Build Your Own Greenhouse

Make Your Own PVC Greenhouse

Did you know that you can build your own greenhouse and save a ton of money? You don't have to spend thousands of dollars. You can easily make your own simple greenhouse out of PVC piping. I have made one in almost every place we have lived. Some were large, while others were small. You can design your own and build it, providing your family with healthy, fresh produce year-round!

Above, I am standing outside of one of my current greenhouses in my backyard.

There are many ways to extend your growing season. There are cold frames, inside light kits, porch add-ons and so forth. But the one I like best is the outdoor greenhouse. These come in many sizes, types and prices.

Below, is a greenhouse I built when we lived in Colorado Springs. This was my first attempt at building a portable greenhouse. I changed it up each spring that we were there and had a lot of fun doing it.

Greenhouse I built in Colorado Springs. Large and awesome! Loved this one.

What I would like to talk about today is a simple outdoor greenhouse, sometimes referred to as a hoop house. These can be quickly built at a reasonable price. I can put up a 10 foot wide by 50 foot long PVC greenhouse in a day, by myself. With some help, I can do it a lot quicker.

There are two types of hoop house we can build. One is out of PVC pipe which is quick and economical. The other is out of EMT. It would probably take two days to put up instead of one since you have to bend the EMT with benders.

Below is a photo of me inside of our current greenhouse in the backyard. As you see, the plants are thriving.

David inside his current greenhouse. The veggies are thriving in their happy home!
David caring for some of the vegetable plants growing in the greenhouse in San Antonio.

Above, I am caring for my growing plants inside the greenhouse in San Antonio.

To build my greenhouse, I will lay down two raised beds first. I build these out of landscape timbers. These seem to be the fastest, cheapest and easiest to use. I will make each bed three feet wide by 12 inches high. 12 inches should cover just about anything you are planting in the greenhouse.

Once the raised beds are together, I will start with the actual greenhouse. The raised beds can take me a week to do with moving in the soil. I take a tape measure and mark off every three feet. Once this is done I will attach one end of a twenty foot piece of ¾ inch PVC pipe. I put the end flush with the ground and then attach it with two three inch wood screws. Then I will go to the other side and attach the next one. This part is hard to do if you are by yourself.

After this is done, I will run a piece of pipe down the middle, on top of the PVC arches. This is to help keep the PVC pipe in the right place at the top and to help hold my cover up. I screwed mine in but since I have found a product call a Snap Clamp Cross. These just snap into place to hold my pipe. It looks much better as well and is stronger as you build your own greenhouse.

I will frame in a door at one end and a window at the other end. Once this is done I put my cover on using Snap Clamps and Snap Clamp grips. Here in SA I like to use Typar Xavan.

Below are some photos of the new greenhouse I am building on my deck for potted plants. First I put up the hoop frame out of PVC piping.

PVC hoop frame on my deck. Building a new greenhouse for potted plants.
PVC hoop frame on my deck. Building a new greenhouse for potted plants, a second view.

Below, I put some shade cloth and Typar Xavan on the greenhouse and then I covered it in plastic today. I used the Tufflite 6 mm and I think it will be good for the mild San Antonio winter. Tufflite works well to build your own greenhouse. This one is not complete. I will be putting up a door and back wall.

I put some shade cloth and Typar Xavan on the greenhouse and then I covered it in plastic today. I used the Tufflite 6 mm and I think it will be good for the mild San Antonio winter.
A second view:  shade cloth and Typar Xavan on the greenhouse and then I covered it in plastic today. I used the Tufflite 6 mm and I think it will be good for the mild San Antonio winter.

I will frame in a door at one end and a window at the other end. Once this is done I put my cover on using Snap Clamps and Snap Clamp grips. Here in SA I like to use Typar Xavan. This is a durable fabric that allows for 70% light transmission which is good for my plants in the hot Texas sun. Sometimes I will replace this and use Shade Cloth. There are also Tufflite covers that can be used to build your own greenhouse. These allow for 100% light.

If I am expecting freezing temperatures, I will use row covers which can protect down to 22 degrees. This all depends on how much I am willing to spend to save my crop.

When directing planting medium to large seeds I like to use the hand held seed sower.

When planting seeds like tomatoes, peppers, herbs and most anything not a root crop I like to use a germination system. I will first off all start my seeds in three inch CowPots. I will use a leak-proof tray and clear dome. I set these units on top of a heating pad. My heating pad is controlled by a temperature controller. I will top this off with a grow light or two.

Once the plants start to grow, I will move them to my seedling growing station. Once the seedlings are five to six inches tall, I will transplant them into 5 inch round CowPots and put them on trays under the grow lights. Here I will keep them until I am ready to transplant out.

This growing system is good for growing lettuce, herbs, and greens inside.

When I know that I am going to be planting a lot of one type of plant, I will use three inch CowPots and use a trans-planter to plant them. This will save time and pain on your back as you build your own greenhouse.


Build Your Own Greenhouse or Buy One

Below are some photos of my father's greenhouse. He bought a greenhouse kit and put it together. It is used mostly for keeping Mom's flowers safe in the winter months.

Greenhouse from kit covered in plastic. We do not sell this kit.

Below are photos of the inside of my father's greenhouse in the Texas Hill Country.

Inside Dad's greenhouse. Growing benches and flowers. There is a lot of room.
The other side of Dad's greenhouse inside with lots of flowers.

Here is a close-up of the plastic on Dad's greenhouse.

The plastic on Dad's greenhouse kit. It has a zipper to keep out the cold.

If you don't want to build your own greenhouse, consider purchasing a kit. We do not sell greenhouse kits because we make our own PVC greenhouses.

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Germination Tips

When starting seeds, the most important thing to remember is not to plant the seeds too deep. Believe it or not, less than 1/4 inch deep into the dirt will do.

The seed is a living embryo that contains enough energy to germinate and break the surface. But if planted too deep, it will run out of energy and die before it breaks the surface.

Keep the soil moist, but not wet, with a temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over watering will drown the seed. Here is a good rule to follow: The dirt should be moist like brown sugar up to the first knuckle of your finger. If it is dry like salt, the dirt is too dry for your seeds to germinate. If it is wet like cake batter, then it is too wet.

The best watering is bottom watering. Put your starter pots in a tray and let them soak up the water they need until they germinate. Pour the water in the tray, not in each pot. Watering the top of the pot can dislodge the germinating seeds and kill them.

Seeds should germinate in about 7 to 14 days, and sometimes even 21 days, depending on the seed type.

If you are starting your seeds indoors, seeds need 12 to 14 hours of daylight a day. A grow light will be needed. A regular florescent or lamp light will not do the job.

This means you will need to make a small investment. Putting your pots on a window sill will not work in most cases. If the seeds do not get enough light, they will grow tall and thin and then die.


Cherry tomatoes
Texas bluebonnets

A pumpkin from our garden.
snapdragons
Growing cucumbers in your garden is easy.

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