With food shortages on the rise, there is a growing need to increase food security for you and your family. Learn how to grow your own food and improve food security by adding a small greenhouse to your property.

2020.

Remember that remarkable year? Or shall I say memorable? But perhaps for many of us, it is not the kind of memory we are especially fond of.

The year 2020 quickly propelled forward a vast amount of changes in America. And while I will avoid discussing all political topics, I’d like to converse about the shift and current state of our food security. Long before today there has been a lack of food security throughout the world. But here in the United States, most of us are able to easily source the food we want, whether we’re buying it from a grocery store, grabbing it from a restaurant or growing it on our own land. 

While this is still primarily true for many of us, there has been quite the shift in product availability over the last couple of years. 

Empty shelves at grocery stores. Wheat shortages. Increased cost of goods and products. Scarcity of your basic cooking ingredients. Larger demand.

All of these happenings don’t exactly scream security do they? However, if you turn your eyes from concern and look at these circumstances as opportunity, you will see the beginning steps towards food independence. Jill Winger once said in her Old Fashioned on Purpose podcast, “food should be our responsibility”. I must agree or so I am learning to not be comfortable with the convenient.

Just decades ago, men and women across this beautiful country grew much of their food on their own property. They had a garden, made meals from scratch, farmed, canned, fermented, preserved and worked to stock their pantry full of food to feed their family. What they couldn’t produce, they’d purchase from a local source. These fellow Americans demonstrated that food security is attainable. 

While there are many routes that one could take to increase food security such as purchasing processed or canned food, as I homesteader I believe that growing your own vegetables and fruits can help reduce dependence on commercial goods, thus increasing your food security.

Why Build a Greenhouse?

Using a greenhouse to grow your own organic food is just one of the many great ways to increase food security. Not only can it lower the cost of your grocery bill, it is also healthier than purchasing conventional vegetables from your local market.

One of the top benefits of building a greenhouse is that it allows you to extend your growing season. More growing time means more food on your table. By adding a greenhouse to your homestead, you can increase your growing time by 6-8 weeks in the spring and fall. If you choose to use your greenhouse throughout the winter, like a cold frame, you will be able to enjoy fresh greens come hail or frozen water.

Other reasons to build a greenhouse include, plant protection from severe weather conditions, creating an ideal humid environment to start seedlings, can save you money by growing your own plants instead of purchasing them from a garden center and is a great warm place to escape to when you get the winters blues mid January.

Cheap Greenhouse Idea

A greenhouse doesn’t have to break the bank. There are a variety of different types of greenhouses including greenhouses built with glass, a lean-to greenhouse design, plastic, ones made with wooden frames, some with a metal pipe frame and a few other models. Greenhouses can be made in various shapes and sizes using all kinds of materials.

The greenhouse that my family selected to build was a cattle panel greenhouse. The biggest draw to building a greenhouse using cattle panels was the low cost. A few other reasons we decided to use cattle panels were: the construction was simple, the size was manageable and the panels made the greenhouse sturdy and durable — which is quite important in our neck of the woods since we can often get strong winds. If you are considering adding a greenhouse to your homestead, I’d highly recommend constructing a budget friendly cattle panel greenhouse. 

What Supplies Do You Need to Build a Greenhouse?

Our 8.5’ by 20’ DIY greenhouse cost around $500 to build. Many of the materials to build the wooden frame came from Home Depot. This included the wooden boards, nails, screws, zip ties, tools and cable staples. The cattle panels were purchased from our local Tractor Supply shop. The doors and windows were reclaimed materials. And last but not least, the plastic covering came from the Greenhouse Megastore.

What Can You Grow in a Greenhouse?

A greenhouse can be used for year-around gardening. You can either plant your seeds into the ground or add shelving units to the inside of the facility to grow seedlings for your summer garden.

If you plan to use your greenhouse as a cold frame during the winter, here are some great cold hardy plants you can grow.

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Claytonia
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Some onion varieties (such as leeks or green onions)
  • Parsley
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Tatsoi

This past spring, we set up shelving full of containers with a variety of seedlings to get a head start on the growing season. There are plenty of plants that thrive by starting them in a greenhouse but here are a few of our favorite easy to grow plants.

  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Jalapeños
  • Okra
  • Melons
  • Cantaloupe
  • Salad greens
  • Culinary herbs
  • Medicinal herbs
  • Flowers

Garden Tips & Tricks

If you’re an avid gardener like me, here are a handful of other articles about gardening that you may find useful.

See how we used cattle panels to build an affordable greenhouse.

Jump start your garden by learning how to start seeds indoors in this blog post.

Begin building a home apothecary by starting an herb garden in your backyard.

Discover 6 tips to make your garden space more efficient.

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