Total Pageviews

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Greenhouse Layouts

The Royal Victorian 10' x 15' Greenhouse

I have a relative who happened into a fair chunk of cash and bought a million-dollar home. Before the market fell, it was a multi-million dollar house. But the market has fallen, plus this house doesn't face the street. The other day it occurred to me that a lovely greenhouse could improve the curb appeal of this house.

I mentioned the idea of a greenhouse to my relative, and they were interested in considering something like the Royal Victorian. They even have waste heat that comes out that side of their house, that they could divert into the greenhouse during the winter.

So I got thinking about how I would lay out an aquaponics greenhouse, if I had a 10-ft by 15-ft floor to work with...

Possible Layout for 10-ft. by 15-ft. Greenhouse

Even though my relative can direct heat from their house into the greenhouse, I took the liberty of putting a Rocket Mass Heater into the layout. The beauty of the Rocket Mass Heater is it can augment the greenhouse temperature if the waste heat from the main house isn't adequate.

I'm not sure how much exhaust piping a Rocket Mass Heater can drive, or if my two-exhaust concept is viable. But it would be nicely symmetric...

But what about adding a BioSand Filter to produce drinking water from a rain barrel or stream?

10-ft by 15-ft layout with BioSand Filter

The beauty of having a BioSand Filter in a heated greenhouse is it wouldn't freeze up in the winter. Your fish and pets could have clean water no matter what ice storm or flooding or water main break might happen.

But what about those of us who can't afford a Royal Victorian greenhouse?

First I modified the layout to fit a 15-ft by 8.5-ft greenhouse footprint. You could make one of these out of EMT conduit, like the one I have in my backyard. This aisle is wide enough to allow wheelchair access (36-in).

8.5-ft by 15-ft layout with BioSand Filter

The vents from the Rocket Mass Heater would be pretty close to the fish tank and sump, but the Rubbermaid tanks can withstand 190 degrees Fahrenheit. This assumes my idea of splitting the outflow isn't fundamentally flawed...

Next we look at what could be done in an 8.5-ft by 12-ft footprint, close to what I have in my back yard:

8.5-ft by 12-ft layout

In the 8.5-ft by 12-ft footprint, I don't have room for the BioSand Filter. The rocket mass heater is at the end (which is a mere 3-in from the wall - presumably constructed from non-flammable material in the vicinity of the heater). I've moved the growbeds so they overhang the sump and fish tank by a few more inches. This will make it a little more difficult to access the fish and pump, but the beds will be stable on the cinder block supports, and there is still adequate space to reach the fish and pump.

In the last layout, I thought about how I might accommodate a Rocket Mass Heater and a BioSand Filter in the large Harbor Freight greenhouse (10-ft by 12-ft):

Layout for 10-ft. by 12-ft. Greenhouse

This shows a more traditional (i.e., proven) run for the exhaust from the Rocket Stove.

So... I have a plan to propose should my relative decide to go forward with the fancy Royal Victorian greenhouse. I also have a plan for how I could at least accommodate a Rocket Mass Heater and wheelchair accessibility in something close to the footprint I've currently got in my back yard, if I decided to make the necessary modifications.



  1. I am trying to work out a layout for a 4m x 3m Keder house (insulated greenhouse), with maximum growing area. I plan to get one IBC for the fish tank, a 500 litre tank for a sump (which can be sunk into the ground, insulated and covered so that it can be walked over) and 5 second=hand bath tubs for grow beds, The water will be heated, eventually using a solar thermal system (when funds allow!) and the heat from the water will warm the greenhouse. I am in Cornwall UK, so winters are not generally too intense. What do you use for growbeds?

    1. Hi timx -

      I'm sure you've moved forward, and would be interested to see what you've figured out.

      I've used plastic stock tanks (also sold in the US via the restaurant industry for bulk food preparation). There is the ubiquitous blue 55 gallon drum, and the nearly-as-ubiquitous IBC container.

      I'm also looking at how to use plywood, standard lumber (2x3 in the US) and EMT with either plastic or EPDM to create growbeds. Not sure of standard plywood sizes in the UK, but in the US we have 4'x8' sheets, from which I could create a 3'x5' growbed (~100 gallons) by creatively adding 9 8' lengths of 2x3 and a single 10' length of EMT.