Photon Modular Greenhouses

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Design Build Modular Greenhouse: Part 4: Foundation Pier Column Setup

GrowerNode™: Web Enabled Control & Sensing for Gardens & Greenhouses

GrowerNode™ Greenhouse Construction: 8x12 'The Islander'

GrowerNode™ is our garden and greenhouse sensing and environmental control system. It’s web browser based for control and sensing of field operation, garden and greenhouses. We are using The 'Islander' is our greenhouse design and perfect to use as a demonstration project.

In Part 3, we demonstrated to you how we did the site prep and layout of the forms for the foundation pier footings, Part 4 will cover the the concrete pour for the pier columns.

the form tubes for the foundation pier columns are put on the rebar

Pictured above, the preparation is done for the corner footing pier columns pour. We really took out time with then to make it as exact as we possibly could, and the rectangular beam assembly does a great job of holding the Quickrete™ tube forms in place. We will lift it off to pour the concrete then put it right back on again to lock and set the vertical alignment of the columns.


pier column greenhouse brace bolts for supporting cantilever gussets

*Note how we are embedding large sized galvanized bolts into the concrete, about 15" and 20" down from top of concrete column. More of the bolt is actually inside the tube than the length that is protruding. These will be used later on to anchor the 2x6 bracing gussets that will support the cantilevered deck extension we are adding to this version of the ‘Islander’ greenhouse. It will offer more resistance to lateral stresses for the structure overall.


Tomorrow we will do the actual pour, and then we will be ready to start framing the main greenhouse structure. Here's a quick recap of the volume calculations:

V = ?r2 x H (read like this: Pi x radius squared x height) V = 3.14 x 3" x 3" x 24" V = ~678 cubic inches

The size of Quickrete bags we used are specified as 19" x 12" x 4", so the volume is:

V = Length x Width X Height V = 19" x 12" x 4" V = ~912 cubic inches


pier column with cardboard form tube removed greenhouse

Here we are the following day, with the form tube taken away to show the freshly poured concrete pier's pillar, column, pylon - whatever you want to call it. If you ever wondered how that spiral pattern in the concrete surface of a column was made, mystery solved!

You can easily see the bolts that we embedded in the concrete for the bracing gussets that will give extra lateral support for the structure and the cantilevered deck overhang.


pier columns and main girder greenhouse overview

Here we have an overview of the 2x6 girder system, with the foundation pier form tubes removed.


girder leveling system greenhouse

Here we have a close up picture of the 2x6 greenhouse foundation girder height adjuster. We did a little bit of leveling, but we were very close without any level adjustment. After the greenhouse is built, we will likely lower one corner a bit for floor drainage and insert blocks on the top of the piers to secure the final stability of the greenhouse.

Next, we will construct the insulated floor modules and after that we will insert the tubing that will create a circulating thermosiphon for winter heating. The purposeful design of this greenhouse is to create a modular, scalable unit that can grow and produce year-round in a cold climate.

The computerized 'smart' system will include a detailed data logging system that will track temperature sensors in various places in the structure. This information will be uploaded to our high-speed database servers that will display a detailed history of daily temperature fluctuations on a public web page that you can access from anywhere you have an internet connection.

GrowerNode™ Greenhouse Construction Index (The Islander):

Design Build Modular Greenhouse: Part 1: Introduction

Design Build Modular Greenhouse: Part 2: Foundation Layout

Design Build Modular Greenhouse: Part 3: Foundation Concrete Footing

Design Build Modular Greenhouse: Part 4: Foundation Pier Column Setup (you are here)

Design Build Modular Greenhouse: Part 5: Bubble Wrap Insulation: Floor Modules

Design Build Modular Greenhouse: Part 6: Framing: Bubble Wrap vs Glass Walls

Design Build Modular Greenhouse: Part 7: Roof Module Installation

Design Build Modular Greenhouse: Part 8: Phase 1 Completed, Ready for Sensors & Wifi Control System

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