Showing posts with label organic gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organic gardening. Show all posts

Home-made, Big, Low Cost Glass Greenhouse from Free Recuperated Windows Part 2

The very first step in constructing the greenhouse was to decide on the size for it. We'd earmarked a vegetable plot where it was to go and as it had a hedge along one edge and a rose border on another, both of which we wanted to retain a practical size of 5m long by 3m wide was decided. This gave adequate space for access with ladders or steps during construction.


Although it is a large sized greenhouse and in itself quite an imposing feature, it actually fits very well into its surrounding landscape. Being surrounded by greenery as it is now, obviates the need for shade cloths, which in the early days were necessary to prevent the scorching of leaves in the very hot, clear days of Summer. We live near the sea and at times the light here can be very intense.


The roof covering was to be of 200 micron polythene UV stabilised (polytunnel material) and this could be purchased by the metre and was 7.5 metres wide. As the roof was to be gabled we bought a 4m length, the polythene width was more than enough to cover the greenhouse length.

For the south 3m wide end I had recuperated some French windows and these and the entrance door on the North end set the wall height of the greenhouse.
Having now decided the overall dimensions of the greenhouse the preparatory work could begin.

All of the windows I'd collected were casement windows, that is, windows that open on hinges attached to one vertical side of the frame. Most of them were paired and had a weather strip where the two windows met in the middle.


Along the bottom edge of all these windows was a weatherboard to deflect rain running off the window onto the window sill. As the casement window fits into a frame this moulding is not flush with the bottom but is attached about 10-20mm from the bottom edge
.


To bring the windows' heights to that of the French windows I decided to support them on walls made from pallet wood. Now that I knew the wall lengths I could sort the windows to fit, number them and mark their position on a plan.


Before making the walls, the bottom of each window projecting beyond the weatherboard was sawn off providing a wider face to rest on the wall.


The wall panels were made from pallet wood planks nailed to a rectangular frame. Each frame was again of pallet wood but I selected planks for this from more robust pallets (approx 100mm x 22mm, 4" x 1"). These planks were screwed together to form the frames and the pallet wood planks were nailed to what was to become the outside face thus forming a box.







There were seven 75mm (3") square wooden posts, each bolted to a galvanised steel stake driven into the ground (one at each corner, one midway along the longest sides and one to form the doorway). A line running from post to post marked the perimeter to which the wall panels needed to abut.









In addition, I made T (Tee) shaped stakes from 22mm thick pallet wood, which were to be driven into the ground on the inside of the greenhouse. These would provide a solid support for the wall panels.

All the above preparation meant that when we finally came to construct the greenhouse it went together as a kit. The roof trusses too we pre-fabricated in the workshop but for clarity I'll deal with these in a separate post.

If you are thinking of building a glass greenhouse and would like to know of some of the extra plants, in particular tropical spices you will be able to grow, then sit back and take a look at this film:



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All the best, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014

Home-made, Big, Low Cost Glass Greenhouse from Free Recuperated Windows Part 1

Over the next few weeks I will be involved in several projects using recuperated glass windows and doors and I thought I'd start by taking a retrospective look at the greenhouse I designed and made 5 years ago. 


Several of you have commented on this greenhouse, which has been shown in various films and blogs. Sadly, when I designed and made it, we did not have a digital camera with which to take detailed step-by-step photographs. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity, whilst it is being restocked with Spring plantings, to take some shots of the fabric of the interior for a detailed explanation of the design and construction. This will form Part Two of this post. In the next few weeks, I will also be giving a hand to my neighbours, who are in the process of constructing a large lean-to, verandah-type greenhouse, so there will be another design, both in film and blog form to share. 


What, where and how to get supplies


Unfortunately for the good of the Planet and paradoxically fortunately for us, there seems to be an unlimited supply of virtually brand new, as well as interesting and beautiful old,  glass doors and windows. To judge by the veritable mountains outside joiners and carpenters businesses en route to landfill, many people change their windows as often as others might paint the frames. Over the years we have collected dozens of examples, including, in the UK some very pretty leaded lights. These latter turn up in architectural salvage yards or 'junk' shops, with the very best examples finding their way into auction rooms and antique shops. In a greenhouse or house these can be used to great effect. 


