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Urban Farm Fanatic Item #2 – Aquaponics Greenhouse… The Build Continues!

Well, the opportunity to finally get down to the fun part of building the greenhouse, i.e… actually building the greenhouse has come! No bushes to dig out, no irrigation to dig around for, no screening out river rocks. Just fun old, “Break out the power tools and grunt like Tim the Toolman Taylor building!!!” Arrrrghhh arrrgh aaahhhh!!! 🙂

Originally my thought was to just start adding in a few images as the build progressed, but by the end of the day I had realized that I had been quite the camera bug.. and so putting together just a few still frames wasn’t going to do this build the justice it deserved. After all, you plan a project for months, you need to give it the full blogging treatment. So, I decided to dust off what little knowledge I have about video editing and put together a nice little clip of the days progress… and yes, this all occurred in just one day! (The magic of the hoop house build.) All together about 8 hours of work.

After completing the first days work, I’d have to say the hardest part of the initial build was the 2x4x6 foundation. I was wanting that to be as level as I could get it, but realized that the ground was in no way level for my needs. I pre-drilled holes for each of the pieces on my back porch which I knew to be level, then moved them into the yard for assembly (the greenhouse’s dimensions are 12×40). I used scrap blocks to add support to the low lying areas. Followed that up with the sledgehammering of the 3 foot re-bar pieces (drove those half way into the ground.. my right hand is dead by the way from swinging an 8 pound sledgehammer).

As for the easiest part, that would be the assembling and installation of the PVC supports. Got a nice little 45 degree joint to mount the two 10 foot sections together, slid one end over the re-bar on one side, then bent and slid it over on the opposing side. That part took all of 20 minutes to complete the entire hoop!

Next weekend I will be receiving a large order of rock that will be applied to the foundation. The plan was to do that anyway and I thought it better to work with the rock in order to achieve a level base rather than trying to dig up the surrounding dirt and raking that around. But as I said.. next weekend.. right now the old bod is ridiculously sore, so I’m going to be giving it a breather before I put it back to work!

Enjoy the video!!! 🙂

Urban Farm Fanatic Item #2 – Aquaponics Greenhouse Anyone?


Original Hoop Siteplan Mock-up.
Shed shown at bottom.

Some things I had to work out in my head with regards to building a greenhouse were its size and location. However the other consideration I wanted to mull over was the ‘type’ of greenhouse. Not only how it was built, but how the food within was to be grown.

“Come again?”, you may say.. but surprisingly there are many different means at ones disposal to grow fruits and veggies. Ultimately my decision ended with me wanting to put together a Hoop Greenhouse with the garden grown Aquaponically.  If you’re new to these concepts, the previous links will provide additional details for each.

I decided on a hoop because it is the least expensive structure to build, is considered non-permanent, therefore it does not require permitting, and is relatively easy to design and setup. Originally I planned on a 12×50, but eventually reduced that to 12×40 because of the yards space requirements and was able to squeeze in the same amount of grow area by simply eliminating a staging area on one end.

The Bush Problem

Placed on the northern side of our yard with an East/West layout to maximize overall sunlight capture.

I began by laying out the four corners of the structure and then buying a minimal amount of supplies to get an idea of the overall height and interior dimensions.

As you can see in this first photo, I was also having to deal with the previous tenants, i.e. some bushes that I would need to evict from their locations. The hoop staging actually turned out to be a great idea! I originally was planning on using 3/4 inch PVC in 20 foot lengths to create the arches.. a couple of small problems though.. 1. there was no way that was going to fit into the car, 2. the 3/4 inch PVC looked a bit flimsy. So instead I bought 1 inch diameter PVC in 10 foot lengths with a 45 degree joiner connecting the two ends together (this also created a nice aesthetic). This worked out phenomenally! The base of each PVC is slid over a pre-cut piece of 3 foot rebar that I drove halfway into the ground with a sledge hammer. The other half is left exposed and you simply bend and slide the PVC over it.

Bushes Be Gone!

Bushes Be Gone!

Next up was to tackle those bushes! These little bad boys have been here the better part of a decade, so getting them out I believed was going to take multiple weekends, turns out it took me all of about 5 hours of manual labor. The ground was wet from a previous nights rainstorm and that made digging that much easier. The roots were the real labor intensive aspect. Hit those repeatedly with the end of the shovel and my body weight. Eventually, physics won the day and I was able to get all the bushes out!

The next stage is to get the rest of my materials for this build (I’ll post those on this post once I’ve finalized the list). I’ve got to get some landscape fabric that needs to go down and then about a 2-3 inch based of rip-rap to help discourage burrowing animals and provide a nice walking surface with good drainage. After that its the rest of the rebar, PVC, and some 2×4 lumber to build the end frames for the door and ventilation.