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what is wrong with greenhouses?

 
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Man came out of Africa and developed technology that allowed man to live and spread around the world. If you look at the spread of plants and animals used by man. You have two cases. North and South America and the rest of the world. I break this out because in the old world plants and animals moved longitudinal east and west. It is much easier for longitudinal move than latitudinal move from North America to South America. So we had global transfer thousands of years ago. This also led to development of tools and methods for farming these plants and animals. Now Modern Globalization has given us chemical farming of monoculture crops. This can only work with high energy inputs. But green houses were first used hundreds of years before modern globalization. Were these first greenhouses appropriate technology? Some used manure which was a major waste problem to generate heat. They used glass that could last generations if the frame was properly made and maintained. They were used to extend the growing season or allow the growing of plants from warmer climate zones. I lived in Alaska and use to take my children to the community green houses for walks. The first live orange and lemon on a tree my children ever saw was in those green houses.
 
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My first post. I've been lurking around this website for a few weeks.

The logic of this topic is escaping me.

It all seems rather contrived.

If its not ok to create supplemented environments for plants why is it ok to create supplemented environments for ourselves. It seems to me that such a purist would denounce sleeping in a bed in a house. Certainly it would not be acceptable to use lightbulbs, toilet paper, birth control(!), television or internet. To me this is reminiscent of the Uni-bomber's Manifesto.

Moreover, we manipulate all the flora and fauna of agriculture/permaculture to propagate optimal breeds for our situations. How is influencing breeding any different than influencing environment? Which self-righteous human being is gonna try to tell me that breeding drought resistant and disease resistant food plants is wrong? Probably the same guy who says that if all the starving people of the world are really hungry they'd move to where the food is.

 
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Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Having a thread open to discuss what is wrong with something is not telling anybody anything.What kind of person would bother to post on a thread they completely disagree with.There is other threads here about the downsides of certain technologies.Your not even allowed to post pro GMO permi stuff here even though some are into it.If folks think manipulation is so great,I would encourage them to spend their energies promoting such things.
 
gardener
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Having a thread open to discuss what is wrong with something is not telling anybody anything.What kind of person would bother to post on a thread they completely disagree with.There is other threads here about the downsides of certain technologies.Your not even allowed to post pro GMO permi stuff here even though some are into it.If folks think manipulation is so great,I would encourage them to spend their energies promoting such things.



Having read the majority of the messages in this thread and been in some of the discussions, I still don't see " what is wrong with greenhouses ".
Regardless, I don't have any problem with people that don't want to use them.

It's been interesting to see what people would do as alternatives. Instead of fresh greens and veggies, maybe more canned and dried. root cellaring, reconstitutable foods,etc.
This might be handy when living on a boat on an ocean, or where there is a lot of darkness, like on a long mission in space.


 
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Cris Bessette wrote:

Matt Ferrall wrote:Having a thread open to discuss what is wrong with something is not telling anybody anything.What kind of person would bother to post on a thread they completely disagree with.There is other threads here about the downsides of certain technologies.Your not even allowed to post pro GMO permi stuff here even though some are into it.If folks think manipulation is so great,I would encourage them to spend their energies promoting such things.



Having read the majority of the messages in this thread and been in some of the discussions, I still don't see " what is wrong with greenhouses ".
Regardless, I don't have any problem with people that don't want to use them.

It's been interesting to see what people would do as alternatives. Instead of fresh greens and veggies, maybe more canned and dried. root cellaring, reconstitutable foods,etc.
This might be handy when living on a boat on an ocean, or where there is a lot of darkness, like on a long mission in space.



......and for those of us who don't use greenhouses!
 
gardener
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The discussion started with a claim that "Big Names" of permaculture were against the use of greenhouses. I have no problem with those that do not want to use greenhouses, I happen to use one.
We've established through the OP's comments that some use of greenhouses is less bad than others and that "Big Names" may not all be against their use. There has been no supporting documentation of large versus small, off grid versus on grid, Industrial use, alpine versus lowland use. Just the use is WRONG, because of unmeasurable cultural dependence, connection with the land, industrial inputs.
I am all for a discussion and appreciate an educated one.
 
