Greenhouse Musing and Planning

So, network issues at work provided my with a day to research various greenhouse options.

We’ve had such success with the hoophouses that I’m really fired up to get a real greenhouse going in the spring. My first inspiration came from the Westside Gardener whose site is full of Cascadian goodness. Minus incidentals, this is $110 for the frame of a 10′ x 20′ greenhouse. This is awesome. I’m a little concerned about keeping plastic attached in our periodic windstorms and I don’t relish the thought of coming home and finding a springs worth of starts wind damaged. Can’t beat the price though.

What I really want, however, is a shiny, pre-made Solexx greenhouse. I mean, Solexx! It’s got *two* Xs which makes it twice as cool as competing coverings. The deal with solexx is that it’s a semi-rigid double-walled plastic that diffuses sunlight and provides insulation. It’s also fairly expensive at almost $600 to cover a 10×16 greenhouse. It’s got an 8-year warranty though, and I count myself lucky to be able to reuse plastic a second year. Actual greenhouse plastic might last longer though. Plus, solexx wants braces every 16-24″, which means more costs for the frame and more time invested in building the structure.

A third option is clear plastic corrugated panels which cost $30 each. They do have the advantage of being permanent but I haven’t spec’ed out the costs of building a structure robust enough to support a rigid panel that can’t flex in the wind like plastic or Solexx.

My biggest question revolves around whether it makes sense to spring for Solexx? It may be that, in our mild climate, the amount of sunlight is going to limit growth much more than temperature. I’m not planning on heating the greenhouse but I’ll expect to run growlights for seedlings. The other constraint is that I want a semi-portable structure. Lauren and I need to be able to drag the greenhouse around out lot depending on need, soil rotation, and available light. I don’t want to get into anything that would allow justify purchasing one of those tractors I’ve had my eye on.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Requests for starts?

  5 comments for “Greenhouse Musing and Planning

  1. August 13, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    How big is one of the $30 clear corrugated panels? That’s clear as in translucent, not as in transparent, right?

  2. August 14, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    If you are talking about coroplast, which I assume you are based on the price, friends of mine have used it on their greenhouse. They get about eight years out of it, although in the final year they really hotice light loss. Oh, they also have a few glass windows, which helps with light. It is very easy to install, and being light weight, it does not require too much support. If you are using it for a roof, it needs more support for snow. With a fairly steep roof, rafters on 24 inch centers works fine.

  3. August 18, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Well, I’ve seen the hoop cover before, likely that one, and I couldn’t envison something that size holding up to the winds here. Though I’m using a smaller scale one for my hoop covers, as I believe you are too. Mine are bracketed to my 2x6s so it’s much sturdier.

    Unfortunately, cheaper means replacing sooner. The corregated hard plastic that I think you’re talking of, is what I was thinking of. Frankly, to ask anything around here to stand up for more than 8 years is asking a lot.

    Your best bet if you’re going to go expensive is to build it with wood and windows. Double pane from the big box stores are reasonable. I’d say you could build a permanent one for about the same as that Harvester, or build the harvester from your local big box for 1/10th the cost.

    However, even 6 mil plastic that is at best translucent isn’t going to hold up more than a few years. That’s the challenge.

    Good luck with your research! Can’t wait to see how you go.

  4. Your BI neighbor
    July 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Hey Garth. I find myself a year later considering the exact same thing. Thinking of a standalone temp GH versus a perm GH versus GH type covers do each of our raised beds. What’s the update on your current GH setups?

  5. garth
    July 21, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Hi Neighbor!

    We went with a 10×20 from It seemed huge when we ordered it but, now that we’ve started planting from it, it seems too small. Solexx/coroplast does not seem to me to be worth it in our climate. Even the folks I know who run heated greenhouses (those lucky… mutter.. mutter..mutter.. jealous) seem happy with plastic covering. I don’t think it’s cold enough here to justify a more expensive greenhouse cover. And flexible plastic makes it easier to vent the greenhouse in the heat of the summer. I’m not keen on the disposability of greenhouse plastic but 3-5 years isn’t a bad lifespan considering glass has some attrition (smashy!) as well.

    Overall, I’m happy with our storebought greenhouse but the next one we build (this winter, after we get a tree taken down) will be fabricated from Farmtek hoops and not ordered as a kit. We’ve also got polytunnels built that don’t hold up well but provide a valuable 5-10 degrees to the crops that I’ll post about at some point. Like, in the fall. And we’ve got hoophouses in the ground and on raised beds. Season extension is hard. Especially now that it’s crazy hot and we’re trying to figure out how to shade the lettuces so they don’t bolt.

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