Build a simple Mini-hothouse

I always start certain seeds early. It helps me to produce more plants and crops in my cooler zone 5 climate. tomato seedlings potted
Creative Commons License photo credit: ricoeurian

If you don’t have room for a greenhouse or just want to start a few plants you can make a mini-hothouse by using a plastic tub. It’s reasonably priced and easy to move around.

I would use a plastic tub about two-foot by three foot. Clean the tub thoroughly with soap and water. You want to make sure the tub is totally disinfected so rinse it with a bleach solution of one-tablespoon bleach to one-cup water. Allow the tub to dry completely.

Prepare your pots.

Regular clay or plastic pots.
Make sure the pots are disinfected and completely dry. Place pebbles on the entire bottom of the plastic tub. You will want two to three inches or pebbles. These will keep any extra water away from the pots and help with humidity in the tub. Fill the pots with potting soil and let the extra water drip out. Place on top of the pebbles and make sure they are nestled into the pebbles so that they will not tip over. Place two seeds in each pot and top with a thin layer of soil.

Peat pots
Fill the peat pots three-fourths full with potting soil. Place the pots in the tub in a single layer. Place one or two seeds in each peat pot and cover with a thin layer of potting soil. Water each pot until the pots are damp to the touch.

Jiffy pots
Place the Jiffy pots on the bottom of the tub in a single layer and add boiling water until the pots expand. Place one seed in the center hole of each pot. Top with a sprinkling of potting soil. With Jiffy pots I often use Chamomile tea to water with. It’s a natural disinfectant and will prevent mold from forming.

Next cover the top of the tub with plastic wrap. Make sure there are no open spaces. Using the plastic you are creating a mini hothouse that will keep moisture in and supply a humid climate that will speed up your seed germination.

Place the tub in a warm, sunny location that is close but out of the way so you are not moving it all the time. Wait for the seedlings to sprout. I find it usually takes five to seven days before I start to see the seedlings popping out of the soil. Water as necessary to keep the soil damp but make sure you do not over water. Soggy soil means the soil is too wet and that leads to moldy soil and damp-off problems.

It’s time to remove the plastic wrap when the seedlings have reached two inches in height and have formed their secondary leaves.

This tub mini-hothouse will produce quite a few plants for your garden and house. It will save you money and time and can be used for several years.

Spread the love







6 responses to “Build a simple Mini-hothouse”

  1. Teri

    I live in a cold climate, and its quite not spring yet, can I put this in the basement until it starts to warm up, say near a window?

  2. Denise

    Yes Teri, just make sure you have enough light. Its a fun way to start plants. Have a great day! Denise

  3. julie keating

    I am going to grow some gourds because I am a gourd artist. I live in OR. and there arn.t too many available. I made a hot house. using 12 by 12;s, framed a 4 by 5 piece of glass, dug deeper on the ground Added potting soil. there are alot of worms in the original dirt. I started my gourds in the house, they have already got their second leafs. When can plant them?….and is there anything I can get if I have problems with bugs?…Thank you Julie

  4. Denise

    Hi Julie,

    Gourds are a lot of fun to grow. But they don’t like to be transplanted very well though. Transplant them carefully on a cloudy day.

    Wait until your last frost before setting out. If the plants look like they are getting big 8 to 10 inches tall make paper pots out of newspaper and plant them in those, then set into the ground when its warm enough. Small gourds will not take a frost.

    About the only thing that bothers gourd are the cucumber beetle. A garlic spray will keep them off your plants and keeping weeds down around the plants. They hide in weeds and come out at night. Also a natural remedy is to plant a radish by the plant and let it go to seed. These bugs don’t like radishes and this really works.

    Good luck and let me know how your gourds do. I enjoy growng and crafting with them also! Denise

  5. Emelar

    Thanks Denise, this was really helpful. I started my gourds inside this year, nicking the seed before planting, and now, for the first time, finally, have an amazing number of small plants…but they came up far earlier than I expected! Now, what can I do to “hold them” til we’re past final frosting? Or do I need to start all over again? : ( Is there a way to harden them during our warmer days (45-50 degrees here in Clarkston, WA)? Thanks very much!

  6. Denise

    Its too cold to harden the plants yet. If you want to continue to grow them I would suggest growing them in containers and putting them out when the weather warms. One to two plants per pot and lost of fertilizer later on. If you grow flowers, herbs or greens in the containers also you will have a unique look. (they will use a lot of water!) Gourds are like squash and cucumber plants. They do not like cold nights or coolish days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *