How to make a cheap single season greenhouse...

07 March, 2014

Due to the very slow spring we had last year, summer crops are only just starting to ripen now as we head into autumn.

As I still have lots of green tomatoes, chillies only just starting to ripen and eggplants still not producing, I wanted to try and see if I could build a greenhouse type enclosure to extend the harvest a little, and make growing those plants worthwhile.

So I decided to use my raised veg patch tomato bed to see if something could be done.

Here are the tomato beds:

The front bed has only one productive tomato, and a few slow growing eggplants. The rear bed has the surviving tomatoes (some died in the crazy summer heat).

I decided the best cheap short term trial method would be a bunch of supports and a few rolls of plastic food wrap. I bought four 60m rolls of home brand plastic wrap for the grand total of $8.34. 

After much walking around in circles and wrangling of tubes of plastic wrap I have a kinda greenhouse.

It is suprisingly warm in there on a sunny day. I had intended to do a plastic wrap roof, but in the end it was just too hard.

I started with green supports, but they weren't quite sturdy enough, so I added star pickets for some extra rigidity.

I have held up the plastic wrap with multiple layers and have overlapped with the top supports to stop it all sliding down, with extra clips to help hold it all in place.

This has made a cosy little plastic cave for the toms.

Its suprising that in the few days it has been up, some of the persistently green tomatoes have already started ripening.

Maybe they would have ripened anyway, but I'm feeling that the few extra degrees of heat helped.

I've never tried this before, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

Have you tried any short term greenhouse strategies to extend your summer harvests?


  1. Great idea! Funny, isn't it; we complained bitterly about the heat in Melbourne, now we're doing things to get more of it.

    I would have used polypipe arches. Bunnings sell 25 mm polypipe (the one with the blue line) in 3 metre pre-cut lengths. About $8 last time I bought it. But a good outlay as it lasts for ages and can be used for shadecloth too. All you need is a short stake in the ground on each side and slide the polypipe ends over. You would have been able to get right over the top then and make a plastic tunnel. Or for something cheaper you could try ordinary irrigation tube. I think it would be strong enough. The stronger stuff might be too rigid to bend over the width of the beds.

    1. So true! But really I just want mild-moderate heat, around 20-35 would be perfect.
      I love the polypipe arch idea! Thanks, I shall definitely be trying that.

  2. Oh dear, I know we need the warmth to get the Tomatoes but that's a lot of single use plastic. Could you not use something that would give you more than 1 seasons warmth? I have used plastic fertiliser bags in the past, that suits only 1 plant so you do need more bags but they can be used for a few seasons...


    1. Yes, I did consider the throw away aspect, but figure this is an experiment one-off to see if it really does significantly extend the harvest. If successful I'll be finding a way of instituting a more long term arrangement where no throw away aspect will apply.