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Posts: 247
Location: Sierra Nevada mountain valley CA, & Nevada high desert
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This is one of the 18% I would think.
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Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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In the winter, also?
 
richard valley
Posts: 247
Location: Sierra Nevada mountain valley CA, & Nevada high desert
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In winter we ski.
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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I have a friend in Missoula (near where I live) who grows greens in his cold-frame throughout the winter.
 
richard valley
Posts: 247
Location: Sierra Nevada mountain valley CA, & Nevada high desert
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I envy the areas that can grow all year. Here in the mountains a tunnel would have to be dug to the green house and a stove installed for heat. Only the 12X12 pitch roof is above the snow.
We plan a greenhouse for v ranch II, while it get cold down there in winter,there is very little snow by comparison, t he season will be longer and some things can winter well.
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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That's a bunch of snow!! LOL. We get the cold temps (zone 3-4, depending upon site), but nowhere near that much snow. I wonder if a space could be designed such that the heat escape of the greenhouse could melt enough snow to maintain sun exposure... with resulting water stored inside the space for thermal mass and use. Any chance for something of that nature?
 
Posts: 52
Location: north Georgia
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I built an unheated greenhouse which I use to grow my seedlings (after starting with a warming pad) for spring. However I wanted to grow cold tolerant vegetables in the soil during the winter and I have now constructed two cold frames (each 10ft by 4ft) which seem to be working.

I used cement blocks on the north side for the first and the cost was approx $40, facilitated by the purchase of windows for nominal cost at the local thrift store. For the second I used large stones dug up while constructing a contour ditch - the stones act as a heat sink and total cost was less than the first. I have min/max thermometers inside and outside and when the ambient temp fell to a low of 20 degrees the inside temperature was just over 30 degrees and my vegetables are growing well. I also sited my gravity fed irrigation system in the cold frame so that watering can be done without opening up the frames.

You can see details in my "cold frame" posts on my website at www.nutrac.info.
 
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Hello from Romania!

I am trying to become self-sufficient on a small piece of land that has a fairly big whole on what I later concluded must have been a very long time ago a small creek. I needed myself more soil for around the property and as I dug, after three/four feet I ran into sand which continued more or less up to 12 feet down to the clay of the first water bed so (with so much sand around) my hopes for creating there a (15x60 feet) lake in that location where shattered.
Not thinking of another use for the whole I am now considering building there a large basement (15x30 feet and 9 feet deep) to use as temporary living quarters - on top if which I will one day build the house. Even so, I would not get enough soil to change the slope around the upcoming basement – to be safe from water infiltration - so I want to continue the basement (N-S) with a (15-30 feet) greenhouse that would be partially in-ground (three feet).
I was thinking that I could chiefly use it to grow plants and vegetables in container (perhaps on tables) and I want to give a slope to the arched part of the greenhouse to more easily collect hot air to sometimes heat the house/basement and/or store the heat underground the greenhouse (through some kind of system) for the cold winter nights. This in fact would be an exchange of air as I could also draw heat from the basement (another reason for going nine feet high with it – larger volume) during winter and maybe even cold air in the spring (until airing it during the hot summer days using conventional heat-release methods).

It is a huge investment for me; I have not found sufficient information on the subject so your observations would be of great help. I will try to formulate some questions but feedback in any format would be much appreciated.
1. With so much sand around me, a 10/12 feet slope and conventional wall protection measures will I be safe from water infiltration if there are only three feet (for water to travel) between my basement floor and the clay soil (I will of course collect all roof rainwater so no pressure from that direction)?

2. Maximum temperatures here are from -5F to 105F (-20 to 40 Celsius). Under extreme circumstances I guess I could use some heating system but otherwise, do you consider that having an almost equal volume of air for exchange I would be able to keep the greenhouse above freezing level simply by drawing air from the basement. (I am thinking that I get a good start from the heat released by going three/four feet in ground with the greenhouse.)

3. While quite expensive, would it make a significant difference if I were to ad a one inch of foam insulation to the concrete walls exterior of the greenhouse? (I am already planning to protect from water those walls.) How about doubling the covering sheet of the greenhouse?

Some other less obvious bonuses would be:
- bring soil on the property at the same level.

- recycling some of the stone mixed with sand to serve for mixing my own cement.

- recycling lots of sand to improve soil permeability in my garden.

