My Tiny Greenhouse Experiment: Part One

With the arrival of the new year, thoughts turned to maximising my growing area, within the limitations of my existing garden.

One thought is vertical gardening; and while there is some scope to do that, the logistics of keeping any plants watered other than by hosepipe or watering can is currently beyond my pocket and expertise.

I have one final border (to the left of this image) that needs a complete upgrade.  But this is in the shadiest area of my garden (thanks in part to my neighbour’s trees which he has let grow far too big for the space).

Shady border 1

The border is only two feet deep but a whopping sixteen feet plus in length and currently contains two dwarf olive trees, an overgrown bay tree, alpine strawberries, and a variety of bulbs and Aquilegia plants that have been seeding themselves for the past thirty years – all very pretty when in flower, but . . .

I think it can be put to better use!

I’ve been looking at lean-to greenhouses . . .

2x6 Green Vitavia Ida Lean to Greenhouse - Horticultural Glass           Greenhouse Size Diagram

  • A: 690mm (2ft 3″)
  • B: 1940mm (6ft 4″)
  • C: 1840mm (6ft)
  • D: 1520mm (4ft 11″)
  • E: 610mm (2ft)
  • F: 1506mm (4ft 9″)
  • Minimum size for your Lean to base: 690mm x 1940mm

This one would fit , but the height is too low being just under five feet at the front, and it costs £262.00.

2x6 Halls Wall Garden Lean to Greenhouse - Horticultural Glass

This one is a similar size – priced at £199 in December, but increased to £262 last time I looked.

Others are too wide/deep or so low they should be cold frames. And then there are the plastic versions . . .

At five feet by two feet – a couple of these would fit the space; but I’m sure they wouldn’t survive the prevailing southerly winds that blows down that passage between the conservatory and the current border.  Even though the cost per unit is less than £50, I’d hate to see one or both go flying past my study window in March gales.


So I’ve designed my own!

Based on a standard 700mm x 2500 mm twin-wall polycarbonate sheet (potentially sourced for £30 per sheet) and designed with minimal cutting, I’ve calculated I can fit in two-and-a-half green houses, two compost bins – with a cold frame/half green house above – and leave room for a waterbutt (to be filled from the greenhouse roof). Ambitious?

Floor plan - basic

Plan 2a

I have based my measurements on the height at the front being six feet – this means the off cuts from the greenhouse doors could be used to form the sliding fronts of home-made compost bins.

Plans are still flexible as I write this.  I’m considering buying two square plastic compost bins, which means the structure would stop at Greenhouse 3, which makes it slightly cheaper – and less work.

I’ll start at this end and work my way along (to the right) in stages.  The field, greenhouse and chicken coop all belong to my neighbour – his trees plainly do not prevent him from being able to grow anything – though he doesn’t seem to bother – using the green house to dry any wood he does cut down.  Nor will he sell us part of that field!


But first, I’ve got to clear the plants – saving bulbs and strawberries – and knock down the low brick wall to ground level.

I’ll put the existing compost onto the raised vegetable beds and put as much of the compost from this bed into the bin to ‘ferment’ for a while before using it as a mulch on the front garden borders.  This should avoid contaminating my vegetable beds with last year’s aquilegia seeds.


More bricks to get rid of recycle!  Those above are from last year!

I’m hoping there will be enough light/heat to make these greenhouses viable for most of the year.  The brick wall of the shed should retain heat from the sun; and in the summer the trees will help prevent scorching of any seedlings without the need for me to put up temporary shading.

That’s the plan.  Work to commence Easter 2019 – unless it snows!