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The Complete Guide To

Building Your Own Greenhouse

By Max Clarke

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"Building Your Own Greenhouse" by Max Clarke

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Please Read This First

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Disclaimer

The advice contained in this material might not be suitable for

everyone. The author provided the information only as a broad

overview by a lay person about an important subject. The

author used information from sources believed to be reliable

and from his own personal experience, but he neither implies

nor intends any guarantee of accuracy. The results you obtain

will depend largely on your own efforts and other factors

beyond the knowledge and control of the author, publisher

and distributors. No particular result or outcome is promised

or guaranteed in any way. New theories and practices are

constantly being developed in this area.

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"Building Your Own Greenhouse" by Max Clarke

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The author, publisher and distributors never give legal,

accounting, medical or any other type of professional advice.

The reader must always seek those services from competent

professionals that can apply the latest technical information

and review their own particular circumstances.

The author, publisher and distributors particularly disclaim any

liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals who directly or

indirectly act on the information contained herein. All readers

must accept full responsibility for their use of this material.

All pictures used in this book are for illustrative purposes only.

No endorsement of the content by any person in the photos is

implied, nor should it be assumed.

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"Building Your Own Greenhouse" by Max Clarke

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About the Author

Max Clarke has been a keen amateur gardener for several

years.

He loves building things to help him with his hobby and has

actually made several small greenhouses.

He is grateful to his friends, both amateur gardeners and

commercial growers that have shared some of their

experiences and knowledge to help make his gardening and

his book better.

He says that everyone should invest some time to create and

maintain their own garden even if they only have a small area

available.

A small garden is within almost everyone’s budget and there

are many rewards.

You will only really understand what he means when you start

eating fresh, flavorful and inexpensive fruit and vegetables

that you grew yourself.

But Max also gets great joy by sharing the produce and

flowers that he grows and the knowledge from his years of

experience as a gardener with his friends, family and, now,

with the readers of his first book.

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Table of Contents

Please Read This First ........................................................................ 2

Disclaimer ................................................................................................................ 2

About the Author ................................................................................. 4

Table of Contents ................................................................................ 5

1. What is a Greenhouse?................................................................... 8

2. Uses of a Greenhouse................................................................... 12

Innovative Uses of Old Greenhouses Include: .............................................. 13

3. Greenhouse Types and Styles ..................................................... 14

Greenhouses for Your Area.............................................................. 20

How to Choose a Greenhouse ......................................................... 21

Placement of Your Greenhouse........................................................................... 21

Choice of Greenhouse.......................................................................................... 22

Framing Materials ................................................................................................. 24

5. Buying a Greenhouse ................................................................... 26

Greenhouse Interiors ....................................................................................... 27

Ten Steps to Building a Greenhouse............................................... 31

Materials for Building Your Greenhouse:........................................................... 32

Steps for Building Your Greenhouse.................................................................. 33

Do You Need a Customized Greenhouse?...................................... 35

Building Your Own Greenhouse ...................................................... 36

Important Factors .............................................................................. 40

Planning a Greenhouse Business.................................................... 41

Essential Steps in Planning Your Greenhouse Business.............. 43

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Which Type of Greenhouse?............................................................ 47

Greenhouse Accessories ..................................................................................... 47

Top Greenhouse Kits ........................................................................ 49

Planning Your Greenhouse Location .............................................. 52

The Best Frame for Your Greenhouse............................................. 56

Choose the Covering for Your Greenhouse.................................... 59

Footings, Flooring and Foundations ............................................... 62

The Footings of Your Greenhouse ...................................................................... 63

Flooring of Your Greenhouse .............................................................................. 64

Selecting the Right Lights ................................................................ 66

Light Requirements .............................................................................................. 66

Types of Lights...................................................................................................... 67

Cooling, Ventilation and Your Greenhouse .................................... 70

Cooling and Ventilation of Greenhouses by Plants .......................................... 70

