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Thread: Any chance this would work?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    13

    Any chance this would work?

    I have a small greenhouse.I don't want to heat it for tropicals, but I'd like to try to keep the roots of potted plants on the floor from freezing.

    I tried the black containers full of water method of retaining solar heat last year and that really didn't do much.

    This year I have collected lots of leaves that I have shredded,packed in black 30 gallon trash bags and added a handful of lawn fertilizer and about a half gallon of water.
    I was going to pile them up near my already full compost bin but I though maybe they could help heat the greenhouse. My house is 18' long, 9' wide lean-to that is double glazed glass and fiberglass.
    Do you think that it would help heat it if I placed bags inside the house across the length of it? I would put them around the outside too but I have it planted with hibiscus and candy lilies that I don't want to smother.

    http://image1ex.villagephotos.com/pu...asp?id_=169277

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    443

    Nice leanto

    Sorry i dont have a answer for you , But nice leanto .how much did it cost to build it?
    shepp zone5/6

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Western Michigan near Muskegon
    Posts
    1,462

    Nice!

    Hi,
    I really like your lean to. I have been trying to come up with a similar plan, but using sliding glass doors (not frames). I plan on using steel tubing 2" for the frame. Heat it in the winter with excess heat off our outside hotwater heater.

    Maybe I can answer your question about the 'solar' retention you are looking for. In order to hold heat an object must have mass.
    The heavier the mass, the higher the heat retention (k value). Cement, rocks, ceramic tile, adobe, 30 gallon black water filled barrels, a thick layer of stones, things like that with MASS! are what holds heat and slowly releases it when the temps fall. Insulating the perimeter down to the freezeline will also help tremendously.

    Here's a link with lots of good info, explaining k value and passive solar heat. http://www.thenaturalhome.com/. Lots of good info.

    So after all said and done I don't think you'd get very much help out of the bags of leaves.
    Good Luck!
    Happy Growing,
    Vicki in West. Mich.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    13
    Thank you both.
    SHepp, We spent about $2000 altogether. I saved the storm windows and doors when we replaced them on the house with the exception of the 2 by the door. There are 18 storm windows, they are on both sides of the frame. We used the 20 year fiberglass on the roof, the 10 year on the knee wall and inside on the knee wall, the angled areas over the door and ceiling is Plexiglas. I think the Plexiglas and the rubber mat floor was almost half of the total cost so I could have done it cheaper.
    I may still have a list of what we used and cost. I can email it to you if you want it.

    Vicki, Thanks for the link. I have pretty much given up on solar heat collecting. It just doesn't work that well in central Indiana winters. I'm sure it doesn't help that my house blocks early morning sun from the greenhouse.
    I was hoping that the heat from the composting leaves would generate heat. I read somewhere that a box of composting horse manure would do it, but I was City born and raised and I don't think I could enjoy the oder of that in a closed greenhouse.
    I know that the bags of leaves already feel warm to touch and last winter the black tubs of water were always cold. I finally put an aquarium heater in the biggest one. We also have placed 2" Styrofoam 24" deep around the outer sides of the greenhouse. My father in law told me every time I saw him for months after that how stupid it was to do that because heat rises. I think it helped.
    I could still use my pipe warmer cables that I asked about in a previous thread if the leaves don't work.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    598
    Anything you compost is going to need some air, or the micro organisms will suffocate. It will also need moisture, and some nitrogen if you want it to compost fast enough to generate significant heat. While composting does generate heat, it generally doesn't put out a lot of excess unless the pile is quite large.

    Solar collecting is tricky. the more direct sunlight the more heat will be collected. If the collectors are thin, and the water can be moved out as it heats, you can charge the water mass much easier. Most of the other "storage media" will be slow to heat, and they reflect a lot of the sunlight. It's hard to enhance the convection properties of most other bulk storage devices.

    Solar heat, as you say, probably will not suffice to overcome the long cold nights in your area, but it may assist. Down here in the deep south we do get some freezing nights, but the cold is not sustained, so we never get more than surface frost, the ground below the surface is generally above freezing so a dirt or concrete floor acts as a buffer.

    We put our tropicals in the house, and everything else is tolerant of our weather. Good luck
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
    Posts
    9,934

    Greenhouse Plans

    I posted this link on a previous thread regarding Inexpensive Greenhouses. It contains drawings as well as material lists of various types of greenhouse structures including the lean to greenhouse.

    For those of you who were so very busy this past summer, I thought I would provide the link for you once again.

    Greenhouse Plans and Material Lists

    I, for one, learned quite a bit by studying these plans....

    I hope this helps!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    13
    I opened the bags of leaves for better air circulation. I have them about the middle of the greenhouse lined up. It has been down in the teens at night, 30's during the day and mostly cloudy. Yesterday and the day before it was very windy.So far, the lowest temp in the greenhouse has been 60.

