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Build Your Own Portable Greenhouse and Simple Cold Frame

Hold off ‘Jack Frost’ with this portable greenhouse. In 15 minutes you can build a 4 x 8 foot plant shelter that is easy to use, and when no longer needed it is easy to store or put the components to work in other areas in the garden.

This portable greenhouse is just warm enough to add several weeks to your spring and fall harvest. In some areas this is enough protection to have fresh salads all winter. In the south, use this frame for shade cloth to extend cool season crops.

Material List for Creating a Portable Greenhouse

  • 12 – Sun Guard II Fiberglass Step-In Posts>
  • 6 – Sun Guard II Fiberglass Posts
  • 1 – Roll of Husky Polyethylene Sheeting, 10’ x 25’ x 4 mil, clear
  • 1 – Package of 4 EZ Grabbit Tarp Holder, 6”, yellow (optional)
  • Shade cloth – 10ft x 14ft (optional)
  • 4 or more bales of straw or hay

Put the Portable Greenhouse Together in 6 Easy Steps

Push 4 Step-In posts into the ground (with foot) in a line down the center of the 4’ x 8’ raised bed or garden plot to a height of 36”. Use a rubber mallet if needed. One post at each end and two in the middle of 8’ section.

Install 4 Step-in posts down each side of same bed or plot to a height of 33”. Use the same spacing as the middle. Post clip side out.

Connect the 6 fiberglass posts to Step-In posts to form roof line (2 down the middle and 2 on each side).

Unroll 14’ of plastic and cut. (The extra is to cover the ends).

Cover frame rolling the plastic sides up just enough to push down and secure into the bottom clips of the Step-in side posts (4 on each side).

Attach optional tarp holders to the end of raised bed frame or use a brick to secure the plastic ends of portable Greenhouse.

Build to suit your garden needs. Add more posts to make it longer, cut a longer length of plastic sheeting to fit. Push the posts in deeper to make it shorter if that works better for you.

Tips for Using the Portable Greenhouse


  • Get an earlier start by using the portable greenhouse to help warm soil and protect early vegetable seedlings and transplants.
  • Monitor daily; to regulate heat, roll plastic (ends) up and hook into Step-In post top clip(s). A thermometer is a helpful tool to observe temperatures.
  • Cover the frame with a shade cloth for cool season vegetables when the weather turns warm or as a temporary shade house to harden-off indoor grown transplants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and melons.


  • When the portable greenhouse is no longer needed, fold up the plastic cover and store. No need to put the Step-In posts in storage; pull string or wire through clips of Step-In posts to make trellises for beans or tomato cages for the warm season garden.


  • Cover vegetable bed in the fall before frost to extend the summer garden.
  • Grow salad vegetables like lettuces, arugula, corn salad, spinach, green onions, and radishes from fall into winter.
  • Cover greens, beets, chard, parsley, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, broccoli raab and other cool season vegetables to continue longer harvest season.

Simple Cold Frame

Cold frames are an easy way to speed up the process of Mother Nature by growing veggies in a protected and warmer climate than the outside environment would normally allow.

Material List for Cold Frame:

  • 4 bales of hay or straw (or as many as you need to accommodate your garden area)
  • One, two (or more) old windows or clear plastic to cover top

Put the Cold Frame Together in 2 Easy Steps:

  1. Lay the bales along the side and ends of raised bed or garden plot.
  2. Cover the top opening with recycled glass windows, storm door or clear plastic.

Tips on Using Cold Frame:

  • Monitor daily. Open in the morning on sunny days, close at night by sliding windows over or propping open to allow ventilation.
  • Start cool season vegetables early, seedlings or transplants.
  • A good place to harden off or transition transplants grown indoors.
  • On cold nights below freezing cover with an old blanket.
  • If you will not be home to open and close the cold frame for a day or two, cover with a blanket or shade cloth to keep sun out. This will keep plants from ‘cooking’ with the heat of the sun until you can get back home.

When Cold Frame is No Longer Needed

  • Use the straw or hay for mulch in the warm season garden to keep weeds down, moisture in and help cool the soil in the heat of summer.
  • Hay and straw are good components for making compost.
  • Plant seed potatoes in the bales of hay or straw.

Products Available at TSC

  • 12 – Sun Guard II Fiberglass Step-In Posts
  • 6 – Sun Guard II Fiberglas Posts
  • 1 – Roll of Husky Polyethylene Sheeting, 10’ x 25’ x 4 mil, clear
  • 1 – Package of 4 EZ Grabbit Tarp Holder, 6”, yellow (optional)
  • Shade cloth - 10ft x 14ft (optional)
  • 4 or more bales of straw or hay

Cindy Shapton
Gardening Expert for TSC
“Make Gardening Fun or It will Become Work”