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How To Build a Mini Greenhouse

Updated on January 18, 2014

Let's Get Those Seeds Started

Wintertime is over, and it is almost time to get your plants growing. The weather is not cooperating and the temperatures are still dropping below freezing. This is when you should have the great idea to build a greenhouse. The only problem is you don't have and extra money in your budget. That is where a little creativity comes in handy.

In the few weeks before winter ends, you only have a short amount of time to get your plants started. You just have to get the seeds into the ground or at least into some soil. By the time they sprout, the weather will be more hospitable. You need to build a small, cheap greenhouse. The following are a couple of ways to build them.

Mini Greenhouse Pt1 - Recycling your soda bottles

I was looking for a way to start some of my plants early, before the last frost of the winter. I needed a cold frame, a mini greenhouse. I didn't want to buy one. I wanted to make one from materials that I already had on hand. This video is the first of two I made to show you how I built a Mini Greenhouse. This part shows you how to harvest plastic from two liter bottles.

Two liter bottles are amazing things. They hold a lot of pressure when filled with a carbonated drink. They are completely recyclable and they can be reused to hold just about any liquid (I would not store Gasoline in a plastic bottle. I had one melt on me from the gasoline when I was trying to clean paint brushes one time. Learned the hard way.)The plastic they are made from are extremely rigid and can be a challenge to work with.

Mini Greenhouse Pt2 - Attaching the Soda Bottle Plastic to a Frame

Here is the second part of the videos I put together showing you how to make a cold-frame out of stuff you can find around the house. I built a wooden frame and attached the plastic from the first video to the top of it making an effective cold-frame. It is a small little frame. I guess you could make it as large as you wanted depending on your application and the size of your plastic.

There may be gaps between your plastic strips. I find if you tape them with a good clear packaging tape, you will be able to keep all the warmth in instead of letting it slip out between the strips.

The Complete Guide to Building Your Own Greenhouse - A Complete Step-by-Step Guide (Back-To-Basics)

I think this book is a great one to have in your library if you desire a greenhouse in your garden. If tells you everything you need to have a greenhouse, how to build that greenhouse and what to grow in your greenhouse. Take a few minutes to go to and view the first few pages for free.

The Complete Guide to Building Your Own Greenhouse: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply (Back-To-Basics)
The Complete Guide to Building Your Own Greenhouse: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply (Back-To-Basics)

There is something to be said about having a complete guide to something. Just from the title you would think that you might have all the knowledge you would ever need to know to build you own greenhouse.

This is an awesome book that gives you more information than you could ever want to know about building your own greenhouse. It is beautifully published and shows what you will need every step of the way.

Even if you don't want to have a book like this for your library, you should at least run to the bookstore and leaf through it. It will make you smile.

Lightbulb Greenhouse
Lightbulb Greenhouse

The Amazing Lighbulb Greenhouse

I'm Not Really Sure How He Did It

You can Click the Image to find out more about how Max came up with the idea to make this little greenhouse. He used a broken bulb and a used Styrofoam cup to create something unique. I think it would be a great conversation starter for the office or even at home.

My guess is that he had a small pot underneath the cup that was raised up to the opening in the cup. Then there was a hole in the side of the bulb that the plant grew through. Somehow he was able to gut the bulb. I am not sure how he did it. I will have to do a little more research on that one.

This kind of project makes me wonder what other glass objects might make decent greenhouses. You might be able to use an old pickle jar. What if you found some of those ole Pepsi or CocaCola 2 liter bottles they used to make before plastic became so cheap to produce. All you have to do is fill the bottom of the bottle with some soil or peat moss and drop in a few seeds. Then you can water whenever it gets dry. The plant will grow and the condensation will keep most of the water in the bottle.

My $3 Greenhouse Coldframe - Easy and Affordable, What's Better Than That?

In early February of 2012 I noticed we were not having a very cold winter. In fact my apple trees were already putting out their flowers. So I thought it would be a good idea to start some of my gardening.

I went to the local box hardware store and looked around for something that might make a good cold frame or greenhouse. I thought about building one out of 2x4s and a clear plastic drop-cloth.

Hanging Greenhouse You Pick From Below - This is an amazing idea for those who live without a yard

Hanging Greenhouse
Hanging Greenhouse

Can you imagine hanging this mini garden on your front porch? You could grow all kinds of things inside of it. I figure it is best suited for greens like spinach or lettuce or herbs like basil. You will probably want something you can pick on a regular basis.

It is not an easy thing to make yourself. If you are an experienced glass blower, you might be able to make your own. I have not come up with a cheap way to make this project. I am wondering if I could find a clay dish with a hole in the middle. Then attach some sort of glass top to it, a top like one you might find on a glass cake dish.

If you find a way to make your own version of this one, make sure you leave details in the comments below so we can all benefit from your successes.

Build Your Own Greenhouse - Out of Old Discarded Windows

Small Upcycled Greenhouse
Small Upcycled Greenhouse

I like this project, because it is a form of upcycling. Click on the Photo to see exactly how Ant made this little hot box. He bought most of the pieces he needed to build this project. The windows he bought from a yard sale or thrift store. Then he bought the hinges and other hardware he needed from the home improvement store.

