Our Half-Dome Greenhouse: Not Pretty, But Practical

By Staff

The final modification we made to our garden in 2011 was to add a greenhouse. The cold nights were harsh on the plants and managed to kill the green pepper, tomato, and cucumber plants we had. The beets, cabbage, and broccoli were surviving, but we knew they needed protection from the cold. About a week after I finished the project, we received our latest issue of GRIT that happened to have an article on a D.I.Y. greenhouse. I had to laugh a little when I saw the great design in the magazine compared to my half dome version that I built.

My boys and I made a trip to the local Home Depot to purchase some 1/2 inch PVC pipe (schedule 40), T-connectors, 6 mil heavy duty plastic, and some wide Gorilla Tape. I wasn’t exactly sure what shape to give the greenhouse, so I decided to just start building and adjust as necessary. The structure naturally took a rounded shape from the beginning. The PVC pipe was very easy to work with.

I added some short sections of PVC around the edge of the brick garden border. I covered the tops of these pipes with some tape. These sections of pipe will help to keep the plastic covering from rubbing against the bricks and tearing.

All I needed to do now was to add the plastic covering, or so I thought. After I started adding the plastic, I realized that I had not accounted for a way to gain access to our garden after the greenhouse was finished. At this point I was hoping that I would be able to just pick up the plastic along the center pole in the front and pull it up high enough to access the garden. In the end, this actually worked!

The back of the greenhouse is covered with an old tarp that was in our garage. I staked down the bottom of the tarp and let it hang over the greenhouse. I trimmed the tarp to fit the shape of the structure as I taped it down. In the end it took me about 4 hours over 3 days to construct the greenhouse. My boys helped me as much as they could.

Now that the greenhouse is finished we started the new year by planting some seeds in starter pots. Tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, and kale were our choice to begin the year with. The boys got their hands dirty again and helped me with preparing our future food sources. The boys even planted some carrot seeds in plastic juice bottles as their own project. If the project goes as planned, then the boys will be able to watch their carrots grow!