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Plastic Greenhouse

This topic contains 12 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Frogfall 1 year ago.

Kyle Daniel kyledaniel

Plastic Greenhouse

05/05/2019 at 01:04

Hi all

Totally new member, no experience and no tools yet, found the site and was properly moved. Going to get involved somehow just need to find my feet.

Question, is it possible to build a greenhouse out of plastic? I’ve seen that we can make construction parts out of plastic (beams/struts etc) but can we do the same with the panels? (if there is already a thread about this please point me in the right direction 🙂 )

Im ‘hoping’ to start thinking about a modular system for making greenhouses to get more people growing near me in the UK. I know that the sizes of the parts will be large. I’m ‘really hoping’ that someone with more experience than me has already experimented with this and can give some ideas

Thanks all and any help much appreciated!

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In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

05/05/2019 at 08:23


First of all Welcome!

Always nice to meet a fellow ‘grower’.


As far as I have seen, there is work being done on making plastic sheets that could be used as panels, even (somewhat) transparant ones, but I think in your case up-cycling would be better than re-cycling, especially if you look towards using polytunnels as greenhouses.

There’s already a lot of information out there (just search for “diy greenhouse” on the internet in general).


No need to print new tubes, if you can up-cycle them as they come.

No need to print panels, if you can up-cycle foils.


That being said, it would still be very usefull to be able to create new parts, if only the connectors, but these don’t have to be large scale, making it way easier to start .


Ever thought about Geodesic domes as greenhouses?


Personally I’m currently working on an indoor sprouting/micro-veg system, which already provides me with more food than I can eat (burp), and I’m looking to extend into vertical/window hydro farming, just to have a bit more variation.

My ‘experiment’ is more ‘Urban Homestead’, but I also have a garden, for which a modular greenhouse would be perfect, so let’s keep in touch!






In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

06/05/2019 at 14:42

Hi Donald

Wow loads to think about there, will be picking your brains!

I’m not much of a grower but want to get into it (and a lot of people around me are in a similar position) but getting hold of greenhouses is a bit of a faff where we are (including upcycling) so would be cool if there was a simple spec to use.

Does anyone know of the properties of different plastics for acting as greenhouse panels, are there better ones? Also I imagine we can get very light coloured panels but has anyone succeded in making clear plastic with the precious plastic system yet?

This is all very exciting, looking forward to the V4 release which is probably when we will spring into (some sort of) action haha

Greetings for the UK all


In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

06/05/2019 at 15:19

Hi Kyle,


Please also look around in the Project-kamp forum ( https://davehakkens.nl/community/forums/forum/general/project-kamp/ ).


I’ll also try to start a ‘sprouting for the Urban Homestead’ topic over there this week. Almost ready to harvest and start a new batch, so I can take photo’s of both…


Great thing about sprouts and micro-veg is they hardly need any light, so no transparent panels needed (to stay somewhat on topic 😉 )


In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

11/05/2019 at 12:21

Hi @kyledaniel,


As promised a few pictures of my setup.

They are a bit ‘messy’ but you should get the general idea.


First picture: shows my experimental kitchen sprouting/microgreen-stack.

Sprouting: mung, mustard, fenugreek, radish (though it’s actually daikon), Alfalfa, basil and aduki beans (and in the background a brew of Kombucha and one of my chinese sprouters).

What you see here is roughly 2 weeks worth of food (one person). And not just ‘how cute, there’s some tauge in my salade’, but hardcore full ‘all you can eat ‘ bowls of greens.

And to stay on topic: I mostly use upcycled plastics, though I do sometimes buy new just to figure out how and if stuff works.

The Chinese sprouters in the back e.g. could be replaces with an old bucket and a small water pump/fogger. The ammount of mung sprouts they produce is obscene!


Second picture: Instead of eating the sprouts, you could of course also “let it grow” (cue music). These are not all edible as sprouts, some I actually started for my garden, but the concept is the same: Get old plastic coffee-cups, drill holes in the bottom, put them in a larger tray. Water the tray and thus water the sprouts from below.

