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January 25, 2009

Building Dreams The Garden House Part 2

Come take a tour of the inside of my Garden house.  If you haven’t visited part 1 already it includes photos from breaking ground, stages of building and blue prints.


A tour of inside of my Garden House

When you enter the Garden house from the 2nd floor you are in the screen room and bar area.  I use the room for drying my herbs for teas.  From the screen room there is a small deck overlooking the valley.  It is way to hot to sit at in the summer without an umbrella.  But great in spring, winter and fall.

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 Upstairs what was originally suppose to be the workshop area.  It has now been converted to our party room or guest area.  Complete with full kitchen.  70% of all our building material is recycled, used or produced from something off the property.  All the kitchen fixtures and parts of cupboards are from an old motor home we retired and stripped down to the van part with deck and sold that.  We still only have plywood floors in this room.  My husband wants to finish them but then trying to keep the clean will be a chore.  Plus its a place no one has to take there shoes off in winter or summer, making it great for parties when people are running in and out.  A big problem also was where the stove pipe from below came up in the middle of the floor.  


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So we just curved with brick to go around the pipe protecting it and created a bigger kitchen counter work area.  My husband made all the bar counter tops from birch from our proper and most of the cabinets were made from the beetle kill pine off our property which they call denim pine because it has a blue hue of colour in it.

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The dining and living area.  Our TV is kept down here in the Garden house.  We have no TV in our main house.  Makes watching TV a more planned event instead of just watching it all the time. 

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Down stairs. This room was originally to be the chicken coop.  That never happened.  It was built out for a guest bedroom which has the full length windows with a view of the valley and stars at night.  The head board is a fireplace mantel from the same house the bricks all came from.

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Here is where our only heat supply comes from and is our Sauna all in one.  The wood stove has a 24 hour burn that we bought 2nd hand.  This room is completely surrounded with concrete block or brick.  In the sauna sitting area cedar tongue and grove is over the concrete blocks.  From the sitting area in the sauna during the day there is a window that looks out past the growing area windows giving a view of the valley.

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The bathroom area is just outside the door of the sauna.  It also is completely inside the brick and block area. 

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Greenhouse Growing update

Back in December when the temps plummeted on what was weeks of cloudy days we did not light the stove for a few days in a row and I lost most the tomatoes plants and damaged the peppers way to much.  But I left all the fruit on and it is now January 23rd and I am still harvesting tomatoes and peppers.  We are having cold temps again but with sunny days which warm the greenhouse back up to about 60F or 15C.   Daytime outside temps are about 23F or -5C, while night time temps have been about 5F or -15C.  We never have to start the fire under these circumstances.  We do start it a couple times a week for watching TV or taking a sauna.

Recent Harvests

This set of photos were taken end of October before I lost my plants to a freeze in December.

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These below were taken about 2 weeks after they got to much cold.  I had cleaned off all the dead leaves, leaving mostly just the fruit that seemed unharmed.  I also moved the plants away from the windows and up against the brick wall.   Something that I should have done earlier, the plants might have survive. 

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The photo below is turnips greens I dug up from the garden.  As you can see the cold didn't effect it at all.  I also have some Swiss chard that is thriving that I also dug from the garden in the fall.  So even in January I am harvesting fresh greens.  I just cut them with scissors and it grows back.  The bowl of vegetables are what I harvested right after the plants got to much cold.  As I said earlier I am still harvesting although the vegetables are now much smaller in size.



So ends my tour of one of my dreams come true.  I have always felt it is very important for people to find some way to supply their own food.  In today's world you can never count on or trust the food supplies that are out there.  They are either contaminated or suddenly your supply is cut off due to economics or nature.  I have always aimed for self-sufficiency in my way of life.

Hope you enjoyed my tour of a dream come true......

Wishing everyone a

Good Morning....Good Afternoon....Good Night....

What ever it is to you....

Story and Photos


Here I Am/Carrie

January 24, 2009

Building Dreams The Garden House Part 1

Visit my Garden House from dreams to reality.  From ground work, building plans, the actual building progress.  I will be posting part 2 soon.

It all began when we had to excavate across a hillside to put a water line in, creating a perfect spot for what at first was going to be a small earth shelter greenhouse.  But as with all things we do, the project grew first from one story to two for a workshop, then from workshop to guest house.  Most of the photos are old ones and are from a photo album I had them in.  So I had to scan the whole pages and crop to get the photos I wanted.  So please excuse pour quality of some of the photos.


My husband has a saw mill and cut all the lumber and timbers himself from dead trees on our property.  All lumber is rough cut.  Later I found out rough cut if better for dealing with humidity that can be a problem in greenhouse. 