When you have all the pieces, you must do your best to assemble all the sides in a fashion where very little air escapes. The idea is to make a space that will hold in the heat when the air outside the box is cold. You can help keep the cold out if you invest in a bit of weather stripping. Run the stripping along every seam where air might be able to get out.

Once you have the pieces together, you will want to make sure you have a way to vent the box if it starts to get warmer than you plan on.

Greenhouse in a Comforter Bag - Plastic over a crate with plants inside

Hanging Comfortor Bag Greenhouse
Hanging Comfortor Bag Greenhouse

This one was interesting to see. The author took a crate and places their pots inside. Then they place the whole thing into what looks like a plastic cover to a comforter you might buy from a department store.

I think this is an ingenious way to make a greenhouse. It uses some of the things you probably already have laying around the house.

You Can Always Use Soda Bottles - They will keep the heat in a small area

Soda Bottles
Soda Bottles

Most people have a few soda or water or juice bottles laying around the house or sitting in their recycle bins. You can always use these to help start your seedlings in chili weather. All you have to do is cut part of the bottle off and turn it upside down, placing it over your seedling in the pot.

This is a kind of upcycling, the reuse of something instead of throwing it out. It is not recycling because you are not melting it down to form something new, you are finding new ways to reuse and old item.

You don't have to limit yourself to just drink bottles. You can use anything that has a clear surface. Below there is a guy who used an old aquarium. I have seen those glass bricks broken and used as a greenhouse.

You Can get as Eloborate as You Want - If your Wood Working Skills are Honed to Build Such a Project

Awesome Raised Bed Greenhouse
Awesome Raised Bed Greenhouse

I don't know about you, but I like to build things. I like to figure out how things work. I like to make them work for me and will sometimes make them as elaborate as they need to be. This is one of those projects. All you need are a few scraps of wood and some liner and a few nails and staples. The rest you can figure out by fitting it to your raised bed.

The best way to go about this is to set up a frame matching the perimeter of your raised bed. Then you build up from there. You will want to make the frame large enough to allow the plants to grow as large as they want to.

The doors on top should be able to lift high enough to let air in and still let the sun pass through to the plants. you may want this project to be permanent, If you do, you want to make the flaps lift in a way they will be open all summer long when the temperatures are high.

What is Your Preference

I want to know how you prefer to plant your annual garden. Different people choose to grow their gardens in different ways. some like to plant in pots, other want to sow their seed directly into the ground. still others like to have upside-down plants.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

See results

Build a Milk Jug Greenhouse - This one is quick and easy.

The next video is one I put together based on an idea I found in a magazine. It has been an easy way to start your seeds and I thought I would go ahead and get a few of my broccoli started. All I need is an empty milk jug, a little soil and some seeds.

Use a Glass Jar - Another idea for a mini Greenhouse

The next few videos are plans made by other people. I thought they were important enough to show you. Take a minute to watch them and maybe you will find something useful for your own back yard.

I like this one because you really don't have to do any prep work.

Pick Up a Gardening T-Shirt

Wearing your Gardening Hobby

I found some Great T-Shirts for the at-home or backyard gardener I thought if we state out feeling about gardening at home, maybe more people will want to think about taking up the hobby. Let's face it. Gardening is something that everyone needs to learn how to do. Not only does it relieve stress, but it also takes us one step closer to self-sustainability. Take a look at the shirts below and support the artists if you like one or more of them. Keep on Gardening.

Use an Aquarium - You Can See the Difference

I love this guy's survival podcast. In this video, he shows you the difference it makes when you cover your plants in the cold months with some kind of cold frame; something that will keep the heat in.

Watch 10x12 Greenhouse Assymbly - All at Super Fast Speed

I found this time lapse video interesting. They assembled a large greenhouse in a few days. I think if you have the space for it on your property a greenhouse is a great thing to invest in if you like to garden. You can save a lot of money as well if you take the time to put it together yourself.

Tell me About Your Mini Greenhouse

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    • rgasperson lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert T Gasperson 

      4 years ago from South Carolina

      @Spirality: Thank You

    • Spirality profile image


      4 years ago

      Excellent tips.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 

      4 years ago from Texas USA

      i don't have one, but like the light bulb one above. i may give it a go. the comforter bag one looks interesting as well.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      These would sure have come handy in the north woods this year, I'm hearing that planting was delayed by up to three weeks this year because of the chilly weather holding on. Sometimes, all you need is small and you've shown us great ways from very small to a little bigger. The lightbulb is a curiosity for sure! :)

    • Xpeyur profile image


      5 years ago

      Now now, you don't need a 30 buck greeny, when you can get some pliable metal or plastic stiff wire to stick into the ground (about 1-1.5 meter each should do) as frame, and cover with any transparent plastic. tye the ends and bury one side with some dirt. Leave one side openable for warm weather. Did that many times. Can get the stiff wire from nurseries - sold as trellis for climbers (galvanized iron). Works fantastic. We grew strawberries there, and no loss for birds. Just check for slugs.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      These are great ideas. I will use several depending on the plant. Thanks for sharing.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      6 years ago from Ljubljana

      I am thinking to build one on my balcony... Thanks for some useful ideas!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      6 years ago

      One more high quality lens! I really liked it that you created your own videos for your DIY - as well as supplying us with other resources. Valuable topic - thrifty answers for gardeners. Pinned to my board "How does your Garden Grow" and Squid Angel blessed.