Cooling and Ventilation by Blocking Sunlight ................................................... 72

Ventilation Equipment .......................................................................................... 72

Automated Cooling and Ventilation Techniques ............................................... 75

Understanding Heating Methods, Systems, Sources, and

Distribution ........................................................................................ 77

Heating Systems and Methods ............................................................................ 77

Fuel Sources for Heating Systems...................................................................... 80

Popular Fuels: ................................................................................................... 80

Heat Distribution inside Greenhouse.................................................................. 81

Calculating Energy Requirements for Heating Systems................ 84

Energy Requirements for Your Heating System................................................ 85

Watering Systems and Insulation Techniques ............................... 88

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Greenhouse Watering Systems ........................................................................... 88

Insulation Techniques in Greenhouses.............................................................. 90

Basic Greenhouse Care .................................................................... 93

Essential Accessories and Equipments for Maintenance ................................ 93

Greenhouse Maintenance Checklist ................................................ 97

Maintenance Checklist for Your Greenhouse .................................................... 98

Getting the Most from Your Cooling and Ventilation Systems ... 101

Maintaining the Heating Systems .................................................. 105

Tips for Maintenance of Heating Systems........................................................ 105

Control Greenhouse Pests and Diseases ..................................... 108

Cleaning Materials and Tools for a Small Greenhouse .............................. 108

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Greenhouse................................................... 109

Greenhouse Accessories Guide .................................................... 112

Know Your Equipment and Supplies............................................. 116

Essential Greenhouse Supplies .................................................................... 116

Cold Frames and Hotbeds .............................................................. 119

Cold Frames......................................................................................................... 119

Hotbeds ................................................................................................................ 121

Facts about Famous Greenhouses................................................ 122

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Part-I: Introduction

1. What is a Greenhouse?

A greenhouse is a small house-shaped structure made of

glass or plastic. It is designed to maintain optimum

temperature and moisture inside it to help grow a wider

variety of plants than the local climate will normally support

and to protect them from any extreme weather.

Certain gases in the atmosphere, like carbon dioxide, water

vapor, methane and nitrous oxide do not allow heat to escape

back into the atmosphere. This quality makes these gases

popular in commercial greenhouses.

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Greenhouse with Geraniums (Pelargonium sp)

All greenhouses function on the same principle; they store

heat from the sun. The glass or plastic panels of greenhouse

reduce the amount of heat escaping while allowing light to

penetrate. This increases the temperature within the

greenhouse and keeps your plants warmer in winter.

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Lettuce seedlings grown in a greenhouse before planting

Greenhouses range from a small structure for keeping in your

terrace garden to as big as a city building. Their glass panels

are grouped according to their transmission rate. The energy

trapped within greenhouses heats up both soil and plants.

They prevent or reduce infrared radiation, convection of gases

and arrest electromagnetic radiation too.

Greenhouses are used for growing vegetables, fruits, flowers,

and even crops like tobacco. You can grow flowers and

vegetables in late winter in greenhouses, then transplant them

outside in early spring.

These houses have meant an increase in artificial pollination

although using bees is preferred when practical.

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You have to maintain specific levels of humidity and heat

within your greenhouses and control any potential influx of

pests and associated diseases.

You can irrigate the plants in greenhouses if the need arises.

The increased temperature is essential if you try growing

summer vegetables in winter.

Greenhouses maybe used to protect plants from blizzards and

dust storms too. Such greenhouse cultivation proves useful in

deserts, Arctic wastelands and other land areas with poor

fertility.

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2. Uses of a Greenhouse

A greenhouse helps you grow your plants at regulated

temperatures and humidity levels. It is easier to regulate

temperatures within small greenhouses. Greenhouses are not

necessarily hot houses. They allow the required amount of

heat to be present within so that plants do not suffer from

extreme heat or extreme cold. Having a greenhouse need not

be a luxury. With a little persistence and innovation, you can

have a greenhouse anywhere.

