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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

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

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.


Discarded crates

  • Did buy plastic

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

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




  • 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.