A tomato house provides tomatoes with optimal growing conditions. After all, the most important condition for a successful tomato summer is a sunny and warm place, where a light breeze is constantly blowing. A tomato house open on the sides provides plenty of draft, yet the tomatoes are protected from driving rain and thunderstorm gusts. Even in midsummer, temperatures underneath rarely rise above 35 °C / 95 °F. In the greenhouse, on the other hand, heat is often the cause of hollow or malformed fruit.
A tomato house protects from wind and weather
Tomato diseases such as blight are spread by wind and rain. There is no one hundred percent protection against it. Even in the greenhouse, an infestation cannot be ruled out, and other fungal pathogens can also spread rapidly there due to the higher humidity. However, the disease usually progresses much more slowly under glass or foil.
Ready-made tomato greenhouses are available in stores, but with a little practical skill you can also build a tomato house yourself. The material is available for little money in the hardware store.
Step by step: build your own tomato house
International measurements (for our friends in the US):
1 m² = 10.76 ft²
1 ft² = 0.093 m²
1 cm = 0.4 in
10 mm = 1cm = 0.4 in
1 in =2.54 cm
1 meter = 39.4 in = 3.28 ft
70 mm = 2.76 in
70 mm = 3.54 in
2,000 mm = 78.74 in = 6.56 ft
Materials and tools
The list below will give you an idea of what you need to build a tomato house with a footprint of two square meters. The final dimensions for the tomato house are two meters (6.5 ft) in height, 2.50 meters (8.2 ft) in width and 80 centimeters (32 in) in depth. Here, depending on the type of tomatoes, is room for about five plants. Of course, you can vary the size.
What you need:
- 4 x squared timber in the dimensions 90 mm x 90 mm x 2,000 mm or 70 mm x 70 mm x 2,000 mm
- 4 x squared timber in the dimensions 90 mm x 90 mm x 2,500 mm or 70 mm x 70 mm x 2,500 mm (select the same size as above)
- 2 x squared timber in the dimensions 38 mm x 58 mm x 850 mm
- 4 x squared timber in the dimensions 38 mm x 58 mm x 800 mm
- 4 x ground sleeves for posts; select the size according to the dimensions of the squared timbers
- PVC corrugated sheets or a roll of greenhouse film
- 20 angle connectors; select size according to squared timbers
- self-tapping or normal screws made of stainless steel or brass
- cordless screwdriver
- drill with wood drill bit, if you use normal screws
- spirit level
- angle cutter, if you use corrugated PVC sheets
- stapler and staples
- optional: gutter
The squared timbers in the length of two meters define the height of the tomato house. If you want it higher, you will have to use correspondingly higher timbers, but two meters is enough in most cases. 2.50 meters are ideal for species that grow very high.
Before you build the house, you need to prepare the ground. If you have not yet prepared or available free space, for example, in the vegetable patch, you need to cut out a piece of the turf. The space for the house must correspond to the dimensions, in this case, 250 by 80 centimeters. So take a spade, tape measure, shovel and wheelbarrow and start removing the appropriate ground. Then you will have enough space to assemble the tomato house directly on site and put the tomatoes in the ground. Now comes the insertion of the ground sleeves for posts:
- place the two longest square timbers parallel on the ground.
- the sleeves are now placed at the four corners
- each sleeve should be placed about five centimeters (2 in) away from the edge
- in the end, there will be five centimeters of wood on each side of the two longest squared timbers.
- now hammer the sleeves into the ground
- then place the squared lumber on the sleeves
- check with a spirit level if they are straight
- Adjust any unevenness accordingly
- the sleeves should then sit firmly in the ground and have the same height.
Next, you can proceed with the construction of the tomato house.
Building a tomato house yourself: Instructions
When you build the tomato house, be sure to choose a dry day, as this will greatly simplify the construction. In addition, you can immediately plant the tomatoes afterwards, if you have not already done so. The following instructions will help you with the implementation:
First, take the four squared timbers with the length of two meters. These will serve you as stand posts for the house and will be the basic posts. Place the posts in the sleeves and screw them tightly. Make sure that the posts do not swing in any direction. Therefore, proceed thoroughly so that you do not have to settle for a crooked tomato greenhouse in the end. If you do not choose self-tapping screws, you need to pre-drill the holes beforehand with a wood drill. To do this, use a pencil to mark the position of the holes.
Now slant the posts with the saw. This slope ensures the drainage of rainwater from the roof, so that it can not collect and become too heavy for the film or corrugated sheets. Greenhouses generally have a roof pitch of 15° to 30°, which is also good for your tomato house. In most cases, 15° is already enough for the rain to run off without any problems.
Determine which side of the greenhouse faces the front. These posts will remain longer than the rear ones. That is, you use the same angle of inclination, but saw off more of the rear posts. It’s especially easy to do this if you take a batten for assistance and place it with the flat side against two posts that are behind each other. Then align the angle and draw a line on the posts with a pencil. Now cut along the line with the saw. Afterwards, check again with the batten to make sure it now lies straight. If one side is still a little too high, correct it.
Now attach the four intermediate battens (38 mm x 58 mm x 800 mm). Measure from the bottom 65 cm (25 in) to the top, mark and repeat this step from the mark. Now you have two markings to help you attach the intermediate battens. Attach them between the posts using angle connectors.
The two upper intermediate battens (38 mm x 58 mm x 850 mm) are now missing on the left and right. These are not fastened between the posts, but to the posts facing outwards. In addition, these two battens are aligned according to the roof slope, i.e. they slope backwards. This will allow the beams for the roof to be installed afterwards. Fasten the battens with angle connectors.
Next come two intermediate battens at the back with a length of 2.5 meters. You need to shorten these a little beforehand so that they fit between the posts at the back. Once you have done this, attach them to the exact same mark as in step 4. In front of you should now be an almost finished base frame, three sides of which are provided with battens to support stability.
Then take the last two squared timbers with a length of 2.5 meters and place them on the battens from step 5. It does not matter if they protrude a little, this even increases the stability. Mount them to the battens using long screws drilled directly into the wood without angle connectors. Now the basic framework is in place.
Cut the PVC sheets with the angle grinder. For the roof, you should cut individual pieces so that they protrude at least five centimeters (2 in) on each side, so that rain does not get to the tomato plants. Similarly, you should cover at least two sides with the panels. Pick them according to the following characteristics:
- Strong midday sun
- Weather sides
- Sides that are closer to the street
Of course, the front side should remain accessible so that you can care for and harvest the tomatoes. Mount the panels via screws in appropriate places.
Step 9 (optional)
If you use foil, cover the roof and the corresponding sides with it. The foil is then fastened with staples.
Step 10 (optional)
If you have chosen a rain gutter, it is now attached to the back via brackets.
Now your tomato house stands and the fruits are well protected.
Tips for growing tomatoes
With tall-growing tomato varieties, it makes sense to tie the young shoots to a stick so that they grow straight and get enough stability. After all, at the latest, when the first fruits ripen, the heavenly ones have a lot of weight to carry. Pinching off tomatoes is a regular chore. This involves carefully pruning out side shoots with fingers that are growing in the leaf axils. This promotes uniform growth of fruit and stem.
Depending on the variety, the fruits are harvested between June and October. Flowers that appear from the end of August, should be removed. The tomatoes would no longer ripen, but still take nutrients and water from the soil. Many varieties can also be cultivated in tubs. Tomatoes need plenty of sun, water and fertilizer. However, they do not like waterlogging, so sufficient water drainage should be provided. A covered place is also ideal for tomatoes in pots.