As winter wears on and the first seed packets begin to arrive, many gardeners wish for a greenhouse. In a greenhouse, gardeners can get a jump on spring by starting vegetable seeds or growing cultivars for transplant year-round. Greenhouses do not need to be out of reach in terms of cost or construction for the hobbyist gardener. In a plan designed by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, constructing a small backyard greenhouse required only a few hours of labour and about £65 in supplies easily obtained from a hardware supply store.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- 2 pine boards, 14 feet
- 32 galvanised electrical metallic tubing clamps, 3/4 inch
- 2 pine boards, 12 feet
- 4 pine boards, 4-by-4-inch, 2 feet long
- Handsaw or PVC saw
- 16 sections of schedule 80 PVC pipe, 3/4-inch by 10 feet
- 3/4-inch schedule 80 PVC crosses
- 1 can PVC cement
- 2 pine boards, 1-by-4 inches by 12 feet (for door parts)
- 1 set of door hinges
- Staple gun
- 24-by-20-foot sheet of greenhouse plastic
- Nails, screws and staples
- White cloth cover (optional)
Select a site for the greenhouse. The area should be as flat as possible with good water drainage and air circulation. Consider sunlight needs as well. If you will be starting seedlings, full sun is best. If you will use the greenhouse in the summer, partial sun is preferable, although you can shade the greenhouse with a white cloth or cover if you select a full-sun location.
Level the ground for the foundation by digging out the high side.
Attach electric metallic tubing (EMT) clamps loosely to the 14-foot boards.
Form the foundation using the two 12-foot and 14-foot pine boards. Settle it into place and be sure that it is as flush with the ground as possible all around. Use wood screws to attach a 4-by-4-inch post at each corner to anchor it into the ground.
Cut the midrib PVC pipe into seven segments 22 1/2 inches long.
Lay out the PVC pipes on a flat surface. Each midrib segment is connected with a PVC cross. Arrange 10-foot sections of PVC pipe on either side of each cross. These will bend to form the curved ribs of the greenhouse.
Glue the PVC pieces together with PVC cement and allow the cement to harden for a few minutes. When the cement is dry, position the PVC over the foundation, bending the ribs and attaching them to the foundation with the EMT clamps. This stage is best done with a friend's help, as the structure may be unwieldy.
Form two rectangular frames that will sit at the end of the greenhouse. One of these will act as the door, while the other will provide extra support for the covering. Attach the frames to the foundation with two diagonals on either side.
Measure the height and width inside the frame on one side of the greenhouse. Construct a second frame to fit inside the first frame that will serve as the door. Strengthen this with a diagonal board and attach the door to the frame with hinges. Cover the door with a piece of greenhouse film.
Stretch the cover over the frame and attach it with staples. Bury the excess in the ground to keep animals and water from entering the structure. Cover the floor of the greenhouse with an inch of sand or gravel to prevent puddles and weeds.
Tips and warnings
- Select the covering based on the greenhouse's purpose. Clear greenhouse film is great for growing plants, but if you plan on using the greenhouse to start seeds or overwinter plants, white copolymer film keeps temperature and humidity conditions constant, providing a more stable environment for these purposes.
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