep the door to the house closed and since the greenhouse area is fairly small, about 7'x 5' she uses a small space heater to keep it from freezing. She also threw down carpeting and pad over the concrete porch to buffer the cold floor. The main thing is that it doesn't have to be warm, just don't let it freeze and the plants should be fine. Cheryl

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 4:04PM
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Khis

I'm also in the DFW area and growing up, my mother would put the plastic up for the winter months and it was quite warm without the help of heaters. Really warm... Like Cheryl said--as long as it doesn't freeze.
It also doesn't hurt to throw down a rug (old/new) or tuft grass alternative if you can swing it.
So it is a good cheap alternative.
I write to tell the disadvantages. If you don't consistency change the plastic, it will cloud and stiffen in time. In other words, you won't be able to see out well (if that matters)and the plastic will crumble and will be quite messy. Do not put plastic over old. Do not use a lot of staples. You will be sorry...

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 2:59AM
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