Coriander seedlings in a greenhouse

The Main Uses of a Greenhouse are –

• Helping small and tender plants to grow from seeds

earlier than usual

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• Grow plants within indoor environment in winter months

• Helps carry forward garden plants to use as stock in the

next season

• Increases the variety of plants and blooms

• Allows you to experiment with new varieties of flowering

plants and vegetables too

• Helps cultivation of winter vegetables in pots

• Helps maintain a continuous supply of vegetables all

year through

• Helps develop your hobby of growing plants even if

there is a space crunch

Innovative Uses of Old Greenhouses Include:

• Bus-stop for children in a cold winter

• Proves to be a garbage bin without the possibility of

animals or pests creating a nuisance with open garbage

• Useful as a pottery room for children

• Useful as a storehouse for holding skateboards, bikes,

ramps, and other things

• Can be used as a hot water tub for bathing

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Part-II: Greenhouse Selection

3. Greenhouse Types and Styles

There are many different styles and types of greenhouses.

Greenhouse with Geraniums

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Some of the more popular are:

A Freestanding Greenhouse: This greenhouse has an

independent structure, not attached to your home. It has

independent sidewalls, end walls and a gable roof. You can

make it in any size, shape and style that you like and that can

get planning permission for.

The amount of sunlight penetrating your greenhouse depends

on various factors in its construction. You could an need extra

heating system if the free-standing greenhouse is completely

separate from a heated building.

This freestyle greenhouse spreads over seventeen to eighteen

feet. It can accommodate two walks, two side benches, and a

center bench.

Business and Commerce Use

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An Attached Greenhouse: These greenhouses are connected

directly to your main building. Such greenhouses receive heat

radiated from your home. Additionally, you can arrange for

any necessary heat and light infrastructure from your home

too. Also, be sure to take into consideration any special

building restrictions that exist before constructing an attached

greenhouse.

There are different types of attached greenhouses, including

lean-to, even-span or window-mounted.

Attached, lean-to greenhouses lean against the building.

They are supported because one of the sides is attached to the

house. Lean-to greenhouses may have single or double-row

plant benches with a total width between seven to twelve feet.

There is no absolute restriction on the length; it can be as long

as the building. This type of greenhouse can get its water,

electricity and heat from your home itself.

However, there are a few disadvantages too. These lean-to

greenhouses may be constricted because of limited availability

of space, light, and ventilation.

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A Commercial User

Attached, Even-Span Greenhouses are an almost

independent structure except that one end is attached to the

house.

This type of greenhouse allows greater flexibility in arranging

plants. It can easily accommodate two to three rows of plants.

Attached, even-span greenhouses may be costlier to heat as

they are larger. The exposed area of glass is likely to be

greater.

Attached, Window-Mounted Greenhouses may be either a

single unit or arranged in a stack on windows. You can

construct a greenhouse to fit into your window by removing

your regular window with simple tools and fit your greenhouse

into the window space. You can use your imagination to

fabricate your greenhouse in any shape you desire.

Portable Greenhouses: These greenhouses are available in

many different sizes ranging from six feet to fifty feet in length and ten to a hundred feet in width. The largest of these are

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still often called portable even though they are not portable in

the true sense of the term.

Some of these use polythene sheeting and many have metal

frames.

Commercial greenhouse

There are various portable greenhouse kits available. You can

assemble and re-assemble them to fit changed circumstances.

These portable greenhouses help you enjoy your hobby of

gardening at any place and throughout the year.

When you purchase a portable greenhouse, check if it can

withstand the most extreme temperatures and other weather

conditions you can expect to experience in your area.

Permanent Greenhouses: These greenhouses are the most

expensive greenhouses. They are more durable and can

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withstand extreme temperatures and weather conditions.

Enthusiastic gardeners can assemble a permanent greenhouse

to suit their individual needs and preferences in many shapes

and sizes from a number of self-assembly kits that are

available.

