Greenhouse Project – Unique Walls

A few hours after our interesting guest, a semi truck stopped in front of our house.  We are right off an interstate and this happens a lot!  Semi’s, pickup’s, and your average everyday vehicle stop here quite often.  Lost, out of gas, needing assistance – somehow they end up visiting our little piece of heaven.  (We must come across as some type of sanctuary – not exactly what we had in mind when we bought the place!)

This time the driver was actually looking for us-amazing!  He had our back-ordered special load – YEA!  The sidewalls are here!  These were a unique type of form with double insulated sidewalls for our greenhouse project called Greenblock (see their website for more info on their American made and environmentally friendly parts: )!  They had to be special ordered and then custom made to fit our design specs.  Took over a month to get them due to a backorder at a factory that makes the skeleton.

The whole concept of even using them for a greenhouse is a very new idea-but we were willing to take a shot at it!  The plan is to have a year-around working environment with as little expense on utilities as possible.  With these unique walls, we would be triple insulating the base of our greenhouse.  They are used exactly as a cement wall in a basement, however; they are permanent and have a “green” insulation inside and out and the center has a skeleton structure, which gets filled with cement in between the two insulated panels.  The looked like giant leggos!

I removed and stacked all the footer boards and hardware to expose just the cement footer with the 4-foot tall pieces of rebar sticking up from them.  Then the “leggos” fit together to form the base wall on top of the footer.  This was just as easy to put together as a leggo castle except they had to be staggered and set up over the vertical rebar footer pieces.  What great fun to act like kids again playing with these things!

Once the blocks are stacked tightly (see picture), then rebar is placed within them for added strength to the cement – pretty cool concept!  Additional smaller pieces of rebar are added to the corners for additional strength against our lovely winds in Colorado. 

Then 2×4 boards are pushed against the inside walls and secured with heavy metal ground stakes – this helps to hold them in place while the cement is poured (What a great idea that turned out to be!  Never realized just how strong flowing cement is until this was built!).

After all of the pieces are in place, the cement trucks were called in  (thank you Green Bros. Concrete!) and what a project that was!

I had never done any type of concrete work where a truck actually provides fast flowing tons of cement.  The footer was an experience – but was a piece of cake compared to these walls.  The complete footer was poured and done in about 1 hour – the walls took over 3 hours!

One of the biggest problems with using the walls was the metal posts.  Along each wall, square metal posts were set over rebar pieces.  These posts were then to be the foundation platform for the ceiling frames.  So, as we were moving along a wall with the cement truck, we had to move really slow and maneuver over and around each post.  The truck showed up around 10 a.m.  The temperature rose to over 100° that day and we did not finish until after 1 p.m.  I thank God for friends like Randy and Frank that worked in the construction field and knew about all this – they were truly a God send that day!!

I was not aware of how long the process was going to take.  Unfortunately – I was not prepared either!  We usually had enough bottles of liquid (water & green tea) to make it through our daily project – not this time.  We were down to our last corner and ½ the south end wall when I almost passed out.

I was alone on the inside wall holding a piece of ply-board that we screwed 2 handles to.  I held the board up and against my chest while the 3 guys on the other side of the wall (outside) directed the cement truck and flow.  My job was to make sure that little or no cement got into the inside of the greenhouse area.  Now you have to also remember that there are the 2×4’s on the inside to hold up the wall for additional support.  I had to climb over each one as we moved along (I say climb because I am short and they were up to my hips).  So between the climbing, walking, pushing against the rushing cement, the 100+degree heat, and having no time for a liquid break – I buckled (felt soooo stupid – I know better than to do this!). 

We had even learned to wrap a water soaked towel around our heads down the back of our necks to keep the top of the head and back of neck cool.  By the time we reached my point of breaking – my head towel was completely dry (at least it protected from sunburn!).

Frank was wonderful and climbed the 2 ladders over to my side (only way to get in and out was by ladders on either side of the wall) and took over for me – what a guy!

When it was all said and done – we were all so proud!  Even though it took two trucks of cement and hours longer than expected – we had a pretty good-looking base to our greenhouse project!  Can’t wait for the roof!