I pulled the plug

colokid(5)November 20, 2010

Just pulled the plug to the heater in my little GH. Read the forecast for the coming week and decided to end it all. Only had a couple of half grown tomatoes and some lettuce left that was not doing any thing. Had a ball all summer with it. I will be moving soon and don't know if to move it or start with a new on. It is a tent type 6 by 10 which size was nice for me. I see that HF has a 6 by 8 with solid panels for cheap. I might just go that way.


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david52 Zone 6

I think thats a good decision. The first year I ran mine, I had electric heaters going. Until I got my first electric bill.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 7:36PM
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Dan Staley

You can get the 20% off coupon from HF and make that coincident with their once-a-year sale and save quite a bit of money. I've thought about going that route more than once as a bridge between now and the nice solar GH. Right now you should be able to grow greens and use row cover and some water to keep them going; bit colder there than here, but I have cabbage, lettuce, other greens still going and will all winter.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 10:01AM
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For some reason my lettuce in a pan was not doing any thing.
Nor was the bok choy I just planted. I bet it gets close to zero degrees this week here. Time to give it up.
As for HF, I am a member of AARPS and each month they have a ad in the magazine with the 20 percent off and free flash light. The 6 by 10 was nice. A row down each side and a bench down the middle. Mostly used to start plants, so I am looking at HF's 6 by 8. Just a few dollars more than a new skin for my tent type. The 3000 swamp cooler was a necessary thing. I have no idea how any one could get by in Colorado with just a roof vent.
Thanks for the advice I got when I started, KennyP

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 11:24AM
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For some reason my lettuce in a pan was not doing any thing.
Nor was the bok choy I just planted. I bet it gets close to zero degrees this week here. Time to give it up.
As for HF, I am a member of AARPS and each month they have a ad in the magazine with the 20 percent off and free flash light. The 6 by 10 was nice. A row down each side and a bench down the middle. Mostly used to start plants, so I am looking at HF's 6 by 8. Just a few dollars more than a new skin for my tent type. The 3000 swamp cooler was a necessary thing. I have no idea how any one could get by in Colorado with just a roof vent.
Thanks for the advice I got when I started, KennyP

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 11:25AM
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When I tried to keep a little lean-to gh against the wall of my garage going with an electric heater years ago, it wasn't a long run.

The door froze shut so there I was with my nose pressed to the window looking into the greenhouse with no way to get inside without blowing more electric heat out of a hair dryer against that door. It probably would have had to be done on a daily basis!

The weather is putting an end to my greenhouse tomato plants tonight. Down to 2 degrees tomorrow morning and double digitS' below zero the day after!! At least, that's what the weather service says . . . think I'll enjoy the snow today even if it means shoveling. The prospects for the outdoors (as well as the greenhouse) for the next few days look bleak.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 12:05PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I've always loved greenhouses--would LIVE in one if I could--so I'm always watching around here when somebody is talking about them, and I don't want to be a wet blanket this time, but.....

I had never heard of "HF," so I googled it, and in checking them out a little bit, I ran into some info I want to pass along here. When I first googled "HF greenhouses," THEIR site didn't come up at all. I got sites selling them and other sites with comments about them. I went to this blog. I found some "very unfavorable" comments here, and then followed this person's link to a GW thread on the Greenhouses Forum. Most of the comments here are pretty negative too, and since it's from a lot of different people, it's more believable than just reading one person's opinions on a blog.

A lot of people on the GW thread were debating if there was a UV coating at all, or on one side of the panels or on both sides of the panels, and in the May 5, '08 posts, somebody copied a reply directly from HF stating that there really is no UV coating, but on the page I'm linking below, it states: "UV-coated polycarbonate panels!" So, which is it? They don't even seem to know themselves! Some of the people seemed to think the failing panels were associated with the UV coating, but the more I read, the more I got the impression that they were just plain falling apart!

From the GW thread I did finally find a link to the Harbor Freight site, and I looked for a few minutes to get an idea of what they have. I was surprised, I admit, when I found the same kind of complaints about quality when I read some of the Reviews on the "10' X 12' Greenhouse with 4 Vents" page.

