Australian urban veggie gardener Matt Pember and owner of The Little Veggie Patch Co., made his mark in Melbourne by designing small-space edible gardens for people's homes. Soon the small spaces became even smaller when the company started making edible gardens in veggie crates that would fit on urban balconies or courtyards.

Today, the company is known for educating whole neighborhoods about edible gardens, using the group's community garden called the Pop Up Patch as an example. Besides teaching Melbourne the ins and outs of gardening, Pember has teamed up with fellow Little Veggie Patcher Dillon Seitchik-Reardon to write "The Little Veggie Patch Co. DIY Garden Projects: Easy Activities For Edible Gardening and Backyard Fun."

Here's a project excerpted from the book, which Pember kindly agreed to let us share.

Window frame greenhouse

Dillon Seitchik-Reardon holds two window panes in his handsThese re-purposed windows, held by Pember's co-author, Dillon Seitchik-Reardon, are just one way make a lot with a little in your garden. (Photo: Matt Pember)

As building standards continue to improve, vintage single-pane windows are falling out of favor and seem to be finding their way to the curb. Being a gardener is about resourcefulness. Rather than see that history lost, we can upcycle windows into a simple, freestanding mini-greenhouse.

The mini-greenhouse is a great small space option for propagating seedlings and avoiding early-season frost damage. It is amazing how much heat can be trapped inside this simple structure, so don't overdo it once the weather starts to warm up. Our design enables you to collapse the structure so that it can be neatly stored away for the next season when it is no longer needed. Like all salvaged projects, a discerning eye and a little bit of elbow grease will go a long way to not only making this a functional part of the garden but, more importantly, making it an aesthetic feature that you can be proud of.


  • 2 windows
  • Paint scraper
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood putty
  • Paintbrush
  • Varnish or outdoor paint
  • Drill set or screwdriver
  • Set of door hinges
  • 8 x 25 mm (1 in) timber screws
  • 2 x 300 mm (12 in) lengths of light-duty chain (optional)
  • 2 x 10 mm (1/2 in) screws


1. Salvage a set of old windows, ideally a matching set, but at least of similar size. Hardwood timber and something with minimal rot will make things easier, but it's not essential.

2. Use the paint scraper to knock away rough patches of paint on the frame and remove any large splinters.

Scraping away old paint from a window fame Scrape carefully to avoid damaging the wood (or your hands!) (Photo: Matt Pember)

3. Sand back the remaining paint until the frame is even and smooth. This process may reveal some surprisingly colorful layers underneath. It's all part of the history, baby.

Sanding down a window frame Sanding the frame may reveal hidden colors and bits about the window's past. (Photo: Matt Pember)

4. Once the frame is cleaned up, fill in any imperfections with wood putty, which will stop water from infiltrating through weak parts of the wood and will greatly extend the lifetime of the frame.

Seitchik-Reardon applies wood putty to a window frame Wood putty will keep your window pane glasshouse health for a number of years. (Photo: Matt Pember)

5. A coat of clear varnish will help protect the frame and also seal in the rustic, stripped-back look of the wood. Otherwise, lay on a few coats of your favorite paint.

Seitchik-Reardon applies varnish to a sanded window frame Varnish will seal in the rustic look of the window. (Photo: Matt Pember)

6. Lay the window frames end to end on a flat surface and attach the door hinges. To avoid splitting the wood, pre-drill the holes before screwing the hinges on.

Seitchik-Reardon drills hinges to connect two window frames Adding the door hinges is easy, don't worry. (Photo: Matt Pember)

7. The frames should now be able to form a pitched greenhouse structure by closing the angle of the hinge and moving the windows upright. Expand the frames to your maximum desired size.

Seitchik-Reardon checks the balance of his hinged window frames With the hinges in place, the frames should make the tent structure necessary for the greenhouse. (Photo: Matt Pember)

8. Set the maximum opening size by securing the two lengths of chain to either side of the greenhouse. Slide them down to the point in which each chain is completely taut and fix them in place with a couple of 10 mm (1/2 inch) screws.

Seitchik-Reardon attaches a chain to the corners of the window frame tent The chain will keep the frames at the proper length apart for your garden plot. (Photo: Matt Pember)

After this, you're ready to place your miniature green house over your garden plot.