Hobby greenhouses and other growing structures
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Hobby Greenhouses and Other Growing Structures. Ward Upham Modified By Dennis Morgeson. Questions That Must be Answered. What do you want to accomplish with your greenhouse or other structure? Start plants early Extend the season Overwinter plants Grow year-round What can you afford?.

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Hobby Greenhouses and Other Growing Structures

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Hobby greenhouses and other growing structures

Hobby Greenhousesand Other Growing Structures

Ward Upham

Modified By Dennis Morgeson

Questions that must be answered

Questions That Must be Answered

  • What do you want to accomplish with your greenhouse or other structure?

    • Start plants early

    • Extend the season

    • Overwinter plants

    • Grow year-round

  • What can you afford?

Start plants early

Start Plants Early

  • Light Garden for Germination and early growth

  • Cold Frame and Hotbed to grow to transplant size.

Coldframes hotbeds

Coldframes & Hotbeds

  • Coldframes

    • No supplemental heat

  • Hotbeds

    • Supplemental heat.

Supplemental heat

Supplemental Heat

  • 12 to 18 inches of manure under hotbed with 4 to 6 inches of soil on top

  • Plant when soil temp drops to 85 degrees

Supplemental heat1

Supplemental Heat

  • Manure

  • Electric cable

Coldframe hotbed

Coldframe & Hotbed

Conserving energy

Conserving Energy

Conserving energy1

Conserving Energy

Extend the growing season

Extend the Growing Season

  • Hoophouses (High Tunnels) are relatively inexpensive (compared to greenhouses)

  • Greenhouses ($20/sq ft) High Tunnels ($.50/ sqft)

High tunnels

High Tunnels

  • Single layer of plastic

  • No heat or cooling (other than venting)

  • Irrigation a must

High tunnels1

High Tunnels

  • Tomatoes ripen 3 to 4 weeks earlier in spring

  • Tomatoes can be harvested an additional 3 weeks in the fall.

Overwintering plants

Overwintering Plants

  • Coldframes

Overwintering plants1

Overwintering Plants

  • Greenhouse



Discarded crates

  • Did buy plastic

Overwintering geraniums

Overwintering Geraniums



Growing year round

Growing Year-Round

  • Considerations

    • Winter growing difficult due to limited quantity and intensity of light

    • Winter growing expensive due to fuel costs

    • Summer growing difficult due to temperature control and watering demands. Need to have some type of shading.

    • Hobby greenhouses often lack adequate heating and cooling to grow plants year-round

Locating a greenhouse

Locating a Greenhouse

  • Sun all day (or most of the day) is best for most (not all) plants

Locating a greenhouse1

Locating a Greenhouse

  • Sun all day (or most of the day) is best for most (not all) plants

  • If must choose between morning sun and afternoon sun, choose morning sun

  • Normally want full sun but may help to shade late afternoon sun during the summer

Types of greenhouses lean to

Types of Greenhouses: Lean-to

Line Drawing Courtesy of West Virginia University

Lean to greenhouse

Lean-To Greenhouse

  • Advantages

    • Least expensive

    • Easy access

    • Insulation for and from adjoining structure

  • Disadvantages

    • Size limited by structure

    • Dirt and insects tracked into adjoining structure

    • Moisture

Types of greenhouses free standing

Types of Greenhouses: Free-Standing

Line Drawing Courtesy of West Virginia University

Free standing greenhouse

Free-Standing Greenhouse

  • Advantages

    • More flexibility in location and use

    • Easy expansion

    • Private Get-away

  • Disadvantages

    • More difficult access

    • Separate utilities must be run

    • Higher energy costs

Types of greenhouses pit

Types of Greenhouses: Pit

Pit greenhouse

Pit Greenhouse

  • Advantages

    • Less energy required to heat and cool

    • Temperature more constant

  • Disadvantages

    • Access more difficult

    • Need sump pump to get rid of excess water

    • More expensive to build



  • The more light transmitted, the better

  • For every 1% reduction in light received, there is a 1% reduction in plant growth (unless you are over 3500 foot candles of light)

Types of greenhouse coverings

Types of Greenhouse Coverings

Above info from University of Arkansas

Other comments

Other Comments

  • Glass: Heavy and subject to breakage

  • Poly film: Cheap but short-lived. Must be UV treated. Best if inner layer is IR film that is anti-condensate.

  • Polycarbonate: Can be scratched but more resistant than acrylic. Also, less flammable than acrylic. High expansion and contraction

  • Acrylic: Easily scratched, flammable, lower impact resistance than polycarbonate. Also, high expansion & contraction

Plycarbonate acrylic fiberglass

Plycarbonate, Acrylic, Fiberglass

  • Panels

  • Roles

Sheet poly plastic

Sheet Poly (Plastic)




  • http://bioengr.ag.utk.edu/extension/extpubs/PlanList97.htm

Greenhouse environment

Greenhouse Environment

  • Heating

  • Cooling

  • Air circulation

  • Ventilation




Double use chicken tractor too

Double Use? Chicken Tractor Too



Hobby greenhouses and other growing structures




  • Roof vents can be operated by solar powered

  • Need vent for cool air (doors or dedicated vents.

Air circulation

Air Circulation

  • Fans

  • Helps cut down on disease



  • Gas (7,000 BTU @ $649)

  • Electric (7,600 BTU @ $324) 240 volt

  • Wood

Heater btu rating needed varies with

Heater BTU Rating Needed Varies With

  • Size of greenhouse (Sq ft and height)

  • Exposure

  • Coldest temperature expected

  • Free-standing or lean-to



  • Shade cloth

  • Often reduces sunlight by about 50%.



  • Evaporative (Swamp) Cooler for greenhouses 200 sq ft or smaller.

    • How well works depends on relative humidity

    • Cost $550 to $1500 for “box” models.



  • Can also place evaporative pads along one side of greenhouse for greenhouses over 200 square feet.



How to water properly

How to Water Properly

  • Allow enough time between watering to allow most of the water to be used. Roots must have oxygen.

  • Apply 10-15% more water than container will hold to leach salts. All fertilizers are salts.

The end

The End

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