Need a cheap seedling greenhouse

lindy_looSeptember 22, 2013

I want to put in a small greenhouse/high tunnel this spring to start seedlings in. We don't have a garage or basement and we completely ran out of space inside the house this year for seedlings. I would use heating mats, row cover and plastic to keep seedlings warm. I'm thinking 10'x20' would be a good size. But, I will only have about $500 to spend.

I was looking at this option and it sounded like the best bet so far, but I don't know much about greenhouses so I don't know.

http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/product/grow-it-10-x-20-peak-style-greenhouse/

Would it be cheaper to build a small high tunnel with pvc and wood? We have really strong winds in the winter and the potential for a lot of snow so it would have to stand up to the weather.

Any ideas or advice would be really appreciated.

Here is a link that might be useful: 10x20 greenhouse

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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

If you have fair to good construction knowledge, you could order one of these benders and make one what ever size you would like, I have a small bender for low tunnels from them and it works like a charm.

Jay

Here is a link that might be useful: Hoop Bender

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 7:46PM
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cole_robbie(6)

I bought my bender from them. I bought the one that makes a 20' wide hoop out of three 10.5' top rail pieces. But I only use two pieces of top rail. I drive 6' chain link top rail 2' deep and 18.5' apart (copying jrslick's design). The top rail connects to the ground posts with a 90 degree emt elbow cut in half to make a 45. All pieces slide into each other and attach with tek screws. Each hoop costs less than $50. You'll need purlin clamps. I bought mine from lostcreek also.

The bender needs a table to be mounted on. You'll need a wood picnic table, or you can build your own. I spent more on my table than my bender, but it is built to last.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 1:56AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

For a cheaper portable one I recommend the green ones that connect together as they make shelves, that way you don't have to buy tables or shelves in addition. I use the shelves as drying racks in summer. The problems I have had with the two I have owned were needing to cut some of the bars to reduce size and make the cover less snug or it struggles to zip. Then one time my husband took the support lines off to mow and didn't replace them and it stormed and ripped the cover. Then the next year it had holes that let cold in. Then later the whole thing went to pot on heavy winds. So I have to choose to buy another or spend more on a permanent structure. Being hub cannot build things I am probably just getting a third one of what I have had before.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 11:02AM
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myfamilysfarm

We started out with a 10x20 car canopy that was slightly damaged. We put the frame up and then added wood along the bottom and framed in the end. Then we covered it with construction plastic (6 mil). The plastic lasted a couple of years, until we came across a piece of greenhouse film that was too small for the greenhouses that a friend of us had. He gave it to us. We framed in for 2 wooden screen doors, only actually installed 1. We also covered the screen door with plastic.

That was our first one and it's still in good shape with the greenhouse film after 5 years.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 11:28AM
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lindy_loo

Thanks for the ideas!

The bender is a great idea, but the cost for just the bender would take up my entire budget. That's something that will have to go on my wishlist for later on.

Little_minnie, those zip up greenhouses are a good idea, too. They have ones that are pretty big that I was considering, but I don't know if they will be big enough. I will keep them in mind, though.

I think I will go ahead with my original idea. That seems to be the best option for the price I need. I don't think the covering material will last, but I figure I can recover it with actual greenhouse plastic after a year or two and hopefully that will last until we can build actual high tunnels.

Thank you everyone!! If there are any other ideas, please share!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 1:44AM
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myfamilysfarm

I was told years ago, build the biggest greenhouse you can afford, but it will still be too small. This was from a lady with several greenhouses, all huge ones now.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 8:52AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Yes I am also trying to find the green one with the shelves built in in a larger size.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 10:14PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Below is a link to the kind I had. 8x6. I could fit about 36 trays at a time. I almost wonder about getting two and putting them together and then cutting out a passageway. When I bought the second one I tried having another door sewn on the opposite end but couldn't get it done. It would be nice to have the wind tunnel effect on hot days. It warms up super hot on warm sunny days while I am at work. Luckily I only work one full day a week now. But it works pretty good for $100 including the shelves and I can put it together in 2 hours or less!

Here is a link that might be useful: greenhouse

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 10:24PM
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lindy_loo

Little_minnie, that's a lot bigger than I was thinking of. I actually like that a lot, especially since it comes with shelves. Would that hold up in high winds, though? How sturdy are the shelves?

I was looking at one of the plastic ones from GreenhouseMegastore, but I think it is smaller and more expensive than that one. The shelves are extra, but it did seem pretty sturdy.

myfamilysfarm, that's exactly how I feel! LOL!

Here is a link that might be useful: Springhouse

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:39PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Before you buy one of those little greenhouses, you could always buy several 20 foot PVC pipes, bend them into a hoop shape, add one center purlin and and then cover them with plastic. Attached is a plan for a 12 by 40. Just make it what ever size you want. I know my first high tunnel was 12 by 18 and I made it for about $200. You could also bend over 3 cattle panels, cover with plastic and do about the same thing. I build one of those, 8 by 12 for very little money too.