For a supply of general glass windows and doors though, there is nothing like your local joiner's shop or doubleglazers. I made contact with the owner of our local one, having seen a huge pile of useable material in his yard and he was delighted we wanted to take it away and make use of it. We also sent him photographs and film links for everything we made and when we were looking for a front door for the house, he even carefully got us a door with the doorframe and keys intact! As a matter of fact over the past five years, from just this one source, we and our friends have glazed two entire houses (one of them completely doubleglazed) and built several greenhouses.


Stand alone greenhouse - the basic design criteria




The idea for the greenhouse was to have something that was both decorative and practical. In particular as it was going to form the centrepiece for the flower garden. We wanted plenty of height both for aesthetics and because we intended to grow many climbing vegetables and flowers and also to incorporate our solar shower.







We had been collecting suitable materials for some time and in all we used 24 windows/French windows of various ages and designs but which overall seemed to fit pleasingly together. The sides and the back were to be made of windows set on pallet wood walls, similar in design to those of the hen house. On each side there was also to be guttering for the collection and harvest of rainwater.








The front was designed to incorporate a matching set of old French windows and glazed panels with the addition of a panel of leaded lights incorporated into the gable end. The French windows and the door on the rear elevation were both of the same height and these together set the height for the greenhouse.








It's all in the planning


There are two ways to go when designing a glass greenhouse, you can either plan it around available materials or you can plan it first and then search for the windows to fit. We actually were lucky, in that five years ago PVC mania hit our part of the coast and we had a plethora of great windows to choose from. In effect, the whole design was built up around the French windows, matching panels and leaded light, which were really elegant when placed together. The planning of the design was in fact the most difficult part of the whole operation, in that the location of the windows had to match the desired length for each side. Furthermore, any difference in window height had to be accounted for in the construction of the pallet wood walls to ensure that the overall height was respected. In conclusion though, we were left with a unique bespoke greenhouse which would have cost us several thousands of Euros.

Here is the film we made about this greenhouse, showing both exterior and interior views and giving some initial pointers to the design. See you in Part Two


Thanks for dropping by and please feel free to share this article, comment, ask questions and if you'd like to be assured of getting the next post, then sign up to follow this blog.


All the best, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014

DIY Bird Box for Robins, Wrens, Pied Wagtails, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Flickers and Purple Martins.

Spring is the time when birds begin to look for good nesting sites. They may try many possibilities and even actually start the makings of a nest before they actually make their final choice. You can help them and attract many of these birds to your garden by providing them with a good choice of homes. In the last blog we looked at one design to attract a specific group. Now I'm going to proffer this design to attract some others. Over the decades the natural nesting sites, cracks in old buildings and garden walls and shakes in ancient trees, have become rarer. Our aim is also to create something which would blend into the background to attract these often shy birds.




As a rule, in Europe these boxes are expected to attract mainly robins, wrens and wagtails. In the USA there are over 50 species who prefer to use an open-fronted cavity nest. However, wherever you live you should research the individual habits and volumes needed for any specific  bird. Martins, for example, prefer to nest in colonies so you should provide either 5 or 6 boxes placed closely together or one large box with separate nesting chambers. Blackbirds may also use this type of box but would need it to be enlarged by around 50%.




The materials and construction are the same as for our previous box but I will repeat them here in case you have not read the post. If you have, then please continue down the page until you come to the section on the positioning of the front planks.


Materials


The box is based on the same design as my Apple House but is formed around a larger 140 mm - 5½" pallet block. You will need 1 or 2, 100 mm - 4" wide pallet wood planks and the wood strips from a fruit crate or orange box. We decorated it with water-based acrylic varnish and tinted it with earth and mineral pigments. For information on mixing these: http://thegreenlever.blogspot.fr/2012/02/using-natural-earth-and-mineral.html

Construction


 




For the four sides, mark out the first length, which corresponds to the length of the block plus plank thickness. Cut four sides to this length.


 





Pre-nail the planks, if the wood splits at this juncture, then drill a pilot hole at a slightly smaller diameter than the nail shank and then nail. 














Position and nail front.

 


 

Cut base to make a platform suitable for nest building, 100 mm x 100 mm - 4" x 4" and mitred at 45°. 






 
 
Mark the position of the shelf from the inside.





 

Drill pilot hole and screw the shelf in position.




 


Trim the edges. 











You now have something which looks like this.

 







 

Select wood for back of box and trace round the box as a guide for drilling pilot holes for nailing the back and screwing in the shelf.

 
  
 
Nail back wall and screw shelf into place.