I do not, personally, know ANYTHING about these greenhouses, but if I were looking for something to buy, the comments about how the polycarbonite panels deteriorate in "high sun" areas, would definitely make me stop to consider my options. Also the comments from people who tell of panels blowing out, and the greenhouses completely blowing down--with all the wind we get out here. If I had somewhere to put one---oh, how I wish---I'd do a lot more research and comparison shopping before deciding if I wanted to invest in one of these HF greenhouses. My initial impression is that if I were to get one and then had to replace the panels every couple years (not to mention if it blew over), it might be more cost effective to buy a better one that would function without repair for longer.

The ONLY thing I know about hobby greenhouses is from when I had my one and only (8' X 28" leanto on the back of the house) way back in the very early 70's. It was a National, aluminum frame, glazed with double-strength glass, with a full-length roof vent. The reason I got a National is because my parent's commercial greenhouses were National, and my father was happy with them---and he wasn't happy with very many things! And, yeah, it cost almost $2000, way back then! I didn't even know if National was still in business, so I googled them, and they still are---but I don't know if it's "the same company" or not anymore. But in any event, their greenhouses are still very expensive, so I'm guessin' nobody's gonna get one of those, but I still would suggest some comparison shopping for other brands in the same price range as HF, and looking for comments and complaints about the other brands too. It seems to me that if you're gonna put that much money into something that's gonna deteriorate so quickly, it might be more cost effective to bend some pipe and put in a sturdy (not pvc) hoop house with a door on one end and an exhaust fan on the other end like they use in commercial hoop houses. And with a hoop house, you could remove the film over summer and replace it with shade cloth to grow things that need some degree of protection if you wanted to.

I still dream of having a greenhouse again, so I surf around looking at them every now and then, but I truly was surprised by how many complaints I found when I started looking at the HF ones, and I had to at least come post what I had found so you, Kenny, and anybody else who might be considering a hobby greenhouse, can at least read it before making a final decision.

I know this came up not too long ago, but I don't remember right now! Where are you moving to, Kenny?


    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 4:27PM
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WOW, Skybird. I have read every thing I can find about green houses for a couple of years now and I get an entirely opposite view from yours. Most people on the green house forum are quite happy with theirs. YES, they need many modifications and such. But what do you expect for 700 bucks?

A quote from the link you gave:
"Here are some commonly discussed issues with the kit:
Aggravating Assembly Instructions: We think the manufacturing quality of the Harbor Freight 10x12 is actually quite good. We've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of most of the parts, which seem to be well made. There were no misdrilled or ill-fitting parts in our kit. However, the instructions are even worse that we thought (and that's bad!) No photos, tiny drawings, missing info and errors make assembly harder than it needs to be. This is a shame!
Sometimes it’s easier to just look at the parts and figure out how they logically go together, or look at photos of other HF 10x12 greenhouses online. I've included many photos for this reason. You still need the manual, but hopefully our photos will help."

I have all ways thought that if you needed a manual to build some thing that you should get some one else to help.
As a 80 year resident of Colorado, no way will I put up a hoop house with the covering whipping in the wind. Of course, a 2000 or 3000 dollar GH built with 4 by 4s is going to be better than a 700 dollar one. I don't mean to be selling HF's green house cause I don't have one, but it seems to me that they fill a need with many people.
My apologizes for using the abbreviation HF without at first using the full name of harbor freight. This is one thing that bugs me in the tomato forum. HF is so common in the green house forum that I slipped on that.
all ways a friend, KennyP

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 5:10PM
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Two of my neighbors have had some brand of "light" greenhouse, I have no idea what brand.

One was here when we moved in, so I don't know how old it was, but after a couple good windstorms, there were sections of greenhouse panels in my yard. They replaced it a couple years ago with a home-built one.

The other was put up a couple seasons ago. It stayed together about half of one winter.

Again, I have no idea what brand they were, so this is merely an observation. They both appeared to be aluminum with corrugated panels. Also, I live east of COS where it does tend to be windier than in town.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 7:43PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Kenny,

I'm not really trying to talk you out of getting one, but I saw some things that alarmed me, and I thought you should be made aware of them. But first---I TOTALLY agree with you about things that "come with directions!" If you can't figure it out yourself without the directions, the directions are probably not going to help you very much---beyond checking to see if you have "all the parts" at least! Almost everybody who mentioned assembling it complained about the directions, but I have NO doubt whatsoever that you can put it--or anything else--together by yourself! :-)

And certainly no apologies needed for using the "HF!" I run into things I need to google to figure out what they are around here all the time! LOL! If I hadn't been able to find it online, I was gonna ask you all what you were talking about!

