A Simple and Cheap Greenhouse

This greenhouse design is incredibly quick and easy to assemble. We got lucky in that all the materials we needed were already lying around on our farm, but if not then a little bit of scavenging could land you everything you needed.

First up, the materials list:

  1. Wooden stakes & a hammer
  2. Plastic tubing & a saw
  3. Clear plastic sheet & a knife
  4. Screws, large washers & a screw driver

Your first step will likely be marking out and levelling your space. You can use string and stakes to mark your area. If everything is marked and levelled clearly you are going to make your life a bit easier when cutting and placing the plastic tubes. We didn’t do this though and it wasn’t too much of a problem.

Next you want to hammer your wooden stakes in the ground, make sure you use stakes that fit inside the plastic tubes. Hammer them in deep so they are very strong, but leave enough to create a good connection inside the plastic tube.

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Try to space your tubes with the width of the plastic in mind. If you plastic sheeting comes in strips 2 metres wide you may want to space your arcs at just less than a metre. This way you have a bit of plastic overhanging the arcs which you can then attach easily.

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One of our lucky finds was this old gazebo which was torn down in the wind the day after we arrived here. It has been in the ‘to use’ pile ever since, and today was its day. The lightweight, flexible, but very strong metal bars were perfect as cross-braces to hold the plastic arcs in place.

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Attach them on the inside so they do not damage your plastic sheeting

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The metal bars were one metre long so they fitted very nicely

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We situated our greenhouse so that its North side was mainly comprised of this terrace rock wall. The advantage of a high thermal mass North wall in a greenhouse (in the Northern Hemisphere) is that it heats up with the sun during the say and gives off this heat at night.

In order to deflect the W/E winds we get here we decided to round the ends of the greenhouse using a long tube going from end to end. This made it much more difficult to fit the plastic, but should hopefully make it stronger against the elements.

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Mati used her Scout knot knowledge to rig up the central tube

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Then we started to fix the plastic sheets. We had some rigid plastic boards so I fitted them first, then covered the rest with the flimsy plastic sheeting, using screws with very large washers to attach the plastic to the tubes.

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As you can see there is an element of beauty in the Armadillo-esque shaping of our greenhouse…

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The plants who need the heat the most can sit upon the North wall rocks (on the left of this picture)

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To increase the thermal mass capabilities of the rocks they could do with a clean to reveal the rock surface, as well as being painted black

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