In our area we can hardly grow ripe tomatoes in the summer without a greenhouse. Peppers and cucumbers are difficult also. Sure, some summers are better than others, but a greenhouse is definitely a plus to have.
There are several greenhouses to choose from, depending on ones need and preference. Here is a comparison of some that we know and have some experiences with.
1. Store bought greenhouse kits
Aluminum or plastic frame greenhouses are available in different sizes and shapes in many different stores. We got our first one from Canadian Tire on an end of season special sale.
- It is usually very easy to assemble and you can start growing right away
- Looks neat and there are different sizes to choose from depending on ones needs
- Special sales are available
- Resell easily (at least this is our experience)
- Stability might be a problem, it is wise to read reviews
- Smaller sizes have a temperature control problem
- Bigger ones are often very expensive (look for specials)
2. Hoop house
Hoop house greenhouse is probably the most known ones.
- Easy and inexpensive to build
- Can be built into small or really big sizes
- It is quite simple to get good ventilation
- Simple to arrange plants
- Hoop houses tend not to withstand winter storms very well
- Snow shoveling off of the hoop house is needed in the winter
3. Wooden frame greenhouse
This is usually a more permanent and stable building.
- Stable and lasting structure
- Can look very nice, depending on how well the job was done
- Easy to organize plants
- Can be expensive
- Might need snow removal from the roof
4. GeoDome Greenhouse
I had not even heard of something like this before we started to look for a greenhouse. See also ‘How to build a GeoDeme greenhouse‘.
- Very unique, lightweight structure
- Stable in wind and snow
- Optimal light absorption
- Has the most growing ground space
- A unique hang out place
- A eye catcher
- Needs lots of ventilation, since the temperature tends to get very hot (this can also be a pro, depending on the temperature outside)
- It is a bit tricky to arrange the plants
6. Solar Greenhouse
A solar greenhouse is a greenhouse with an insulated back wall for winter protection, and an glassed front wall for light. The designs vary from a simple earth or straw insulation to a high tech greenhouse.
- Has the best thermal performance
- Is amassing for the off season and spring seedling starting
- Offers great possibilities for combining growing food with other activities such as raising animals or just an hang out place.
- Expensive to build
- Has limited light in the summer, especially notable in northern hemisphere. Speaking from our experience with the Garage Greenhouse, it is great for growing in spring and fall, not so much for summer and winter.
7. Cold Frame Greenhouse
The cold frame for tomatoes was build out of recycled windows and patio doors for the walls, and a recycled door to get into it. So technically it is not a greenhouse, just a frame. But the results are phenomenal. Read more at: A cold frame for tomatoes.
- Easy and very inexpensive to build
- The plants get direct sunshine
- Overheating in the summer is not possible
- In early spring and very cold nights it needs to be covered. We used Frost Blankets and/or plastic to cover the top.
- For bigger areas you would need several frames to keep the effect of wind protection and heat enclosure.
- It does not have the charm of a greenhouse
There are many other greenhouse structures. One of our summer hobbies is to go to different greenhouses and admire the ideas and possibilities: Portable Greenhouse, lean-on greenhouses, movable greenhouses (Read more about it in The Winter Harvest Handbook), Greenhouses Underground, … .
Any greenhouse in a Northern garden is better than none, so get started this year if you do not have one yet, and keep on growing!