We built a greenhouse with cattle panels

4 mil plastic on cattle panel hoop house

Greenhouse with plastic installed over cattle panels

It cost us $25. That was just for the plastic. All the pieces were salvaged or free. We used:

  • 16’ cattle panels – five of them. These are about four and a half feet wide, so they made the hoop house about 21 feet long.
  • 20’ by 25’ piece of 4 mil plastic. This will last at least three months until it is warm enough at night to take off.
  • Lumber of all sizes to build the benches for plants. The plywood came from a house that a friend of a friend tore down.
  • Plastic shelving material we got from a friend who made dog kennels for a living.

We made a rim of 2×4’s to hold the cattle panel hoops up. Then end we framed up with 3’, 4’, and 6’ scraps of 2×4 studs. We tied all the panels together with baling twine. Inside we used an old table, salvaged plywood, and plastic panels for work space. We have over forty linear feet to set out plants. If we keep this up, next year will have a winter garden under this cold frame, hoop house.

The unusual thing we did was to build this over an old swimming pool. I only know of one other person in the world who owns a cement pond like ours—it was made from a huge fuel tank, cut in half. So, you will probably not follow our model exactly, but it created an interesting situation for us.

Flooring supports in swimming pool greenhouseOur tank half is nine feet wide at the top, but since the tank was cylindrical, it tapers to a rounded bottom which is difficult to walk on. So, we took left over studs from when we remodeled our basement and laid them across from one wall to the other. We then set full pieces of salvaged plywood on top of these studs, spaced at 12 inches on center. Since the studs were about 8’ long, they dropped the floor to about 2 feet from the top of the pool. This gives us about 8 feet to the top of the cattle panel hoops. It is a little crazy sounding, but it worked out great for us.

Beneath the floor was this empty cavity of about 3 feet. I read about some people heating their greenhouses with a compost heap. That gave me an idea for the empty space under our floor. We shoveled out the cows’ and sheep’s winter manure accumulation and stashed it under the floor to compost. At first it stunk badly, but by the second day the odor was gone. Now we are just waiting for it to activate the composting and start heating the room all night.

It has been a fun experiment and we already have some starts from inside to set out in the warm sun.Plastic shelves in greenhouse Ending construction of the cattle panel hoop house

Salvage plywood shelving in coldframe greenhouse

Laying out greenhouse shelves in snow shower

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