- recycling and circulating the preheated greenhouse air in a system that would further heat it and fuel the solar water heater and a sizable food dehydrator.

Once again, I would greatly appreciate your answers and suggestions.
Thank you kindly,

Gerula
 
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
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Paul and Jocelyn go over some listener questions in this podcast. They talk about gardening, greenhouses, and starting from scratch doing something you love. podcast
 
Posts: 169
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Paul saw my greenhouse and had the same things to say about it. About 25 days either side of the winter solstice, the sun is too low to even reach my property, the rest of the winter and fall and even into spring, there is not enough sunlight to count on. I've heard of people having 100F temperatures in their greenhouse in winter. That will never be the case here unless I have heating sources other than the sun.

In my defense, I have the following needs/reasons for a greenhouse.

My location is generally too cold to grow tomatoes easily outside. People on the bottom of the valley can do it, but I've had 1 too many years of having 30 lbs of green tomatoes on the vines to not have a greenhouse.
My family uses about 6-10lbs of tomatoes a week, which is a large expense, if 400$ greenhouse can cut into that expense for 3-4 months of the year, then I have a winner.
I knew going into it that I wouldn't have sunlight hitting the greenhouse during winter. To have sunlight hitting a greenhouse, one must first have sunlight. We average something like 8-9 days of sun during the 3 months of winter.
I can keep things alive inside it during the winter that would otherwise die. My greenhouse didn't freeze this year, but outside has quite a lot. Being able to keep things alive during the winter gives me better storability of certain vegetables that are more cold sensitive than others.

Paul says that it is a lot of work to take care of the plants inside of it, because you now have to water, etc etc, however, it is no different than raising livestock in a paddock system, you have to move the animals every so often otherwise your paddock is ruined. With a greenhouse, all of the manual tasks besides the initial planting (and pruning if desired), can be automated through timers and temperature based door openers. In the summer however, I can leave the doors or sides open and not have to worry about over/underheating.
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
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Paul talks to Josh, a raw foodist homesteader in Monroe, WA about his north-facing slope piece of land. podcast 109

They talk about his greenhouse.
 
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So far I'm not finding any "SUCK" factors in our greenhouse, take a look at our progress. This is an easy and efficient way to heat your greenhouse...we've posted progress pictures.. today we measure the heap, 1 ft in...and got 150 degree reading...so exciting to use manure and leaves to heat your greenhouse from the outside...not in!! take a look all!!! https://www.facebook.com/pages/HomePlace/111118865630769

Just go to facebook and type in HOMEPLACE...
lee in KY
 
Posts: 18
Location: New York State about 25 miles south of Syracuse.
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Well I've been eating greens all winter and once the day length reached 10 hours in zone 5a its been hard to keep up with the food growing in my unheated winter house. Its my first winter with the house but it requires no water and there are no weeds to pull because our weeds aren't winter hardy and best of all there are no insects to worry about. Overall it is the best thing since sliced bread and everyone that is serious about sustainability should take a close look at it. You must select the proper greens to plant obviously and most of the seeds should be started in the fall before it gets too cold to get them going. Like everything else you should do your research before you get started. My house is double layered 6mil plastic inflated with a small blower and the plants are also in a tunnel inside the house. A rocket stove with the raised beds for the mass might be a great idea to try.
 
Posts: 4
Location: France, Lot
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I just wanted to jump in here to say that I've found my cold frames are better for rooting cuttings than for seedlings. Because my husband did such a good job of making them insulated, they are a little too air tight for seedlings. The lack of air flow doesn't seem to pose a problem for the cuttings. I have had winters where I only watered the cuttings once and every single one took root. I think they get a lot of their water from condensation on the double glazed window which forms the lid.

I do have two small pre-fab greenhouses that are mounted on a south facing stone wall. I use them to start seeds in the spring. A lot of these seedlings are traded with friends and neighbors for other varieties. I do find that I need to start peppers, melons and eggplant in the greenhouse or they won't get enough of a head start. Our summers are usually three months of drought with very high temperatures during the day and cool temperatures at night. During the summer months my little greenhouses are far too hot for plants, but they do an excellent job drying fruit. Over wither, they house young or sensitive plants. I don't monkey around with worrying about trying to keep the inside temp above freezing. I sort of use my mini greenhouses like sun traps rather than real greenhouses. We had an awful cold snap this year which had lows around -15 C. Because I don't keep anything that isn't frost hardy up to -8 C, I didn't have to worry, which was nice.
 
