Growing your own transplants has many advantages for a homestead. By growing your own transplants, you're no longer at the mercy of what you can find locally at the big box stores. That means you can have transplants for any variety you'd like and also ensure they're planted before they become root bound.
There are many different options on the market for hobby greenhouses. Some of those options appear to be more atheistically-appealing, while others are more functional. We decided to choose a greenhouse for functionality and fitting our particular needs for growing our own transplants.
Here in the south, a greenhouse can get quite toasty in the middle of the summer. This is not an issue in late winter and early spring when we're growing pepper, tomato, eggplant, etc., transplants for spring planting. But it can be an issue in August and September when we're growing cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc., transplants for fall planting.
As a result, we needed a greenhouse that was easy to cool during those later summer days. We also wanted a greenhouse with poly-film siding as opposed to hard, polycarbonate walls. We do get a decent amount of tropical storm and hurricane activity here, and we wanted something that wouldn't crumble in high winds.
Given those considerations, we chose the Easy Grow Greenhouse from Atlas Greenhouses in Alapaha, Georgia. We had experience growing transplants in this type of greenhouse and were confident that it would work well for our homestead. An added benefit was that they have contractors that will install these for you. The assembly isn't overly technical, but the contractors were able to install it much faster than we would have been able to do it ourselves.
The Easy Grow Greenhouse from Atlas has a steel tubing frame that is secured to the ground via tubes in each corner that are concreted in the ground. We like this of frame because it's sturdy and able to withstand strong winds. In the case we were expecting a major hurricane, we could cut the plastic and the frame wouldn't go anywhere. Replacing the plastic would be much easier than replacing an entire greenhouse.
This greenhouse does have the option to add a fan and heaters, but didn't find those necessary at the time. We usually only get freezing temps 4-5 times per winter down here, so we can place a portable heater in there if that is a concern. We also didn't find the fan necessary due to the ability to roll the side curtains up for extra ventilation.
The inside of the greenhouse has a bench rail on each side. These benches are very sturdy and wide enough to hold the larger Proptek seed starting trays that we often use. In the back of the greenhouse, opposite of the door, there is room to put a potting bench for storing additional supplies.
The ends of the greenhouse have a clear, 6 mil plastic while the top and sides have a white, 6 mil plastic. They do have the option of having a clear plastic on top, but they recommended the white plastic as it tends to keep the greenhouse much cooler than the clear plastic. From our early experiences with the greenhouse, this is indeed true. If you live in a southern climate, we would highly recommend going with the white plastic on top.
As mentioned above, the big advantage to this style of greenhouse is the roll-up curtains on the side. These curtains have a hand winch that can be placed on the door side or the back side of the greenhouse. The hand winch makes it easy to raise or lower the curtains in seconds. This allows you to easily control the temperature in the greenhouse and keep it from getting too hot on those late summer days.
Although we've only had it a couple months, we are very pleased with our Easy Grow Greenhouse. We still need to add a water line inside the greenhouse so we don't have to pull the hose around the corner to water, but that can be done later. We also will need to add an electrical box inside the greenhouse prior to the spring. We'll need outlets for germination mats that we'll be using to germinate pepper, tomato, eggplant, etc., seed in late winter.
Atlas Greenhouse has several different size variations and features that can be added to this type of greenhouse. They also have larger hobby greenhouses, hoop-houses (aka high tunnels), and big, commercial-type greenhouses. If you're interested getting a quote for a greenhouse, you can call them at 1-800-346-9902. Ask for Stuart Sumner and be sure to tell him that Lazy Dog Farms sent you.
If you'd like to see the complete greenhouse build, you can see that on the video below.