But, what really concerned me when I started looking around was that almost everybody that lives in the south and/or at high altitudes seems to have a problem with the panels yellowing, developing what they're describing as "small holes," and becoming brittle after a few years. And the threads on GW start in spring of '08 and go to spring of '10, with people continuing to have the same problems, so it appears to be more than a fluke.

While posters from more northern latitudes don't seem to be having these problems, the following excerpts are taken from people living in "intense" sun areas, and most of them seem to be more "from the south," than from high altitude locations, and it seems to me that the intensity of our high altitude sun would accelerate those problems even more. These comments are all from the GW threads:

That's really helpful info John.
--So, yellowing after 3 years, in SW PA, with progressive yellowing and small holes after 5 years.
--Laserfan has brittleness, yellowing and small holes, in Texas, after 1 year.
--Jamesy40 reported holes and cracks, in Arkansas, after 2 years.
--There was a post this morning on another gardening forum regarding yellowing and brittleness in HF panels, in Utah, after 1-2 years.

When I do replace panels, I definately won't use Harbor Freight polycarbonate. They might be acceptable for folks in kinder climates, because of the low cost, but I know the HF panels would only be a very short term solution in my climate. I'd just be tossing money down the drain here.

I put my HFGH up in the Spring of 2007. In 2009 I noticed that there were small holes in the roof panels. Notice that I said roof panels. All of the roof panels have many holes in them and they are very brittle. Several have cracked.
What's odd to me is that all of the wall panels show no sign of problems. They are still clear, no holes and are not cracking.
To me, it's apparent that the ceiling batch were cut from a different batch that the walls were cut from. The ceiling batch is obviously defective.

Silicone would be a temporary fix at the onset of holes starting.
My panels have dozens of holes,cracks,yellowing.......they are disintergratng! Silicone would be a band-aid at best.
I've read enough comments here to know that some kits vary from others (some have missing parts, some have roof panels not quite long enough to extend over the gutters, etc.) I'm also wondering if this is consistent throughout all HFGH poly panels...or if some folks are just drawing "lucky" straws.

I agree with Gardenerwantabe, there's no way of knowing if info received from calls or emails to Harbor Freight is accurate. The lack of clarity is frustrating. Having a website that still proclaims the panels are "nearly indestructible" while simultaneously emailing me that "Places like Arizona, Las Vegas, and Texas may cause them to deteriorate faster" is hardly encouraging.
If I had three years under my belt with no troubles, and lived in a cooler climate, I most likely wouldn't worry either. It's the mention of panel deterioration from states all around me that has my full attention!

..... my panels are "brittling", yellowing, & developing holes.

My panels are almost completely shot as well--I even have a garbage bag clamped-over a vent that blew-out so our GH is looking sorta sad these days! I think I mentioned earlier in this thread that I "snow-roofed" one side of our GH but that ultimately did not slow the deterioration.

I notice that HF is advertising "UV protected" for their GH these days--I suppose if you trusted them that they've improved their panels you could buy another GH and get fresh panels! But I don't believe them myself...

First I'm going to try a clear coating, to see if I can stop the yellowing before it progresses to holes and brittleness. I think ALL my walls/roof/door panels are yellowing slightly, so I'm looking for a clear coating I can apply to ALL the outside surfaces.

I was going to take advantage of the 15% offer I got in the mail from HF until I ran into this thread. I'm not so sure now, cuz I'm in sunny Californias San Gabriel valley where it's hot and plenty of sunshine. From what I've gathered here, the polycarb panels would'nt last 5 minutes.

My thoughts have turned to designing a GH using steel studs available from Lowes or HD. I'm sure I could build something competetive with HFs offerings.

Most of the comments on GW were about the panels deteriorating, with people looking for ways to fix it, stop it, prevent it, or replace the panels. But then when I went to the HF site and found people telling about the panels blowing out and the whole greenhouse blowing down in the Customer Reviews, I really started questioning the quality.


