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Post  itsablondething on 9/22/2010, 11:21 pm

I was at my local Lowes the other day, and saw a little greenhouse for $200.. made of what looks like PVC piping and a plasticy type of material that would let sun in but filter it too.

I've been toying with the idea of building a shed/greenhouse combo but have been hesitant to put forth the $$$ because I really don't know HOW to operate a greenhouse.. and I wondered if it would pay off when I don't know what to do with it.

Would I be able to get more out of the cheapo set up then a cold frame.

How in the heck do you use a cold frame? is there a way to turn a 4x4 square into a cold frame where you don't have to be a whiz at construction? (I can hit a nail, that is it. If a cut needs done, it gets done where I buy the wood.. not by me)

I've resigned myself to a produce CSA next summer to supply most of my veggies (my SFG will provide veggies for preserving).. but the winter CSA subscription prices seem horendous considering most of what I'd get is leafy greens... can I do this myself in a cold frame or green house in zone 6-7 in south easter PA?
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Post  Garden Angel on 9/22/2010, 11:36 pm

Hi, I have the one you are talking about from Lowe's, it's been up for a few months, am still experimenting with it, but what I like about it is the difused light even when we had triple digits here, as long as I kept the seedlings well watered, then they were out of the scorching direct sunlight inside the greenhouse and could "lock" them up at night. I started some seeds in the greenhouse and some indooors and then when they sprouted I put them out there. I'm hoping that when the temp drops it will be warmer out there and I could store some frost sensitive plants in there also. So far so good! just my 2 cents.
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Post  Furbalsmom on 9/23/2010, 2:35 am

What is CSA?
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Post  LaFee on 9/23/2010, 3:46 am

Community Supported Agriculture -- a vegetable co-op if you will, where you pay a subscription fee, (usually) commit to help do some work, and receive a big bag of vegetables in return.
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Post  shinjite on 9/23/2010, 4:48 am

if you search "pvc greenhouse" you will find lots of easy to build pvc greenhouses that are cheap to do. Also, a cold frame is just a covering over your grow box and is fairly simple. If you can drive nails you can build one. One possibility is to just make it similar to how you made your growbox but stretch some 6 mil plastic over the top and staple it to the side then use hinges to attach the two boxes together so you can open it as needed. Or just get an old window and install it over the growbox.
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Post  Patty from Yorktown on 9/23/2010, 7:21 am

Hi,
To use a cold frame you build a box and put a window on top of it. It would be helpful if your box had slanted sides and was about 8" going to 12 or 14". I would find the window then build the box, much cheaper. Anyways set the cold frame on top of your 4x4 box over your plants. On hot days you open the top of the box, so you do not cook your plants and on cold days leave the top closed. Winter hardy plants will survive a lot longer. I still got lettuce for Christmas last year. Any plants that touch the glass will freeze and a 3 day cloudy stretch will kill things. The plants grow much slower during the winter, but they will survive. In the early spring you can use your cold frame to harden off your seedlings, just do not forget to open the lid. (Cooked lettuce seedlings are a sad site) It is a simple and cheap greenhouse. Hope this helps.

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Post  CarolynPhillips on 9/23/2010, 9:25 am

I think the low percent shaded---6' x10 greenhouse at Lowes for $200 is fairly reasonable for those who do not have a way to build their own DIY greenhouse.

You are asking which one will better benefit your self cost wise. But it really depends
on how many seedlings you want to grow------how much room you need.
If you think you will end up building several cold frames-----You might want to invest
in a small hobby greenhouse. But if you are just growing seedlings for your own garden then I would say build a cold frame. The possibilities of making cold frames or homemade mini greenhouses are endless......and easier than you may think.
For Example: If you could find an old Swing set frame that no one wants anymore---
It will make a great Mini greenhouse frame. I once saw someone use an old Trampoline frame as a cold frame greenhouse by putting a post in the ground in the center of the trampoline then he put poly over the whole thing. When you start thinking along these Ideas, You can make a greenhouse fairly reasonable. Most of the time all you have to do is buy the poly and have something to hold the poly down---like blocks for instance.
Some other quick cold frame idea is : Bales of hay lined to make a short 2ft wall -----any size you want-- insert something in the center--like a post ---cover with poly.
At some point you will need heat at night. For small greenhouses--small electric heaters work well keeping the inside above freezing.


