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Deciding which greenhouse to buy

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#1 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:05 PM

Here's a question that came by email, for which we'd love to have more complete answers:

Would like to add a greenhouse to my garden, where would be the best place to start looking for info? - T.J. -

We have several friends with greenhouses. Not one of them started in the same place. Each likes their set-up:
  • One is a conservatory built onto the house and full year-round with "houseplants" as well as bedding geraniums, seedling trees and cuttings.
  • The second is a gravel floored, 300 square foot hoop house covered in heavy, clear polyvinyl. It came as a kit from a greenhouse supply company, an inexpensive way to cover a large area for seasonal growing (flats of annuals and vegetables for sale at the Farm Market) and a bit of protection for marginal plants in winter.
  • The third is a rectangular building, metal frame covered with rigid, translucent plastic panels. It's just 60 square feet of growing space, which serves as a last step to the outdoors for annual plants started and grown under lights indoors.

You can imagine they all shopped for different things, from style that suited the house to ease of assembly. None of their experience in doing that shopping is recent, however. We'd love to hear from people who have purchased greenhouses in the last year or two.

One thing our three friends did have in common in their reports is ventilation -- to be sure whatever you buy can be adequately and easily vented. Dead air is truly a killer in a greenhouse.

We'll compile what we have learned for a What's Up article, but would really love to hear from more greenhouse users about structures suitable for a backyard. If you're in this group, could you tell us:
  • Did you begin by reading catalogs, or architecture guides, or what?
  • What features and accessories are you most glad you have, and which have been disappointing or not worth the cost?
Thanks, for anything you can contribute!

#2 carolm


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Posted 02 February 2012 - 12:22 PM

This may not really count as a greenhouse, but I've been using the pop-up type for years. Easy to put up and take down, mainly used for a season extender. I just graduated to a greenhouse that has shelving, but its still just encased in a plastic cover, so another season extender. Gardener's Supply and Grower's Supply were the catalogs I used to look for them. As for features, I definitely like the shelving in the new one, but the clear plastic cover required that I purchase a shade cover. Temps can easily get 20-30 degrees over ambient. Just too bad it isn't able to retain that heat overnight.

#3 Dawn Trainor

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 06:22 PM

There is a company called Charley's Greenhouse that has different types and sizes of greenhouses as well as supplies for them, fans, lights. shelving,etc.

My mom decided a few years ago that she wanted a greenhouse and told my dad what size it should be so he built a wooden frame, put doors in both ends for ventilation and it is covered with heavy duty plastic. They use gallon plastic milk cartons, painted black, filled with water for the heat source. A simple useful greenhouse!

#4 Nell Jean

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 11:02 PM

I guess my first try complete with photo failed to post; trying again without photo.


I saved vintage windows and dreamed for a while about a greenhouse like the ones you see on Pinterest. We gave the windows to the scrap man and ordered a polycarb greenhouse from Harbor Freight, motivated by price. It took the same amount or more to secure and reinforce the structure, install running water, electricity, a DIY fogger and a used ventilating fan. Benches and shelves are rough, including an old wheeled kitchen cart and some metal stools. I want a tea table with a fancy cloth and some chairs but the space is pretty much taken up with cuttings, seedlings, sprouting bulbs and tropicals that came in out of the cold.

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