I’m quite new to gardening, myself and my wife bought a lovely house 12 months ago with a nice South facing garden and lots of potential. Even so, learning how to plant, grow and maintain a garden has been quite a journey!
I discovered buildingagreenhouseplans.com a few months ago, I’ve been eager to start my first major project but like all weekend warriors, taking on such a mammoth task was really hard to get into. I’d asked for help at local DIY stores who were reasonably helpful, yet couldn’t really offer anything that I actually wanted.
So, I decided to buy the buildingagreenhouseplans.com guide almost exclusively for the “How to build a greenhouse on a budget” section. I actually ended up reading the book from cover to cover, discovering that many of the tips in other sections could actually be built into my new greenhouse from the start.
Following the book, I decided to build my greenhouse using galvanised steel frames. I did have the choice of mild steel but didn’t fancy painting it every year to keep it in good shape. I learned why lean to greenhouses are best and incorporated the lean design into my house, it’s actually quite technical / scientific building a greenhouse but the guide takes all the jargon out of the conversation. The book reads like a friend who knows absolutely everything about greenhouses, telling you what you need to know without confusing you with any overly technical stuff!
The book was an absolute godsend whilst designing my greenhouse. Whatever you do, don’t skip the design part because every single tip used in the guide really does make a difference to how easy the greenhouse is to use, keep warm and ultimately grow healthy plants.
Building the basic frame of the greenhouse took a weekend to do. Thankfully, the greenhouse guide has easy to follow plans including cross-section drawings, great for a guy with no design savvy at all! You have the choice to follow the plans to the word or make small alterations. I actually got a friend who’s a real wizard at drawing to alter my chosen design to give me a little space to build an irrigation system within the greenhouse. (Something the guide tells you how to do)
The second weekend, we tackled the glass sections – taking the guides advice and using cheaper plastic panels rather than actual glass pains. This has the added benefit of being a bit safer too, neither of us really had the guts to use glass panels because of the risk of dropping them! One handy thing about the guide is the options it gives you, meaning you can build your greenhouse using the tools and materials you have in your local area.
By the end of weekend two, we had a fully waterproof greenhouse, complete with solid steel frames and strong plastic panels. The guides’ tips to keeping the house warm must have been having an impact because I measured 20 degrees inside while the outside it was 15 degrees with a pretty cold northerly wind!
By weekend three I was really because we’d moved from building the house to actually setting it up. We wanted to grow vegetables in our greenhouse so I read the book quickly through again. Ventilation, beds and actually fitting the irrigation system were the final jobs to tackle!
One thing I’d never realised was that plants give off water vapour at night and a good greenhouse would need decent ventilation. The guide actually has a really good 8 step guide to avoiding mould, insects and other nastiness from ruining your veg. I followed all the advice, placing certain beds in certain areas and ensuring good ventilation. It’s actually amazing how much thought goes into a decent greenhouse set-up, something I seriously doubt you’d get with flat pack greenhouses from the local DIY store!
I decided not to use extraction fans, but to use our natural wind that comes generally from the East. I fitted vents on either side of the greenhouse, ensuring a gentle movement of air throughout the house. So far this system has worked a treat and if you need something a little better, the buildingagreenhouseplans.com guide offers a few options like setting up extraction / ventilation fans. I’d have been lost without the guide and I doubt my first crop would have been as good!
One part of the book my wife found really useful was the “10 plants you never thought about growing in a greenhouse”. I actually wish I’d built a larger greenhouse now (We’re actually considering a small extension to it) because she’s taken to growing all sorts of weird and wonderful items like peppers, spices and even coffee beans.
I’d never heard of coffee beans being grown in a climate as cold as ours! My wife proved me wrong and our greenhouse is more than capable of producing quite tasty grounds! This is almost all down to a section in the guide for modifying your greenhouse for cold, damp or hot and dry conditions. We modified ours for reasonably harsh winters which mean it’s a pretty cosy place, even in winter!
There’s also a really amazing tip that shows you how to heat up your greenhouse without using electricity! Yep, that’s no electricity! I never actually believed the tip would work, even buying an electrical heater just in case.
So far the electric heaters had been on twice! That’s twice all winter! The amazing thing about our greenhouse is the way it adapts to different conditions staying cool in summer and warm in winter, without much additional heating / extraction at all!
Like I said, we’re so impressed with our greenhouse we’re actually going to build a small extension to ours. We’ve had to pay a friend to come and help us build it. That’s the only drawback to this guide, it’s so damn good you’ll end up using it for many more plants than you intended!
My advice to anyone would be to buy the guide, read it from cover to cover at-least twice and build your greenhouse a good 33% larger than you think you’ll need! One of the tips in the building a greenhouse guide actually suggests building as large a greenhouse as your can, not for the reasons I give you but the author is completely right. If you’ve got the space to build a decent sized house then do so; you’ll almost certainly enjoy your new hobby as much as us and need more space!
I would also suggest buying decent tools to do the job. The great thing about the guide is you’ll save a truckload of money when compared to buying a standard greenhouse kit. Give your body a break and spend just a little of that saved cash on a decent wood saw and screwdrivers, your body will thank you and those tools might come in handy for small alterations or extensions later on!
Other than that, just enjoy your new hobby. Even the building of a new greenhouse is exciting, especially if like us you’ve never built anything like this before. Enjoy every part of your hobby because you’ll learn so many interesting things and grow some of the best tasting veg you’ve ever eaten!
You might even grow spices that smell and taste wonderful!