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Greenhouse Planning

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I want a greenhouse!

You can see my thoughts about why have an Aquaponics Greenhouse in this article.

My plants did better in a “cold frame” that I built from my shade frame. I covered it with 6 mil translucent plastic from Home Depot, and clipped the end “doors” on with 1″ spring clips from Harbor Freight. When the sun made it hot inside, I just opened the ends.

Shade Frame over Trough
Shade Frame over Trough

It let me start plants earlier, when the nights were still cold, and it protected delicate seedlings from the brutal rains and winds.

I hesitate to put a lot of plants into a “hot house” in the summer, but I’m willing to, and believe I can work through those issues.

I refuse to pay to heat fish tank water to keep Tilapia alive in the winter, i.e. water temp below 54 degrees F, and I refuse to pay to air condition my plants in the summer. Use a fan, perhaps. A green house should help with these issues so again, a learning curve for me here.

Which Greenhouse to Choose?

Harbor Freight Kit

I bought a Harbor Freight 10’x12′ greenhouse kit, but returned it after looking on the web for info about assembling it. The instructions have apparently be revised but not updated, and the mods to the kit to make it rigid enough to withstand the winds and the modifications to the doors required to keep them closed, weatherproof and functional, raised the price and work above my tolerance level. Note that the instructions, for the Harbor Freight 10’x12′ greenhouse kit, are on line if you care to read them. Here’s a link to a PDF file of the manual on the Harbor Freight website.

Here is a link to a very good summary of what one family did with their Harbor Freight greenhouse kit, the problems they had, and the modifications they made. Click Here for Greenhouse Article


Instead of a pre-made greenhouse kit, I decided to so some research and design my own. Note: That I have a general distaste for reinventing the wheel, as my life experience has taught me the you always mess up a good thing, if you don’t pause to learn from others mistakes. I invested quite a bit of time researching greenhouse and the Harbor Freight kit in specific. My conclusion is that you either go with the best kit, or cheap greenhouse design (poles and polyethylene plastic sheet), or pay a lot for a greenhouse that will look good and be around for many years.

I decided that I could save 1/3 or more by building it myself. My choice of covering is rigid polycarbonate sheets for longevity and warranty. This mandated a sturdy frame. I abandoned the 1/2 cylinder, bent chain link fence top pole type construction due to the having to run the polycarbonate sheets the length of the building to bend it around the frame. This would leave ridges that hold and channel water into weak spots in the assembly. Likely this approach would produce a nice looking greenhouse but had other challenges. For example, the “closure strips” that fit the shape of the sheets is rigid plastic and would not easily conform to the shape of the poles. Also making a lot of screw connections to the poles would mean a lot of accurate pre-drilling, or the addition of wooden ribs over the pipe frame. This sorta defeated the purpose of using the poles – ease of construction and lower costs.

I also wanted to take my greenhouse with me when I move. The goal is to move to the country but timing, money, and other issues have delayed this happening soon. The solution is to build a modular, bolt together greenhouse, that could be disassembled and re-erected at my new location. This decision pushed me toward conventional 2″x4″ construction, as it was low priced, easy to work with, attractive (in a Little House on the Prairie sort of way), and easy to modularize the walls, roof sections, and joist.

So back to the calculator, spreadsheet, and Home Depot pro desk to iron out all the parts and pieces and costs.

I’ll add another post when I get construction going!

Wish me luck!

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