Jay

Here is a link that might be useful: PVC hoop house

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 1:05AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

several straw bales and some windows will also work for a seedling house. You cannot germinate anything in such a set up but you can certainly raise hundreds of seedlings in them. We used to set up several of them mainly for hardening off things but we also did raise a lot of seedlings in them as well. Cost is about $10 to $20 for one of these as long as you have old windows laying around. Takes about 3 minutes to construct. You need at least 4 bales arranged to make a square space and than put windows over top.

Easy Peasy

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 5:41AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I had some straw bales and a huge free window. Then the window broke and I had to try to figure out how to get it out of my garden without glass going everywhere when it was too heavy for me to lift.

Lindy you had originally said 10x20. Did you reduce size because more trays fit than you thought? I can fit 4 per shelf and on the floor plus a few in the back on the floor. It is probably meant to hold 18 tee hee. So for $100 you can house 3 dozen trays in your suburban yard and not need to use power tools or any tools.
I think the one in the link looks like it wouldn't handle wind as well as the green shelf kind. Until hub left the lines off that time it did fine. Needs attendance though regarding the door.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 9:45PM
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lindy_loo

No, I am still thinking 10x20 or something similar in total area. I actually live out on 5 acres on the plains and that's why I said wind is such an issue. This year's spring we got a nasty blizzard at least once every two weeks all the way until May. We had one of our windows broken by flying debris during one of the storms to give you an idea. Sustained 40 mile an hour winds with gusts up to 75. Not fun and that is what's concerning me the most.

The smaller one I posted had reviews that it was very sturdy in the wind and I liked that it had a shelving unit you can buy. But I would probably need two because I don't know if it would be big enough.

I'm considering that 10x20 one, multiples of the one you posted, or building one. I just have to see what would be the best bang for the buck. I will need to house at least 3 dozen, but it's hard to figure since I want to put some things in larger containers and start some things inside instead of direct seeding. So I will need more space than I did this year.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 8:42AM
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myfamilysfarm

With the wind that you are talking about, PVC alone probably won't hold up, unless you have some windblocks. You would have to build around the PVC with wood/metal for it to hold.

The bales might be your best bet, since they will be close to the ground, but I would use some heavy patio doors instead of windows. Get the OLD ones that weigh a 'ton', the light weight ones wouldn't hold up to the snow load.

You will also have some way to anchor it, and it will take alot more than most 'mini 'greenhouse' stakes.

My 10x20 is next to an old trailer that was painted white, it's not attached to anything, but the wood that we framed it in with. It had stood up to 60-70mph winds, but I thing the trailer behind it (2' away from side wall) helps to keep it from blowing.

You will have to find a place on your land that things don't blow away, BEFORE installing your greenhouse. You just need the sun from the south, if you can 'back it up' to something on the north.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 11:18AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

Patio doors would be best, though they are a bear to deal with. For storms you can cover the window(s) with a blanket to precent damage (and than the snow is easily removed when you take off the blanket, or at least most of it will be gone)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 2:53PM
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myfamilysfarm

Yes, Patio doors are a pain to lift, be sure to have 2 people when you do so. My hubby was a carpenter and we also seem to have them. I think if I knew there was a blizzard coming in, I'd have some boards to lay across and then the blanket. Then you could lift the boards with blanket. 12" of snow gets pretty heavy, that's what our blizzards usually gives us as a minimum.

Plus the blanket will help keep the heat in.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 10:04AM
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figsrfun(7b)

Fine

This post was edited by figsrfun on Fri, Sep 27, 13 at 21:51

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 8:38PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I didn't think we were talking about tunnels for growing or coldframes but seedling greenhouses, with shelves for trays.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 9:28PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Thought I would share a picture of the first two "Hightunnel/Greenhouses" I built. Neither one is still around, but their pieces have been reused several times over. I dismantled them to build much larger ones.

Here is the cattle panel one I was talking about. The four posts sat in the ground.

Both these structures stood up to two Tornadoes. While we didn't get a direct hit, we lost many shingles on the house and broke a window. The neighbor 1/4 mile west lost a shed, flipped a semi- cattle trailer and blew over 5 electric poles. When we came out of the basement, I was surprised they were still standing with all the damage to our house.

Jay

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 10:44PM
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lindy_loo

Yeah, this would just be for seedlings and probably curing crops as well. I do not plan to grow anything long term in this. I just need more space and my kitchen/dining room isn't cutting it anymore.

How big could you get with the straw bales? That seems like you would need several of them to get the amount of space I need. Not that that is a bad thing just wondering.

Jay, that's what I'm thinking of when I said build one. How deep did you bury the poles? Do you do anything to add stability to the PVC? My only hold up with building one is that I am not very experienced with building things, though I am pretty handy and I know I could figure it out. My husband usually does the building but he tends to not have an eye for detail that these kinds of projects need.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 5:19PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Building your own is much easier than it sounds. I have included a link to several different do it yourself models and a few presentations I have given. Do with it as you wish.

I dig my holes 3.5 to 4 feet deep. When I first build the ones in the pictures, they were only 2 to 2.5 feet deep. Deeper is better!

I actually set 4 by 4 posts in the corners and then 3 along each side of my 18 by 48 tunnels. There is some more information in the link.

Jay

Here is a link that might be useful: Do it yourself builds

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 12:09AM
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