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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Options abound for DIY greenhouses

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  • Want to get more out of your garden? Grow stronger, healthier plants in all sorts of weather? Consider building your own greenhouse.
    High-end models can cost upwards of $1,000, but a do-it-yourself greenhouse can be built cheaply and easily in your backyard, said greenhouse expert Lewis Jett, associate professor at West Virginia University. The materials don’t have to be expensive and expert construction skills are not necessary, he said.
    What it’s for
    Greenhouses work by trapping sunlight’s energy inside a room that warms up quickly.
    “Greenhouses give gardeners and growers the ability to produce food and flowers year-round,” Jett said. “They are used for growing plants, for transplanting in the open field, and they can protect and accelerate the growth of a crop from an erratic climate.”
    One of the first considerations is “if the greenhouse is going to be used for 12-month production versus five- to eight-month growth,” he said.
    Your local hardware store most likely has everything you’ll need to build.
    “Greenhouses can range from about $3 to $10 per square foot,” Jett said. “The cost depends on the amount of heating used as well as bracing.”
    For a hobby greenhouse, Jett advises using a double polyethylene structure for year-round production options.
    Location, location
    The greenhouse should be located where it gets maximum sunlight. The first choice is the south or southeast side of a building or shade trees. The best location will get full sun, but morning sunlight on the east side is sufficient for plants.
    Remember, though, that full sun in summer can turn a greenhouse into an oven. That can be overcome with good ventilation and air flow.
    Good drainage is another requirement for the site. When necessary, build the greenhouse above the surrounding ground so rainwater and irrigation water will drain away. Other site considerations include the light requirements of the plants to be grown; locations of sources of heat, water and electricity; and shelter from winter wind. Access to the greenhouse should be convenient for people and utilities. A workplace for potting plants and a storage area for supplies should be nearby.
    The structure
    Basically, there are two types of greenhouses, free-standing and attached lean-to. The attached greenhouse is built against an existing building, using it for one or more of its sides. It can be as long as the building it is next to and has the advantage of being close to sources of electricity, water and heat.
    Free-standing greenhouse are set apart from other buildings and can receive more sun. They can be built in almost any conceivable shape, such as a dome, quonset, Gothic arch or A-frame.
    The Internet is a great place to find free greenhouse plans, and sites like WebEcoist.com can help you go beyond green with ideas on how to include recycled items in your greenhouse construction. Especially popular is using recycled items like old windows or storm doors purchased from Habitat for Humanity Home stores. Unique reclaimed windows found at antique stores or salvage yards can give a backyard greenhouse an unconventional yet delightful look.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Sierra Club offers instructions for a beginner hoop house that’s 4-feet-by-9-feet and uses stakes (anything from short pieces of rebar to bamboo), PVC pipe for framing, twine, a large roll of greenhouse plastic and clamps or wire. It can be constructed in just a few hours.

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