Every productive urban garden needs a greenhouse. Whether you need a way to isolate an airoponic/aquaponic system, or just want to give your young seedlings a better chance at survival, a greenhouse is, beyond a doubt, your best option. It protects crops from birds, insects and pets, while also allowing you to fully control their habitat by eliminating unwanted rain, harsh sunlight and strong wind.
The problem is, a small to mid-size model will run you about $500 and most Do-It-Yourself guides out there make building one seem too complicated for someone with no experience in construction. Yet, a few time-tested designs require about $50, 2-3 hours of your time and zero experience to complete. No one should pay for something that’s so easy to make. Below is a detailed guide to one of the simplest, yet also one of the most reliable, DIY options out there.
You can buy all of the required supplies in a single trip to your local hardware store. Here’s what you’ll need for one greenhouse measuring 3½ by 8 meters:
• 8 Steel Star Pickets (fence posts) – $7-10 – Try to find the taller posts but anything over 120cm will do just fine. They range from 90 to 240cm in height.
• 20 Meters of Industrial Irrigation Pipe – $20-25 – Make sure you buy polypipe, as opposed to aluminum or steel pipe. You can’t go wrong with thick, 1-1 ½ – inch pipeline but anything thinner than the star pickets you buy is no good.
• 1 Garden Netting (10 x 20 Meters or larger) – $5-8 – Actually, 5x10m is the minimum required. However, you’ll find that garden netting is highly affordable, so you might as well get a larger size. Besides, that extra netting will most definitely come in handy sooner or later.
• 1 Pack of Heavy-Duty Zip Ties – $2-4
Remember – measure thrice to cut once. Consider the height you need to achieve and use a tape measure to estimate the full arch length. Next, subtract the size of your star pickets from it measure and add 100cm to the result. This is done because you’ll be attaching polypipe to your pickets but the fence posts themselves need to be about 50cm underground for reliable support during rough weather. Finally, measure and mark the spot where each fence post will need to be located.
Once all of your 8 star pickets are in place (two meters apart length-wise) and your polypipe is in four equal pieces, it’s time to construct the base. If piping doesn’t snuggly fit the fence posts, fixate a few zip ties in the picket holes where you want piping to be held in place. Finally, bend the piping into half-circles, attaching each piece to two parallel fence posts.
After the base of your greenhouse is in place, measure out how much netting you’ll need. Try to use one single sheet as opposed to a few separately cut pieces, to maximize protection from insects. If you need sun protection during a hot Summer, just add a layer of clear 6-millimeter Consumer Sheeting on top of your garden netting. So there you have it – a fully-functional greenhouse, large enough to fit all of your seedlings and a small aquaponic system.