In rainy environments als drill holes in the trays at about 0,5/1 cm from the bottom, so excess rainwater does not flood the tray.

Sprouts: Basil, radish/daikon, dahlia (you can eat their yams, much more productive, tasty an prettier than potato), New Zealand Spinach (grows as a Bush), Indian cress, mint, loquat and some other stuff.

Again upcycling a lot of plastic.


Third Picture:

A very simple sprouting setup that’s very succesful. A plate, a second hand Oil Splash Screen and some seeds (in this case mustard). Just fill the plate with water (just enough to soak the seeds) and leave it be, just like you would a house plant.

The roots of the sprouts will grow through the screen. They don’t actually need to be in the water, they just need 100% humidity (provided by the water below).

Harvest by ‘ripping’ the amount of mustard sprouts you need. This will leave the roots attached and prevents them from rotting in the water (a setup like this can easily provide sprouts for two weeks, roots start rotting in 3 days (I tested)).

I eat the whole plant, as I’m growing food, not just herbs, but if you just want the greens: first harvest then cut.

No platic involved (yet), but I’m testing setups among the same lines by simply nesting two containers (like food packaging), perforating the top one (seeds) and leaving the bottom one whole (water). First results are promising!


In short: YES you can grow all the greens you need in an Urban kitchen as long as you have access to good fresh seeds. It’s cheap, lazy and tasty (pretty spicy though).

I have many many more experiments going, including a lot of other sprouts, grains, and pulses, but as this not an Urban Farming Forum, just P.M. me if you want to know more 😉


In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

11/05/2019 at 18:04

Have a look at this site:
How to Build a Greenhouse Using Plastic Bottles
As Donald mentioned, this is a form of upcycling – no need to spend energy and effort to shred and reprocess plastic (which is difficult for PET on a small scale), if you can use the bottles directly.


In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

01/07/2019 at 16:01

Hi kyledanielDonald, and frogfall!I’m a Product Designer for PP V4 and am working on a geodesic dome design. I’d like to hear more about why people are interested in this concept and what they might use the domes for (including greenhouses!). Whether you are a prospective dome owner or part producer, please take a moment and fill out this 5 question survey to help us create the best product possible!

And check out this topic for more of our work on modular construction and geodesic domes! (Donald I know you’re already there! 🙂 )

Thanks! Looking forward to collaborating with all of you more on this!

In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

05/07/2019 at 18:10

Hi @sarahg – after filling your survey questions, a little while ago, I’ve been pondering the geodesic dome greenhouse idea – so I might as well add some thoughts here.

I suspect a lot of people see geodesic domed structures and get a little buzz of enjoyment just from the way they look. I know I do – although I can’t exactly say why.  Is it because of their geometric symmetry?  Is it because most built structures tend to be rectangular cuboids – so the domes just look different? Is it the patterning of the framework that makes them look cool? I’ve no idea.

I’ve certainly always fancied the idea of having a geodesic dome greenhouse – and I’ve even looked into the possibility of building one – before various things put me off.

The first disadvatage I see is the circular ground plan.  If you have the room for a circular structure, then fine – but in most small gardens, a rectangular greenhouse usually fits in better, without losing space.  Even arched polytunnels have a rectangular ground plan – and so can be sited next to each other without creating any inaccessible external patches.

The other issue is the glazing. If using hard sheet material (e.g. agricultural glass, clear unplasticised PVC, polycarbonate) then cutting the triangular shapes could be quite wasteful. I guess there would be an optimum nesting scheme for cutting the different shapes of triangle from standard rectangular sheets – which would make certain sizes of dome more or less economical to build – and that would have to be carefully thought out at the design stage.

Sealing the glazing at the corners could get a bit tricky too – although for most greenhouses it wouldn’t matter too much if it was a little bit “leaky”, I guess.

The other method of glazing, by using flexible plastic sheeting is probably easier (and cheaper) – but that might also be a bit wasteful, compared to (say) covering a polytunnel.