Trim




Drill pilot holes for wall mounting box at bottom...



...and top.







 

Drill a drainage hole. This is very important with an open-fronted design.





 



Cut fruit crate wood to length to make shingles. Due to the open aspect, these should project well over the front of the box to protect it from rain, sun and to give more privacy.



 




 
To finish, we use earth and mineral paints and acrylic water-based varnish... 







...with a design which mimicked the golden hearted ivy growing on the wall where we were going to site it. 

We made another to fit snugly under the eaves of the pallet wood hen house.



Now, if you'd like to, sit back and enjoy he film.




The previous post has another nesting box - a design for blue tits, chickadees and pied fly catchers

Thanks for dropping by and please feel free to share this article, comment, ask questions and if you'd like to be assured of getting the next post, then sign up to follow this blog.

All the best, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014

DIY Nesting Box for Blue Tits, Chickadees, Pied Fly Catchers, Sparrows and Nuthatches.

It's Spring and the birds are still out looking for nest sites, which over the past decades have dwindled. You can help them and attract them to your garden by providing them with a suitable desirable residence. The example below is a simple design, requiring a minimum of tools and in particular to obviate the need for a hole saw or large bit.


Home-made repurposed wood wild bird nesting box

Natural nesting sites do not come with standard size front doors but for the above 'hole-in-the-front' design, there is a general rule of thumb, with some examples, given below. It is interesting that of the two bird boxes we gave as presents last year, one had an exact  25 mm round hole and the blue tits spent a couple of days enlarging the opening before they used it. Whilst the other box, at a location, some 10 miles away from the former was of the above design and was used without problem. However, making the box of pine means it is easy to modify with a beak and why shouldn't birds, like most of us, enjoy personalising their own home.

Home-made nesting box for wild birds

This one has a round entrance but is harder to make than the above design as it requires a large boring bit. Both the designs were recently given as Birthday presents and I'm happy to say all have tenants!

25 mm - 1" for blue, coal and marsh tits and chickadees.
28 mm - 1 1/8" for great tits, tree sparrows and pied flycatchers 
32 mm - 1¼" house sparrows, tree swallows and nuthatches
45 mm - 1¾" starlings
150 mm x 150 mm - 6" x 6" for the barn owl box I am in the process of making

Materials


Wild bird feeder home-made from repurposed woodThe box is based on the same design as my Apple House but is formed around a larger 140 mm - 5½" pallet block. You will need 1 or 2, 100 mm - 4" wide pallet wood planks and the wood strips from a fruit crate or orange box. We decorated it with water-based acrylic varnish and tinted it with earth and mineral pigments. For information on mixing these: http://thegreenlever.blogspot.fr/2012/02/using-natural-earth-and-mineral.html   

Construction


 




For the four sides, mark out the first length, which corresponds to the length of the block plus plank thickness. Cut four sides to this length.


 





Pre-nail the planks, if the wood splits at this juncture, then drill a pilot hole at a slightly smaller diameter than the nail shank and then nail. 

 

 
Cut base to make a platform suitable for nest building, 100 mm x 100 mm - 4" x 4" and mitred at 45°. 

Position and nail front.






 



Put each plank in place and from the back draw the outline of the frame and use that as a guide for the pilot holes to avoid splitting the wood.





 



 
Trim the edges. 









 

With the shelf in place, mark its position from the inside. This will enable the correct location for the retaining screw. Drill and screw in place.



 
 

Select planks for the rear of the box. It is a good idea to screw these into place in case you need to clean out the box after use. 

The centre piece is put on first so that the correct position for the screw holding the shelf from the back can be easily located.





 

Mark out the outline of the box onto the remaining planks.

Drill screw holes.



 




Screw to the back. Trim the top with a generous border. This allows for mounting holes for screws and nails.



Cut lengths of fruitcrate wood to make shingles for the roof. Attach to roof with staples or panel pins. 

 
You can finish with a coat of linseed/hemp oil or acrylic water-based varnish.



To create an illusion of the box being a natural nesting site, we decorated ours with the same climbing ivy as was growing in the place we intended positioning our box.





Now if you'd like to, sit back and watch the film. 



Next post will be a design for an open-fronted box, suitable for Robins, Wrens, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Flickers, and Purple Martins.


Thanks for dropping by and please feel free to share this article, comment, ask questions and if you'd like to be assured of getting the next post, then sign up to follow this blog.

All the best, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014