    • justDawn1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Very informative! I don't have a greenhouse...yet! :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Cool lens. I don't have room for a greenhouse right now but I'd love to have one in the future.

    • beaworkathomemom profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice lens! I think your ideas are great and very practical. The videos are great as well thanks for sharing!

    • AlokaRuwanpathi profile image


      6 years ago

      Sweet! I have doubts about my current greenhouse, now I can do better with your Ideas. Thanks for the lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I live in a flat, so mine would have to be very mini indeed. I know my mother wants one, so I'll be forwarding this lens to her - great info here. Thank you.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      I've found some good ideas that I'm going to try. Nicely done. Squid Angel Blessed.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      6 years ago

      My old greenhouse is reaching the end of its lifecycle, and I have been thinking that a few mini greenhouses would be a good replacement for the one big one - thanks for this excellent information!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Haven't actually constructed a mini greenhouse yet, but you've given me some excellent ideas. :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      The Greenhouse assembly video reminds me of the time I helped my dad set up a small glass aluminium framed greenhouse many years ago, we used old railway sleepers as a base boy they took some shifting! but a very solid platform.

    • Ribolov LM profile image

      Ribolov LM 

      6 years ago

      Nice lens, great pictures and a lot of good informations. Thnx for this lens!

    • earthybirthymum profile image


      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great Lense, Avid gardener' here! Thanks for all the information. Many Blessings.



    • profile image


      6 years ago

      mini but awesome idea!

    • pyngthyngs profile image


      6 years ago

      I don't have one, YET! This looks like an amazing resource for information on how to build your own greenhouse.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      6 years ago

      Great info! Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Building your own green house. That would be a fantastic workshop for the self reliance expo.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a great lens I like the information and will be coming back to read more of your work.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading your lens about planting seeds using mini Greenhouse Coldframe. Excellent lens..

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      How cool is this! Great ideas. Thank you for publishing this lens.

    • dahlia369 profile image


      6 years ago

      Great ideas for starting plants from seeds, which is, at least in my opinion, the most rewarding! :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great details you've shown on here, enjoyed reading and seeing this.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      We have a sun room, I use this as my greenhouse. I've always wanted a real greenhouse, you gave me some great ideas!!

    • intermarks profile image


      6 years ago

      I don't really have a greenhouse, but I having a garden where I panted some flowers and vegetables.

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 

      6 years ago

      Great greenhouse ideas. Might use some of these myself.

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 

      6 years ago

      This lens is great! I liked that you shared lots of good tips and I definitely learned a lot. Thanks for sharing!

    • KellydeBorda profile image


      6 years ago

      So many great ideas for greenhouses! Green-liked for St. Patrick's Day!

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      6 years ago from Keller, Texas

      We just planted our tomato seedlings and put milk cartons over them for protection until they are stronger. They look great!

    • SheilaSchnauzies profile image


      6 years ago from Omaha, NE

      Great ideas! I've actually done the aquarium thing and it works!! Thanks for a great lens, I think right about now we gardeners are all itching to get started on the growing season!

    • GonnaFly profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      I love my little greenhouse! This lens has been blessed on the "I Love That Word" quest and added to my Upcycling Ideas lens.

    • puerdycat lm profile image

      puerdycat lm 

      7 years ago

      Love your wonderful early-bird videos. like-fave-rolling to G is for Garden

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      Perfect timing for this lens. I'm hoping to get my greenhouse built this month. Great resources. Thanks!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      7 years ago

      This is great advice

    • caffimages profile image


      7 years ago

      Lovel ideas. I've used some of them before, but others are new to me. Great lens. Thankyou.

    • RubyRavn LM profile image

      RubyRavn LM 

      7 years ago

      I've wanted and requested a greenhouse for just never gets on hubbies "agenda". So, I wait! Great ideas here, thank you!

    • chezchazz profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      I've always wanted a conservatory but never had enough room. Thanks for the inspiration and some more manageable ideas.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 

      7 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I don't have a greenhouse, but I really enjoyed learning about all of the different greenhouses you can build yourself. Great videos, too.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Nice ideas and enjoyed your videos too -- I guess in time for Spring, though it's still winter.

    • kare2share profile image


      8 years ago

      Ah, thanks for reminding me that it's almost planting time! These tips will definitely come in handy in the next few months until the weather warms up. Hope your garden is bountiful, and best wishes for the new year!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      cool information here!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is great information! I love the aquarium idea. I start all my plant seeds in milk cartons around ground hog day. They are all hardened off by the time you can safely plant them! and, we live in Minnesota...angel blessings!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      8 years ago

      Very nicely done! I have always wanted to do it from scratch, but no garden these days.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Can't wait for the weather to break and spend some outside in the garden again. I am getting my seeds ready inside my house now.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      8 years ago from USA

      This is a really great and timely topic for gardening!


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