Build DIY Greenhouse For Growing Food Year Round

Build DIY Greenhouse For Growing Food Year Round

Many gardeners discover online resources about the walipini, or pit greenhouse, with hopes of year-round food production, only to learn that they are made for equatorial regions. If, like me, this doesn't put a damper on your romantic notions of year-round fresh greens, you'll probably keep looking and find other solutions, such as gardening indoors or in geodesic domes or heated hoop houses to combat winter chills.

Of course, each option has advantages and disadvantages, including large carbon footprints, inconsistent warmth, weather-dependent energy costs, and initial outlay.

A winter growing space that is all of these things (and more) is what I propose as a solution. Traditional greenhouse with a retractable top for growing in the summer. I should also mention that it's simple to construct, easy to use, and reasonably priced.

Why build a greenhouse?

The importance of a greenhouse is generally recognized by gardeners, particularly when it comes to gardening in cold climates. The most significant benefit of a greenhouse is that it extends the growing season by valuable time. They are attractive and useful in many ways. It's crucial to find ways to extend your growing season if, like me, you want to grow as much of your own food as you can.

In order to give seedlings a head start when the soil is warm enough to plant, a greenhouse offers a location to start seeds early. Additionally, it prolongs the growing season well into the fall or even the winter. Any plant that can be grown in a container can be placed inside a greenhouse to continue bearing fruit well after the first frost.

This past fall, we were hit with an early frost. When the cold weather arrived, I was able to move some of my tomato and pepper plants that were in the garden into the greenhouse because they were in grow bags. Amazingly, those plants continued to produce well into December, which is a full 3 months longer than if I had left them outside.

And now that we've experienced our first winter with the greenhouse, I've found plants that thrived throughout the season despite the fact that this was the coldest winter on record in this area. Temperatures below zero have been the norm for the past few months.

Benefits of a do-it-yourself lean-to greenhouse

Freestanding, connected, hoop buildings, geodesic domes, plastic, polycarbonate, glass, and a long list of other alternatives are all possible types of greenhouses. We decided to construct a triple-wall polycarbonate greenhouse with a lean-to design that is connected to our home.

For a few reasons, we chose the lean-to. First, behind our garage, we already had a sizable, unused concrete pad that would be ideal for a shed or other similar construction. A lean-to construction made sense to assist direct water away from the house because we also had a serious issue with water drainage in this region.

Besides our reasons to build this style, there are many advantages associated with lean-to greenhouses. Let's look at a few of them.

Cost and simplicity to build

Most do-it-yourselfers can build lean-to greenhouses since they have a straightforward design. They normally consist of two sides, a towering wall against a standing structure in the back, and short walls in the front and back.

Less materials are usually needed to build a lean-to greenhouse because it is built up against an existing structure. Since the back wall of most lean-to greenhouses is made up of the building it is leaning against, only the sides and front wall need to be constructed.

Because our greenhouse is tucked into a corner between two existing walls where our house meets our garage, we only needed to build two full walls in our situation.

Nearby water and electricity access

You'll have quick access to water and power if your greenhouse is connected to your home or another structure with these utilities. Otherwise, you're stuck excavating a hole in your yard to install permanent plumbing and wiring for your greenhouse, or you're left stringing long extension wires and hoses throughout your yard. Unless of course you manage to get your greenhouse completely off the grid.

Easy access from the house

Let's be honest. It's nice to enter your greenhouse without being blasted by Jack Frost when the wind chill is below zero and snow is blowing so hard you can't see your hand in front of your face. No matter what the weather is doing outside, I absolutely love being able to walk out into my greenhouse in the morning, barefoot, with coffee in hand.

Feels like part of the house

Any home benefits from the attractive addition of an attached greenhouse. It has the appearance of being an addition to the house and can be used as additional living space, similar to a sunroom.

On summer nights, my kids enjoy spending time in our greenhouse where they can avoid mosquitoes while listening to music and watching the stars. Warm, bright, and serene, it's also a fantastic place to hang out during rain and snowstorms.

Heating advantages

Two benefits of having a greenhouse attached to your home have to do with heat. First, if you intend to use your greenhouse all year round, it is likely that it absorbs some of the heat from your home during the winter through the wall. This will help you save some money on heating.

The second, and most exciting, is that attached greenhouses can be used to passively heat your house in the winter if they are constructed in an area with the best light exposure. This is something we've observed in many of the earthships we've highlighted, as well as in this article about a small, lean-to greenhouse that serves as passive heating in a cold climate.

My greenhouse is attached to our garage, which we don't need to heat, so we don't use it for passive heating. However, on warm winter days, if it were connected to any of our home's living spaces, it would quickly warm up enough to provide some passive heating.

Build DIY Greenhouse For Growing Food

Greenhouse Construction

The inside of the 20 x 40 foot, wood-framed structure is 16 feet high. The 310 used tires that make up the north wall, which is filled with sand, are buried at a depth of around 6 feet. Together with the south-facing roof, the other three sides let light in. Metal makes up the north roof.


Right now, two tiny fans supply the required fresh air and moisture removal. Future construction will include the installation of a solar-powered ventilation system.
Season of growth It is currently used for a little more than three seasons, with the remaining two to three months being unoccupied. In the future, Pierre wants to add a geothermal heating system and a rocket stove to make the growing season a complete four seasons.

Type of crop & yield:

It was fortified using only organic or natural fertilizer, and no special soil was used. The crop consists of a variety of greens and vegetables, including kale, swiss chard, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, snow peas, and herbs.

Our objective is to achieve as much self-sufficiency as we can. Even though I could potentially grow large enough to support several families, our initial objective was not to use it to support ourselves, said Pierre. Even though there are only two people living in their home, this greenhouse in a cold climate helps feed four children, grandchildren, and stepparents. We distribute a lot of it, and this year we started selling some in the neighborhood village. We can continue to finance the project by selling surplus.

Total material cost:

Roughly $3,000 so far. The cost was kept to a minimum thanks to the use of numerous recycled, salvaged, and traded building materials; however, Pierre anticipates that the final sum will increase due to the future additions he has in mind.
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