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wow.. I have read every post in this thread. to me, your choice to use a GH or not to use a GH is just that, YOUR CHOICE. for someone to state that this is wrong or that is right,,, is just sanctimonious double talk,. the gods gave us the intellict to use our brains.. if we use it to feed ourselves or destroy our selves, we have only ourselves to blame. but to shoot arrows at those who do not do what WE do is, so, selfserving and hypocritical.
I guess i just dont understand the difference between being a self provider and being a communal feeder.
 
Matt Ferrall
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If a person chooses to use GMOs,that is their choice but that doesnt negate asking the question of "what is wrong with GMOs?".Now obviously some of you feel very uncomfortable with my asking a simple question.
 
Gord Day
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no.. I think "what is a gmo? or what good is GMO?" is a valid question. I hate GMO. Would not ..ever.. allow it on my place. there are others who welcome it.. purely their choice, but i wouldnt expend alot of energy to disuade them. In the end, the choice is thiers.
 
Matt Ferrall
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It should also be noted that Paul Wheaton has gone to great lengths to point out flaws in CFLs.Now clearly,the choice is up to the consumer,but never the less,many have found value in hearing a critique.Now no doubt Paul has put up with a whole slew of people who think CFLs are important to permaculture.They feel threatened that some technology they feel is almost neccesary to being green is under attack.But Paul keeps on truckin despite the naysayers and has now gotten labeled the'bad boy of permaculture'.Because he challenges assumed 'best practices'!He has put the word Permaculture on the map by showing it is different and perhaps better than conventional gardening.Along the way,many have been hurt because they want the conventional way they do stuff to be 'Permaculture'and to be cool but Paul is promoting something different.The forces of conservative tradition will always attack new and different ways of doing things.So if a person is into the irrigation,CFL,greenhouse thing,thats OK! but please dont waste your time trying to convince those of us trying to explore flaws in those things,that we should stop and accept that current 'best practices'are as good as it gets.
 
Gord Day
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just edited mt response after Re reading it,, i had meant to say ..i WOULDN,T expend alot of energy to disude them.. instead ,,it came out,, that I WOULD.. my bad.. proof reading is your friend.. sry for the oversite
 
Posts: 33
Location: Minnesota
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I don't have a greenhouse yet because I'm planning to move.... or there would be one on my south side right now. Heated by the sun, heating the house a bit, and extending the growing season at least a bit here in zone (4?5? they keep moving. S MN) When I actually build/renovate my final house, it will be energy-positive - or maybe a tiny wood stove - because of using every passive solar technique in the book. So there! (I'd better look at the greenhouse sucks thread - if I can find it.
 
Cris Bessette
gardener
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Shodo Spring wrote:I don't have a greenhouse yet because I'm planning to move.... or there would be one on my south side right now. Heated by the sun, heating the house a bit, and extending the growing season at least a bit here in zone (4?5? they keep moving. S MN) When I actually build/renovate my final house, it will be energy-positive - or maybe a tiny wood stove - because of using every passive solar technique in the book. So there! (I'd better look at the greenhouse sucks thread - if I can find it.



I am admittedly completely BIASED towards the use of passive greenhouses, enclosed porches, cold frames, row covers, passive solar in general!
So, yeah, good luck on getting your house going and soaking up all that free lovely sunlight.

My views on greenhouses and passive solar are completely influenced by my life being majorly improved by the use of these things. My electricity use, gas use has dropped to almost nothing compared to previous years in the winter.

Just being able to spend hours sitting out on the porch reading some good gardening books whilst soaking in the sun in dead winter takes away those winter blues, and my dogs love soaking in the warmth and snoozing. I have been very much positively emotionally and psychologically effected by this and no longer think of winter as a long, bleak miserable time to slag though.





 
Judith Browning
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Cris, that sounds wonderful. We all probably need more sun rooms, lots of glass no plastic. I think that the line I draw has to do with avoiding anything that involves more plastics in my life.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
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My passive greenhouse attached to the house has dramatically reduced my heating bills as well. Even though we get a lot of snow we do have beautiful sunny days. So opening the french doors on the dining room and master let in 70 degree air when the snow is three foot deep. My cabin fever moods are definitely improved with being able to soak up the light and heat from that additional space.
 
