Greenhouse that came with new home...help?

peter826August 13, 2014

I'm looking for some guidance with a greenhouse that is attached to my new home. I was an avid gardener up until a couple years ago -- two moves have kept me busy, and my perennial gardens are now with a home I no longer own. In the past I enjoyed wintersowing seeds and creating beds with the plants. I've never gotten into annuals much, or vegetables other than a tomato plant here and there.

My new house has a small greenhouse attached lean-to style on the side. It's an Everlite, and looks to be many years old. The glass is in reasonable shape, it needs to be cleaned. The structure has power, but no lighting other than a dead fluorescent light. It looks like it may have had water at one point or another, but doesn't seem to work now. There's hand wheels to open the top, appears to be a motor that can be attached to one side. A thermostat is hanging loose against the wall. A heating duct enters from the inside of the house, there's a damper that has it closed off. So it appears it could be heated, and temperature controlled to some degree.

I imagine the motor and other systems are very old, and don't believe the previous owner used them (they were in the house since 1995).

I'm not sure if this can be made functional, or not. Or really, even where to start. I can see myself wanting to grow something in here, maybe lettuce or tomatoes, or ??? -- I'm not even really sure what the options are. I guess the structure needs a rehab, but I'm not sure where to begin.

Any thoughts?

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peter826

Here's a closeup of some of the internals..

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:27AM
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CanadianLori(6a Oakville)

I am totally envious. Heated and all- wow!

First thing I'd do is get all of the removable items out of there.
Looks like a bench on one side? That would be a perfect spot for lettuce. I've had great success using window box shaped containers that fit tidily along the edge. And lucky you - cooler weather is coming and lettuce loves cool.
Until you get the water going, you can always hand water.
Again - totally envious. Keep us posted - I'd love to follow you through this fun project.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 1:06PM
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peter826

Thanks for your comment! Each side has a raised platform with gravel in it. A center aisle. It's full of my pots from my (former) container garden at the moment. I think I should pull everything out and clean it first.

I can run water to it quite easily, as a 3/4" cold water pipe is on the other side of the wall. I'll T into that and go through the wall.

The heat comes via the duct you can see in the photo, it's just a straight shot off the back of the furnace into the greenhouse. Seems inefficient, but the thermostat is in the house, so whatever heat goes into the greenhouse would be controlled by that, not something outside.

I wish there were some schematic diagrams which explain how the roof would work, I assume it should open to release heat and close on its own via the motor..

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 2:28PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

I read your description and expected something really dumpy and sad, but then, the photos, wow!

You have lots to work with there, and I bet you're going to really come to like it. I'd say just start out by cleaning and organizing it, and see what ideas come to mind that seem appealing. You could start some fall lettuce crops, as Lori suggests. You can just grow them in containers on those benches. I use window boxes for lettuce as well, and it works beautifully. Herbs would work too since they are so quick. And I like to bring some pansies in the GH in late fall when everything else is getting knocked down by cold.

Over the winter, invest in a couple of books about greenhousing, like The Greenhouse Grower's Companion by Shane Smith, or one of the Elliot Coleman books. After that, see where it takes you. If perennials are your thing, you can grow really impressive seedlings in a greenhouse and save a bundle. If I were to move, the very first thing I would do to establish my new garden would be to get a greenhouse. Once you have that then there are a million possibilities!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:26PM
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billala

Your GH is pristine compared to those in my Dad's commercial operation that I grew up in back in the '40s, and we were fighting decay all the time. I never saw a working GH operation that wasn't a little raunchy in places, and always being rehabbed. (Of course, I haven't been inside a working GH in 60 years.) Just clean up the corrosion on any iron/steel parts, get that vent system working, hook up a thermo-controlled damper on the heat, and have at it.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:45AM
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