Make the Most of Your Vegetable Garden With a Simple Greenhouse

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

If you’re going to survive after the SHTF, you’d better be ready to grow your own food. I don’t care how much food you have stockpiled, it will eventually run out. When it does, you’re still going to need to eat. So, better to start early and not wait until you are running out of food.

The easiest way to grow food is to plant a vegetable garden. Granted, you’re not going to get a whole lot of animal protein out of your garden, unless you happen to shoot a rabbit that’s paying you a visit, but you’ll at least have food to eat. Even the most ardent carnivore would rather have vegetables to eat, than go to bed hungry. Oh, they might go to bed hungry one or two nights, but it won’t take long for those vegetables to start tasting good.

The problem with growing a vegetable garden is that it takes time for the seeds to germinate and then for the plants to grow big enough to bear fruit (or bear vegetables in this case). If you live in the northern part of the country, then your growing season might not be long enough to allow those plants to mature to the point where you can have a good harvest.


There are two basic ways of dealing with this problem, neither of which requires you to move farther south where the weather is warmer. The first is to plant your seeds in plugs indoors and then transplant the seedlings into garden beds when the weather warms up. This saves you the gestation time, as it can happen while the seeds are in your home. The second way is to use a greenhouse.

Greenhouses are the original solar houses. As such, they create a nice warm, moist atmosphere, allowing plants to germinate and grow, even if the weather isn’t cooperative. The good thing is, one can build a simple greenhouse without spending a lot of time or money.


Commercial greenhouses are usually made of aluminum framework, with glass or plastic panels. All that aluminum and glass is expensive, even without taking into account the design work and labor to build it. But you don’t need as much. You can build a simple greenhouse in a couple of hours, using PVC pipe and plastic sheeting. All you’ll need are:

  • 1/2″ PVC pipe
  • 2-hole pipe straps to hold the pipe to wood
  • Screws for the pipe straps
  • Plastic cable ties
  • 4 mil plastic sheeting
  • Something to hold the plastic sheeting – spring clamps work well
  • Staple gun
  • 1 or more pieces of 2″x 2″ lumber, to equal the length of the garden bed

There are several different designs of greenhouses you can make with PVC pipe, but the easiest is what is known as the hoophouse. This requires that you are starting out with raised garden beds, as the PVC pipes will need to be clamped to the wood of the raised bed. Most raised beds are three to four feet wide, which works out just right for building a hoophouse.

The name hoophouse comes from the idea that the PVC pipe is going to be used to make a series of hoops, much like the old conestoga wagons that were used for the westward expansion of the United States. The hoops need to be attached to the inside of both sides of the bed, using the pipe straps and screws to hold them in place. You’ll need to have one hoop about every four feet to hold up the plastic.

You don’t want to use any sort of coupler to attach pieces of PVC pipe together in this design, as the tension of the pipe bending can cause it to pull out of the coupler. Even if it doesn’t pull out of the coupler, it will create a stress point, which could cause the pipe to kink or even break.

One other thing needs to be added to the framework for your hoophouse, that’s a ridge pole. This is another piece of PVC pipe, that’s run the length of the bed, exactly in the center, at the highest point. This ridge pole will help keep the hoops from bending sideways and collapsing. To avoid using any sort of coupling to attach the pipes together, the ridge pole can be attached to the hoops with cable ties.

The framework may seem a bit wobbly, but that’s not a problem. All it has to do is to hold up the plastic that’s going to be spread over it. Make sure that the ends of the pipe won’t pull out of the strap clamps though, as that would weaken it considerably.

Spread the clear plastic over the framework, leaving enough to cover the ends as well. Staple the plastic to the raised bed on the upwind side, so that it can’t come loose. Do the same on both ends, clamping it to the framework on the downwind side as well, with the spring clamps. Add spring clamps at the ridge pole as well, to keep the plastic in place.

On the downwind side of the greenhouse, attach the edge of the plastic to the 2″x 2″ pieces of lumber. These can be used to roll up the plastic for working in your garden. When you are not working in it, they will act as weights to hold the plastic down at ground level, keeping your greenhouse closed and your plants warm.

There it is, your own greenhouse. Maybe it doesn’t look as fancy as the high dollar commercial ones, but it will work just as well to take care of your plants and more importantly, to prolong your growing season, giving you more of a harvest.

Enjoy. Talk to you soon. Until then, keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

PS:  We’re thinking of creating a book package on Easy DIY Survival Greenhouses.  Would you be interested in this?  Let us know in the comments.



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