5 Affordable, Small Greenhouse Ideas

From petite pop-ups to sturdier structures that stand year-round, these affordable, small greenhouses can help extend your growing season.

| January/February 2014

  • The FlowerHouse PlantHouse 4 is portable, lightweight and surprisingly roomy.
    Photo Courtesy FlowerHouse
  • The Brighton Hybrid Greenhouse can stand up to heavy rains and snows, but it is still small and lightweight.
    Photo Courtesy Brighton Hybrid Greenhouses
  • The FlowerHouse SeedHouse Jr. is a pop-up greenhouse that can fit small spaces.
    Photo Courtesy FlowerHouse
  • Keep growing longer each season and enjoy the advantages of a raised bed with the Frame-It-All raised bed with greenhouse kid.
    Photo Courtesy Frame-It-All
  • Extend your growing season with a small greenhouse.
    Photo By Abigail Rex/GAP Photos
  • Enjoy time with your plants with this GrowIt Organic Growers Greenhouse by ShelterLogic; there's room for a chair where you can relax with your plants.
    Photo Courtesy ShelterLogic

Especially in winter, many gardeners dream of having a small greenhouse—a sun-warmed spot where we can get a head start on the spring salad season and start veggie seedlings indoors. But the dream often shatters when money enters the picture—a nicely outfitted greenhouse can cost thousands of dollars. Why not start small with a portable greenhouse you can pop up in early spring and take down and store until it is needed again in the fall? A mini-greenhouse may provide all the growing space you need at a fraction of the cost of a permanent structure. Ranked by price from less than $50 for seasonal pop-up greenhouses to $500 for a permanent hard-sided structure, the five small greenhouses described here demonstrate how easy it can be to expand your growing space for plants in need of protection from cold, wind and curious animals.

Portable Greenhouses for Small Spaces

1. Available at numerous retail stores, the FlowerHouse SeedHouse Jr. pop-up greenhouse costs around $40, and its 30-inch square footprint makes it easy to fit in small spaces such as a condo balcony. A pair of zippered doors on either side of the opaque plastic A-frame structure allows easy access, and during the day you can keep the screened vents open to ensure good air circulation. The sloping sides of the SeedHouse Jr. limit the growing space available to tall plants, but it easily accommodates 35 compact plants grown in 4-inch pots—plenty of plants for a square-foot garden or your community garden plot.

2. At around $100, the larger FlowerHouse PlantHouse 4 is as portable as the SeedHouse Jr., but with a much roomier interior. Inside dimensions of this pop-up greenhouse measure 4-by-4 feet, with peak height at 54 inches—plenty of space for several flats of seedlings or dozens of plants in 4-inch pots. In mild winter climates, the PlantHouse 4 can provide winter protection for figs and other marginally hardy plants. Used as a seasonal greenhouse, the PlantHouse 4 is perfect for tall, late spring tomatoes when it’s still too early to set them out, or to protect summer tomatoes from excessive rain.

3. If your garden could use raised beds and a small greenhouse, the Frame-It-All raised bed with greenhouse is a kit to consider. Priced at around $130, the kit includes a 4-by-4-foot raised bed with attachable frame. The frame legs slip into the bed’s corner connectors, which are topped with a zip-on cover. Large zip-open side doors allow easy access to plants, with smaller vents on opposing sides. If you already have raised beds, you can add the greenhouse frame and cover for about $70. Many people let the greenhouse frame stay in the garden all season, where it can be used to support row covers to protect plants from insects.

Walk-In Small Greenhouses

1. If you dream of a sun-warmed greenhouse where you will be surrounded by growing plants, the 6-by-8-foot GrowIt Organic Growers Greenhouse from ShelterLogic can complete the picture for just more than $200. Although the entire kit weighs less than 65 pounds, the frame for this small greenhouse is made of steel, and the covering is a high-density ripstop polyethylene fabric with vents near the ground as well as up high, above the doors. Auger-type anchors help hold the structure steady in the wind, or you can attach the base to a wood frame. Trimmed in forest green, the GrowIt Organic Growers Greenhouse looks more like fabric than plastic, and there is space for shelves along the sides and a chair where you can join your plants in soaking up some solar heat.

2. When you are ready for a permanent small greenhouse that can stand up to heavy rains and snows, the Brighton Hybrid Greenhouses offer many advantages for $350 to $600, depending on size and accessories. A steel base frame anchors the structure, and the rest of the frame is lightweight aluminum. The “hybrid” aspect has to do with the polycarbonate panels, which are clear on the sides and opaque on the roof, maximizing light to plants while reducing the risk of getting fried. An optional automatic vent opener can cut this risk to near zero. A 6-by-4-foot model in silver costs $350, and the Idaho company offers free shipping and no sales tax. Models with the frame finished in pretty forest green cost slightly more, but become an instant focal point in the landscape.

4/1/2014 10:49:33 AM

Using PVC schedule 40 Plumbing pip & some heavy plastic cloth will make a nice greenhouse & can be built according to whatever size you need.

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