Inexpensive Mini-Greenhouse

You can build this raised garden bed mini-greenhouse to extend your growing season with used railroad ties for the base and some scrap wood and sheet plastic for the cover.

| February/March 2012

Thirty years ago, I bought MOTHER EARTH NEWS to help pass the time while I was a U.S. Navy sailor stationed on an aircraft carrier. I enjoyed reading the magazine from cover to cover — often three or more times per cruise — and I couldn’t wait for the next issue. The magazine has inspired me to do many projects.

Recently, I wanted to try growing in a small raised garden bed. I had railroad ties lying around, and I used the ties to build a three-tier, 4-by-8-foot raised garden bed. I drove rebar into the ties (after pre-drilling smaller holes in them) to tie them together. I lined the garden bed with heavy plastic to limit potential contamination to the soil from the railroad ties, and I poked holes in the plastic for proper drainage. Next, I filled the bed with a combination of cow manure and topsoil.

I also made a mini-greenhouse cover for the bed so the crops could get an earlier start. Some of the cover materials I had on hand and some I bought. The cost for the greenhouse cover was $95. Last, I wound a soaker hose around the plants for irrigation.

Robert Ford
Montrose, Pennsylvania

10/17/2014 8:28:55 PM

I sure would like the plans for this project. I have one thing I would do different. I would drill a hole in the wood for the hose to go through. Plastic has a tendency to get bigger with wear. It also would not allow the wind to frost the plants. Love the design.

1/28/2014 4:11:20 PM

Hey Buddy, can you post a materials and tools list and a step by step of how you constructed this? I want to build one right away.

1/19/2014 3:41:55 PM

you might note he used used ties, not saying there is no health risk at all but much less at the age of the ties. he DID also say he lined the inside of the ties with a barrier so as not to contact the soil... I would suggest if there is a component that you don't like about his design then change it when you make need to be negative to someone with a great idea... great economical design.

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