Bill Sullivan
Posts: 18
Location: New York State about 25 miles south of Syracuse.
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We had a mild winter this year although enough of the nights were sub 0 F to get a pretty good idea how things will go in a more normal winter. I am located in New York State about 25 miles south of Syracuse. Our normal winters get around 160 inches of snow, thank god not this year. I got started with the winter house from reading Eliot Coleman and he speaks very highly of French cold houses and their successes. webpage
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These are greens that were started in Oct. and transplanted into cold house.
 
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Over the last 20yrs of observation,Ive seen more than a few greenhouses wiped out by a "freak" snow/wind storm.What kind of message does it send when someone who is supposed to "care"about the enviroment is spending their time bringing the remains of a greenhouse to the trash?The ecological costs here are staggering!.
Ive been eating the enzyme rich fruits of Sorbus Domestica bletted in the winter which taste like a cross between chocolate and apples.I sure am glad I chose to spend my money on plants that actually do good where I live instead of a plastic dome to grow plants that dont.And the best part is that S.domestica lives for 400yrs instead of the brief blip of a life of a greenhouse.
 
gardener
Posts: 1352
Location: Cascades of Oregon
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One could say that many a garden has been wiped out by freak hail/snow storms. You use what tools you need to accomplish a job, and a greenhouse is a tool.
Poorly constructed or thought out greenhouses fail just as badly as poorly thought out food forests or gardens.
Living in the cascades I have had some tremendous snow loads on my greenhouses and they have survived.
 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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True,a "freak" storm or bad desighn could render a forest garden "trash",and yet somehow the debri of a forest garden,being all organic,has a much smaller ecological cost.In fact,it might be a benefit!.Glad that you have achieved greenhouse sainthood but many people have a rougher learning curve and along that curve mistakes are made.When we deal with all organic things like plants,than those mistakes often take a lower toll on our enviroment.Not everyone is going to do things perfect.I am advocating for people to avoid using short lived industrial technologies because many will be used inapropriatly which will result in a non organic waste stream.Sure,some will get it right but if more than a few get it wrong than a problem exists.
 
Posts: 6
Location: SW Montana
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Brenda Groth wrote:mine is double wall polycarbonate with aluminum framing..i am fairly well pleased with it as it has lasted me for well over 20 years now..and it has more than paid for it's original $1,000 price tag in saved plants..



Newbie to the forum here

This is how ours is built as well. Not sure exactly how big it is because my husband designed it, I just use it *ha* but I believe its about 12x20. We have auto vents and fans as well as radiant floor heat so we can grow in it all year round. We live at 5,700 ft in the mountains of SW Montana. Winters are long and usually hover around 15 degrees, except at night when it goes below zero and we also have an "arctic" period for about 3 weeks, usually in January every year, where the temps are well below zero and the wind chill is even lower. Anything other than a green house would hardly afford us the opportunity to grow most foods in this particular spot.
 
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Is anyone familiar with the "50$ and up underground house book?" The author also does a book on Underground greenhouses. I think these would be fantastic! Keep chickens or rabbits penned up in a (heat sink-the lowest point in the room). Then they put Co2 AND heat in the air. This helps a lot in colder climates, letting you push your grow season months further, considering your ambient room temperature is roughly 55 degrees, without the animals, or any sunlight. Plus your animals are pretty safe underground, as are your plants, so long as you follow his guidelines in construction properly. mike oehler, definitely has a lot of great ideas and years of wisdom that we all could learn from.
 
Posts: 46
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I live in plant hardiness zone 8b. We get about a dozen or fewer freezing nights each year. The summers are hot and humid; many days are 95+ and usually several will be over 100. A greenhouse is needed when growing tomatoes or other vulnerable veggies in the winter but will kill plants in the summer under a conventional greenhouse system.

We designed and built two small greenhouses to take these factors into account. One grows veggies and the other grows orchids. The greenhouse has removable vinyl sides that come down in May and go back up in October. There are fans and misters in the greenhouse to further cool it in the summer. Screen walls remain on the greenhouse to keep out bugs in the summer. These basic design elements make the greenhouse useful year round and solve many of the problems alluded to in the posts above. We've now had these greenhouses more than five years, and they've proven their value. So, with a little bit of thought and planning a greenhouse can be useful in almost any location. Feast your eyes on the greenhouse porn below. These are pics of our greenhouse with a hydroponic set-up.





