If you have a small garden space, a full-sized greenhouse may be out of the question. However, if you do much gardening, a well-made mini greenhouse is a purchase you will never regret. Ideal for use on patios, decks, balconies, courtyards and small yards, mini green houses offer the same benefits and many of the same features as their full-sized cousins, yet take up very little space, typically around six square feet!
Uses for a mini greenhouse
A greenhouse can be used to start seedlings before the recommended frost date for your area. When the weather warms up, your healthy, robust plants can then be transplanted into the garden. This allows you to start harvesting your crops much earlier than gardeners who wait to direct-seed. There's a much wider selection of seeds available than plants, so you can grow things that your friends won't have, which makes sharing your produce with them a lot more fun!
A good selection of herbs, and nearly all varieties of lettuce can be grown successfully in a mini greenhouse all year long, as can greens such as Swiss chard, kale, and spinach. Think how great it would be to serve your guests a salad of just-picked greens in the middle of winter!
You can use your greenhouse to protect tender perennial plants from frost, ice and snow. Transplant them into containers and they'll live happily in your mini greenhouse until spring, and then they can be moved back outdoors.
Consider giving your houseplants a welcome change of scenery by putting them outside in your miniature greenhouse for the summer months. The greenhouse can also provide a humid micro-climate for tropical plants.
Mini greenhouses will make the most of the heat available from the sun, while protecting your plants from wind, rain, destructive insects and other garden pests like rabbits and deer.
Some minis are designed to mount to a wall, garage or shed rather than be a free-standing unit in the garden. This ensures that they won't get knocked over by rambunctious pets or kids, or blown over by a strong wind. There are also kits which allow you to build a small greenhouse in no time, with complete instructions provided by the manufacturer. They range from one- to three-shelf designs, and are relatively inexpensive.
What size greenhouse do you really need?
Even if you have the space for a full-sized greenhouse, it may still make sense to go with a mini greenhouse instead. If your main use will be to germinate seeds, grow a few plants and provide winter protection for less hardy specimens, a smaller greenhouse will suit you just fine. But if you plan to grow a lot of flowers or vegetables all year long, then a full-size, insulated greenhouse would probably be worth the investment. However, don't forget that full-size greenhouses have different heating, lighting and cooling requirements than miniature ones, which makes them much more costly to maintain and use.
Greenhouse-gardening offers many practical advantages and money-saving benefits for gardeners, and if all you have the space or money for is a miniature one, this is still much better than not having a greenhouse at all! A mini greenhouse may well prove to be your best gardening expenditure, and will certainly bring you years of enjoyment.