Building a Small Greenhouse from Reclaimed Materials

If you live in an area that has a limited growing season and you want to grow your own food; putting plants in the ground rather than all seed will be your means to a good harvest. If you are like us, and not independently wealthy, you may not be able to afford to purchase plants in the quantity or type that you want. When we first started to seriously garden, our tomatoes and peppers were purchased in convenient locations like Walmart and Lowes. As we began to educate ourselves about food, and the effects of pesticides and genetically modified foods on human health, we started to look for healthier options. We started to purchase our plants from a local nursery that is organic. I felt very good about this until I realized how much it was going to cost us each year. The cost of plants was a huge factor in how large our garden was. We were willing to put in the labor; but, were having difficulty justifying the cost. At this point we started to make plans to build a greenhouse. However, it was not until disaster struck our farm in the way of a tornado that we actually set to building. The tornado did not hit the house, thankfully. It did a fair amount of damage to our trees and it moved the kid’s trampoline, from the yard to the other side of the hay field, completely destroying it. The broken trampoline became an opportunity. It became the roof of the greenhouse.

Poles were cut, holes were dug, poles were set, and slowly the greenhouse began to come together. James pieced the trampoline frame together to fit the span of the poles cut from our woods and secured the frame to the poles. The shelves inside of the greenhouse were built out of reclaimed lumber from the old part house that was torn down when we were building on to the house. In its current state the only materials that were purchased new for this project was the plastic. Modifications are continuing to be made as we learn better what will work and what will not. With any type of farming, especially sustainable farming, no project is ever totally complete. There are always ways to improve and new techniques to learn; that is part of the adventure.  

Outside the greenhouse we have been constructing raised beds for herbs out of reclaimed lumber and the inner parts of an old washing machine.  The soil under these beds is very rocky and poor so covering them with raised beds is a functional use of the land and clearly more beneficial than mowing and weed eating that space. 

What ever path is most practical for you to grow your own food is the correct path for you. Don’t be afraid to get creative in growing your own food. I have seen fellow farmers grow seedlings in everything from upcycled food containers to egg shells to ice cream cones. The process of learning how to best to accomplish food production is part of the experience.


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