Cris Bessette
gardener
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Judith Browning wrote:Cris, that sounds wonderful. We all probably need more sun rooms, lots of glass no plastic. I think that the line I draw has to do with avoiding anything that involves more plastics in my life.



Funny thing is, I can buy used glass windows for cheaper than I can buy plastic windows, greenhouse covers,etc.
Even saving bottles and jars to make bottle walls.
 
pollinator
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In this day and age we are quite far from the ideal of where we should be. Many people think that we should use the resources that we have to restore and revitalize the planet before we don't have them anymore. Anyone creating earthworks to restore lost hydrology is doing this. When greenhouses again become propagation facilities, producing thousands of plants each year, to establish outside forest gardens, then we are on the right track. Why not use the resources that we have to leave a better planet for future generations. Because at this rate they aren't going to have access to those same resources.

If pictures do more speaking than words I'll let the nectarine give my perspective on the situation. I like eating figs, pineapple guava, and persimmons in a climate with 120 frost free days. This greenhouse uses no heat, fossil fuel, or even electricity to keep a zone 8 micro climate in a harsh zone 4 climate (Bozeman, MT). The facility has not used any chemical, fertilizer, or outside input in over 30 years. Perpetual Soils

 
Cris Bessette
gardener
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Zach Weiss:

Wow, that is nice. Is this your greenhouse? Nice plantings underneath, and I like the rock wall.

 
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I have 2 portable 10x20 greenhouses I use here in south central Alaska. They help, but are not a panacea. However, it is no one elses buisness to tell me what works for me based on a philisophical asthetic of there own creation.
When I lived in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, such things weren't really neccessary, but greenhouses are fun! I could garden year around with no heat needed. What is wrong with that? I kept a mulch pile in there too, sometimes.
 
Matt Ferrall
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Zach,I agree completely that greenhouses used to establish a permanent landscape is the appropriate use.They do not foster dependence as such but actually lead to independence.I like to think of them as "training wheels".
Tom,no one here is telling you what to do.We are discussing down sides in this thread.No action is all positive to all people.I bet if you thought long and hard you could contribute some down side to this conversation.
 
Tom Jonas
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To amend my earlier post, a green house is merely a tool. Some folks use it right, some wrong. I'm not a real fan of mega agribuisness with concern to greenhouses, as the profit only model tends to lead to unsustainable consequences. However, as many on this thread have pointed out, green houses, sunspaces, etc., are wonderful additions to ones home for thermal and livability concerns. My apologies if I came off as cross, I have a real crappy cold-flu and am a bit out of sorts....
 
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In the big scheme of things, i just dont see greenhouses being being more of a negstive then an addition.

Will Allen uses green houses, and aqua culture along with composting and hardwork to feed a lot of people in a very inclimate area.

One of the really distressing things i am seeing in permaculture is the elitist attitude, along with a stronger desire to pad an individual's wallet, then to help the community.

If someone condemns greenhouses, while using greenhouses, of what value is that opinion? Not saying all of his opinions have no value, only that paticular one.

Msny believe that nature is the ideal, but geographically much of the earth has never been able to support humans. The plsins indians did not travel for fun. They traveled to feed themselves. I dont think there have been better stewards of the land, but in my area i fo not see a pure permaculture mentality feeding many individuals.

No matter what resources greenhouses use, they are minor compared to the current oil based agg.

Groeing good food, is a good thing.

Sorry, posting from a phone.

I think growing food, real food, is good. I think innovative methods are neeeded.

 
steward
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I believe that the 'sustainability' of green houses is a matter of scale.

I agree that having massive greenhouses that gobble up tons of fossil fuels in order to have vine ripened tomatoes when there is still 4 feet of snow on the ground is an absurd waste of resources.

However, having a 'starting shed' which allows me to get a head start on what would otherwise be too short of a season for tomatoes is certainly a better choice than buying flavorless commercial tomatoes trucked in from the Sonora Desert.

As the world's population continues to expand, we cannot realistically expect that all food production will be centered in 'ideal climates'. After all, that is where most people want to reside.

