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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been thinking about building a smaller greenhouse for use in western Mass. to start seedlings as well as get some plants going earlier. By May the days are getting reasonably long but it can get pretty cold at night right up until June.

One option I've looked at are the greenhouse kits sold at all the usual stores, which are usually available in 8x8/12/16/20 sizes. Palram seems to be the original manufacturer that all the no-name manufacturers cribbed from, and they have a few ranges with different kinds of glazing, etc.

Looking online, pretty much everything seems to have a sizable (15-20%) rate of really awful reviews, which is a concern when you're looking at a project that's probably around $5K before you're done with it. Some of the bad reviews are talking about the awful instructions, but an awful lot are credible and basically say these greenhouses are flimsy and do not stand up to weather well. Since we have plenty of weather in the northeast, that would be a concern if true!

Curious if anybody here has more experience with these and can give some testimonial to what they are really like. I could see risking $500-$700 for one of the 6x8 models out there but I really want a bigger house.

 

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I have the 10x12 kit with 4 thermal vent openers (extra) from Harbor Freight that I haven't quite gotten around to putting up in the last 7 years. I hope to this year. If you are thinking of getting this one I have a couple of tips I have accumulated to make it a little better. It seems to be a good one. Just glad I didn't have it up yet when we got about a foot of ice maybe 5 or 6 winters ago. That crushed the frame of a garage tent I was using for storage. Damaged a lot of other buildings around here, including some commercial greenhouses.

10 ft. x 12 ft. Greenhouse with 4 Vents

I have a couple ideas on how to anchor it down so the odd high wind doesn't blow it away. The biggest thing holding me up is making the base. Trying to make up my mind between concrete pad, 24x30 pavers, or stone. Have you noticed that most of the greenhouse ads show a mowed lawn inside?

In the mean time I have some cold frames that I put back together and use when I am on top of things. I also made a squirrel cage (to keep them out) when I try to grow nuts.
 

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I just finished building a Palram 8x12 greenhouse that we bought from Costco about a month ago. We were concerned about the reviews too, but have been pleasantly surprised with the quality thus far. Like anything else proper site prep is going to be the most important part, I decided on a compacted gravel pad framed in by PT 4x4s anchored with galvanized spikes. The instructions are terrible, but if you're remotely handy it's not too hard to figure out. I'll try to get some better pics for you later. Also, if you're thinking about using it to get an early start consider running power to it. I just ran a single 20amp circuit out to it for a GFCI outlet which my wife has used for heating mats and grow lights, they help immensely with seed germination.


Barn tractor and greenhouse.jpg
 

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It's the Palram Balance "Hybrid" model w/ 2 automatic opening vent windows. The "hybrid" means it has the crystal clear walls/doors with frosted roof panels. You can also get all crystal or all frosted depending on your preference/sunlight conditions. I think we paid $999 delivered through Costco.

Greenhouse.JPG Greenhouse 2.JPG Greenhouse 3.JPG Greenhouse 4.JPG
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I just finished building a Palram 8x12 greenhouse that we bought from Costco about a month ago. We were concerned about the reviews too, but have been pleasantly surprised with the quality thus far.
This is the exactly kind of intel I was hoping for - what part of the country are you in? I think my main concern at this point is how well it would hold up to winter snow and winds here in New England. I'm not expecting to grow tomatoes in January, more just making sure it's not going to fall completely apart after a year or two. I don't mind if I have to do a little extra internal bracing or that kind of thing.
 

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I’ll see if I can find the owners manual because I’m pretty sure they specify the max snow load in there. As far as personal experience so far so good, but I’m up in the Pacific Northwest, we get plenty of rain but not much in the snow and wind department. I will say that we did get a late winter “snowstorm” which consisted of maybe 5” of heavy wet snow and it handled that no problem. The roof panels are smooth and slick with nothing for the snow to really grab onto so it mostly just slid right off. As far as wind we’ve had a few “gusty” (by PNW standards) and it’s handled that fine too, I did anchor it down with galvanized spikes so I don’t expect it to go anywhere.
 
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I you leave it up in western ma, it will fail. They are not rated for the snow loads like you see. The other thing I have observed with these smaller greenhouses is they get so hot and humid you will be spending more money for a fan and bring out electricity to move the hot stuff out and they do get hot, way to hot for your summer plants. They just don't have enough removable or opening panels to vent them. I have a greenhouse kit I bought years ago from shelter logic, 12 x 24. I spent more time ventilating it then it was worth.. I also had to take the cover off for the winter and I'm in the middle of Mass. I used it one spring/summer/fall and never again and the frame is still up. Had a commercial fan, electricity, underground water brought in, a misting system and humidistat,,, still got so hot I lost a lot of plants even with the sides rolled up.
I have also read complains that the panels on what you are looking at can blow out... You guys get the winds like we do...
I just purchased another 8X10 fabric greenhouse kit from TSC that has two end doors that open plus it has 4 roll up side windows two on each side,, that will let you control the heat and humidity easily.. This will go right into my fenced in garden. lets you grow later into the season for tomatoes, cukes etc. and start earlier too and that's why I have it. It also comes down in a half hour, just like putting it up.
You can spend 5-9 thousand on a decent green house but be ready to sprinkle it, electrify it and possible heat it too for winter months. your biggest issue is the snow loads, yes the snow may slide off but it ends up against the side of the greenhouse then all that weight can cause a side implosion before you even get out there to clean up the snow.. not an easy or cheap hobby!
that's all I got.
 
