Build Your Own Portable Greenhouse

The well thought-out portable greenhouse concept will extend your garden season and boost vegetable production.

| September/October 2015

Phil Norris’ rolling greenhouse helps extend his growing season without the pest problems of a stationary greenhouse. Norris and Deborah Wiggs operate a 13-acre organic farm on the coast of Maine. 

“The first week of March 2014, we were planting inside when the ground outside was still frozen and snow covered,” Norris says. “This year we had a really harsh winter and couldn’t plant until the second week of March.”

Neighbor and experienced rolling tunnel builder Eliot Coleman was a handy resource. He suggested a 48-foot-long-by-22-foot-wide high tunnel that could be easily vented through the end walls.

Norris designed the rolling high tunnel to traverse four 48-foot plots over the course of the year. He bought high tunnel bows and cross members from Rimol Greenhouse Systems. He constructed the framing on top of two 2-inch galvanized pipes laid with a gentle curve to match the site. Rather than lay the pipes on the ground, Norris cut up old pond liner and set the pipes on that. Each bow was pre-tensioned with a come-along and locked at exactly 22 feet wide with a cross member. The bows are mounted on sheaves and roll easily on the rails.

A big challenge was what to do for end walls and an entry door. Norris needed cross framing on the ends for structural integrity when moving the high tunnel. Moving his entry door to the side allowed him to put a steel crossbar at waist height on both end walls with more framing above it.

As winter approached in 2013, Norris covered most of the framework, including the west end wall, with poly. The area above the crossbar on the east end (exposed to battering winds) was covered with rigid polycarbonate. 

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