Pleasures of a Pop-Up

It’s still cold here. And we’ve got an unseasonably cool week ahead, and that means I have wait even longer to get my tender seedlings and other heat lovers into the ground. So I’m even more happy about owning what has become an indispensible tool for me in early spring: A pop-up greenhouse.  I set the the thing up on my patio in mid March, and into it go young cuttings, seedlings (by now, my indoor space is overrun) and a few tropicals, enough to give at least a few containers a head start when I’m ready to pot them up in late May.

The greenhouse lets them get plenty of light and keep things toasty most nights. When the mercury really tumbles, I turn on this little portable heater to warm things up. This thing works ever so much better than a cold frame for two reasons: One, I can jam a lot more stuff into it, and two, it’s much taller and can accommodate plants such as the 3-foot-tall abutilons currently stuffed in one corner.

Once I empty all the plants out by late May, the little plastic greenhouse folds up to about 6×6 feet and 8 inches wide, and back to the basement it goes.  Yes, I might be able to get the whole kit and kaboodle into the even smaller space the manufacturer intended, but that’s even harder then refolding a road map the right way. Still, this is a great gizmo for anyone who likes seed starting and tender perennials as much as I do.

That said, I’d also like to throw in my two cents on the hori-hori, or garden knife that Nan wrote about a couple postings ago. Those things rule! Adios trowels, the garden knife does it all faster, easier, and better. And its serrated edge is handy for sawing through roots or for coaxing divisions out of tough perennials.

If you enjoyed this article, get email updates (it's free).


10 Responses to Pleasures of a Pop-Up

  1. Gail May 19, 2008 at 4:44 pm #

    BTW, thanks for putting in your two cents worth….I am planning on giving the knives for Christmas presents…so nice to have that out of the way! No last minute shopping for my garden buddies!

    The pop up green house is adorable and would work in our easier climate, too…oh the dangers of reading garden blogs….more toys, tools, containers and plants go on the list.

    gail

    Hi Gail–Just make sure you get as hori-hori for EVERYONE. You don’t want any garden knife fights over who gets what under the Christmas tree.–Steve

  2. Bonnie Story May 19, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    I love all the bright greens and golds you have potted up there! Do you have your pop-up staked down pretty well? The winds around here would take it for a ride. OK, I’m am gonna get me a hori-hori, now it’s official. Thanks for the post, – the great weather is just around the corner! Bonnie

    Thanks Bonnie. Yes, I am a certifiable nut for colorful foliage. ABG (anything but green) all the way! Yes, I do have have to keep my little plastic tent moored down pretty tightly. It has taken wing once before and the results were not pretty.–Steve

  3. Jeff Joyner May 20, 2008 at 6:12 am #

    I, too, find my pop-up greenhouse (along with the two 4 x 8 pop-up coldframes) indispensable, and it really makes me feel better to know that there’s someone else who can’t ever make them fit back into the little zippered “storage bags” in which they arrive!

    You know, Jeff, I’d love to find out who the genius is that designs these things. You’d think they might want to make sure their great ideas are actually doable for someone other than an engineer.–Steve

  4. Frances May 20, 2008 at 6:40 am #

    Hi Steve, your pop up looks like it could help out in any climate. Like Bonnie, the first thought was what about high winds. We have been having tremendous winds, blowing over mature oak trees even, how would that little parachute stand up to that? As for the hori hori, count me in with the singing of its praises. The perfect tool for those of us with weakened wrists from using the hand trowels for a lifetime.

    Wind can be an issue, Frances. It blew over one year. What a mess! And all those seedling casualties too! Now I stake it with roipes just like a tent, and for added securtiy, I place heavy pots along the flaps at the bottom of each of the pop-up’s walls. Hurray, hurray hori-hori!–Steve

  5. Layanee May 20, 2008 at 7:47 am #

    No pop up here but I did purchase a small cold frame which is working out quite well. Will have to consider the pop up! You are right! Soil knives rule! Love mine and it does do pretty much every chore.

    Hi Layanee–Yes those cold frames are something I’ve also used, but the pop-up acommodates stuff with more height, plus you can load in a few shelves and really pile on the seedlings.–Steve

  6. Lisa in CA May 20, 2008 at 12:30 pm #

    I have got to get me one of those pop ups–very cool. I just do not have enough sunny window sills around here. Thanks for your input on the Hori-Hori, too. Does it really work just as well as a trowel?

    I know what you mean, Lisa. Sunny window sill space is at a definite premium around here. As for the hori-hori: No–it actually works much better than a trowel!–Steve

  7. our friend Ben May 20, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    Your little pop-up is adorable, Steve! And your plants look fantastic. It’s freezing here, too, and just after I set up the container water gardens for the season. Those poor goldfish!

    One of the things that pop-up does best is helping me getting a few good containers off and running. That way, when the weather warms, I’ve got a few pots already looking nicely filled out. That would work just as well with a container water garden.–Steve

  8. Christine May 23, 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    I love that portable greenhouse. I have seen them on-line here and there, but have never heard of anybody who actually had one tell about them. Thanks!

    Christine, I can tell you they are great! Though I’m only using mine a couple months a year it’s well worthwhile. And maybe I should be thinking about extending their use.–Steve

  9. Tina Ramsey May 26, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    I left mine up over the winter. It faired absolutely wonderfully! No issues. Pretty strong little guys they are.

    Hi Tina–Do you get a lot of snow in the winter? Guess I’m not afraid of one of those gizmos collapsing, but seems a big snowload-or big winds whipping through leafless trees-could challenge the thing.–Steve

  10. Kathleen May 30, 2008 at 8:34 am #

    I bought this greenhouse several years ago. I pop it up in October and use it as a sunspace all winter – teens outside 50s within – where I can do my garden planning, reading and soak up some vit. D. Spring sees it fill with baby plants and it is down in May. I love it!

    Hi Kathleen-Gee I wish I could use mine all winter, I’ve contemplated the idea, as it would definitely help me cheat a zone or two. Hmmm, maybe this coming winter I could…-Steve