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My mission: Greenhouse Fact Finding Mission

I am going to need one. I know I will. Problem is that I have so many projects going on that my husband is shaking his head at me. He agrees that I need a greenhouse, he just thinks that I should finish other projects first. I explained that it would be much easier to complete other projects with proper storage, more room to store my plants and he would finally be able to pull my things out of his tools.

It will take time to save up, but I am now on all about greenhouse research. Just be prepared for that if you are following me. This is not an informational post- I will be doing that later, right now this is all about what I am specifically looking for. I will post my research and how I came to that conclusion at a later date. This one turned out to be far longer than I had originally anticipated, but enjoy.

My first step: do some research. Just to let you know the information online does not give me practical information. It all feels very much like they are trying to sell me a product and I am not even there yet. I realized halfway through I needed to speak to live humans. People who were struggling with their own greenhouses.

I posted in my main Facebook groups to test out what I might want to prepare for. People in these groups are relatively kind as long as you don’t mention politics etc. I enjoy them because now my news feed is filled with the experiences of others.

You should know seeing other people’s successful results is actually one of my favorite things to do because people had so many opinions, experiences and information that they want to share and are willing to share.

Often times, they want to be heard so they put all information on the table- even the dumb stuff that makes you do the minor wha? I love it because sometimes they mention things that I didn’t even think about. Or maybe what they talk about might spur other ideas.

I would go as far as to say that 90% of people made their own.

My lime tree and Luna. In between missions he lies to lay beneath the lime tree

So most people were rebels and they did not want a kit, because they are expensive or because they had specifics in mind. It looked like a lot of work if you want honesty. Yes, I am all for doing work if I enjoy the work. I am not a builder and I am relatively clumsy (which is why the majority of my blackberries are thornless).

It was interesting to see how handy the whole homesteader community actually is. They were super impressive. If you had seen these pictures you would have been impressed- remember built their own from scratch. Just so you know, from experience, building anything is hard if you don’t know what you are doing or you have minimal experience like I do.

Some had windows all over that had been discarded after a remodel or hoop greenhouses that were hand made. Some people dug huge holes that they covered in order to grow during the winter months and it made me realize how lucky I am to live where people don’t really care what you do with your property as long as it isn’t poison.

Each person heated and cooled their building differently, but quite a few individuals complained about temperatures rising and falling. They talked about insulation, what they wish they had thought of before hand and what they are doing now. It was great information and helped me to decide what I am doing personally.

After hearing about the greenhouses they built I decided to inquire as to why. I am a nosey lady. Many people claimed that the cons of the financials was enough to cause them to make their own, while others complained of the cost to heat or cool and how . The claim is that is: if you did not pick the proper materials in the beginning then it most likely won’t be easy battling nature. You may have to replace things every 3 to 5 years depending on the weather.

Things that I learned about my personal journey into green houses was:

1) I do not want to spend a week putting it together. I do not have enough friends to bribe for the help I would need. It is a minimum two man job.

So, in all fairness, I will have to do it alone. It is usually how the cookie crumbles, as much husband is a lot less into this (homesteading, plants, and gardening etc.) and just let’s me do what I want ninety percent of the time, I try not to complain about it because this started as a hobby and grew into what it is now. Also, I kind of like doing it alone because it gives me peace and I can get it exactly how I want it.

2) I do not want to deep fry my plants on the summer, nor do I want plantcicles in the winter. People say that smaller greenhouses are harder to cool during the summers. They also tell me that ones that allow for more ‘breathing room’ are usually those thin plastics.

I did speak to a couple of people who had kits flown in or built for them: spend the extra money for the fans and the sprinklers and all of that heating and cooling crap. If you want it- get it. Those windows, you think extra windows aren’t necessary but get them- just in case. Everything is harder to add later.

