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Greenhouse: Hollys Greenhouse HFGH

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HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

February 20, 2012
12:20 PM

Post #9013537

Holly received a 10x12 Harbor Freight Green House (HFGH) for her birthday near the end of 2010. Since we had an early frost and frozen ground nothing was accomplished till spring 2011. Here is the progress that we've made, and some of the modifications we added for wind and snow load. Many thanks are due mudhouse, whose blog was superbly done and illustrated and may be found here: http://hfgh10x12.blogspot.com/2007/08/this-is-greenhouse-we-bought-link-it.html
I hope some of you will find this helpful, HollyAnnS's Ric
I think HF should provide a copy of mudhouse's blog with every unit sold. LOL

This message was edited Feb 20, 2012 10:28 PM

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HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

February 20, 2012
12:46 PM

Post #9013564

We wanted to have a heat storing solid floor so we opt for a 6" slab poured on 4" of closed cell foam. Prior to pouring, the 1" hydrant and 1 1/2"conduit were hand dug and placed. Drainage is directed to the bricked area with a 1"x4' slope to center from the walls. The bricked area, while ascetically pleasing also allows for access to service or replace utilities. The concrete was cured 30 days,etched, stained, and sealed.
We did not use the provided 4" steel channel for the base but rather used ripped composite decking to mount the walls directly to the concrete with Tapcon screws, sill foam was placed under the composite and the aluminum was chalked to it. The channel fasteners were modified to be screwed to the composite also.

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oldmudhouse
Las Cruces, NM
(Zone 8a)

February 20, 2012
3:55 PM

Post #9013823

I'm glad the blog helped! (Actually Harbor Freight should re-write their manual so we didn't all go crazy trying to build their greenhouses, lol.) Almost all those ideas were gathered from helpful folks on the web who were kind enough to share their ways to strengthen the structure, so I was happy to pass them on. I am convinced our HF 10x12 would not be standing (coming up on four years now) if I hadn't seen advice from others on how to modify it to withstand our bad winds here.

That looks like a super foundation! I'm glad to see a pic of how somebody modified the little hold-down fasteners so they'd work without using the steel base that comes with the kit. I've seen posts from folks that have decided not to use the base, and I know they figure out ways to modify the parts, but that's the first image I've seen. Looks very stout. I think one of the good things about this kit is it lends itself to modifications, so people can make it serve their individual needs, if they're willing to be a little creative and apply the extra effort.

You won't regret doing the work of having water inside your greenhouse, it makes such a difference. My DH is approving of your considerations regarding drainage too (we wish you had been the guy pouring our driveway back in the 60's.) ;-)

I can't wait to see where you go from here. Good things ahead I'm sure, based on the obvious care and thoughful effort that shows in all your pics.
Sheri
HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

February 20, 2012
4:21 PM

Post #9013868

Sheri, Ric will be back later this evening and post more pictures of the GH. For Christmas I bought him automatic window openers and bench tops. We haven't been heating it yet but I expect to have plants growing in it sometime soon. I don't think we can thank you enough for all the help your Blog gave us. Holly
HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

February 20, 2012
5:15 PM

Post #9013950

After the base was squared and well fastened wall assembly proceeded. Particular attention was paid to placing the bolts in the tracks for attaching assembly parts, future shelves, and brackets. The sketches in oldmudhouses' blog show this very well (Thanks Sheri).
The panels were secured with the glazing clips and 3/4" stainless self taping screws with a neoprene washer between the panel and cross supports. All the roof panels were glazed with clear silicon calking.
Nearly all the wall panels will be glazed as well.The north side will most likely be removed for a head house and potting shed. I already have made a painted plywood removable door panel for easy entry during construction.
I added an interior frame made of 1" EMT for snow,ice, and wind load. There are 4 upright post, approx. 3' from the sides and 4' from the ends, which locates them toward the front of the benches. There are 2 purlins (purloins) that sit atop the post from front to back, and to collar tie crossing at the level of the top wall plate. The EMT is tied together with wall brackets and SS self taping screws as seen in the 4th pic.


This message was edited Feb 20, 2012 9:17 PM

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HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

February 20, 2012
5:54 PM

Post #9013996

I felt the ends were shaky at best, and since my greatest wind load is from the back, I did the same as recommended by mudhouse, I ran a piece of EMT from one corner to the other across the back wall. It made a world on difference. It's the part in pic 1 with the green tag. The front posed a different problem because of door guides and such, I purchased a piece of 1" aluminum angle (about $20) and superimposed it over the factory assembly by using longer bolts and was well worth the cost.
The gables and rafters were next, these require extra bolts as you assemble them as well. (Don't forget bolts for the purlins if you are adding them.) Assembling the whole roof finger tight helped me get it all together.
All the walls were paneled in one day to prevent wind damage. I found trying to glaze the panels before securing them was a bit messy and unpredictable. I think I may have gotten double clips with our HFGH, I'm still sitting on a bunch of them.
The roof was next and I did glaze it as it was installed as I only have 36" arms and haven't prefected hovering.LOL Ric

