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Greenhouses Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Category: Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes.  A small container with seed starting mix and a clear plastic top serves as the simplest of “greenhouses” for seedlings because it provides shelter for plants.  A step up from that is a temporary greenhouse that can be assembled and disassembled each year, and sits on a deck or on a patio next to the house. It consists of a lightweight metal frame with shelves covered in clear plastic with a zippered window for entry. You can put seedlings in there during the day while the sun is shining, and bring in the trays at night if there is still a chance of frost where you live.

Another type of greenhouse is the window extension. If you have the right spot in your house you can have this built onto an existing window. It offers sun from the top and 3 sides and is very useful for some seedling trays and potted houseplants.

The next level up in greenhouses is the greenhouse kit. These greenhouses are sold as “do-it-yourselfers” and are usually sited in an area of the yard where they can get full sun. The floor is turf. Our social media director, Caitlin Beatty, just built one at her home in Pennsylvania and then built shelving units out of wooden pallets. It’s a great DIY project for her that she documents on Instagram and Facebook. Be sure to wear gloves when building anything! Caity is wearing our Ultra Fit gloves with touch screen fingertips.

You can get much more elaborate versions of the freestanding greenhouse too. And they’re not all going to be DIY.

If you like the idea of a greenhouse that is accessible directly from your house then you might consider a solarium style sunroom that has lots of windows and you can fill with plants.

At my house (shown in the photo above) we built a room that we call the greenhouse because it serves exclusively as a potting, planting, seed starting and over wintering room. It is accessible from our kitchen.  The roof on the back, which faces south, is made of polycarbonate, a plastic used for greenhouses because it transmits light almost as effectively as glass and it’s lightweight and unbreakable. I have several shelving stands with grow lights where I nurture my seedlings in the spring.  Our contractor built a beautiful potting bench for us, so this is where I spend a lot of time in the spring and fall.  In winter it gets full sun and in summer a large oak tree shades it so it doesn’t need as much ventilation and cooling as most free standing greenhouses do.

We’d love to hear from you if you have a greenhouse, or are thinking about building one. Send photos to

Temporary greenhouse from a kit
Window Extension with shelves
Free Standing Greenhouse from a Kit
Greenhouse and Sunroom
Potting bench in my greenhouse

2 thoughts on “Greenhouses Come in All Shapes and Sizes

  1. Lisa Leitten says:

    Great ideas on the greenhouse approach . I have been debating for a long time too . I bought cheap cold frames that are decent and nice . Also bought some toppers for my raised beds and trugs. I can send photos if you like . It’s a tough decision and this was a great temporary one for me . Thank you

  2. John Sergeant says:

    I would like more info on the temporary greenhouse from a kit.


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