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Post  itsablondething on 9/23/2010, 9:31 am

Wow.. what a wonderful amount of information for me to consider!!!
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Post  boffer on 9/23/2010, 10:40 am

Greenhouses and wrap around porches-they both seem to initiate day dreams....

Why not start small and nearly free to learn how you would really use the space. A sfg box with a plastic cover is a coldframe/greenhouse. This is what mine looks like. Last year I used it to start all my broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage. Then when it warmed up, I transplanted them. It saved the mess and hassle of starting stuff inside and hardening them off.

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This is a more traditional looking cold frame. Every year, this box gets planted first. I've even brushed snow off the glass to open the lid to plant. Every year, the first planting is carrots (so they're ready when the peas are), lettuces, spinach, beets, and white onions.

? Green House? COld frames? 100_1715


I've always wanted a greenhouse too. But, at this point, the only reason I 'need' one is to provide a warmer space for tomatoes during the summers that are on the cool side.

A greenhouse can help to extend your growing season in the spring and fall, but for year round growing you'll have to provide supplemental heating.

Enjoy!
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Post  middlemamma on 9/23/2010, 11:18 am

Ditto Boffer.

I don't have a cold frame yet...but I am doing the wagon wheel type cover on one of my 4 X 4's this weekend.

I did the PVC cris cross on all my boxes this spring..but I want to convert them all to the wagon wheel style, I think (maybe optical illusion?) it allows more space under the cover...it seems to anyway.

I planted lettuce yesterday in one and have some peas coming up figure I'll cover with plastic and see how far I get.

A greenhouse is just a HUGE investment for me if I can just use some cheap PVC and plastic and extend my time some I will be happy for a couple years! Smile

BOFFER??? How do you secure your plastic down? What are those little strips?
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Post  itsablondething on 9/23/2010, 1:25 pm

I'm thinging it would be fairly easy for me to construct a box to fit over my 4x4 square to make a cold frame.. the hardest part would be the lid.

Does it have to be glass, or would plexiglass work? Or some other kind of plastic that I can just stretch and staple on a frame? If I could find a flexible rollable plastic, I could just mount velcro around the top of the box, and velcro to the pliable plastic...and then roll it back and fasten it when I need to let in air.

This has to be easy.. my constructions skills are limited (mostly because I am accident prone and know I will lose fingers if I get too wild!)

My main use would be lettuce, chard, spinach... onions and carrots if they will grow.... and starting seedling a bit early in the spring.
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Post  Patty from Yorktown on 9/23/2010, 6:07 pm

A cold frame made with plexi-glass or a plastic cover should work just fine. Make sure you can easily open it for venting heat. Please post pictures when you get it finished.

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Post  boffer on 9/23/2010, 6:19 pm

@middlemamma wrote:...BOFFER??? How do you secure your plastic down? What are those little strips?
Just scrap wood, similar in size to a 1x2, screwed on. When I planted, I removed the long piece on the 'door' end, and held the plastic closed with cheap plastic clamps.

@itsablondething wrote:...Does it have to be glass, or would plexiglass work?
Plexiglas will work although it can be more expensive than glass. Simplest thing is to lay plastic across the box, with enough overhang onto the ground to lay bricks, rocks, sandbags, etc on the plastic. Velcro could be fun if it will stick to the plastic.

I use 6 mil 'clear' plastic, which usually can be found at HD and Lowes. BelfryBat recommends using a UV protected plastic similar to what a pro greenhouse might use. At least for my climate, some of my plastic is going on its fourth year-that's good enough for me.

Just remember that the inside of a cold frame is very similar to the inside of a car. If it's cold and there's snow on the ground and the sun is shining, the inside of a car gets quite hot. If the sun isn't shining, the temp inside the car soon becomes the same temp as outside.

It looks like you and Patty are ~100 miles apart east-west, and probably get similar weather. You should pick her brain to find out what and when can be done in a cold frame.
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Post  martha on 9/23/2010, 9:50 pm

lots of great ideas here. I want them all!
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Post  itsablondething on 9/23/2010, 10:19 pm

Hmm.. it would seem to me that if you knew a cold spell was coming through, you could probably set a milk jug of really really hot water inside the cold frame twice a day (or at night when the sun went down) or so to help keep the temp up? This would not require electricity to be out in the cold frame.

