My HFGH and the benefit of reading forums first


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Hi all!

This post is a little bit introduction, a little bit showing off and a little bit scrounging.

This Christmas, my husband bought me a 6'x8' Harbor Freight Greenhouse - in a long line of not so fabulous Xmas gifts - he sort of hit it out of the park this time. ;) Anyway, I had some mild weather and an Xmas break so I put it together.

I didn't have much help, hubby might have gotten a great present, but he's not the handy one at the house, but with the benefit of forums online from this and another website, I got a good feel for the challenges I would face putting this little greenhouse up.
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First things first! I made a platform using the dimensions the instructions indicated. They were wrong, but close enough I could fudge things. I used some 2"x8"s I had lying around from a previous deck and bought some foam and decking to make myself a weather tight deck (no drafts from below!). In hindsight, I should have tacked the foam to the decking somehow, I'll know better next time. ;)

Next, I started on the frame. The directions are criticized for being cryptic - and they are - but if you read carefully, everything you need to know is there. I doubt I've ever read any directions so closely in my life, but I was able to get everything done without too many missteps.

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Because I'd read many forums on the subject, I knew to tape each of the panels with metal tape on the top and dust preventing tape on the bottom. I also read a couple of forums that complained about the HFGH panels being blown out by wind. My location is somewhat protected, but we are right along a river and can get some wind, so I decided early on that I would silicone all my panels right off the bat.

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It's not the best caulking job because I am not a pro and because I decided to use the clips that came with the panels AND caulk, but certainly made my little greenhouse air tight. It's great now though I wonder if I am going to value that feature come summer. LOL!

Once everything was finished and sealed up, I moved my shelving and mechanicals into the greenhouse. I have a small hobby solar panel / battery system that I was hoping to power the greenhouse with (In PA? Laugh with me), and ran it into the greenhouse along with a cable for supplemental power for heat and ventilation. I installed the Harbor Freight automatic window opener and found that it doesn't work - at all - and bought another model that sticks down a bit, but I am learning to live with it.
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After heating the greenhouse for a few nights without plants in it, it became clear that we were going to need a better strategy. I could keep it at 45 or so with the benefit of my 1500 watt heater running all night, but I was pretty sure I could do better than that. The next purchases were for a programmable thermostat that would turn the heater off when the temps got above 50, a 4'x8' piece of foil backed insulation to cover my northern wall, and a thermal pool cover to add insulation to the clear walls.

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I had to add 2x2 framing to the inside of the greenhouse to attach the pool cover to. It simply would NOT stick to the metal and since it was the metal I wanted to insulate the interior of the space against, it made sense to go that way. The wood frame is very simple and the pool cover, in most places, is sandwiched between the inner wall of the greenhouse and the frame. It works well and gives me a place to hang things that the metal frame did not.

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An image heavy post, I know, and I hope the site doesn't give me problems posting it, but I've been busting to talk about this greenhouse and my folks are pretty much sick of me by now (and it's only February!). Now you guys can get sick of me too. ;) Well, I hope not.

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Seeds started in the greenhouse (maybe a little early, but I couldn't wait!), winter lettuce, brussel sprouts, celery and onions, with a cilantro plant that was salvaged from a pot I brought in from the deck - will nothing kill those things?

Enjoy!

Ariel
 
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Oh! I forgot my question! If anyone has an old Harbor Freight greenhouse door they don't need, I will buy it from them for parts. I'm planning on raising the greenhouse about a foot and I wanted to get some parts to extend the door. If someone has one they've replaced, and it's just sitting around, I'd love to have it. Thanks!
 
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Welcome! I too treat other people to long winded gh discussions.

Even audiences with glazed over eyes is better than talking to myself.

Just hope people don't start hiding behind the couch when they see me coming!
 

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Nice work @Arielphf, I always find it very satisfying assembling stuff like that :). Oddly, I really enjoy caulking - except when it's external window frames on the 2nd floor in the January cold :eek: (that wasn't a fun morning!).

You've got a nice setup with the heater and window opener, I hope the new model doesn't give you any problems!
 
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Well, I will certainly listen to yours if you'll listen to mine.

I've taken to looking on the internet for pictures of other people's greenhouses,

I call it 'GH porn'... I'm hopeless. LOL!

To Ian - You posted about the same time I replied! Thank you!

My son is named Ian too - though he's still a work in progress as a gardener.