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As usual I have been over thinking, this time about the greenhouse I haven't quite gotten up yet. I picked up 4x6 pt for a base that I can anchor when I got the greenhouse. I planned bolting them together then using 5' pieces of rebar driven at an angle through the 4x6 (predrilled first of course) to get into the clay underlayer. Then bolt the base to the 4x6 to hold it all in place. The base frame of the greenhouse is steel, all the rest is aluminium. I assembled the base, painted it, then disassembled it to store again for that big day. The panels are held in with spring clips which encourage them to go exploring in a good wind. I plan to use SS screws and large SS washers instead. Eventually the UV and ozone will get them but I expect it to outlast me.

In all the reviews I read, all that were posted at the time, I found no reference to snow load. The snow may slide off an pile against the sides, then again it may stick to the roof and build up as there is a frame lip at the bottom edge. I had thought of making a roof frame over the greenhouse and maybe a tarp in winter. If I make it large enough when the snow slides off it will be away from the base. Or just lay the tarp on the roof and extend it out a bit. Snow usually slides pretty good on a tarp.

Would I like a bigger, better one? You bet. Do I need it? Not really. I have some things in pots outside for years and they are OK. Someday I'll plant them when I figure out where. I had a couple of Rose of Charon in dog food bags for years waiting for a new home. Now I have to go dig up about 40 more that started when I wasn't looking. I don't have that many bigger pots. I do have a lot of tough dog food and bird seed bags that will work though. Just need more oomph on my part.

I was thinking about ventilation as well. I have a few used fans laying about and thought about adding one opposite the doors. I also considered putting screens on the doors and vents to keep the squirrels out. I will if I need to.

I already ran a 20a gfci run to two poles by my summer garden and compost bins. One pole is placed to feed the greenhouse as well. I plan on running a water line to all my outbuildings to include the greenhouse. I had thought of using water barrels and even acquired some, but they would have to be mounted higher for gravity flow and they would block the sun and the view. I even have an old cast iron sink I picked up to put in there.

I plan to set up raised bed gardens around the greenhouse just as I had done with my compost bins before I had to expand them. In these go the ones that come back each year and tended by hand instead of a tiller.

The closest thing I use to a poison anywhere is the Spectracide Japanese beetle traps. They work good. I get more than a dozen each year and use them where needed.

This is just my thinking. If it helps someone get useful ideas, great. As for me, about the time I fully retired and quit travelling, my body retired even more and won't let me get half as much done as I used to. And I started out so far behind on the to-do list.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I just purchased another 8X10 fabric greenhouse kit from TSC that has two end doors that open plus it has 4 roll up side windows two on each side,, that will let you control the heat and humidity easily.. This will go right into my fenced in garden. lets you grow later into the season for tomatoes, cukes etc. and start earlier too and that's why I have it. It also comes down in a half hour, just like putting it up.
Yeah... I'll probably get one of those pr something very similar for right now. I was also likely going to put up something like a 35-50' high tunnel a little later in the season. If it gets me 2-4 weeks at each end of the season I'd be happy, plus I've had some luck with growing things like spinach and cabbage and kohlrabi into the winter months. I think with a bit more cover I could keep them through the winter which would be neat.

Long term I'd like to build a real commercial-grade greenhouse with a foundation, real glazing, etc. but that's probably a project for next year at the earliest as that's getting into big money and a lot more complexity as you point out.
 

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Yeah... I'll probably get one of those pr something very similar for right now. I was also likely going to put up something like a 35-50' high tunnel a little later in the season. If it gets me 2-4 weeks at each end of the season I'd be happy, plus I've had some luck with growing things like spinach and cabbage and kohlrabi into the winter months. I think with a bit more cover I could keep them through the winter which would be neat.

Long term I'd like to build a real commercial-grade greenhouse with a foundation, real glazing, etc. but that's probably a project for next year at the earliest as that's getting into big money and a lot more complexity as you point out.
That 35X50 is pretty large! If you're going into commercial size, go see a local grower who utilizes greenhouses.. They have a lot of information and contacts.. there are also agricultural grants available for commercial growers.. you could get your greenhouses for no cost.. but you have to comply with lot size for the exemption..
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That 35X50 is pretty large! If you're going into commercial size, go see a local grower who utilizes greenhouses.. They have a lot of information and contacts.. there are also agricultural grants available for commercial growers.. you could get your greenhouses for no cost.. but you have to comply with lot size for the exemption..
Ha, no, I was thinking like 35' to 50' long by 12-15' wide along these lines - still decent size but not quite that huge.


I'd like to build something like one of these eventually, but when I say "commercial" I am thinking just serious hobby use versus making a business of it. But yeah, talking to locals makes sense. I figure high tunnel growing is a good way to test the waters before diving into the deep end like this.

 
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