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Greenhouse Garden on a Budget

Greenhouse Garden on a Budget

French doors leading into greenhouse garden

For years, we’ve been dreaming about building a greenhouse garden to extend our growing season and supply the farm table with fresh veggies. Growing your own food is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon.

We live in the Midwest where the winters are frigid. A greenhouse adds months to our growing season, so this was the year to finally do it.

Front of greenhouse garden with white French doors
While living on a small homestead and attempting to eat fresh out of the garden, we realized that a greenhouse garden needed to be moved to the top priority on the project list.
Two baby goats
Our new baby goats, Pumpkin and Blackberry, agreed that a greenhouse was a great idea!

Location, Location, Location

We wanted the greenhouse garden to be close to our raised garden beds, just behind the garage. That’s the first money saving tip: build your greenhouse next to an existing structure so you only have to build three walls.

It’s also important for the greenhouse site to get abundant sunlight, and a water source is critical to keep your plants thriving. It could be as simple as building your structure within reach of an outdoor garden hose and spigot.

Area being flattened to add greenhouse
The greenhouse is situated next to the garage, within easy reach of the outdoor raised garden beds.

Reclaimed Materials

We were winging it without building plans or materials, so it was time to go shopping. The first stop was our barn for old lumber and windows. Then we headed to the local reclaimed building materials store. We have several in our hometown, and they are so much fun when you are looking for old building treasures.

Jackpot…we scored a set of french doors, old hinges and more windows, all for under a total of $100. We were also set on flooring with a stack of cement pavers our son needed hauled off.

Before picture of side of white barn without greenhouse yet
The main building supplies were secured, and now it was time to come up with a plan to put them all together.

Creative Building

When working with reclaimed materials, it’s time to get creative and let go of perfection. Shift your mindset to find simple beauty in the imperfections. It’s like putting a puzzle together.

There are two important areas not to skimp on, however: the posts and the roof. Cement your structure posts into the ground and screw all your boards and windows to that structure to ensure stability during windy storms. You may be tempted to use glass windows on the roof, but don’t if you are in an area that has frequent hail storms. The roof glass will break. We purchased plastic sheeting from the home improvement store and screwed it to the rafter boards.

In-progress of greenhouse being built with no roof or side walls
Every reclaimed materials greenhouse will look different based on the treasures you find.

Cohesive Color

When building a greenhouse garden from reclaimed materials, deciding on a cohesive color will keep it from looking janky. With miss-matched materials and sizes, painting and siding in one tone will solve that problem. We went with a simple white to match the other buildings on our homestead. We had extra white paint in the barn and purchased white siding for the exterior under the windows.

In-progress photo of greenhouse being built with no roof
The white siding matches the siding of the adjacent building so it looks like it belongs.

Ventilation and Temperature

To ensure adequate airflow for your plants, be sure to install windows or doors that you can open, if needed. You will want to add a simple thermometer, to monitor temperatures, especially from late fall to early spring. You can expect your greenhouse to be 10-20 degrees warmer than outside.

In our zone, we will be able to use the greenhouse 3 seasons a year, and possibly four, if we want to add a heat lamp.

Open French doors leading into greenhouse garden
If you have an electrical outlet, you can also bring in lighting, fans and of course music … happy plants and happy people.

Work Space

Fill your greenhouse with at least one bench or shelf to hold your plants and seeds. Many gardeners go vertical by hanging their plants. If you are lucky enough to have a large greenhouse, you could even bring in a table and host a dinner.

See Also
Covered porch with hanging swing and outdoor spring decorating

Your greenhouse should be practical, so think through your needs for tools, seed and soil storage. We repurposed our very first BBQ grill for a soil storage garden bench. Removing the BBQ lid and controls, spray painting it white and adding a top shelf board gave us a fabulous work space for our soil storage.

Inside of Greenhouse garden with plants and tile flooring
The baby goats enjoy playing under the BBQ-turned-garden-shelf.

Bring on the Plants

This is our first day in the greenhouse, and I was already bringing in plants before the floor was dry. We are starting more seeds, cultivating our lemon tree and planning to pack this sunshine structure to the max over the next few weeks. Every week it will look different depending on what’s going on outside in the garden.

Close up of herb plant
I can’t wait to fill out our greenhouse garden! I’m especially excited to begin a fall and winter garden in September.

Leave out the Goats

If you’ve spent any time around goats, you know they love to jump up high onto things and gobble up green or flowering plants. We let the babies play in the greenhouse the first night it was finished, before we brought in most of the plants. This may be a rare occurrence once the greenhouse is full and functioning, so I thought I should snap a couple of photos to capture their curious and silly playtime.

Baby goat on countertop in greenhouse

Curb Appeal

Lavender is one of my absolute favorite plants, so we decided on lavender topiaries to greet us each morning as we enter the greenhouse. I have a fabulous lavender lemon tea recipe, and this will make quick work of gathering the ingredients. The front patio is important. My husband saved a few extra cement pavers to line the entryway floor. I’m now on the search for a fun welcome mat.

French doors leading into greenhouse garden
Lavender topiaries frame the white French doors that lead into the greenhouse garden.

Gardening is such a wonderful hobby for your family. We built the greenhouse out of reclaimed materials for a couple hundred dollars, in just a few of short weeks. I have a friend that enjoys her version of a greenhouse in the apartment bay window with a fabulous container salsa garden. Growing your own food is something you can do wherever you live. I hope you can enjoy some fresh food from your garden this season as well.

Outside of white barn with greenhouse garden extension
The completed greenhouse will house a vegetable and fruit garden for seasons to come.

Lana Stenner and her chicken
Lana Stenner

Lana lives with her husband and kids on a small farmstead in Kansas City, where they raise goats, chickens & bees. They are fixing up their 120 year old farmhouse one room at a time. Lana is a University Business Professor, and she enjoys local Kansas City BBQ any chance she gets. Learn more about Lana at

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