The new window opener is much more reliable than the HF one and has kept the greenhouse below 90 even on sunny days - I forget the brand but it was one that I found recommended on the forum. :) Thanks to all the folks who post helpful stuff like that. :D
 
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Hmmm, okay, good idea about lettuce - I'm going to start some as soon as I open up.

I'm going to start up the heater the first of March. I was going to do it the end of last week but this deep freeze made me do a 180 on that decision because it would cost a fortune given the night time lows.

Oh well, only 11 more sleeps, only 11 more sleeps...
 
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zigs

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Welcome to the forums Ariel

Looking good, you did right to caulk it, mine got blown out before I did it.
 

Pat

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Welcome to the forum, very industrial chore putting your greenhouse up. You had some help I hope, that construction take more than 2 hands.

Great job, I hope I will be able to follow your excellent example when I get to construct my greenhouse. Thanks for all the information.
 
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Welcome to the forums Ariel
Looking good, you did right to caulk it, mine got blown out before I did it.
Well, it was thanks to stories like yours that I knew to do that. Thanks for sharing your story too!
Welcome to the forum, very industrial chore putting your greenhouse up. You had some help I hope, that construction take more than 2 hands.
Great job, I hope I will be able to follow your excellent example when I get to construct my greenhouse. Thanks for all the information.
Actually, I didn’t have help – this was a 100% mommy alone project – so it is very possible to do it by yourself. My husband is not handy and I have teenagers who have more important things to do with their lives :rolleyes:. I just took my time and read a lot of forums first then got to work. I don’t know why but when it comes to garden projects (or, really any project outside…) I just can’t rest until they are done.
I’d love to help anyone who’s trying to put one of these together! If you get one, please drop me a note – I’d be thrilled to share all the stuff I learned building this greenhouse.
 
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I'd advise varnishing that floor IMMEDIATELY, as condensation will ruin it if you don't.
Oh! Even though it's decking? I was thinking of beefing up the insulation this summer when I take the greenhouse off it to raise it up a bit. I could treat it then. You recommend varnish over deck sealer?
 
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Oh! Even though it's decking? I was thinking of beefing up the insulation this summer when I take the greenhouse off it to raise it up a bit. I could treat it then. You recommend varnish over deck sealer?
The flooring looks like yellow pine. Definitely coat it with something and on BOTH sides
 
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I don't have a lot of condensation falling on the floor. Lots of humidity, just not a big dripping problem.
I put 1" styrofoam insulation on the floor and then some little rubber backed mats down the middle to create a walkway. I started with a lovely green indoor outdoor carpet and quickly discovered the error of that thinking!

Sometime this week I'll try to take pics of my little set up.
 
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I probably should have done a little housecleaning before taking these pics but here is mine. The two little a/c fans (black) come out next month and then everything runs off of solar. I haven't put in the automatic opener yet because I am still heating with gas. The reason the "back pots" are elevated is because there is a bag of 20 gallons of water underneath the tiles.
The irrigation system has a sprinkler for each pot and also misters hooked up just behind the rod on the right.
Those colourful little tools hanging there are actual adult tools, not toys. They are the perfect size for this type of space.
I also put mine on the deck however I didn't build a platform. I made a frame out of 2x4 pressure treat and left openings in this base to feed my power and water lines.
I too put this up myself, did everything myself including the wiring for the solar panels. The heater is a natural gas heater and now that it seems to be working perfectly, I expect my thermometer/alarms will show up!
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Nice one Lori, looks well organised :)
 
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The ceiling fan moves a fantastic amount of air and runs off of the solar panel. I have two dc timers so that I can have the fan run in 10 on 10 off (minute) cycles and the water pump for the bag of water/solar water heater will use the power on the fan "off" periods. Don't want to waste the free energy!
 
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Hi Ariel,

Very nice job on the greenhouse, you should be proud! I’m on my 3rd season with my 6x8 HFGH. I didn’t make any modifications such as calking or extra insulation as I’m in a very mild climate, cooling is typically as much a concern as cold is for me.

The pool cover material is an interesting idea. On occasion I have thrown one of those furniture moving blankets over the top of mine for a little extra insulation if the temperature was supposed to get low.

Sorry to say I have no extra door, but in the bright side my door still works well.

Again, nice job, no small task getting these things set up out of the box, or customized. It is a lot of fun though.

I enjoyed the pictures, thank you :)
 

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