Some of the most popular styles include:

• Lean-to - leaning on to the main building

• Classic A-frame with slanting sides

• Modified A-Frame with gable roofs and straight walls

• Quonset Hut with round walls and hoop style

• Gothic Arch with straight sides and curved roof pointed

on top, and

• Barn-Style greenhouses

Conservatory greenhouse

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Greenhouses for Your Area

Cool Greenhouses maintain temperatures of about 40

degrees farenheit and require less insulation and specialized

structure than some other types. They are helpful for storing

seedlings and a fairly small number of plants.

Warm Greenhouses have temperature around fifty degrees

farenheit. According to outside weather conditions, these

greenhouses could require additional heating equipment such

as lamps. Houseplants flourish in this type of greenhouses.

Hot Greenhouses have temperatures around seventy

degrees. You need special lamps to maintain these higher

temperature levels within them.

Pit Greenhouses sets the houseplants at ground level. Then, you dig a below ground-level walkway about three feet deep

and line it with plywood. This gives you easy access to your

greenhouse plants.

Solar Greenhouses can be of almost any shape or style.

They must be located to collect the most solar energy

available to provide warmth to your plants at night. You may

need to provide additional heat too.

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How to Choose a Greenhouse

Your choice of greenhouse depends on your own desires.

Before deciding on any particular greenhouse, analyze the

environment, your budget and the type of plants you want to

grow.

Placement of Your Greenhouse

Greenhouses should be open to sunlight. The presence of

deciduous trees is an asset. These trees provide necessary

shade during summer and remain bare during winter. This

allows all available sunlight to penetrate into your greenhouse

when it is most beneficial.

Greenhouse interior

Protect your greenhouse from extreme weather conditions like

high winds and high variations in temperature. Trees could

prove useful in blocking high winds but will block some

sunlight too.

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The ideal placement of greenhouses should be to receive

sufficient sunlight while remaining safe from high and

devastating winds.

Greenhouses should be at a higher level than surrounding

areas to allow easy drainage of precipitation and groundwater.

Place your greenhouse where you, any visitors or customers

and also vehicles have easy access. This also ensures easy

supply of electricity, water, and heat too.

Choice of Greenhouse

Greenhouses are available in different shapes and sizes. You

have to decide the best size and shape for your situation and

desires. Think carefully what accessories and building

materials are necessary for your greenhouse.

Size: Preferably, choose a greenhouse at least one size larger than you feel currently necessary. This helps you

accommodate more plants in your greenhouse, should the

opportunity to get them arise and also give you scope for

further expansion too.

Portable greenhouses need to be compact while lean-to

greenhouses can be of whatever size would be appropriate to

the site you have available.

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Hops growing in a commercial greenhouse

Type: Choose between freestanding and lean-to greenhouses.

Freestanding greenhouses are independent structures that

need their own support. Lean-to greenhouses are partly

supported by a building wall and are also usually easier and

less expensive to heat.

Materials: Materials that you use in your greenhouse

determine the effectiveness of the insulation, amount of light

available, and the amount and cost of maintenance required.

Paneling Materials for your greenhouse may include

Polyethylene, Polycarbonate, Glass, PVC or acrylic.

Polyethylene is lightweight and cost-effective. It allows easy transmission of light and remains stable for two to five years.

Normally, there is a UV-resistant coating for extra protection.

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Polycarbonate is very durable and inexpensive. It is a very effective insulator and causes drastic reduction in costs of

insulating a greenhouse against extreme temperatures.

Glass is the most durable of all paneling materials and forms an airtight structure. This helps to prevent high winds from

causing some problems.

Acrylic is a lightweight and inexpensive paneling material.

Combine it with polycarbonate roof paneling to receive greater

insulation and better diffusion of sunlight.

PVC greenhouses are easy to transport and useful for small

areas.

Framing Materials

Framing materials for your greenhouse may include aluminum,

galvanized steel, plastic and wood.

