Admittedly, the thing that first drew us to greenhouses was not the practicality, but the looks. Whether a greenhouse is a modern architectural marvel or a glorified potting shed cobbled together from salvaged windows, we think there is an immediate appeal of a structure dedicated to nurturing plants.
However, by its very nature, form must follow function in greenhouse design. The traditional purpose of a greenhouse has been to elevate temperature so that plants can be started early or otherwise grown during colder temperatures than they would otherwise survive. Glass or plastic panes are essential for letting in light and heat. By enclosing this heat, and limiting its circulation, the temperature in a greenhouse is naturally raised above that outside without the need of any additional heat source.
Of course, as temperatures rise towards summer, the heat inside a greenhouse can actually get too hot. Here is where the ability to open a door, raise rooftop windows (heat rises, after all), and circulate the air with a fan comes in handy. In fact, over the hundreds of years that greenhouses have been in use, the ability to control temperature, light, and humidity within a greenhouse has evolved and become one of its most attractive factors. These days, commercial growers are just as likely to use greenhouses to lower temps and diffuse light during the summer months as they are to apply them in the more traditional winter season.
In addition to providing control over temperature, light, and humidity, greenhouses protect against pests, the unexpected late snowfall or torrential rain, heavy winds, and and other environmental factors that have been tormenting the farmer since the beginning of time.
Plus, did we mention they just really look cute?
When it comes to greenhouses, there are a number of options with room to “grow” (bad pun intended). Like us, you can start with this basic and inexpensive number for your seedlings, and add additional units as needed. We have loved using this greenhouse, but like many of the reviews on Amazon, strongly suggest putting some bricks or pavers on the bottom shelf to weigh it down. Nothing is worse than raising seedlings for a few months only to have this thing tip over in heavy wind, spilling plants and potting soil everywhere–we know from experience!
The next step up is the pop-up kit, such as this one. We like the fact that it can be taken down every summer and stored.
There are countless variations on the metal or wood frame and plexiglass kits available to take it up a level.
And if you’re thinking of building your own, Amazon has both books and plans online, including How to Build Your Own Greenhouse by Roger Marshall.