Small Backyard Greenhouse



Backyard Greenhouse

Starting Your Seeds Early

There may be snow on the ground still, but starting your vegetable plants indoors, makes you feel like spring/summer is just around the corner. Getting my plants to grow has never been much of an issue. Sure, some will grow a bit to fast. And I've purchased the odd pack of seeds that produced nothing. My biggest issue has always been the "hardening" process, or the actual transpant into my raised garden plots.

  • start with a good potting mix; needs to be loose, moist and free from bacteria
  • place potting mix in containers of choice - small paper cups for example
  • add seeds as per package
  • place containers in a water proof tray and cover with plastic
  • place near heat
  • once sprouted, place near a grow light and/or window
  • keep moist and warm, fertilize
  • transplant to larger containers as needed
  • when getting ready to "harden" try using a gentle breeze from a fan to thicken the stems

The Hardening Process

This seems to be my weakest link. The standard process involves moving your plants outside for one hour the first day. Then lengthen by another hour each day. After a week, your plants will be outside for 7 hours and should be ready for the "big move". Of course you should ensure the plants are not put in a windy location, or in direct sunlight, during this process. Using a small fan for a week or two, to create a light breeze, will help strengthen the stalks beforehand.

Small Backyard Greenhouses

My plants still seem to go into extended shock each year and also suffer from sunburn. This year I'm trying a small, portable backyard greenhouse that can be disassembled after use.

Backyard Greenhouse Frame Backyard Greenhouse with CoverThe price was right, just $60 for a 3 tier walkin unit. There is a wide selection available, starting at $19.99 for something that's 27" by 19" and 4 tiers high.

Setup was about 30 minutes and will be faster next year, assuming I label all the parts and keep the assemble instructions. I placed the unit on an unused piece of deck (not where it is shown in these pictures). Also set a couple of cement blocks on the frame to ensure the wind doesn't blow it over.

Obviously, I'll be able to start a lot more vegetables with this small greenhouse, than I could with my small planters inside my house. I'm also looking forward to an extended growing season this fall. Already, I seem to keep my garden producing far longer than my neighbours. Should be fun to see just how late I can keep harvesting crops this year.

Issues with Small Greenhouses

I consider the ability to take my greenhouse down for the summer, an advantage. However, there are some issues with this temporary arrangement.

  • I'll need to anchor the beast to my deck or it will blow away
  • Rabbits and other animals force me to cover my gardens in netting every year. I'll need to seal the bottom edge of this greenhouse to keep them out
  • temperature control is not easy in such a small greenhouse. It will get warm very quickly. It will also lose more heat in the evenings, than with larger greenhouses. A cement block floor, with lots of mass, could help out here.
  • poor ventilation, as I have only one opening. I may make a small window near the top of the far end.

Tips for Small Greenhouses

  • use a small, clip-on oscillating fan to reduce cold/hot spots
  • have a shade cloth handy for those killer hot, SUNNY days
  • don't let ants get a foothold or you'll have a giant ant-farm
  • use a wireless temperature transmitter to track what's happening in there


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