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A Temporary Greenhouse for Seedlings and Cuttings

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This model was available in a local store at less than 40$ in the spring of 2015.

Are your seedlings and cuttings starting to take up too much space in your home? Maybe it’s time for you to invest in a temporary greenhouse. Nothing too expensive or cumbersome: just a small greenhouse that is easy to dismantle when you don’t need it, one you can install in the spring for your growing collection of seedlings and cuttings.

There are several commercial models of easy-to-install mini-greenhouses that would be quite appropriate. Or build your own by covering a wood or PVC structure with a sheet of transparent plastic. Ideally, you’d want a model that takes only minutes to install and that occupies little storage space once dismantled. You’ll also need shelves. Add 2 or 3 shelves and your greenhouse will be able to hold 2 or 3 times more plants!

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A home-made model.

Set up your temporary greenhouse in the spring, about 3 or 4 weeks before the last frost, and use it to house seedlings, cuttings, tender bulbs started indoors, etc. Use a thermometer to check that night temperatures remain above 50˚F (10˚C). You’ll be surprised at how a greenhouse heated only by the sun during the day can maintain a reasonable temperature at night, even when it’s freezing outside!

Maintenance

Mini-greenhouse do require a bit of effort on your part. You’ll need to manage the temperature, for example, by opening the door to let in cooler air on hot, sunny days and by closing it at night and on days when it is cool outside. Note also that, since they will be exposed to more light than they received indoors, your seedlings will dry more quickly than before and need frequent watering.

After Planting Out

Once you’ve planted your seedlings and cuttings in the garden, you can disassemble your greenhouse… or use it in the summer to grow heat-loving vegetables, such as eggplants and melons, that might otherwise not thrive in your climate.

The average removable mini greenhouse is not designed to support heavy snow, though, nor will it heat up enough during the winter to make it useful in climates where winters are severe, so you will want to take it down in the fall. In areas where winters are relatively mild, though, you might want to make yours a more permanent structure and use it all winter to grow leafy vegetable and other plants that tolerate cool temperatures but not frost.

A mini-greenhouse can a profitable investment for the home gardener. It’s certainly an idea to think about!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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