Aluminum is probably the most durable; it does not

deteriorate due to sun exposure or precipitation. It is a good

conductor of heat and cold.

Galvanized Steel is currently inexpensive and provides a

strong structural frame for your greenhouse. It allows greater

sun exposure. However, it could rust with prolonged use.

Wood is very lasting and allows easy mounting of hooks and

other greenhouse fittings. Most wood deteriorates due to

exposure to humidity and insects although cedar and redwood

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cope well and produce a more stable structure because of

their weight.

Plastics are usually relatively inexpensive and easily portable as well as being more energy efficient than metal frames.

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5. Buying a Greenhouse

Greenhouse gardening is gaining popularity because

greenhouses help you to grow your plants throughout the

year.

Empty greenhouse

Before purchasing your greenhouse, check on these factors:

Materials: Normally, greenhouse frames are either wood or

aluminum. Wood requires extra maintenance like coating with

wood preservative or painting. Bubble plastic sheeting can

prove helpful when using wooden frames. Aluminum does not

have any maintenance costs.

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Access: Your greenhouse should have easy access. Sliding

doors are good, providing a simple way to enter and manage

your greenhouse. Doors should have a width of 2' 6".

Siting Your Greenhouse: Siting of your greenhouse should

be to let it receive maximum sunshine for the better part of

the day. Placing your greenhouse close to your house can

ensure easier access in all types of weather.

Choose a greenhouse that can fit close to your house. This

may bring down electricity and watering costs too.

Greenhouse Interiors

Before purchasing your greenhouse, check its interiors. The

paths in it should, ideally, be about two feet six inches in

width. They should be firm to reduce the chances of slipping.

Staging should be at the correct height for you to arrange pots

on shelves with a minimum of bending.

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Greenhouse with Dahlias

Heating: Options for heating your greenhouse could be

through electricity, butane gas or paraffin. The minimum

temperature necessary for your greenhouse is 45-47F. This

helps grow almost all kinds of plants in any season.

The electricity supply should be sufficient to ensure adequate

ventilation and warming of the soil too.

Electric Heaters available in greenhouses could be fans or

tubular types. Fan heaters use more electricity. However, they

encourage greater ventilation, especially in summer.

Paraffin Heaters offer a cheap alternative for heating your greenhouse. They provide a lot of heat but also generate lot of

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water vapor. This could cause condensation, if the greenhouse

has a polythene cover. If you opt for a paraffin heater, fix it

outside your greenhouse to prevent circulation of its harmful

fumes within the structure.

Ventilation: This is a very important factor to consider when purchasing your greenhouse. Most greenhouses have roof

windows for hot air to escape. Cool air comes in through side

windows or doors. Some greenhouses have automatic

ventilators that open and close according to the temperatures

within.

A thermostatically-controlled extractor fan can prove most

effective to ventilate your greenhouse. These are easily

installed and maintain continuous movement of air, thereby

reducing condensation. But, they are relatively expensive.

Shading: Shading is essential to maintain the necessary

coolness within your greenhouse to prevent excessive heat

entering the greenhouse and maintain the ideal temperature

within it.

Refrain from using shading on cloudy days. Roller blinds could

prove to be the best choice.

If the shades you are considering have a painted finish, check

that they are not likely to have any negative aspects because

of the heat over a period of time.

Watering: Easy watering is the most essential requirement

for your greenhouse. Manual watering with a plastic can that

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has a long spout can prove easiest and best for a fairly small

greenhouse.

Refrain from powerfully squirting water through hoses as it

could lead to erosion of your expensive compost.

There are various semi-automatic and automatic watering

systems available. They are a significant investment and you

need to discuss the alternatives thoroughly before buying.

Trickle Irrigation supplies water to all plants according to predetermined rates. A capillary set-up allows plants to soak in as much water as they need.

Whatever form of irrigation you choose, ensure that all plants

within your greenhouse are able to receive sufficient water.