C5 Says, Don’t Build My Greenhouse- Redux

C5 silicone

With your Zombified Host, Catatonic5. (I’ll return to Category5 soon enough)

(A special hello and welcome to the new, regular visitors from Italy and Finland. Big numbers  from Finland caught me off guard because MrsC5, who has visited there, informs me they have a huge and vibrant Metal music scene. Soooo…in the name of good Canadian and Finnish relations “Hail Satan, and have a lovely afternoon, Madam”)


My brain is mush. My body hurts… and it is going to keep hurting. I have grossly underestimated what it takes to build my living willow fence. I have been using a 30 pound breaker bar to pound the starter holes 2 ft in the ground . Ive put in about fifteen hundred willow so far. That about does the garden.

willow fence 1 I have added a few hundred to close up a few places on the property that looky lues or trespassers might use for easy trespassing. I have a hard earned, new Survival Rule to announce.

C5 Rule of Survival- Store more Ibuprofen

At the moment, I start my day with it. I end my day with it.

All my joints hurt.

Another Doomstead Diner and dentist, on hearing my new rule, wrote, “Ibuprofen is a miracle drug and that’s no shit.”

Whatever you are up to during the collapse of western syphalization will probably include joint and muscle inflammation like you have never known.

I have woken, the last couple nights to fever dreams. Dreams where I am working on some project and wake up sweating, only to drift off and have it happen again and again. OMG, I thought to myself, this is like tree planting dreams. Many years ago I tried tree planting to earn some cash. The physical stress and repetitive action created dreams that everyone there got. You would plant all day, then plant all night in your sleep and wake up exhausted only to do it again. Some planters had dreams where all there trees died from J roots with the foreman yelling at them . Others, that the trees would come alive and come after them. No, really. Something like this…

(That is the story of my doomstead life right there. So many good ideas meant to make my life easier… that took on a life of their own)

That reminds me. Someday I will do a post, “Survival Advice Learned from Naked, Tree Hugging Hippies”

So…… this is a good time to take a short mental break to rework one of my older posts. That is all my mind can handle.


Don’t Build My Greenhouse- Redux.


OK. Let me rephrase that. Build my greenhouse. Its a VERY good idea which I will explain…

BUT… just do it a lot simpler.

That is what I learned while building it. More so, That is what I learned after living with it for a few years. That is even more important. I have a LOVE/HATE relationship with my greenhouse.

A few weeks back, still well below freezing and snow covered, the sun finally came out after a long absence. I stepped out of the shower, working my way towards clothing, took one look at the greenhouse catching sun… and said “C5, Take a Fukital pill”.

I grabbed a six pack (who am I kidding. A 12 pack) and got in some quality, nude sunbathing in my greenhouse time, “exposing” myself to nature, soaking in how awesome I am. Or at least how awesome my greenhouse is. During the transition phases of spring or fall, we use the greenhouse to heat our house. We just open the sliding window and let the heat flow in. I want to upgrade this by adding a fan to blow the heat in. This saves us plenty of firewood. Other times, when it is just miserable outside, I hang out in the greenhouse, getting all the outsidy goodness without any of that sociopathic Mother Nature trying to kill me in cold and painful ways, part.

multi 1Multi 2

I glory in my genius and this multi use room. Its not just for growing stuff. The pumpkins are sun hardening for storage, safe from frost damage. Firewood is being speed seasoned and stored so I dont have to go outside for it. Its also one big solar dehydrator. apple doc

Ive done upgrades since those photos. A second set of reinforcing beams for strength. I just added several cloth lines because it is also our new cloth dryer. The lines also hold trays to be used for food dehydration. I am going to upgrade this again so trays are up high to get the most heat and be out of the way. We totally stopped using our solar dehydrator because it it was a very attractive FAIL.

food dehydrator 2 sm

Its now being re-purposed into a smoke house. The big greenhouse works way better. Quantity has a quality of its own.

But that gets us around to that the greenhouse is an ongoing build. I also hate my greenhouse and worry about it excessively. It aint all magic unicorns shooting skittles out of its ass. Ill add everything I have learned to hate and fear near the end.


The reason we are writing this now, is because I recently got some local green Cred. The local, provincial, farming magazine, recently gave a full page article of my greenhouse build and the locals have been congratulating me. MrsC5 snuck this up on me. The magazine had put out a call for, cheap greenhouse ideas. I thought I would get a feel good photo somewhere in the local announcements page, near the bottom. I wasn’t expecting a full page. But, full disclosure, I didn’t get the opportunity to tell everybody everything that is wrong with it.

