We love our greenhouses here at the homestead, without them I don’t know how we would possibly be able to get as many things as we do started. Traditional greenhouses are expensive to buy and build, because of this we instead rely on several small greenhouses that are portable, collapsible, easy and very affordable!
So the reason that we are addressing this today is because we got a great question from reader, and Facebook follower Beverly!
So BEVERLY, this one is for you!
Depending on what you’re trying to put in a greenhouse and when, will be your best determinant about which of our two styles we most frequently use for yourself.
Our A-Frame greenhouse which we’ve covered several times here is great for using within your garden space for direct sow plants that may need a little extra help. I love using this particular one on my pepper plants given their neediness for heat.
These are super mobile meaning that you can also put them wherever you want them, whenever you need them. This means that as you start different seeds throughout the growing season in your space you can use them to cover exclusively what you need.
Because we’ve discussed this one in the past for today we are just going to let you link in below to the instructions for this one!
Our focus here today is going to be our tent greenhouse. This is another super easy plan, that utilizes simple easily found materials, to create a greenhouse environment for plants. The tent greenhouse is less mobile than the A frame, so we utilize this particular greenhouse for seedlings that are not quite ready to be transplanted into the ground, yet they are itching to get outside into natural light versus inside under the artificial grow lights.
Now don’t fear when you hear me talk about it being a raised bed and think that you have to go out and buy a raised bed kit, make some beautiful raised bed! This isn’t the case at all, in fact you can do this using old lumber, also I am huge on reduce, reuse, recycle so hop on Facebook, check out one of your local yard-sale websites and ask if anyone is getting rid of one, or if they have lumber that you could use. Essentially all you want is to be able to build a 4ft by 4ft square.
Once you have your bed, or box set up the next thing that I personally like to do is line the bottom with a black plastic. Now the reason that I do this is because plants can get DRY, VERY dry inside of a greenhouse, especially when you are double or in this tent you will be seeing photos of tripling up the plastic. That heat, and the dry can harm your young seedlings. By lining the bottom with black plastic you are doing 2 things!
- You are putting the black in the bottom, black absorbs heat! So, you are essentially creating a heat source within your tent. Now a bit of black plastic isn’t going to heat your greenhouse that great, I find that it does get me on average 5 – 10 degrees warmer than my other greenhouses though. For me in zone 6B, right now we are averaging about 58 – 60 degrees per day outdoor temperatures daytime, my tent house is averaging about 80 degree day time temps and 60 degree night time temps when outdoor temps are going down around the 40’s.
- You are creating a moisture holding layer on the bottom! Now you have to be careful with this one, plants have such a delicate balance when it comes to water, persnickety little things they are. Not enough they get cranky and die, too much they get fungi! So by putting down your black plastic in a manner that there are seams you do allow for the water to have a drain point which will help prevent mold, and fungus from growing on your plants. But the plastic will also hold the moisture from going directly into your grass, or into the dirt and not be absorbed by your plant, giving them a chance to suck it up. This is a two fold benefit because by making your plants absorb their water from the bottom, it makes them work and grow those delicate baby root systems. Top watering can lead to problems because it can stunt their itty bitty root growth!
Now for steps 3 an 4, you are doing the exact same thing. You are going to take that PVC piping, I highly recommend a pipe that is 8 – 10 feet in length and 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and you are going to put it down to the ground in one corner and you are going to bend it until has reached the opposite diagonal corner. Doing it this way you shouldn’t require anything to hold the pipes in place, they should hold themselves well. You could put some type of bracket in the corners if you wanted to hold them, you can even drill a hole though the cross section at the top and zip tie the two pipes together.
Now in that picture above you can see that attached to the back I have a thin piece of clear plastic. This is another optional part of this greenhouse but one that I do like to do, I take a 5 foot wide by about 5 foot long section of clear plastic and I attach it to the back of the frame. My frame is made of plastic, it was a raised bed kit that I had found on a yard-sale website so packing tape works perfectly for me. However, if yours was made from lumber you could staple it right into the wood similarly to how we did with the A-Frame greenhouse. Pull that layer of clear plastic up over your pipes, it will not cover the entire frame and THAT IS OKAY, again with a duct tape or a clear pack tape, you’re going to attach the plastic to the pipes.
Let’s talk about WHY we don’t necessarily want this layer to cover completely. So as temperatures rise, you will want the ability to vent your tent, but you may still want them to get a the increased heat from the cover. Having the open sides, and partially opened front will allow you to remove the top two layers of plastic and ventilate the greenhouse.
Everything is pretty much done, but they do need more coverage! Painter’s plastic is honestly a GARDENER’S BEST FRIEND!!!! It is fairly inexpensive depending on where you purchase it, I have found that Walmart has come down significantly in price since I first began making these greenhouses, right now you can get about 200 sq. feet of plastic for about $10 there. You will want to get 10 foot wide rolls so and you will want to cut two lengths that are about 6 – 7 feet.
Now, I am not claiming that for $15 – $20 you are going to make some beautiful greenhouse, that is breathtaking, what I am saying is that for $15 – $20 you can make a FUNCTIONAL GREENHOUSE!
You are going to take those two layers of plastic and go right over the top of your frame.
Now I will tuck excess plastic under the frame around the corners where I can and where I cannot I use rocks to hold the plastic down.
AND YOU’RE DONE!
This is a great greenhouse, as I mentioned above it isn’t as mobile as the A-Frame greenhouses however it does pack up easily when you don’t need it, and can be stored away in a shed or basement for the next season. Fold us your plastic and store it with it!
As always from all of us here at the homestead!
PEACE, HAPPINESS, SALVATION!
XO – TARA!