Weather station

As part of the greenhouse project, we wanted to add moisture sensors to seedling trays, to know when we need to tweak their watering.

To enable that, we got an Ecowitt weather station that supports optional moisture sensors. The weather station will also be useful for hyper-local weather information, since weather conditions for nearby towns aren’t necessarily representative of what it’s like here, being on the top of a hill.

Here are the wind and rain sensors, mounted on top of the berry cage. They ideally should be higher for the most accurate readings, but that’d make changing their batteries much harder:

Wind and rain sensors

A closer look at the anemometer, with sensors for wind speed, wind direction, light level, and UV:

Wind sensors

The rain gauge sensor:

Rain sensor

Outdoor temperature and humidity sensor, hanging in the shade of the greenhouse:

Outdoor temperature and humidity sensor

Indoor temperature and humidity sensors and Wi-Fi gateway, next to the Eero Beacon Wi-Fi router in the greenhouse:

Indoor sensors and Wi-Fi

Building greenhouse shelving: finished

Yesterday I did the finishing touches on the greenhouse shelving: installing the sink and a second coat of stain.  (See the first, second, and third posts, if you missed them.)

But first, I screwed a couple of small blocks to secure the potting bench to the foundation, both so it can’t tip, and because it’ll eventually have water pipes mounted to it:

Block to secure potting bench

Then I installed the sink:

Sink

It is supported by boards underneath:

Under sink

I also added a hose reel to the side of the potting bench; later I’ll add a tap under the sink for it (and others above). This hose will be for ad-hoc watering of anything in the greenhouse:

Hose reel

The potting bench had hooks on the side, which I removed when mounting the sink, so I put them on the right of the right-hand shelves; perhaps useful for tools:

Hooks

A view of the back of the sink, above the louver vent, from outside:

Outside by sink

Another shot from outside, showing the back of the shelves:

Back

The completed shelves with a second coat of stain:

Shelves with second coat of stain

A wide-angle shot of the shelves:

Shelves

Another view of the shelves and sink:

Shelves and sink

This morning I went out there and put some trays on the shelves, as a demo of usage:

Trays on shelves

Potting bench and sink

Trays on shelves

Right shelves

A wide-angle of the inside of the whole greenhouse:

Whole greenhouse

This concludes this construction project. Hopefully Jenn will get good use out of these shelves, significantly increasing the growing capacity within the greenhouse.

A separate but related project will be to install plumbing: connecting a pipe from the nearby underground pipe, routing it to a tap under the hose reel, another tap for the sink, and a third tap on the back shelves for irrigation. Hooked onto that I’ll have a water timer and splitter, with irrigation tubing going to each shelf, and mister emitters as needed to irrigate the seedling trays. That’ll be a project for another day.

Building greenhouse shelving: staining and installing

Over the weekend I continued work on the greenhouse shelving project.  (See the first and second posts, if you missed them.)

But first, during the week I ordered a new interlocking rubber mat for the floor, and added that when it arrived:

Mat

It nicely covers all of the exposed floor space (the part where the stool is will have the sink above it). It came with four 3×3’ portions, but I only needed two here; I’ll probably use the other two in the workshop.

Here’s a closeup of the mat:

Mat

I originally wasn’t going to paint or stain the shelves, figuring they’d be fine, but realized that they’ll be exposed to a lot of moisture, so could grow mold (and rot, but I wasn’t so worried about that). So I decided to stain them. They do look nicer stained, too.

Here I’m staining the back posts; they are attached at the bottom, so I’m just leaning them forward to stain behind:

Staining posts

Staining the right posts:

Staining posts

Then I started staining the shelves, doing the bottom and sides of each shelf with it leaning vertically:

Staining bottom of shelf

I then placed the shelf in position, screwed it to the supports, then stained the top:

Installing bottom shelf

I figured that it’d be easier to install each shelf as I go, to make it easier to reach the screws. And leaving the top till after installation would avoid too much handling wet stain.

Two shelves done:

Two shelves done

For the next shelf, I added a support for the sink; it will be held up on the right side by this L-shaped bracket below the shelf:

Sink mount

The back and left side of the sink will be supported by these L-shaped boards (and the others will be used elsewhere); I’ll add them next weekend:

Sink mount

The back shelves installed; four 2×6’ shelves, and a small shelf above the power strip:

Back shelves installed

The bottom-right shelf installed:

Bottom-right shelf installed

All four right shelves installed; three 2×6’ shelves (actually a couple of inches wider and shallower than the back ones, to give more floor space), and one shallower one (about 10” deep), enabling the second-from-top shelf to be used as an extra workbench if needed:

Right shelves installed

The shelves only have one coat of stain at present. I will probably give them a second coat next weekend.