A reader once commented on my original article, “… like you, I have done the scavenged windows thing but wound up using more lumber, had more joints (leaks), not really a problem if used as walls but yours will be a roof, spent more time and had greater frustrations….if you will consider polycarbonate it comes in 8 and 12 foot lengths, from memory 26 or 30 inches wide, I cant remember for sure, available at Homedespot.”

Correctamundo,  Kung Fu Fonzy grasshoppers.

This took far more time to build than I had hoped and I fear its too fragile…so I will be going back to work on it to reinforce everything. Potentially, some big storm or snow dump may smash it all and have me stripping off all the broken glass to be replaced with polycarb. We’ll wait and see. I had really hoped to do the entire front of the house that year. This is as much time as I can invest this year as everything else I need to do is falling behind. I’ll finish the last half next year. In retrospect, I would have passed on the tire wall as well. Too much time and energy was spent…shoveling dirt. I was looking pretty buff, though. LOL. Bringing it straight to the ground, or on a single layer of tires would have been, no nonsense, and given me more time to do the entire house.

OK. Enough whining and warnings. Im still pretty impressed with it and I will explain why it is still a really good idea. We have a nothing special house built from a mobile home. I joke with Mrs C5 that it reminds me of a Jehovah Witness hall. I hadn’t expected to live in an actual house. That is rather hard for a nomad. Especially a house with so little character.


But its not bad considering we are mortgage and debt free, plan to stay that way…and have a million dollar view. Lousy insulation and brutal winters, though. That’s a good place to start. Climate Chaos. 2014’s RRR winter, that’s, Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, meant we got hit with the Snowpocalypse out here in Nova Scotia. It killed off over 60% of the deer. Its been Polar Vortex’s since. Could be worse. Western Canada was burning at the time and California…enough said. This region, possibly might end up being the last habitable place on earth. We have no shortage of water here. Soooo….Yes, Its also a monsoon proof greenhouse for early plant starts, frost protection and deluge protected food. Its also a heat generator once the temperature drops for the house. Its also “Space Insulation”. One wall (and the windows) is now protected against the blowing cold sucking heat away. Ideally, I’d build similar structures around the entire house if left to my own devices . Slipstream the house against ever increasing winds as the new weather goes wacky.

A house within a house. Space insulation.

There is a new concept fore you that I stole as a kid reading the book, The Last Canadian. To survive the winter, they knocked a wall out of their cabin and rolled a smaller cabin inside it. This has many applications. Do you plan to winter in an RV. Build a shed over it. Its like wearing a gortex shell over polypropylene. One sheds the weather. The other insulates.

The other advantage of this greenhouse concept…It should be easy to build…in-spite of my previous complaint of over building. I’m no carpenter. I’m a Master MacGyver and Recycler. My most influential movie of all time was The Road Warrior.

“You are a maggot, Max. Living off the corps of the old world”. That’s me.

Other than the 13 rough cut 2x6s, fasteners and silicon, everything else was recycled. I do the impossible with nothing. It’s my gift…..but I don’t have a clue how to do anything “Right”. So this is a simple enough concept. Make a lean to off your house. Cover it with something see through. No complex carpentry required. All the necessary structure was already built into the house by people that knew more of what they were doing than I. I’m leaning on their expertise, quite literally.

GB2My willow planting is quite painful to do but there is little more painful than shoveling dirt… except maybe shoveling rocks. Remember my advice about the Ibuprofen.


FYI. Much of the glass was from double paned sliding glass doors. Its tough glass and there are two panes in each unit but it is tricky work separating them. I broke a few. I used a box cutter and lots of patience.


We then added fridges as raised beds, barrels and filled tires to act as heat sinks that would hold heat into the evening. OOPS. And I almost forgot. Rain catchment.GB8

Isn’t that inspirational? Doesn’t it make you feel good?

Now, let me tell you everything wrong with it.

People ask me, if I could do it again, what would I do differently.

The answer is…. everything. I’m stuck with it now. Its the Bi-Polar greenhouse. I love my greenhouse. I also Hate my greenhouse. Where to begin.

Basically, I got too ambitious.

