The Mini-Greenhouse: So Easy a Caveman Can Build it


Trust me, I’m more carpentry-challenged than even a caveman. And the only thing I’ve ever grown prolifically were dandelions. Needless to say gardening has been a challenge for this ex-city-boy.

What could possibly go wrong in my Hawaii garden? Let me count the ways:

1) Too much rain ruins tomatoes, lettuce and other leafy veggies
2) The birds eat your crop (pecked holes in all my tomatoes last year!)
3) The bugs eat your crop
4) The dogs (if you have any) eat your crop
5) And African snails slime your crop with nasty parasites

The solution? Why it’s Tim’s amazing mini-greenhouse! So simple even Tim can build it.

How so?

First, screwed four 2x10s into a rectangle, just like they taught me in Cub Scouts. Made the box 3 feet wide and matched the length to standard corrugated panels, 8 feet. When the screws were snug I gave the box a couple precision kicks until it was square. Didn’t put a brace on the bottom but in retrospect should have.

For a couple days I mulled over what to use for arches. Then a friend brought to my attention the bend-ability of a PVC-like exterior trim he found at Home Depot. (Can’t recall the product name.) Bought a 12′ board and cut it into three 4-foot lengths, bent each one to fit inside the 3-foot width of the box, one at each end and one in the middle. Then I screwed in each side of each arch.

On one side of the arches (the “fixed” side) I laid a piece of corrugated and screwed it in using bottle caps as grommets (just because I felt like recycling something). The other corrugated panel functions as the lid for the other side; to give it weight and a place for handles, I cut an 8′ length of the flex-trim and screwed it along the long edge of the panel. The lid can be taken off completely or just set on top of the fixed corrugated piece. (Future improvement: screw another piece of flex-trim onto the other long side of the lid panel for extra weight and stability.)

And to close off the ends I stapled on some screen then trimmed off the excess. Note the rippled foam at the ends to plug the “corrugate gaps”. If we wanted to further snail-proof it, we could also put a strip of copper tape around the box. But so far we’ve seen nary a snail. (We wash veggies as our last line of defense anyway.)


What else we got? Kale and…arugula?


And crispy Japanese cucumbers!

greenhouse 001


I’d be remiss not to mention that the inspiration for this simple design came from Jay Fitzgerald. Thanks Jay!

Just took his idea and enhanced it a little…my Japanese roots coming to the fore?

Copyright © Tim Sullivan 2009

2 responses to “The Mini-Greenhouse: So Easy a Caveman Can Build it

  1. Frankie Stapleton

    This is great! Thanks for sharing. I like your website too, which I visited for the first time today. Especially appreciated your description of your Japanese family’s cultural practices. Mahalo and aloha.

    • Frankie, thanks for checking in and also for your kind words. I always enjoy reading your thoughtful posts on punaweb. And based on what I’ve read we seem to have similar outlooks on various issues. A kindred spirit! Hope you’ll check in again. Aloha 🙂

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