I HAD THE GREENHOUSE PUT UP BY A PROFESSIONAL GREENHOUSE INSTALLER . It has NO bracing in the inside, and of course it didn't last thru the first month. We had some wind and it just folded over. Harbor Freight has good quality tools and at fair prices. This product does not measure up to the usual quality of Harbor Freight products. Harbor Freight need to have a better quality of a greenhouse or just "JUNK" the 93358, and forget about greenhouses. (Posted on 11/3/10)

Had wind and panels blew out. Tried screwing in panels, next day entire thing collapsed. Thankfully they are giving me a refund. (Posted on 10/25/10)

Almost immediately, I began having panels pop out in light to moderate winds. This happened about weekly. Finally, a thunderstorm passed by and really wrecked it. The front was totally caved in and the entire structure was twisted and partially lifted out of the ground.

I agree that the vents are pretty much worthless. I bolted them permanently closed.

The doors are also rather inferior. They are difficult to keep adjusted so that they slide smoothly.

On balance, I would say that I am pleased with the product only because it is cheap in comparison to other alternatives on the market. On an absolute basis, I would be hard pressed to give it more than 1.5 or 2 stars.

If I had it to do over, I would seriously consider constructing my own frame out of pressure treated lumber, and simply purchasing double wall panels like these to attach to it.

I spent some extra $ reinforcing it, and you should expect to as well.

Mount it to a firm foundation, and in high winds make sure you have the doors and vents closed and secured. Panels only blow out if wind gets in and cant find a way out.


I bought one of these a year ago. After assembly I realized all the weak points and did some reinforcing. The base is best screwed to a wooden foundation. I used treated 4x6s. I added some rigid foam insulation inside the hollow base, then screwed treated 1x6s to the lips of the base to keep it from flexing. I bought extra glazing clips and used double what is called for. I also used screws to hold the panels in place. The front and rear gables are best reinforced with a piece of aluminum angle or flat bar stock. I reinforced the side walls by adding 5 pieces of 3/4" EMT conduit from side to side at the top of the walls. Door construction is a little too cheap for my liking. I reinforced the door opening and frames then hung the doors on hinges. The roof vents are absolute junk. I epoxied them shut because even latched down as tight as possible with the supplied hardware they pop open in mild wind. I added an exhaust fan to one gable and an automatic shuttered vent to the other. I am going to add corrugated polycarbonate panels to the roof to protect the double wall poly panels from hail damage. (Posted on 7/17/10)

Yeah, I know you're not gonna get the same product for a couple thousand dollars that you will for less than a thousand, but some of the people posting on GW have spent a LOT of money trying to repair/maintain/improve theirs, and if you're going to wind up spending close to what a better quality greenhouse would cost--just spreading the expense out over a few years--it seems to me it would be a lot less labor and stress to put the money into the more expensive product to start with, rather than constantly spending money to replace this or that, or reinforce this or that, or whatever. I was amazed by how many people were spending considerable additional money just in the assembly process, trying to reinforce it enough that it would be stable. And apparently they only have a 90 day guarantee of any sort. That's sure not much for something costing hundreds of dollars. Just my opinion. It certainly doesn't give one much of a feeling that they have much confidence in their products.

But, what I'm wondering about, since I DON'T have any doubts that you can assemble a greenhouse kit without directions, is why you wouldn't just buy the parts and build it yourself---which I also have no doubt that you could do! That seems to be what two people, one who posted on GW, and one who posted on Customer Reviews decided to do (already copied above too). It seemed to me that some of the people who had bought the HF kit, wound up virtually doing that when they were doing the assembly anyway---adding "posts" and rebar to anchor it, and making all kinds of other changes and additions to reinforce and strengthen it to be sure it was stable and wouldn't blow down. And it also seemed to me that the people who were making all these (what sounded like pretty major, to me) changes probably had the know-how to have just started from scratch too--which is kinda what the second person, below, is saying relative to himself.

"My thoughts have turned to designing a GH using steel studs available from Lowes or HD. I'm sure I could build something competetive with HFs offerings."
"If I had it to do over, I would seriously consider constructing my own frame out of pressure treated lumber, and simply purchasing double wall panels like these to attach to it."

