building a greenhouse... - Mothering Forums
Country Living / Off the Grid > building a greenhouse...
moss's Avatar moss 09:49 AM 04-18-2011
around here everyone is buzzing about food security food sustainability etc, so fuke was really a huge motivator to get doing what weve been talking about for a while. ...nothing like a radioactive plume to get things into action greensad.gif

dh wants to build a greenhouse. we rent so it has to be portable. our plan is to buy in a couple of years when prices will be lower~the housing bubble is still in the process of popping here. we would want to take the greenhouse with us. we would also like to maximize the amount of food that it would put out for the amount of space it takes up as we dont have much space.

we would probably cover it with plastic first and then place in windows as we get them. is that plausable?

some old threads that are now locked talk about a book called 4 season harvest. is there anything else we should be reading? good websites? good plans for building greenhouses?

babyfarm's Avatar babyfarm 10:59 AM 04-18-2011

I don't have a greenhouse, so I can't answer any of your questions, but you might check with your local glass shops - they have a lot of glass that they just throw away - they may be willing to give it to you free if you come and pick it up....and I bet you can even find some plans online about building a greenhouse with scrap glass like that.

homeblossom's Avatar homeblossom 09:37 PM 04-18-2011

Depending on your zone, you would only need the greenhouse in the spring for starts and in the fall to prolong the season, for potted and semi-hardy plants. Otherwise, hard glass structure, espec. if you rent would be a lot to frame, assemble, unassemble, transport, etc. We started with a light framing against the sunny side of the house and tried all kinds of treatments from clear corrugated panels (3-5 yrs. top life) to heavy mil plastic( one season)  to old windows and found that ventilation was the major factor.  Being able to work with the weather, and control the climate.  If youre in medium zone like us the way to go is in the garden, greens and roots and peas can go 2-3 succesive plantings.  Row covers and heavy mulch go a long way if youre weather mindful.  Keep researching and shoot for a permanent deal when youre firmly planted on your own dirt.  Meanwhile,  go for something truly portable and easy to assemble and use (you have to set up and tear down every season) versus actually constructing a greenhouse.  I do have to say though that old windows leaned against a sunny block wall work well for starts, no framing involved. Keep on growin'!

mrs_mandolini's Avatar mrs_mandolini 07:29 AM 04-19-2011
I'm a vegetable farmer in the midwest, and grow in a greenhouse year round.

Join the "high tunnels" email list to find out more about what folks grow in them.

As for building your own & moving it around, Johnny's seeds & a few other seed companies sell pipe benders that allow you to bend the galvanized electrical conduit or chain link fence pipe into hoops for making your own. You'll also need some type of ground posts (the type you need depends on the type of soil), a bit of lumber for end walls & baseboards, something to anchor it to the ground, plastic, and a system to hold the plastic on. Many places sell UV-treated greenhouse plastic, which lasts 4 years minimum (and actually can last far longer, it just lets less light through as it ages.)

These type of structures are absolutely moveable, although it's a fair amount of work to move them depending on the size. Like a number of other growers in our area, we have purchased them used, taken them down from another farm, and moved them to our farm. If you hang around on craigslist a lot you might occasionally see a used one come up for sale, that's how I found ours. Building your own is doable as well, if you have the aforementioned pipe bender and some construction skill.

For ventilation, it can be as simple as rolling up the sides manually to 3' high or so on a sunny day.

If you are in clay or other heavy soil, anchoring the whole thing to the ground is not a huge deal. If you are in pure sand, you might have to consider concrete. If you have a only few inches of soil on top of bedrock, then anchoring a greenhouse is a different matter entirely...

Feel free to PM me for more info if you want.
limette's Avatar limette 08:37 AM 04-19-2011
Definitely go with a hoophouse. Ours cost us $600 and it's 12x32'. In total it took a day's worth of work.

Here's the plan we used.

And pics of ours going up.
PenelopeJune's Avatar PenelopeJune 09:00 AM 04-22-2011

I bought a very small one on for about $150. It is basically like a pop-up tent, and it stakes into the ground. It is very sturdy and seems made of good materials, and it has held tight in some VERY strong winds. This is the one I bought: 


It's large enough for several flats of plants. We have two giant tubs in there with herbs and stuff until I can move it outside this summer. I am only using mine for starting plants, not for year-round growing, which of course you would need a larger one for. But if you just want something to start seeds or buy plants a little earlier than you would normally, this would work great.  

HeatherAtHome's Avatar HeatherAtHome 09:31 AM 04-23-2011

I had dreams of a beautiful greenhouse but realized it was low on the list of priorities (plus we haven't decided on layout around here yet so it's not time to add anything permanent.) 


Then I got excited about the idea of row covers, especially seeing we have all the materials we'd need for the project. Fairly quick, simple, inexpensive and portable. There are instructions here


But then I found one of those plastic parking garages, a double long, used, online, for $100. (Hoping to pick it up next week, fingers crossed!) We're getting it to use as temporary storage while we tear down then rebuild our rickety carport. After that, I want to use it as a greenhouse! I mentioned it to my Dad and he said that my grandfather had done the same thing and it worked pretty well.  

mattemma04 04:01 AM 04-25-2011

The harbor freight 6 x 8 greenhouse is decent. It sometimes sells for as low as $219-250.My mom has had one for a good ten years and it is still holding up. I read the big 10 x 12 stinks so don't get that one.Better to get 2 of the smaller ones.

mamayogibear's Avatar mamayogibear 09:01 PM 06-10-2011

is there a smiley for taking notes...


NettleTea's Avatar NettleTea 09:03 PM 07-13-2011

Originally Posted by mamayogibear View Post

is there a smiley for taking notes...


Yep. A leftey and a rightey.

notes.gif notes2.gif



Ruthiegirl's Avatar Ruthiegirl 05:10 AM 07-15-2011

We build a hoop house every Fall and grow winter greens, onions, beets  in the Mid-Atlantic region with excellent results.  We eat most of our produce from the yard all winter, though it does become monotonous.  The hoop house becomes a nursery for seeds and starts in the early spring.  I sow lettuce, spinach, more onions while there is snow on the ground and get a 3 week jump start on the growing season.  The hoop house is simply long pcv pipes bent in a U shape covered with plastic sheeting.  I think I spent about $120 in the beginning and have replaced the plastic once in 6 years.  


A greenhouse would be lovely, but they are simply too much expense and require building permits in my area.  

Ruthiegirl's Avatar Ruthiegirl 10:19 PM 07-17-2011

Originally Posted by limette View Post

Definitely go with a hoophouse. Ours cost us $600 and it's 12x32'. In total it took a day's worth of work.

Here's the plan we used.

And pics of ours going up.

Great job!   And I love your blog.  We are moving soon and planning a new garden and a larger, more permanent hoop house.  How has your plastic held up?  I think I might try the 11 mil woven poly that the Alberta Home Gardening site recommends.  We deal with a lot of wind and the non woven poly takes a beating.  Looks like you guys deal with some big winds too.  


Anyway, inspiring work limette!