I was recently sent The Greenhouse of the Future DVD (and eBook) for review. I must first say that I’ve ever only been involved in one greenhouse build (my father-in-laws) and I didn’t even do many of the more difficult parts, including digging it out and the brick masonry work. I can say, however, that it was a lot of work and probably quite costly too. Though he did the build right I can’t see myself putting that much effort and money into such a relatively small space.
Granted, being able to grow food is a critical aspect to survival and obviously a greenhouse can be a great aid to that endeavor. As such, I was intrigued when offered the DVD because I realize that the prepping community understands the usefulness of a greenhouse but simply may not have the funds and/or skills to make it happen. This DVD, however, may be just the solution…
According to the Amazon description: “The DVD & E-book ” The greenhouse of the future” outline the design and step by step building of a radically sustainable passive solar greenhouse built from up-cycled materials ( Tires – Wood – Glass bottles …) and operating using fully renewable natural energies. By building this greenhouse with your family or your community, you will contribute to a healthier and more sustainable world, reconnect with nature, save money and produce your own local organic food all year-round.”
FYI: the build is of a 10′ x 20′ greenhouse which is roughly 1.5 times larger than the one my father-in-law built.
I should first point out that the DVD is French with English speaking overlays (it’s not annoying) and is a little over an hour long. It includes the following chapters/topics regarding the entire build process:
- The Vision
- The Design
- Choosing the Tires
- Assembling the Tires
- Filling the Holes
- Insulation and Final Backfill
- Rafters Construction
- Plate Installation
- Installing the Walls
- The Roof
- Convering the Walls (2 parts)
- Roof and Walls Insulation
- Interior Finishing
As you can see, the intent is to use tires as the main wall structure. Doing so can save you quite a bit of money (over building masonry walls, for example) and up-cycles something that we think little of: old tires. According to the DVD it even helps to regulate the greenhouse temperature via the geothermal properties of the ground as well as to create a heat sink of sorts by capturing the sun’s energy during the day and releasing it at night.
There’s actually quite a bit more going on in the greenhouse design, including heat exchangers that transfer air from the ground to the greenhouse that heats it during the winter and cools during the summer, the use of glass in combination with metal roofing materials work in unison to regulate the temperature, gutters that collect rainwater, and even adding solar power that can operate pumps and ventilation systems.
The intent of the DVD is to walk you through building the greenhouse and not about adding solar panels or heat exchangers which would have been a very welcome addition.
As for building the greenhouse, to make the walls you’ll need a lot of tires, plastic sheeting, plenty of cardboard, dirt or compacted sand, insulation, plenty of help and perhaps a few tools like a sledgehammer, level, and so on. They actually went into quite a bit of detail on how to build these walls properly, things to look out for, what to do when there’s space between tires, how and when to back-fill with dirt, and more. I actually felt like I could follow the wall build easily. Sadly, they recommend additional equipment such as a small tractor or backhoe to help with moving large amounts of dirt and fast. It’s apparently not necessary but definitely useful.
Building the roofing is similar to a normal house (I suppose) and will require quite a bit of lumber, plywood sheeting, glass panels and metal sheeting, more helpers, table saws, and various other construction materials. I did like how they showed me to use a template to make the rafter building go faster and a few other tricks. Quite a bit of the video details the build process of the rafters and roof, in general, as there’s a lot going on. To be honest, I did get a bit lost at times and wouldn’t have felt comfortable trying to build the roof and all that’s involved just by watching the video. If you understand construction then you’ll probably easily understand what’s going on.
After the majority of the build was done (the walls and roofing) they then showed me how to use glass bottles and mortar to fill in small spaces in the side walls for aesthetics. Personally, I didn’t feel this was useful or necessary. Afterwards they discuss installing hinged windows, an exterior air barrier, final siding, doors, flashing, interior insulation, finishing touches, and more. It’s really like they just showed me how to build a house using tires for walls!
To view the eBooks you’ll need to put the DVD into your computer and look for the folder “ENGLISH – EBOOK APPENDICES” where you’ll find a rather lengthy 189 page eBook with a lot of details as well as a 70 page appendix that lists out all sorts of things, including time to complete, building materials, costs of materials, detailed build plans, and so on.
The larger eBook actually spends a lot of time discussing the build again (with various options not fully detailed in the video) as well as greenhouse concepts like choosing location, site preparation, and so on. It also discusses installing the AGS (ventilation) system, rainwater collection, heat recovery, and more.
Ultimately, between a thorough reading of the eBooks and watching the videos once or twice you’ll have a good understanding of what to do. Sadly, I was really hoping that the greenhouse build would somehow be magically much easier or cheaper but that doesn’t seem to be the case. That said, The Greenhouse of the Future DVD does seem to be rather thorough and relatively easy to follow.