Here’s a wide-angle view of all of the shelves:

Wide-angle of shelves

Next weekend I’ll give the shelves a second coat, and install the sink.

February snow

We woke up to about an inch of snow this morning, with a little continuing in the early morning. It’ll likely be all gone by end of day, but let’s take a walk around the property.

Cat footprints on the driveway:

Cat footprints

Trees and bees:

Trees and bees

Greenhouse (more on the shelving project probably tomorrow):

Greenhouse

Chickens (more pictures of them in the snow on Friday):

Chickens

Gazebo and grove:

Gazebo and grove

Path to the duck house:

Path to duck house

Heathers:

Heathers

East-side trees fading into the distance:

Trees

North-east trees:

Trees

From the pond deck — the ducks, pond, and snowy trees:

Ducks and pond

Reflection on the pond:

Reflection

Gazebo and dormant flowerbeds, with the pond deck in the background:

Gazebo and flowerbeds

Finally, the cat house, with more cat prints (more of this on Caturday, of course):

Cat house

Building greenhouse shelving: right shelves

Some more progress on building custom shelving for the greenhouse this past weekend (see last week’s post if you missed the start of the project).

During the week, I took the center posts to the greenhouse to help visualize them, and determine the best place for the topmost shelf:

Back posts

I also ordered a 2 foot long power strip with lots of outlets, to mount onto the posts:

Power strip

And I held the plastic sink in place, to visualize that option. I got this outdoor sink as a present a while back, but haven’t used it yet (my original idea for it didn’t work out). But I think it’ll fit perfectly, with some minor modifications, between the potting bench and back shelves:

Sink

On Saturday, I took everything out of the greenhouse in preparation for installing weed control fabric:

Greenhouse evacuated

The empty greenhouse:

Empty greenhouse

Installed weedmat:

Weedmat

I also replaced the power cord with an optimal length one; the one I had before was too long, and bright orange:

Power cord

Then I put the potting bench back inside, and stacked the plant trays and such on top to get them out of the way:

Potting bench and stacked stuff

Back in the workshop, I added horizontal 2x4s to the back-right posts, to help support the right shelves:

Posts

I also built a small top shelf on the back-center posts:

Top shelf

And mounted the new power strip underneath (with the Eero Beacon wi-fi extender plugged in upside-down at the end):

Mounted power strip

I took the posts to the greenhouse (this is a wide-angle shot):

Stuff in greenhouse

The posts are mounted to the wooden foundation with deck screws, ensuring the shelves can’t tip over or move:

Mounted posts

A wide-angle shot of the back shelves, with only two of the four shelves (plus the top one) in place. I left the other two in the shop to help copy them for the right shelves:

Back shelves

A closer look at the left side of the back shelves:

Back shelves

And the right side:

Back shelves

The right posts of the right shelves, similarly mounted to the foundation:

Right posts

I made middle posts for the right shelves, but it bothered me that the posts didn’t line up with the metal frame of the greenhouse… so I took them back to the shop and pulled them apart and re-made them (see the revised edition later). A minor detail, but I’d rather be happy with it. Here’s the initial edition sitting in place:

Right middle posts

After doing the edging and bracing for the first right shelf, I took it to the greenhouse to check the fit; perfect:

Checking shelf fit

So I finished that shelf, and the others:

Shelf

The bottom shelf, revised middle posts, and right posts:

Shelf and posts

Here’s a view of the back and right shelves. A fun detail is that the right shelves don’t have edge trim on their left side, since they abut the back shelves; I thought it’d be tidier to not have two edges next to each other:

Shelves

A closer view of the meeting of the shelves (they aren’t attached to the supports yet):

Meeting of the shelves

I’m now done building the shelves, but ran out of time to finish installing them.

This morning I wanted to check that the sink would fit, so I went out there and wedged it in place with the stool. Yep, that’ll work nicely:

Sink

The sink and shelves (again, some shelves are missing, and they aren’t attached yet):

Sink and shelves

Since I was going to the greenhouse, I took a couple more shelves over there. Here’s a view of the ones there currently; I’ll take the remaining three over another day:

Shelves

Next weekend I’ll finish installing the shelves, plus the sink.