The most obvious thing is to change the angle. I should not of reached out so far. It should have been more vertical. More vertical means more obvious strength to the support beams. Six inches of strength is much different than six feet of strength.Vertical is better. Te he. Especially when a couple thousand pounds of snow comes down on you. No really, at its present angel, it must be shoveled off, each big snow…or the snow will keep accumulating until the whole thing smashes. Even small snows, we have to use a large broom to sweep the snow off to let light in.  I compensated by adding a support beam at the middle and one near the top (not in the photos). No need for either if it was more vertical. We are also free of hail here but that can change.

That is why I also built this. Time hasn’t been as kind to her though.

finished greenhouse

So much promise but she is, pretty much, dry storage at this point.

C5 Rule of Survival- Never enough… dry storage.

Another subtle vertical, tall guy joke.

Look up. Look way up… to the photo at the top of the page.

You see me siliconing  leaks, quite dangerously. There is no safe place to put a ladder without breaking glass. It was tough and risky. This local fame I recently got was based on the 100$ greenhouse idea. I don’t deserve this fame. I spent far more than 100$ alone on silicon. I still have leaks. Leaks rot wood. Siliconing and painting is an on going task. So is reinforcing against superstorms. I will be adding more cross beams as time allows then siliconing all the glass wood corners together so any wind flux may crack the glass but still hold it together. All of this could have been solved using polycarb.

Lets whip back over to Mythos and Logos doomstead. Remember this? This will do the same and be more storm proof

roof 1 docroof 2 doc

It aint all about me. The next build to finish greenhousing the front of the house  will look more like this… but more upright so snow slides off it. This is more sturdy and much easier to build.

Now, lets say you are trying to do the same concept during the collapse, on the cheap, to generate some heat. Lets revisit Mythos and Logos greenhouse again… and lets apply it to the side of an abandoned and squatted in, ex suburban home.

greenhouse 2 docGreenhouse plastic over chicken wire for strength. This is a solar heater for your post apocalyptic house.


Now, if you have read this far…you get into the real MEAT of this post.


If you look up? Look way up to the first photo… You will notice shade screen… and this opens you to THE BIGGEST problem with this build.

Its too fucking hot!!!!!

It aint just a greenhouse. Its a solar cooker.

It requires management. That means you can not LEAVE IT to go do other things.

If you go away and have not left the doors open… and the sun comes out… not only will you cook your plants….It will melt the siding off your house.

Thus, greenhouse operators learned to use SHADE CLOTH. In our case, we use breeder trash. Recycled from the side of the road, trampoline safety nets. Its a recent joke me and MrsC5 had on a road trip to pick up perennial arctic kiwi plants, the next provence over . If you are in the country, if there is a 4×4 pickup truck out front, there is a trampoline in the back. On country roads, every fifth house has a trampoline. No shit.

Store every safety net you find that gets tossed. That is breeder trash gold.

It’s a one time in the lifetime of a planet opportunity, while everyone is in “Think of the children” mode, worrying about lawsuits.

Well, they help keep the excess population down.

I may do some future experimentation’s  on using trampoline frames. I turned a single one into a small animal shed. Three or four of them could make a good greenhouse.

One more job of the years is to add ventilation windows, near the roof, on the ends, to let excess heat out, without leaving the doors open, where a micro burst of of heavy winds might catch it like a kite and rip it off the building.

In the mean time, Ill keep reinforcing my greenhouse. A storm is a coming.

Speaking of super-storms and and greenhouses… This is next years build.

bus greenhouse

Think of it as a ready made greenhouse, already designed for high winds, impervious to snow load or hail, with easy ventilation. Until then… it’s DRY STORAGE… and filled with bikes.

So, to sum up. Build my greenhouse. Its awesome. Just reduce half the angle so snow slides off it and add more strength to compensate for a climate in chaos.


Now it is bonus time. In case you missed them. Best articles of the month


and more-

” The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper ” (It wont allow me to do a direct link to it but you can cut and paste the title and put it in your search engine and it will take you there. Well worth the trouble)

Special mention also goes to this one as well   https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/05/07/the-spy-who-came-home

That’s all I got. Back to putting willow in the ground. Its looking like a three years of spring job. This round is coming to an end. See you next month.

If you would like to give a Tip for writing services rendered or to support the cause, go to the top of the page and hit “Giving just the Tip”.   All “Tips” go towards material costs for future experiments.



View story at Medium.com


View story at Medium.com