As permies, we often look to marginal lands for our homesteads. These lands are not ideal for massive monocrops, so consequently, they are the lands we can afford to buy and develop. I am looking at land in an area that can have as little as 90 days of 'growing season', with only about an inch of rain within that season. Can I compete with the Big Boys and grow tons per acre to sell at wholesale prices? No! But, I can produce enough for my year round consumption, with a surplus to share.

Unless I completely change my diet, I will need some assistance in growing what I eat. No, I don't expect to grow my own coffee beans or bananas, but for the bulk of what I like to consume, a greenhouse to get things started earlier will help me become more sustainable. It is a tool that will help convert me from being a consumer to being a producer. Isn't that what permaculture is all about?

It will also provide me with plant starts which I can sell (to pay for those coffee beans and bananas I import). If my neighbors and community see me producing a surplus on that land, more and more of them will begin asking "How?" If I can help show them, I will have made a positive impact on my community, and that is the best way to grow the permies message. Every convert makes us stronger as a group.
 
pollinator
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^^^^
yes totally, this is what i got to thinking about earlier in this conversation, but wasnt inclined to figure out how to communicate the ideas i was having.

that and i also agree that scale is important to bring up, what i was also thinking about earlier in the thread.
for someone they could have a fancy greenhouse with all of the bells and whistles and never make it "pay off" where someone else could have a tiny passive greenhouse with freegan materials and it would make a huge improvement and abundance of food...considering what they put into making it. i think people have to work this out for themselves, and naturally will...have to find a way to make it work for them, or find that its eventually not worth it....and with different climates and different circumstances will be able to make this work for them or not. so yeah obviously its about how you do it, that matters, heated or unheated is part of it, but theres so many other factors that people have to find their own equation to make it work.

unfortunately though, too few people consider the hidden costs of the manufacture, the shipping, the wasteful and nasty industrial hidden costs of having one of these very fancy greenhouses....

this issues is interwoven with all of the other issues we have systemically, of course, like everything is...

the main thing that was coming up in thinking on this, was how lack of access to land, lack of communal management of land, has lead to increasing dependance on greenhouses. in a smaller space to work with to try to grow as much as possible, conditions forced on us through weird issues around private property, and all the instability of the economic situation, excessive high costs of land, having a greenhouse becomes more important. well if you want to feed yourself, and greatly reduce the amount of food you have to buy, and the MUCH WORSE dependance on stores with their gasoline drenched food.

that and not having much seed or plants to work with to begin with. like if i only have ten to twenty seeds to start something i am definitely going to start them in as protected environment as possible, rather than direct seeding. i do a lot of direct seeding but am more inclined to do so with stuff i have jars and big bags of seed...then the less return i get for that amount just doesnt matter, cause i have plenty of seed.
when i havent had a greenhouse this often meant my living space was taken over by plants! i have lived with large areas of whatever living space i have devoted to plants...which then makes it obvious that i have to figure out how to create some kind of atrium/greenhouse/inside and protected environment to start seeds and maximize the return, rather than direct seeding and only getting a few plants per hundred seed.


but yeah a lot of the issues that come up, i see as directly related to having small amount s of space to work in and trying to produce as much food as possible in a small space, often not ideal or even close....which is tied to all sort s of other issues of lack of access to land, to plants and seeds, and monetizing these things which is a whole nother can of worms.
 
master pollinator
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Matt Smith wrote:Bless the hearts of all you patient souls who are legitimately trying to forge some kind of sensible debate out of this. While I wonder if your efforts are worth it, I do applaud your zen-like approach.



I have read the whole thing.
I was thinking this while still on the first page and thought this one might be killed by an early frost.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I bought some land and decided to farm it as a way to enhance my life, not to limit it. I'm putting mother nature to work for me. It's a master - servant relationship. Nature wants to grow very little of value on my land, so I've decided to take over and change that. Greenhouses will be part of the transition. I'll build them from the same waste stream from which I have already removed 15,000 tons of waste. I read the suck factor as well. Both threads contained thoughtful use of greenhouses, a few sound arguments against and an ample supply of white noise.

I've decided to name the first greenhouse ----- Matt

 
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