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HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

February 20, 2012
6:27 PM

Post #9014042

All in all the kit was pretty well made as far as fit and completeness. I did modify it a good bit for strength, I don't think the cost of mods. was too great, and the support system can be used for hanging baskets during early growing season. It has withstood our Oct. blizzard and 55mph winds, knock on wood.
The electric will be run through the conduit and I have a pile of cast iron radiators I have been saving in the barn for at least 15 years that will be painted and installed before the benches go up, I plan to connect these to solar collectors on the barn roof. The remainder of the heat will come from a mobile home furnace (also in the barn) that will be installed in the yet to be built head house. Vent fans and thermostats will be installed similar to mudhouses.
I did try to include small touches to try to make things a little cutesy, trying to achieve a cottage garden look. Efforts will continue and I will post our progress.
Once again, Many thanks to Sheri (oldmudhouse) and all that contributed to her blog, all their trial and error helped with our sucess. xoxox Ric

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sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

February 21, 2012
6:33 AM

Post #9014436

Ric You da MAN...can tell you know your stuff with all the extra details. Including being smart enough to suspect you should research before diving in. So nice that people like Sheri post about their experience.

oldmudhouse
Las Cruces, NM
(Zone 8a)

February 21, 2012
11:42 PM

Post #9015450

Great pics, and really nice clean job on the snow bracing, too. The radiator idea is very interesting. Love the leaf impressions in the concrete too!

Posts like this really make me feel good, because they do a great job of offsetting the occasional post I see about Harbor Freight greenhouses that goes something like this: "Don't buy this cheap kit, I put it up in one weekend and by Thursday it had blown into my neighbors yard in a billion pieces, total waste of money."

I feel bad on several levels when I see comments like these, because HF does fall short of giving folks the honest info they need to build the structure so it's truly durable. And the sad thing is it doesn't take a lot of extra money to make the modifications that make it strong. Even though we're now replacing some of our HF panels (four years of tough NM sun) it's still a terrific value for the money, and a good way to try greenhousing without a big scary investment.

The thing that makes the difference is taking the time to do some reading beforehand (to get a feel for some of the shortcomings of the kit, "as is"), enjoying the process of building it with care, and making the structure deliver the end result you want. Your plan to modify your north side to connect to a potting shed is a perfect example of customizing it to do what you want; the snow bracing you engineered is another good example of considering the needs of your climate, and making smart adjustments.

Lol about not perfecting the skill of hovering. Since we replaced the roof panels in late fall, we've done that process twice now, and there are a few stretches that are barely achieveable for us, even on tall ladders. I was so happy when the high parts were done. Both times. Not a fan of standing on tippy toes on the top of a ladder and stretching every vertebrae I have to get my fingertips to barely reach the last lovely clip. Thank goodness for patient and brave husbands with long arms.

I'll really look forward to seeing your future posts. Outstanding job! Sheri
HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

February 22, 2012
7:12 AM

Post #9015671

Sheri, When I realized how good the kit actually was I wanted to invest the time to protect it. I figure if we take care of it I can replace the panels with a better quality polycarb as required and not break the bank. That also is one of the reasons I decided to glaze over the panels rather than beneath them. I should be able to cut the silicon out to remove the panel. I also put the vents in so I, or one of the boys could stand up through them from a tall ladder and be reasonably close to any spot. The years I worked in commercial greenhouses definitely gave me a good idea of what not to do.LOL Thanks for the compliments.
Ric

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Pippi21
Silver Spring, MD
(Zone 6b)

February 26, 2012
9:09 PM

Post #9021381

Does Rick's brain ever stop working? Holly, you better hang on to this good man. He does everything! I like the way you two work together and enjoy a lot of the same things..like gardening.

Do you know Joannabanana? I think she is a Canadian gardener but not certain..She has a GH in her back yard and when the temps got really low, she was putting up bubble wrap inside to help insulate from the cold till the cold front moved on..She posted it on her blog..I think she posts on GW, DG and Cubits.
HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

February 27, 2012
4:28 AM

Post #9021505

Thanks Pippi, We are a pretty good team. Can't wait till the flower plugs come in at the end of March. Another few weeks and we will be growing things in the GH. I have seen the bubble wrap used I think they just wet the walls a bit and stick it up. I hope you will be able to come see the GH when we have our spring plant swap in May. Holly
HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