But, yeah, geodesic domes are cool – which is why they turn up in all sorts of places. 😉


In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

05/07/2019 at 19:06

Yes, geodesics are eye candy for technical folks, but on a small scale they get challenging. We have a small (180×240 cm) rectangular greenhouse that is still tall enough in the center that you can walk into. I’m not sure how you achieve that with a dome other than putting it on a vertical wall base. Also the volume in the small rectangular green house is fairly well used because the ceiling doesn’t interfere.

I would love to have the dome look in the back yard, Just can’t figure out how to make it effective at the small scale. I’m looking forward to the V4 design though.

In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

05/07/2019 at 23:26

These guys have some instructions for a geodesic greenhouse.

And they have a verson 2 with some interesting joints made from plastic drainpipe. But, as discussed in other forum threads, drilling into the ends of the wooden beams is not a good idea – as bending loads are likely to split the wood.


In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

11/07/2019 at 14:22

Hi all

Sorry for the long reply time, im not much of a forum user but thanks for all the information here.

@donald thank you so much for all in the information, I’m still moving house so looking forward to having a real good go at this when I have finished sanding doors etc! I’ve saved this post to my ‘When I have a split second to myself folder’

@sarahg @donald @frogfall (and all involved in this forum as it will draw on all your skills)
I starting writing this in the survey but thought I would put it here.

Why did I ask this question? I’m not a grower or user of precious plastics machines yet but that is something I am very keen on becoming. The greenhouse question can be broken down as follows.

Problem Statement: Can I use any part of the V4 process to turn plastics into greenhouses.

Why: I live in a town where there is a lot of food poverty and plastic waste, I wanted to help both at once if possible. To inspire people to bring the rubbish in I need a reason for them to do so other than the good feeling they get, I wanted them to get something back from it. Hopefully that would equate to more plastic coming in.

Food poverty is a surprisingly large problem in the UK with many people I know using Food Banks. Greenhouses are (relatively) expensive when you are living hand-to-mouth sadly. I hoped if people brought plastic and could turn around bits of greenhouses then its a win-win.  This would allow people who wouldn’t usually be able to do so (or be inspired to do so) to grow foods to supplement their diets. Especially getting better quality food into the kids. Also by having a modular design, broken windows (a common problem on estates) are able to be replaced or remelted and replaced. Also greenhouses can be functional straight away if they are small but expanded easily as more panels become available.


1) Type of plastic. The structure we can make out of plastic beams. It is the plastic windows that interest me. What type of plastic allows for enough sunlight to pass through and create the effect we want in a greenhouse. How clear can we make the panels given the current research into plastics? What thickness do they need to be etc? Obviously a dark one would let little light so it wouldn’t work.  However this is an area I know next to nothing about which I why I posted it originally to pull on all your experiences.

2) Space. As mentioned earlier in the thread Geodomes look amazing (I personally love them) but it doesnt provide good space to growth ratio like a conventional shaped greenhouse would. Would we be able to create square panels to recreate a design that already works? Secondly many people have no, or only communal gardens, a smaller, squarer design would fit much better into this. (again most food per space)

3) How? I have seen videos of you making the beams and understand that. What machines would be best suited to making the panels (say 1ftx1ft)? This links in with my first consideration about what plastic type would best have the effect we need.

There are many experienced people here, I would be fascinated on your input. I have the idea and the drive to make it happen but I am not by nature a grower or yet someone who uses plastic in construction but I can see the very real benefits of this and how fast it could be rolled out. Any help, as always, much appreciated.

Cheers guys!


In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

12/07/2019 at 00:22

Hi Kyle

Maybe starting small, by making cloches, would be a good idea.
Having just had a healthy courgette plant demolished by the local wildlife – I think I’m going to have to do something to protect some of the more vulnerable plants in my garden, and cold frames or cloches are probably going to be the cheapest thing to build.

I’m guessing that wooden frames glazed with flattened panels cut from 2 litre PET bottles might just work.  Alternatively, reclaimed clear polythene sheeting, or reclaimed glass (preferably toughened) could be used for glazing – with the side panels or framework made from re-moulded recycled HDPE.

In reply to: Plastic Greenhouse

12/07/2019 at 21:32

I guess this is one way of making a cold frame using bottles…

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