Building greenhouse shelving: back shelves

Over the weekend I started a fairly small new construction project: building some custom wooden shelving for our greenhouse.

Here’s an older photo of the greenhouse, showing the potting bench and a couple of small wire racks:

Greenhouse

To increase the capacity of growing space, I designed and am building wooden shelving, sized to fit the greenhouse and the plant trays.  I considered various designs, but decided on an outer frame of vertical-oriented 1x2s, with horizontal cross-braces supporting slats, also 1x2s. That should make it more sturdy and tidy than other concepts I considered.

To start, the shelf edge and bracing (perhaps not the proper terms, but works for me):

Shelf edge and bracing

The shelf slats, with plenty of space for excess water drainage:

Shelf slats

After making one prototype shelf, I took it to the greenhouse to confirm the sizing. Perfect fit! The vertical 2×4 represents one of the shelf posts; the posts will be on the ends, resting on the wooden foundation, plus some extra in the middle:

Shelf in greenhouse

Here you can see the full width. The shelf is 69” wide by 22” deep:

Shelf in greenhouse

Having confirmed that, I then cloned that shelf three times, for a total of four shelves at the back of the greenhouse, each shelf taking a total of 10 8’ 1×2 boards:

Making more shelves

That done, I made a couple of sets of side posts and shelf supports out of 2x4s. It probably would have been plenty sturdy using 2x2s, but no harm making it stronger.  The shelves will rest on and be screwed into those supports. The bottom ones are treated 2x4s sticking half below the posts, as they will also be screwed into the wooden foundation, so the shelves can’t tip over:

Side posts and supports

Finally for now, I started on the back posts and supports. These are just to help prevent the shelves from sagging in the middle. This isn’t quite done, as it’ll have a 2×4 at the top to mount a power strip onto:

Back posts and supports

That’s all I had time for this past weekend. Next weekend (probably), I’ll install weed mat on the floor of the greenhouse, finish the posts, and install them.

After that (probably a subsequent weekend), I will also build a second set of shelves along the right-hand wall of the greenhouse; much the same as the back ones, and connected to them. So the final result will be about 95 square feet of L-shaped shelving. That’ll hold a lot of seedlings!

Later, once the ground unfreezes, I will add a couple of taps and irrigation emitters for all of the shelves to water the plants.

Stay tuned!

Bonus snow

We got some about an inch of unexpected snow yesterday. Some pictures from this morning.

Chickens in the veggie garden with snow:

Chickens in the veggie garden with snow

Beehives in the snow:

Beehives in the snow

Snow sliding off the greenhouse:

Snow sliding off the greenhouse

Brown gazebo with snow:

Brown gazebo with snow

The pond isn’t frozen:

Pond with snow

Greenhouse potting bench & shelving

A quick greenhouse update: today I assembled a potting bench and added it to the greenhouse (along with some soil bins we’ve had for years, which fit quite well):

I did think about building a custom bench, but this was pretty much exactly what we wanted, much cheaper and easier than a custom one would be.

I also added some basic metal shelving for seed trays and such:

I’ll probably build some larger wooden shelves at some point, but that’ll do for now.

Pretty much ready to start being used now:

Greenhouse assembly

Over the weekend (and a bit elsewhen) I assembled a small greenhouse purchased from Amazon.

Here are a sequence of images taken from about the same position, showing the assembly (with more detailed pics following):

Let’s go back to the beginning. Here’s the 90 lb package:

I built a foundation out of treated posts I had on hand (concrete would have been better, but this should be fine):

I secured the posts to the ground with some heavy-duty metal spikes:

The base of the greenhouse:

The base is secured to the foundation with several lag bolts:

I added an optional accessory, a louvered vent:

Back corner:

Openable roof vent:

Gutter:

Base of the door, with a magnetic catch:

Inside:

Another optional accessory, an automatic opener for the roof vent, that opens or closes it based on the temperature inside:

The vent open:

The greenhouse feels pretty solid, and hopefully is anchored quite well, but I also added a third accessory, tie-down anchor cables to make it even more secure:

The cables go over the top:

Hopefully we’ll make good use of this over time. It could be very useful to get a head start on spring veggie planting, and more.