March 10, 2012
9:37 AM

Post #9036945

I made a pretty dumb mistake on my roof panels, I thought (there's the problem!), that if I left the bottom edge of the panel unsealed it would allow condensation to run down the inside of the panel and out. That would keep it from running down the walls, that is often the way it works with glass, but glass is rigid, the panels are not. I've withstood 40-50 mph wind BUT with gusty conditions the other day it was different.
The gust caused enough pressure difference to cause the bottom edge to puff up allowing another perfectly timed one to catch the lower edge and lift/flex the panel up in the center, pulling it from under the side clips and over the screw head. I have since sealed and added a screw to the bottom of the panels.
I also installed 2 of the Bayliss vent controls which seem to be working fine and are enough to prevent overheating this early in the season. Be careful if you order these prices vary a lot between suppliers.
http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/vent2.shtml
http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/supplies/ProductDisplay?catalogId=14052&storeId=10001&langId=-1&division=GrowersSupply&productId=31805

This message was edited Mar 10, 2012 1:38 PM

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HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

March 23, 2012
1:50 PM

Post #9054240

I got 3 of the radiators cleaned, painted, and set in place allowing me to put my benches in on one side.
The frames were constructed from salvaged PT and painted, the tops are from Greenhouse Supply. They are approximately the same as a table in height so you can sit and work more easily. The plastic coated shelf was salvaged closet shelving with used aluminum angle bolted to the studs and suspended from the reenforcing frame with plastic coated rebar wire. This will give me room for 30 flats, I have space to sit large containers under the bench, and space for 6-8 10" hanging baskets over it, all from 1/3 of the space available. Ric

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Pippi21
Silver Spring, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 23, 2012
4:01 PM

Post #9054378

Holly, if Ric disappears on you, just look into the GH! Are you sure this was Holly's birthday gift? You all must be mightly proud of this project..Congrats! I can see that filling up with beautiful plants soon..What an accomplishment for the GH guys! pat yourselves on the back for this one.

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 31, 2012
7:10 AM

Post #9064168

tee hee Pippi! Ditto your comments!!!
HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

April 1, 2012
9:48 PM

Post #9066250

Plants are starting to move in. Ric went yesterday and picked up the plugs from the HGHA Plug Sale. Can't wait to re pot them. I'll post a few pictures when I get the chance. It is getting so much fun.
Jan23
Salem Cnty, NJ
(Zone 7b)

April 2, 2012
4:42 AM

Post #9066383

Woohoo!!
HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

June 6, 2012
4:38 PM

Post #9155021

We did really well with our seeds and plugs this year, I probably didn't lose 1% of my transplants. We produced nearly 1000 vegetable and annuals, as well as jump starting our soft perennials. Ric

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sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

June 12, 2012
10:53 AM

Post #9162225

Two thumbs up there!!
KayJones
Panama City Beach, FL
(Zone 8b)

July 27, 2012
6:35 PM

Post #9220933

Holly, where'd you buy those handymen? I want to order a set!!!
HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

July 27, 2012
6:48 PM

Post #9220943

LOL, Well I found one of them, he was a stray that I picked up and trained. The other ones I had to grow from eggs. LOL
Pippi21
Silver Spring, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 27, 2012
7:06 PM

Post #9220956

Good Gracious, Great Balls of Fire! What did you do with all those plants, veggies?
Are you selling at a Farmer's Market or selling the plants?
HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

July 27, 2012
8:21 PM

Post #9221018

No Pippi, Just for us and our friends and family. Some of the annuals were given out at the swap, we took some to my parents house and some went to our children's homes, some to the neighbors and of course our own yard. Most of them were still in the GH when you came for the Plant Swap. We were late getting them planted.
KayJones
Panama City Beach, FL
(Zone 8b)

July 28, 2012
4:07 AM

Post #9221154

Ya done good, Holly! LOL
Pippi21
Silver Spring, MD
(Zone 6b)

July 28, 2012
4:08 AM

Post #9221155

That is amazing how much you planted, it seemed like a short time that you'd had the GH..We really enjoyed talking with your Mom and Dad..seems like such lovely folks.
Can't wait to see what you all grow this next year now that you have a year of experience with the GH under your belt! I'm so proud of you all!
HollyAnnS
Dover, PA
(Zone 6b)

July 28, 2012
6:30 AM

Post #9221220

Come fall we will have to decide if we are going to heat it all winter. If we do I can store my big Tropical Plants there instead of crowding them all inside. This year we heated it with a couple of small heater fans when the annual plugs first arrived the end of March.

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

July 28, 2012
1:57 PM

Post #9221642

HollyAnnS wrote:LOL, Well I found one of them, he was a stray that I picked up and trained. The other ones I had to grow from eggs. LOL


SO funny Holly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
KayJones
Panama City Beach, FL
(Zone 8b)

July 28, 2012
2:55 PM

Post #9221683

Yes - I still come back and read Holly's response and giggle - too funny!

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