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The building area consisted of gravel and lots of rocks.   With pick and shovel we hand dug all the trenches for the footing to be poured.  My back was the first to go.  So hubby had to finish digging on his own.  We mixed all the concrete  ourselves.

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Originally we had no plan on paper.  We were just winging it.  But when the 2nd story went up, the building inspector, who passed by our place said he could no longer close his eyes to what was now 2 stories tall on the hillside.  So halfway thru building we had to take out all the permits and produce building plans.   Drawing plans has been something I have done thru-out the years after having taken drafting I in high school.  I also learned how to read blue prints at a job I worked at once.  But what I did had always been for fun.  You know that house you always dream of.  Mostly floor plans. 

Anyway I had to come up with plans that were proper for the building inspector.  By using other plans for reference of what is needed,  I was able to come up with the 3 plans needed for the building permit.  This was not done with a computer but all by hand.  So for anyone who knows how to read plans you should roughly be able to make out the construction. Hey I didn't have proper training for this.

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Finally all the footings and concrete block work is done.  The back walls of 1st floor all consisted of concrete blocks.  3 foot extension walls of concrete block was added as braces against all the soil that would backfill that wall.   The entire building was built using timber framing except the back wall on the second floor which was just 2X6 framed.

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There are rooms on the 1st floor that did have concrete floors not in the plan.  I did all the mixing and my husband did all the pouring.  I always wear dresses when working in hot weather.  They protect my legs but allow cooler air flow.  It was very hot that day.

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The 2nd floor was going up now.  This was about when the inspector showed up and required a permit and building plans.

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There is an extensive brick wall down in the greenhouse area.  We had piles of brick from demolition of a mansion that had a chimney that was 4 stories high.  We have used them also in our log home.  During the winter months the sun shines right on the brick wall allowing them to heat up and store the heat for later when the sun is gone.  The 3rd photo is upstairs.  I call it the observation deck , because the windows run the whole length with a great views for wildlife viewing in the valley .  The 2nd Photo you can see the timber framing on the side of the building. 

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Here is my plan with the exterior views as well as the 1st floor layout.  The middle room in the back that has the wood stove in it, is completely surround with concrete block or brick walls.  This all holds the heat and releases it slowly after the stove is long out.  The firewood storage area is now a full bathroom and the stove room is a sauna.  The room to the left on the plan which originally was going to be the wood shop or chicken coop is now the guest bedroom.       

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In determining the height of the 2nd floor so it wouldn't block our view from our log home view,  I stood at our log house and my husband held up a 12 ft long pole from the 2nd floor of the green house before the walls and roof had been started. We figured out at what height we would loose our view and so our roof line of the greenhouse had to stay below that.  So many people loose views by not imagining what a new addition or building will block. 

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Here is the plan for the 2nd floor which was originally suppose to be a work shop but is now a living area that we use for guests and parties.  The room to the left is where the entrance is which has only screens on the windows.  We now have a bar in there and put plastic on the windows in the winter. From the screened room there is a entrance to a deck on the roof of the 1st floor.  The deck was all fiber glassed.  We have encounter some problems with leaking as we did not fiber glass up the sides far enough for the deep snow.

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We go down the hill to the entrance.  We still have to make a proper walkway going down.  Its been in the plans for a few years now.  Always about finding the time for that new project.  There are 2 other entrances from each end of the 1st floor with a narrow road running to them for access and bringing firewood.  The building faces southeast.  In the summer the sun is off the big front windows around 2pm so it doesn't over heat from the sun in the late afternoon.   In the winter the sun bears low and penetrates to the back walls flooding the full floor area. 

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Summer scenes around the greenhouse.



Growing area of the greenhouse

All the big windows for the greenhouse had been purchase years ago from a friend who worked at a glass producing company.  They are all seconds that were suppose to be for sliding glass doors.  They are double glazed and safety glass.  We paid at the time 25.00 per window.  There are 16 in the whole building.   2 are used as sky lights in the growing area.  I didn't want to many on the roof as it would have gotten way to hot with so much sun longer in the day.  Purchase of these years before had made it possible to afford building this greenhouse along with all our own lumber. 

Spring time I start all my flowers and seedlings in the greenhouse.  The 2nd photo is my Greenhouse in November.  I grow all my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.  Previous years I grew all my winter squash as well.  The last 2 years I have been trying to grow my squash in the garden again but early heavy frosts are killing my plants before they really start producing, so I may go back to the greenhouse. 



Hope you enjoyed my story of a dream come true......

Look for Part 2 coming up with a tour of the inside and what has been growing..

Wishing everyone a

Good Morning....Good Afternoon....Good Night....

What ever it is to you....

Story and Photos


Here I Am/Carrie