Backyard Greenhouse!

One of the interesting things we noticed in Scotland is that many homes had a small greenhouse in the backyard.  And usually a few laying hens as well. Melstadr, our first guest house in Shetland had both!  This was exciting since building a tiny greenhouse with some of the old house windows we have in storage – and we have a LOT – has been on the back burner of my mind for several years!  Considering the number of old windows we have, a large greenhouse could built, but that would not lend itself to mobility.  There are a lot of examples online from ragtag designs to really upscale – mine will fall in the middle somewhere since my carpentry skills definitely don’t lean towards upscale. The first step will be to take inventory of all the windows – types and sizes – then make a plan.  To make it more mobile, it could be built so that it will slide onto one of our existing trailers – that way it can be pulled onto a standard trailer and moved down the highway without being an extra wide load.

What would you do with a tiny backyard greenhouse if you had one?  Before starting to build, I need to figure out why I really need to!


1) Mobile or stationary.

2) Bedding plants or full on vertical gardening

3) Floor or no floor

4) Winter time use by laying hens (chooks) (no floor – build humus by laying straw, shavings, and throwing grain for hens to scratch and peck through – tilling the soil.

5) Outdoor  picnic area rather than for gardening or small gardening, but mostly sitting/reading space.

6) Heated or not (a small wood stove might be the right amount to knock off the chill – sized for the space)

7) Evaluate your climate and build accordingly – lots of info online for your particular area.

8) Decide, in advance what is economical to build and balance that against its need to pay for itself or to enhance quality of life and/or value of property – BUDGET, then build, accordingly.

Melstadr Guest House, South Punds, Levenwick, Shetland Island, Scotland

9) New materials or repurposed lumber and windows.

Lots of things to consider before embarking.  Before I start gathering up all the old windows and doors we have, I’ll take inventory of types and sizes and lay them out on paper first.  Too much work to physically gather them in advance.  Mostly, this project will depend on the weather.  If it is too cold this winter, there simply won’t be time or place to build.

Shabbat Shalom!


“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15