Greenhouse Garden Wall

The first few years of the greenhouse was a learning process.  I knew this was going to be the situation.  I choose not to attach anything to the walls until I had a plan I thought would survive more than a month.

The greenhouse has surprised me in so many ways.  Having an inner dome made a HUGE difference in the winter months.  Karl and I went to San Diego - and the first winter storm hit.  17 below zero and the power went out.  I knew my greenhouse was now an icicle. Even with an inner come and the heat of the earth it would freeze.  I was shocked when I came home to find only the tomatoes had died. I was amazed.  And so I learned again how powerful a pit greenhouse is.  


The goal was to have plants along the back wall.  With Karl's guidance I started drilling into the back wall.  I had not drilled into concrete before.  It was much easier than I expected.  Once the brackets were up I put the rain gutters against the wall to start my plants.  While the seeds came to life i worked on stage 2, the 3" pvc pipe and juice bottles.  

The goal is to have the back wall be a wall of green.  As an artist I am looking to see how the plants behave and what I can add to bring some life to the wall.  The artist in me looks for color, texture and scent.  As a gardener I am looking to capitalized on the produce that I can grow in the greenhouse that may not grow as well in the yard.  As a programmer I am looking for a way to automate maintenance and a way to track progress.  As an engineer I find I over think everything!  :)  

The Artist: Color, texture and scent.  

Row 1

Strawberries are short and have red berries.  I decided to put them at the base of the garden wall planting. There are several reasons for this.  The milk jugs are shorter than the juice jugs and the grandkids can reach the strawberries.  I made a mistake and put the strawberries in lime  They are not happy.  I have re-potted but it will take time to bring them out of their shock.  

Row 2
Basil was my choice for the next row.  The scent is wonderful and the color is  lighter than strawberries.  They make for a good contrast to the darker strawberries.  Karl wanted to make pesto last year and the basil did not grow well in the garden.  So this plant fit several needs.  Plus the root requirements are within the parameters.  I need them to live in 1 gallon containers.  
Row 3 and 4
Heat is going to be an issue on these rows.  The higher the hotter.  Heat rises and flows out of the top of the greenhouse.  This area during the summer is going to be hot.  Peppers like hot.  They offer a darker leaf color and color in the peppers themselves.  We do not eat many hot peppers, but we do eat green peppers.  I opted for fire basket peppers, yellow, red and green bell peppers and Anaheim green chilies.  
Row 3

Milk containers are created to keep UV out.  This is good for plant roots.  The clear juice containers should be painted and I will paint when time allows.  But for now I will use what I have on hand, which is milk containers.  Personally I find the plastic to weak and the presentation is not what I want.  

Row 4

Roxanne Duffy offered me several water containers.  Their plastic is stiffer and I have painted them green to keep the sun out.  I have considered other colors but do not have a plan yet.  

The Gardener - Plant Requirements Family Needs

The greenhouse wall means I have a small root space.  Plants need to be able to produce in roughly a gallon container.  In addition I would like to use plants I have a difficult time growing require extra care for temperature, bugs and frost date.  With these thoughts in mind I choose...

  • Ever bearing strawberries.  They should produce year round if I have enough light and adequate temperature.  
  • Basil has always been prone to being eaten by anything and everything.  
  • Peppers love heat and there are times when we do not have enough heat.  Plus we have an early frost and then a warm period again.  If I could keep the peppers alive through the frost I could harvest longer. 

The Programmer

Water, temperature, C02, humidity are all things I want to track.  With this thought in mind I am setting up my greenhouse automation. 

Water Overview

The goal of having the plants on the way is to utilize the back wall during the summer and the winter.  In the summer the wall helps cool the greenhouse.  The wall of plants will help shield the wall from the summer sun allowing it to cool the greenhouse.  In the winter the wall will be the heat source.  I want to have more exposed to the sun to allow it to heat up.  Short plants, like lettuce, will allow the sun to reach the back wall.  

Water will need to be available year round.  It was already proven that the greenhouse does not freeze if there is a good inner dome. Plants will uptake what they need. The water can be warmed by an aquarium heater in the winter. I do not have running water in the greenhouse so water in the winter can be an issue.  Thankfully the greenhouse does not use much water in winter.  1 - 55 gallon drum of water lasts several months.  During warm days I do run a hose out to the greenhouse and refill the drum.  I usually have 4 - 55 gallon drums of water in the water to help stabilize the temperature.  


How warm does the greenhouse get?  How cold?  It has not frozen in the greenhouse but it did get cold.  How cold?  Where did the cold settle?  Questions, questions, questions.  Answers will come when I have data.  The geek in me is anxious for the arduino to be up and running.  


C02, How much, what are the rates, where does it go and how long do the mushroom bags (which off put C02 last?) 


Humidity, I have seen times when the walls were dripping with water.  And within a day everything is so dry.  Balance is important and there is so much to learn!  To learn I need data, data and more data.