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How to build a small indoor greenhouse

Updated on April 23, 2012

Small Indoor Greenhouse

My garden outside does not get a lot of sun, perhaps only 4 hours or so of full sunlight per day, so I need to get as much of a head start in the growing season as possible if I am to have any success. I do not have a lot of room in my house for a big green house setup, so what I did was build a shelf that would contain it. Mind you, any shelving unit would do the trick - we'll be turning one shelf into a mini green house.

Enclosing the Greenhouse

As you can see, the shelves that were used for my greenhouse were built in to the wall, but any freestanding shelving unit could work too. In my case I put some aluminum foil on the back side to reflect light back towards the plants. The front and right side are covered with some plastic sheet while the left side is just the wall. In a free standing shelving unit, some cardbard with aluminum foil attached to it could be fixed to the left, back and right sides to act as the enclosure.

Heat pad or not?

My mini-green house is in my basement where it drops down to 16C (60F) in the winter. Since I am starting some of my seedlings as early as March or early April, I needed to provide some supplementary heating so I purchased the heat pad you see in the photo. If you build your mini-green house on a main floor, or in an area where it is always a comfortably warm temperature, a heat pad would not be necessary.

Access Door

In my case I had the wood handy to build a frame and use hinges to mount the door to the top part of the shelf. In a free standing shelving unit there are any number of possibilities - use velcro to affix a cardboard panel, use plastic ties as a loose hinge or use hooks affixed to the upper shelf from which your access door is hung. It is very helpful to have the panel be the full size of the opening for the shelf as this gives you really easy access to the plants inside.

Due to a renovation job in another part of the house I had some vapour barrier plastic left over that I used to cover the door on both sides, and to envelope the right side of the greenhouse. I did as good a job as I could to seal up the greenhouse so that any humidity and heat stay inside. The lock you see in the picture is to keep the door snug against the shelf, I found this necessary to improve the seal.

Hanging Lights

The lights are the only part of the project that I spent money on - I bought the two fixtures and the four bulbs. Using some scrap wood I connected to the two fixtures together and added hooks to the scrap wood. This allowed me to add the chain/link/rope combination you see in the photo. With a fixed attachment on the back side and with knots tied in the front side of the rope, the lights can be lowered and raised as needed. From reading online about this and from the experience of others I learned that the lights should be as close to but not touching the plants as possible to give them the brightest light possible. This is to do the best job of simulating the outdoors where the intensity of sunlight is so superior even to these low hanging lights.

As some of the plants grow and new seedlings are added, one side of the light fixture can be raised while the other side is kept low and the plants can be arranged accordingly.

Freecycle

For any of the items you may need to build this mini green house I would recommend putting a wanted ad in your local Freecycle group. Though for this project I did not do this, I have for other projects with reasonable success.

Comments

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    • Phil Plasma profile imageAUTHOR

      Phil Plasma 

      6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Yep - for a lot of people the need for a greenhouse is diminished by the latitude they live in. Such is not the case for me.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      Living in a temperate spot I don't need a green house, but I would love to have one. Nice hub.

    • Phil Plasma profile imageAUTHOR

      Phil Plasma 

      6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      CC, thanks for stopping by, yes, getting a head start can make all of the difference in a successful garden.

    • creativelycc profile image

      Carrie L Cronkite 

      6 years ago from Maine

      This is very interesting, this would work well for me too. Our weather up in Aroostook County Maine is similar to your weather in Quebec. I started my seedlings last month but would rather start them in March. Next year I'll try this. Great idea!

    • Phil Plasma profile imageAUTHOR

      Phil Plasma 

      6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Thanks whois.

    • whoisbid profile image

      whoisbid 

      6 years ago

      VOTE UP! Any you should know why!

    • Phil Plasma profile imageAUTHOR

      Phil Plasma 

      6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Cool, maybe you should hub about the two plants you grew, how you did it, what the result was. If you didn't take any pictures, do the same thing next year and take pictures, this would make a great hub.

    • daskittlez69 profile image

      daskittlez69 

      6 years ago from midwest

      The wife and I finally grew two plants at the beginning of summer. We will have to check this method out. Thanks for the hub.

    • Phil Plasma profile imageAUTHOR

      Phil Plasma 

      6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Thanks Pink, I hope it helps her.

    • pinkdaisy profile image

      pinkdaisy 

      6 years ago from Canada

      This is excellent! My friend wants to build a small indoor greenhouse - I will show her your hub :)

    • Phil Plasma profile imageAUTHOR

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Thanks ABCP, I hope at least one of the myriad people who read this hub actually do something with it.

    • albertacowpoke profile image

      albertacowpoke 

      7 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

      Great idea for a greenhouse. Thanks for the Hub.

    • Phil Plasma profile imageAUTHOR

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Thanks! There are possibilities for this even in apartments, you'd just need to have a creative solution.

    • whoisbid profile image

      whoisbid 

      7 years ago

      Nice Hub! Pity I live in an apartment but one day it might change and then this will be even more relevant to me! Rated up!

    • Phil Plasma profile imageAUTHOR

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Thanks for the help in my rating, RJ.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 

      7 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Thank you for visiting my Hub. THis looks like a fun hobby to me. Nicely done and up one and useful. RJ

    • Phil Plasma profile imageAUTHOR

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Thanks. I would also recommend T5 but at the time I bought these I was on a really tight budget and the T12's were sufficiently less expensive that I went that way. As for power consumption, I forgot to mention in the hub that I have them on a timer where they are only on 16 hours a day. Also, since I only run them from about mid-March until the end of May it isn't really that much of a power consumer.

    • jetta17 profile image

      jetta17 

      7 years ago

      Nice hub. Living in a low light area can be tough, but this is the best way to go. I would recommend T5 flourscents over the T12's that you have, as you can squeeze more power for your buck. Thumbs up on your re-used plastic planters!

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