Bring Nature Inside With an Indoor Greenhouse

Adding an indoor greenhouse can solve high energy costs and improve dreary surroundings, includes information on building an indoor greenhouse, using recycled goods and cost for a greenhouse.


| September/October 1985



Indoor greenhouse

An add-on indoor greenhouse can provide a great place to grow plants, furnish heat to your home, and supply extra living space.

PHOTO: FOTOLIA/JACQUES PALUT

Do you have high energy costs? Dreary surroundings? You can solve both of these problems with the indoor greenhouse solution. 

It's no news to most people that heating or cooling a mobile home can be a very expensive proposition. It may come as a surprise, however, to learn that with only a moderate outlay of money and time, these energy costs can be noticeably reduced by installing an indoor greenhouse. In addition, you can gain a place to grow fresh foods, sturdy seedlings for transplanting to outside beds or containers, and a year-round supply of beautiful flowers to grace the dining table and brighten the home.

I'm speaking, of course, of the benefits you get when you build an attached greenhouse. Mine, a 7 foot by 24 foot structure, does all of the above very well; furthermore, its design is simple, its materials are standard, and it can be easily duplicated or adapted by anyone with basic carpentry skills and equipment.

BEGINNING AT THE END

My Albuquerque mobile home is large (24 feet by 52 feet), but the construction principles I followed would be the same for any size home. The greenhouse was attached to the south (in my case, 24 feet) end of the home. My son did the designing, wiring, and insulating . . . a hired carpenter did the foundation and framing . . . and I did most of the glazing and finish work. First we removed one window from the adjoining office (originally a bedroom) and replaced it with a door to provide access to the interior of the house. We then poured a 6 inch by 12 inch concrete footing and topped it with 6 inch by 8 inch by 16 inch masonry blocks to form the foundation. One foot of pumice was used for ground insulation, while inch-thick sheets of plastic foam were used to insulate the foundation.

Next we constructed the greenhouse framework—out of 2 by 4s—at the proper angle to catch the sun's rays in winter. Authors Rick Fisher and Bill Yanda state in The Food and Heat Producing Solar Greenhouse (John Muir Publications, Inc.) that "a formula . . . for establishing the tilt of the south face is the latitude plus 35 degrees." However, this optimum angle can be varied somewhat without losing much light transmittance.

I used greenhouse-grade fiberglass on the outside of the structure and Monsanto 602 UV resistant plastic on the inside, creating double walls with a dead air space in between. And by applying sealants at every crack and juncture, I've been able to minimize heat loss.





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