I'll have to keep that thought in mind and let a space empty where the jug would sit.
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Post  trustinhart on 9/23/2010, 10:35 pm

Man, have you guys got me dreaming!! :drunken: :drunken:
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Post  CarolynPhillips on 9/23/2010, 10:35 pm

and on small cold frames when you have a short cold front coming through---You will be surprised how well an OLD Comforter thrown over the frame would help keep it warmer during the night. (I do this over large heat chambers that hold 32 flats of seedlings.)
you can get old comforters at a thrift store for just a few dollars.
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Post  Patty from Yorktown on 9/23/2010, 10:54 pm

Somebody else mentioned using a small tea light candle or two. It really does not need to be a lot of heat, just enough. My cold frames did get a little snow on them and the plants were fine. I just had a problem with 3 cloudy days. I had not realized that we were so close. I live in a zone 7 or 7b area. We do not get a hard freeze in the ground and we only get snow every once in awhile. Spinach, swiss chard pansy's and carrots will survive getting snowed on. I plant those crops in the fall and they winter over. I might try leeks and onions this year. I am happy to send more information if it helps, just ask.

Patty in Yorktown

Ps. I just looked at where you live. I live in Yorktown Virginia, so I might be less helpful then I thought.
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Post  boffer on 9/23/2010, 11:17 pm

@Patty from Yorktown wrote:
...I just looked at where you live. I live in Yorktown Virginia, so I might be less helpful then I thought.

Patty, my mistake; I thought you were in Yorktown, PA!
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Post  itsablondething on 9/23/2010, 11:24 pm

I'm in a 6a zone... but I live in a town so I am hair bit warmer... a lot of people surrounding me get frost when I don't... on the other hand, I do get 3 feet of snow when they do, but my guess is we average a snow that lays on the ground for more than 24 hours maybe 4 times a winter. And usually one big whopper of a snow a year.
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Post  Old Hippie on 9/23/2010, 11:38 pm

Filling milk jugs with water, painting them black and leaving them in your cold frame to absorb heat during the day will help keep it a few degrees warmer at night. Add to that Carolyn's idea of throwing an old quilt over it at night will possibly give you another couple of degrees. I set bags of sawdust or leaves on top of mine at night and it works very well at holding the temp. above freezing for quite some time.

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Post  GloriaG on 9/24/2010, 12:12 am

If you're interested in making a cold frame out of your PVC covered wagon, I found an internet source for double wall (two layer) poly that's sold by the foot.

Charley's Greenhouse and Garden sells poly, special tape to join it, velcro with tape on the back, anchors, snap clamps to hold poly to the pvc frame, and even zippers.

They deal with large commercial greenhouses and sell huge volumes of most of their items but if you look through all the pages in the Insulation section you can find small quantities of most things.

I've purchased a few small items from them successfully and next month plan to buy a little of the 12' wide B2312 Storm Cover (Woven Poly) for $4 Per Linear Ft. to go over my covered wagon.

Their link is: http://www.charleysgreenhouse.com/843-Insulation.HTM
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Post  itsablondething on 9/24/2010, 8:14 am

Laid in bed thinking about this one last night...

Think I have figured out a basic construction to go over a 4x4 raised bed using wood and clear plastic material that wil still be open enough for me to comfortably be able to work in the bed... will DEFINATELY be painting some milk jugs black... what a wonderful idea.. I'll only have to fill them with hot water if we have cloudy days or extra cold weather!

Will any black spray paint work for that?
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Post  vinny09 on 11/6/2010, 1:01 pm

I'm considering a cold frame as well. One question I had was, if I use that 6mm plastic from my local home improvement store, will that allow enough sunlight in? It looks more opaque than transparent. My other option of course is to build a frame that uses glass. Thanks!
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Post  miinva on 11/6/2010, 2:37 pm

Freecycle is a great resource for finding glass windows. You could use google to see if there's a local freecycle email list Smile

My only trepidation about painting things black is that I don't like nasty chemicals, so I don't want them in my cold frame. I'm going to do some research on what's available that isn't full of stuff I don't want to use.
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