Upcycled Window Greenhouse

A few years ago I scored a crap load of windows from a local glass shop for a box of timbits and a round of tripletriples.

Best $14 I ever spent at Tim Hortons!

I used them to build an Upcycled Window Greenhouse. Here’s how:

The first thing I did was start arranging the windows on the ground to see how many pairs and multiples I had to help me decide on a symmetrical greenhouse design.

It was kindof fun; sort of like a puzzle!

I ended up scrapping the door and replacing it with a long window I had, to reduce the height. The final design ended up being very tall anyways lol
What I did was arrange the ‘face’ of the greenhouse on the ground and began measuring and framing it out.

Once the front face was all built, I measured built a back wall to the same specs, fitting in some extra studs to hold a couple extra windows.

I had eight identical windows so I built the side walls long enough to each fit 4 windows. I placed the two side walls with the front and back walls against the fence while we dug and gravelled the plot for the skids.

Initially I didnt want the greenhouse to have a floor; I wanted to be able to till and plant directly into the ground. We decided to put the greenhouse on skids so it would be easier to level and adjust. We measured the length of the four walls and built a basic 2×4 skid frame. Then we layed plywood on top and placed it on 4 treated fenceposts laid sideways, shimmying the gravel beneath the posts until the skid was level.

Beer break!

By this time Mike and I realized we couldn’t do the whole job alone so we got the help of two good friends to tackle some of the work with us and show us what we didn’t know.

Putting up the walls:

Once the four walls were up, we measured and cut 2x4s to the lengths of the walls and screwed them down as ‘caps’ atop each wall, joining together the corners.

I missed a chance to get an earlier picture before we started adding the rafters.

In this photo we have finished putting up the roof rafters on each side and are capping the ‘second-height’ wall

You can see we got cap-happy and added more capping than necessary. Something to do with confusing the pitch requirements of the higher roof. Whoops! It all worked out in the end.

The corrugated poly roofing was the biggest expense of the greenhouse construction (although a close tie with the beer). Total cost for roof and roof screws was almost $400

I started putting up plywood on the outside, leaving a 1/4″ overhang in each window opening. This was so that I could press the windows into place from the inside and the plywood would catch them from falling through the outside.

Then came the installation of the windows!

I screwed small strips of wood to the interior of the windows’ frames to hold the windows in place.

All along the way I was trying to get everything painted white before too many parts became too hard to reach.

The cute trim was salvaged from an abandoned house during a road trip and ended up being just enough to trim the front.

I added some window boxes to the front and continued with the mission to get everything painted white.

We added some built-in boxes inside and a shelf to hold pots and tools.

…and the greenhouse lived beside the garden and fruit trees, happily ever-after!

Happy Homesteading! Xx

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Keeping Chickens – Building a Chicken Coop

Before I begin to tell you about chicken-keeping, let me share with you a story about my first encounter with the idea.

It was a spring day and I was out playing in a garden in my front yard when I saw a little white hen go running past me. I did a double-take because at that point I’d never heard of chickens being kept within town limits and I couldnt fathom one wandering into my yard like a wanderlust from some far-off farmstead. Naturally, I started chasing her

She was quick and tricky and seemed to be mocking me with her dodgey footwork and quirky clucks. Eventually, I out-witted her and found myself holding what would become the manifestation of my love of chickens

I had her in my yard while I placed an ad and asked some neighbors if they knew wherefrom she may have come. In the meantime she took shelter under my grapevine clucking and chattering probably about what an annoying fangirl I was.

It turned out she had been broken out of a neighbors yard by their chihuahua and sooner than I would have liked she was gone back home to her urban condo down the road.

I did a little homework on bylaws and the logistics of chicken-keeping and by Easter time we got our first chicks. 14 adorable little peepers. We had Salmon Faverolles, Silver Dorkings, and Olive-Eggers. But we didnt have a coop because being true to my own form I got my chickens in a row before I put my eggs into one basket. Or whatever.

Of course after about a week of caring for them in a tupperware bin I realized the urgency of the need to build a coop so, instead of lollying around some more on the classifieds for a fitting accomodation, I got to work in the garage.
I started out by building the door first. Because I like to do things backwards, apparently.

Then I built the front wall of the coop to fit the door. I made four little boxes for my little mamas to do their nesting and laying.

I was really working on a whim and if I could do it again I’d have created more insulation surrounding the laying boxes. But forth I went and before long I had built a second wall. The studs are all funny because where the beer cans are placed I had originally planned to construct a solar thermal vent much like this. I soon rationalized that when the temperature drops to some 40° below zero celcius a popcan wall wouldn’t suffice to keep the coop warm. So the idea was scrapped later.

One thing I did want to do was utilize the biology of the raw earth to help process the chicken poops and kitchen scraps inside the coop. So I finished the four walls and prepared a plot.

I had a stash of bricks that I salvaged from the demolition of an old hospital and I used those to create a foundation for the walls and to prevent predatory animals from being able to infiltrate the coop from below.
I started standing the walls in place.

Who knew I’d ever need to remember Pythagoras Theory? I quickly had to relearn it in order to determine which cuts to make to achieve the appropriate roof pitch. I built the roof on the ground and got help lifting it onto the coop.

If you have read my post about the growing of my garden you’ll remember that I scored an entire discarded fence for free; and I had a lot of fenceboards, so I used them to side the coop.

I insulated and closed the walls from the inside and threw up a roof made of plywood blanketed in asphalt paper. I used shingles from a neighbors’ shed reno.

I put a little door-ramp on the side for the cuties and let them in to check out the progress

They seemed pretty content! Better than a blue bin at least I’m sure. Here’s a picture of young Russel the rooster demonstrating his regalness for the camera.

The coop is tucked in the chicken run behind the vegetable garden where the chickens are free to roam during the garden season.

Here is my husband happily observing them while enjoying a bowl of popcorn. We are those people.

In the springtime before planting starts the door remains open and they help to prepare the garden beds with some light digging and often accompany me for morning chatter over a cup of joe.

Sometimes they hop up to the window to see what I’m cookin’.

They make great babysitters too while Im doing chores in the yard.

Their favorite time of the year is harvest season and they earn their keep for the winter by helping me clean up the garden beds.

And then back into the coop they go for the winter, only venturing out on days when the sun offers them enough warmth to risk it! The nice thing about the raw earth floor is that it gives them something to scratch at in the winter.

This is Gertrude. She my homegirl.

She’s the first to welcome me when I visit the coop and is the cuddliest of the flock. She’ll literally come wiggle up under your arm and cluck sweet nothings to you for as long as you let her.

If you’ve never considered keeping chickens in your backard I think you should! They’re very loving and interesting creatures that offer friendship, eggs, compost, and garden support. And the kids really love them too!

Happy Homesteading! Xx

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