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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Setting Up Shelf Greenhouses Outdoors: Tips & Tricks

Setting Up Shelf Greenhouses Outdoors: Tips & Tricks
(Don't Let the Wind Knock It Over & Don't Burn Up Your Seedlings)

The shelf greenhouse units work. They will cost you $25 to $40 depending on where you get them. I showed you the basic set up in a previous blog post. Here are all the tips and tricks to setting up the unit outdoors. The shelf greenhouse units can successfully acclimate indoor plants to the elements and help you start seeds directly outdoors in seed trays.

Outdoor Shelf Greenhouse Units - The Rusted Vegetable Garden Blog

Managing Full Sun and Heat Build Up

It is about 50 degrees today. You can see the condensation. It is working as designed. The first tip to using these units is to understand how HOT they can get. Even with the temperature only reaching 50 degrees, the inside can heat up quickly in full sun.

If it is a 100% cloudy day with no sun at all you can typically just keep it zipped up when temperatures are in the 50's. Full sun or mostly sunny days are the concerns. Below is based on mostly sunny to full sun days. Full sun will cook the contents of your shelf greenhouse. Beware of the sun.

At 50-55 degrees...
Keep it zipped up till 12 noon.
From 12 noon to 3pm unzip one side or similar.
From 3pm onward zip it back up.

If you can't manage it that day, unzip one side and close it when you get back from work. The heat will build up quickly beyond what you might expect

At around 60 degrees unzip on full side.
From 4pm onward zip it back up.

When the temperature is in the high 60's and above, you will need to unzip both sides. You can zip them back up in the  later afternoon.

Heat will build up fast in full sun days. You will have to keep an eye on how your weather is going to pan out each day.

Securing Your Greenhouse to Post - The Rusted Vegetable Garden Blog

Don't Let the Wind Blow Your Greenhouse Over

I learned the hard way and lost a half dozen flats and seedlings. The shelf greenhouse units must be secured to posts. I drive tomato stakes into the garden and secure the greenhouses to them. You will have to poke a hole in the plastic and tie it down. I only tie it to one post as shown. Duct-tape patches the hole.

Securing the Greenhouse Top - The Rusted Vegetable Garden Blog

There is one post clearly in the picture and you can see a second post in the back. Tie the top of the greenhouse to both stakes. Just wrap the string around both posts and the top of the greenhouse above the zippers. This will keep it from falling over. Trust me - they fall!

Acclimating Your Transplants to the Outdoors: Start on Cloudy Days

Getting your indoor plants outdoors and acclimating to the great outdoors is about a week long process. You can do it by moving them in and out of the house and around yard. I find using these units is so much easier. The condensation actually helps decrease the suns intensity. However, I recommend putting your indoor seedling/transplants out when you have 3 days of cloudy weather. Check the weather. Slow acclimation to the sun is key. They will toughen up in 3 days and be able to handle more intense sun.

Methods to Help Bring the Heat into the House

When temperatures are going to be staying in the high 30's and 40's, you might want to use some tricks to bring heat into the greenhouse. You can paint milk containers black and fill them with water. They will slowly release the days heat they absorb through the night. You can line the shelves with black plastic and they will absorb heat and raise the temperature in the shelf  greenhouse during the day.

Black Milk Containers and Trash Bags - The Rusted Vegetable Garden Blog

Secure the Shelving Units

The shelving units are strong enough to support your trays but they easily shift and move. A small piece of duct-tape will secure them to the post.  You can tape the bags down too.

Secured Trash Bag and Shelf - The Rusted Garden Blog

You can use the shelf greenhouse to directly start seed trays outdoors for your cool weather crops. And you can use them to take over and acclimate your indoor seedlings and transplants. I am using them for both options.

Growing Plants in a Shelf Greenhouse - The Rusted Vegetable Garden Blog

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  1. Got the smaller version last year and didn't st it up as the weather was already getting warm. Thanks for the tips on tie downs and adding black plastic. I plan to set mine up this coming weekend. Happy planting !

    1. Good luck for 2013. The tie down is key. Don't want to lose all that growth.

  2. Thanks for the tips, we will start on working on ours this weekend (I have the glass green house and my son has the plastic version). Thanks for sending the seeds too, these were received this morning. Looking forward to some great tomatoes this year!! Take care. Chel


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