    The only thing that worries me is if opening the bags would release molds in there.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    upstate NY zone 4
    Posts
    40
    It sounds like what you are trying to accomplish is very similar to the old method of bottom heating a cold frame. A hole was dug in the ground and filled with "green" manure Then the soil over the manure and then the cold frame itself. During the cold months the manure decomposes and renders heat to the cold frame thus keeping the plants inside the frame in the "safe" zone. I agree with Vicki More mass for heat retention. I stepped into my greenhouse this afternoon. We have been in a severe cold snap here in the Northeast and the inside of my "house was about 65 degrees with mesclun mix growing. I am not yet keeping records but I am going to start real quick. I planned this house for a year before I built it and I am really anxious to prove my calculations out. I plan on starting my garden veg, cut flowers and trees from seed in Jan/Feb. Solar power only.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Western Michigan near Muskegon
    Posts
    1,462

    Sun days

    Mike,
    How many sun days do you get? My husband and I are going to build the home featured on the link I posted. Did you check out the site. Very informative.

    Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

    Hope the opportunity works out for you, too.
    Happy Growing,
    Vicki in West. Mich.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    upstate NY zone 4
    Posts
    40
    Hi Vicki,
    according to the NWS records Dec/Jan are the cloudiest months in this area, However this year Nov had very littlie sun and I think we were in the single digits for number of sun days. The greenhouse could be usable to me with supplemental light and heat but the budjet won'y allow that. I will be cold stratifying some tree seeds soon and use the greenhouse to bring them out of dormancy. Come late Feb the greenhouse should be quite busy. I still have some insulating to do inside and I need to seal some cracks but I am amazed at how the structure stores heat. It is not "hot" inside but warm, even in this cold snap of single digit temps the temps have stayed above the freezing mark. I hope to improve my recordkeeping so I have some history to rely on going forward. The whole project was a lot of fun
    Going to check out that site now.
    Mike

  11. #11

    Heating greenhouse with leaves

    Hi, folks, this is my first post so I am not sure what I am doing here. It sounds like a simpler solution and more sure fire would be to buy a $20 electric heater from Walmart and run a long outdoor extension to the greenhouse from a convenient receptacle and set the thermostat for the lowest temp you want the plants to go to during cold snaps. The thermostat should serve to turn it on and off to conserve energy. I believe this could be effectuated for in the vicinity of $30 which your labor in hauling leaves and experimenting with your valuable plants is worth a lot.
    Marguerite, GrannyGarden
    www.kirbyville.net
    www.tex-la.net

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
    Posts
    9,934
    Welcome, Marguerite!

    Just as you were registering for Landspro, my electricity went out and was out for about a half hour. When I saw your message this morning, the thought crossed my mind that an electric heater wouldn't help on really cold nights when the power goes out.

    Actually, on light freeze nights, I use a small ceramic heater in my patio and my little greenhouse. But on nights that the temperatures are forecasted to be below 28 degrees, I use a kerosene heater or propane heater in the little greenhouse. On nights that 20 degrees is forecasted, I use the propane in the patio, kerosene in the greenhouse.

    This year it will be even more important that I monitor the temperatures closely as all of my prized houseplants will be out there, many of which have sentimental value to me.

    I have one of those temperature monitors that Gary talked about, and I will be depending on that this winter.

    Marguerite, if you have any questions about using Landspro, please let me know

    Enjoy!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    So. MD
    Posts
    14
    Originally posted by gardentoad
    Thank you both.
    SHepp, We spent about $2000 altogether. I saved the storm windows and doors when we replaced them on the house with the exception of the 2 by the door. There are 18 storm windows, they are on both sides of the frame. We used the 20 year fiberglass on the roof, the 10 year on the knee wall and inside on the knee wall, the angled areas over the door and ceiling is Plexiglas. I think the Plexiglas and the rubber mat floor was almost half of the total cost so I could have done it cheaper.
    I may still have a list of what we used and cost. I can email it to you if you want it.

    Vicki, Thanks for the link. I have pretty much given up on solar heat collecting. It just doesn't work that well in central Indiana winters. I'm sure it doesn't help that my house blocks early morning sun from the greenhouse.
    I was hoping that the heat from the composting leaves would generate heat. I read somewhere that a box of composting horse manure would do it, but I was City born and raised and I don't think I could enjoy the oder of that in a closed greenhouse.
    I know that the bags of leaves already feel warm to touch and last winter the black tubs of water were always cold. I finally put an aquarium heater in the biggest one. We also have placed 2" Styrofoam 24" deep around the outer sides of the greenhouse. My father in law told me every time I saw him for months after that how stupid it was to do that because heat rises. I think it helped.
    I could still use my pipe warmer cables that I asked about in a previous thread if the leaves don't work.
    Ask your father in law if it's so stupid to do that insulation, why is it a requirement on all federal buildings and commercial buildings and houses in most areas in the upper united states? A minimum of 24" is required and sometimes more. And anywhere from 2" to 4" thick.

    Carol

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