So, it was the information about the deteriorating panels, and the blow-down-factor that had me most alarmed, especially since we live in a very intense sun area and a VERY windy area. I just wanted to be sure you were aware of the possible problems before you made your final decision.

Hey! I'm never gonna be able to afford any kind of a greenhouse again, so I want you to get something you're really happy with, so I can do my "greenhouse living" vicariously thru you! ;-)


    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 9:11PM
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Hey good friend Skybird. Your points are well taken.
The 6 by 10 that I have cost $159.00 with free shipping.
The HF one would cost under 300. Four steel posts and many concrete blockes not included. Three years would make me happy..by that time my second ICD (super pace maker) will wear out. So every thing in its place.
If I would build one I would start on the south side of a very solid building, like brick, and build a lean to. Door in one end and swamp cooler in the other.
PS, I am moving about 10 miles to a smaller, better insulated house that will adapt to handy cap ramps. If the dang paper work ever gets done. That is a long story..

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 11:20PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Well I will anxiously be waiting to find out what you decide, Kenny, and $300 really isn't bad, even if you add $ for "structure," but considering the winds in northeast Colorado, I'd still worry about the blow-down-factor. It would be a REAL bummer if you had all kinds of things started in spring and then a big wind/snow storm came along and took out even just a couple panels, or a vent--enough to lose your seedlings.

Now that lean to against the house sounds like a real winner to me! Being against the south side of a brick house, especially if it's dark brick, will give you good "free" heat going into winter, and you could probably keep things going a little longer, without too much expense heating it---and very possibly grow lettuce, spinach, and such all winter---and being against the house would give you a good, insulated wall on that side. And whitewash or shade cloth would help keep it cooler in spring/summer. And besides being sturdier--and warmer, it has the added benefit of providing "brain exercise" while you're designing and planning it! (I just sent a link to one of my favorite Brain Games to an olde friend--MY age, LOL--today! I very much believe in Use It or Lose It!)

I guess what I'm saying is that I just have way more confidence in your ability to construct a good quality greenhouse that will serve you well---for MANY years---than I do in what you'd get in a HF kit--based on what I've read online.

Are you going to have some good space for gardening at the new house?

And, on that "other" issue, you know perfectly well that in those "three years" they'll have a new Bionic Pacemaker/Jump Starter that will be leaps and bounds better than what you've got now---and I, for one, expect to see you around here a LOT longer than just three years! Hey! You're not even old enough to be my father! Don't go thinking OLDE on us, or it just might happen!

I want to see pictures when you get/assemble/build whatever you decide upon, when you get into the new house---hopefully fairly soon. I don't remember, do you know how to post pictures? If not, something we can help you figure out! More brain exercise!!


    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 12:52AM
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Dan Staley

HFGHs are low-end starter greenhouses that are amenable to any number of tinkerings to improve performance. Anyone halfway clever and decent with tools can make improvements, and there is a cult underground following of people who do just that. Around here, is it a decent enough product to plop up and call it good? No. Can someone fart around a little bit and improve its performance? Certainly. Can you consume a greenhouse where the panels won't pop out 4 times from April-June? Sure, for many hundreds to thousands more.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 5:08PM
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david52 Zone 6

If you weld on 3/4" steel mesh, you got your hail protection, shade cloth, and 'nuf weight to hold it down in the wind.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 10:48PM
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David - what is that, chain maul for a greenhouse? Do you have jousting in your front yard too? LOL I actually have thought about something like that too, wire mesh over the whole thing. I had a neighbor who put up a hoop greenhouse many years ago and was growing orchids in it. Imagine his surprise when he woke up one morning to find the greenhouse had basically blown down. He tried to put it back together a few times but, to the neighbors delight he finally quit and they got to stop picking plastic out of their fence.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 10:59AM
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Dan Staley

Since my brain had identified a problem, I had a dream about it this morning. You need mesh just across the middle of each panel on the INside (to keep the panels from bowing from wind pressure such that they pop to the inside). A couple runs of cable will do the same thing, but either way will give attachment for insulation. Mesh on the top outside for hail should be standard, in my view.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 11:41AM
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