Friday, March 5, 2010

I am so cheap-aquarium hot houses

 The other day an internet friend asked me if those were aquariums that she saw in one of my pictures.This  is such a cheap and easy garden helper that I  have used for the last several years and I just assumed everyone knew about the magic of them. I was wrong and I know better than to assume  anything.

So, for those that do not know, don't throw those old fish tanks away!! Those old, cracked or  unused aquariums that are stashed in attics, garages and closets everywhere have  a perfectly good use  on a homestead of any size and any where. They are a dime a dozen at garage sales, flea markets,dumpsters and curb sides the world over and to buy a small 10 gallon one  brand new it  will only set you back about 10 bucks.Not a bad price for a mini hot house that is lightweight, easy to clean, able to be moved and never needs  repairs.

One method of using the aquariums is  inverted over the top of plants out in your very early spring or late fall gardens. Here, I am able to  use them all winter long  and keep a few greens alive under the aquariums. Though they do not grow much during the winter months,  as soon things warm a bit the plants under it begin growing immediately. When temps warm enough during the day (over 40) I tip the tank up and then put it back down at night.If I dont the plants will cook in there.  Small container plants can also go under them to give them a boost in the early  spring and you an earlier harvest on some of your veggies.

Once I know the  over wintered greens and herbs are not going to get any more super hard frosts for an extended period of nights I bring the  tanks into the greenhouse  and they become my small cold frames in the greenhouse. Since space is  limited in there rather than trying to lift them up and down daily  I  sit them upright and place my seed tray or  cups in there where I can water from the bottom and on real cool night cover with  a layer of plastic and blankets if need be. If you dont have a greenhouse  you can do the same thing out side and either invert it over your seed pots or trays or use as above and cover on very cold nights.

 I do not have enough old aquariums hanging around the homestead to move all my baby plants to the  greenhouse real early, but I can move a fair amount and not have to worry about them freezing  on our still   low 20 degree nights.


  1. You know I never would have thought about that. Since they don't have to be water tight, people could find some real cheap at garage sales and on Craigslist or freecycle, I often see them at the curb. Just remember to clean them with hot water, and vinegar or HP and let them air dry in the sun to kill any lingering bacteria :)

  2. I just found 2 a few houses away at the curb a week or so ago. Then today my hydroponics pump went. I planted the seedlings in some small pots & put them on the flower bed with the fish tanks overtop. I was thinking it would help. I'm glad you just reassured me. You say I should let it up during the day I will do that for now it's early April a tad chilly here in south jersey.