With that being said, I saw greenhouse kits that you just add on to as you go. You build your smaller greenhouse and then just buy extra kits. Talked to people about that too and they swear it is too much of a pain in the politics that it isn’t even worth it. It requires a lot more work and if it is going to happen you should probably consider doing it all at one time.

I mean, it is worth it, but they still swear they wish they had gotten the larger one in the beginning. It may be more difficult to heat and cool, but better for everything else. Also, really small greenhouses are harder to keep cool than larger ones because the sun just beams down on it- especially if you don’t have proper ventilation.

If I get someone else to build my greenhouse I can make sure I have everything that I want and need. Sure, it is a little bit more expensive but what I have found is that if you find the right people it only costs a little bit more and someone who knows what they are doing will come out and do it for you or me. For sure me, I watched a YouTube video of someone putting together one of those rion greenhouse kits.

They make it look very easy, but I used my imagination and I saw what would happen if I did it and knew in my heart that I needed to leave it to the professionals.

3) I do not like 8 x whatever. It is too narrow. I am not a big lady but I like big lady space in my walking paths. People do it because the price is so much lower. I get it, but I also do not get it at the same time. I went inside both sizes (when I toured some I could really see the difference. I haven’t even written that post)

People told me that I needed to make sure I had room for my plants to grow. A professional greenhouse grower told me that they were concerned with the amount of people who just shove and stuff their greenhouses full. That’s all well and good but it hinders growth and plants aren’t able to spread out as far.

After looking into it, it has become clear that I need a 12ft wide one. I need that because I plan on filling it up so fast that I’ll have to buy another one within two to three years. That seems like a lot, but I have big, longterm, five year plans. Buying an 8 ft is all well and good but it just seems like I get more for my dollar if I get exactly what I want.

4) Location, and so we are clear: where I was originally thinking of putting it is probably not the best place. I did not take a lot of things into consideration. Writing this personal blog has truly helped me in the research aspect by focusing it down to specific points I want to make, and I feel like I am learning a lot more.

That being said, I want to make sure that I have it where I need it. I do not want to regret my placement decision later. Other people have expressed how if they knew what they did now they may not have placed the greenhouse the way they had or they would have paid more attention to the sun and the weather. For example: if you have snow you may want to be careful about placement, thus also holds true for rainy areas and drought ridden places. These things should be thought about when placing your greenhouse.

Now, this is something really neat that I learned: run your greenhouse north to south to get the most Sun. I would have done it the other way but then I saw the science part and I was convinced that this was an intelligent decision.

Location is very important. So, today I will have the goal of going out there with my dogs and walking the areas where I might consider putting my greenhouse. It is going to be a lot of work. My old location is too wet and I just don’t want to mess up any insulation.

Be realistic, I have seen examples of people putting it near this space where they plan on putting trees. In five years their greenhouse gets a half of the sunlight. Make sure that when you are placing you keep in mind your general idea for your property and who knows you may be like me and want to change that for a greenhouse.

5) oh insulation, I am getting the best. Not because I have to but because I want to. I like the idea that if we have a freak snow storm that my greenhouse will not destroy me in heating costs.

This is a long term investment in my mind, other people might be cool with things that do not insulate as well – especially if they do not plan on using it in all seasons or they have a specific climate. I have only done research where I live and I am going with 8mm polycarbonate. I am preparing for anything.

This also plays into the best building material. Although I love the metal greenhouses they just don’t have all of the fun extras that I want. Also, fewer people are willing to build them for you and the price is generally not super. I did decide on wood because we don’t get a lot of water

So now you know I will be getting a pre-built one or having one built. Either way, I am excited. As I get more information I’ll post more and of course I will be posting the actual informational posts later as well so that you know I looked at the facts behind it before I made any decisions based off of the information from other people.


Author: M. S. Hatfield

Working hard towards personal goals in permaculture, food security, native plants and their importance to our ecosystem. Together we can share our knowledge a grow a community or just talk about wicked cool plants. I'm still learning. If I ever get credentials I'll post them here.

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