 
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Here in the mountains east of Albuquerque, we need a greenhouse to extend our growing season on both ends, as it is otherwise too short for most peppers or tomatoes. And then, because we cover it with solex, which only transmits 71% of the light, we get to grow cool weather crops like kale and lettuce in intense summer sun. Without it, they just bolt. Permaculture for food is kind of tough in the high desert mountains, unless you live on pinon nuts! And, to reduce water use (a VERY big deal for us), we use Sub-Irrigation Planters (see globalbuckets.org). Really simple, clean, productive, and successful for us so far...
 
steward
Posts: 3420
Location: woodland, washington
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Bill Kuhn wrote:Here in the mountains east of Albuquerque, we need a greenhouse to extend our growing season on both ends, as it is otherwise too short for most peppers or tomatoes. And then, because we cover it with solex, which only transmits 71% of the light, we get to grow cool weather crops like kale and lettuce in intense summer sun. Without it, they just bolt. Permaculture for food is kind of tough in the high desert mountains, unless you live on pinon nuts! And, to reduce water use (a VERY big deal for us), we use Sub-Irrigation Planters (see globalbuckets.org). Really simple, clean, productive, and successful for us so far...



hey Bill, I'm interested in your experience with solexx. are you happy with it?
 
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The lack of rain water in our unheated hoophouses leads to a high ph in the soil for lack of acid in the rain. Sulphur was the fix. Peter d MI
 
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Hi everyone, I am from Kenya in Africa and many NGOs are starting to promote the use of green houses here to help prevent famine and create income generation. My own limited experience with greenhouses (closed plastic ones) is that they get infested with all kinds of mildew etc. I understand you have to create a healthy environment and give the plants space, but it gets sooooooooooo hot and humid in there................... The companies who sell the greenhouses also sell them together with a "kit" of chemical fertilisers; chemical pest control and GMO seeds, so we have a long way to go!!

Does anyone have any useful tips for me for growing veg in greenhouses a) where it averages 90 - 100+ degrees most days and b) where there is no shade (no trees!). thanks
 
Posts: 3366
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Joannah Stutchbury wrote:Hi everyone, I am from Kenya in Africa and many NGOs are starting to promote the use of green houses here to help prevent famine and create income generation. My own limited experience with greenhouses (closed plastic ones) is that they get infested with all kinds of mildew etc. I understand you have to create a healthy environment and give the plants space, but it gets sooooooooooo hot and humid in there................... The companies who sell the greenhouses also sell them together with a "kit" of chemical fertilisers; chemical pest control and GMO seeds, so we have a long way to go!!

Does anyone have any useful tips for me for growing veg in greenhouses a) where it averages 90 - 100+ degrees most days and b) where there is no shade (no trees!). thanks



Yeah. Keep the frame, ditch the plastic, put up shade cloth instead.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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and plant some trees.
 
Joannah Stutchbury
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Hi guys, thanks for the responses - my sentiments exactly - the plastic looks like a BIG problem but these people are so happy with their enclosed (and in my oppinion totally inapropriate greenhouses) I was hoping to meet them
half way with some cool tips - I believe ventilation is the key - shade netting would definately be a better option.

And of course as Tel says - planting trees!!
 
Robert Ray
gardener
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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Bok choi, carrots, chard, a big head of elephant garlic, a few beets and a few parsnips and I had to walk through the snow to get them I love my greenhouse. I can feel and smell dirt even in the winter.
 
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The biggest issue I have had with my greenhouse is condensation.

It has south facing glazing and couple of west facing windows set into the wall. The north side and all non-glass areas of wall are insulated. It has water circulating through the ground, into tanks on the north wall and through a radiator hooked to a ducted air system drawing the hottest air from the peak. I have grown tomatoes through the winter relying on the thermal mass to provide heat at night and on cloudy days. But it got pretty cold at night due to the phase change of water from gas to liquid on the interior of the glass. (The phase change gives up 1000 times the energy needed to raise that amount of water 1 degree C) The west windows are from sliding glass doors and water does not condense on them. While I planned on having a removable night-time outside insulation/solar reflector, the size of the structure made that a very difficult build. Removable insulation would add a labor factor and a cost factor but would solve my condensation problem, which mostly occurs at night. I think the cost of double glazing is well worth the fighting and fussing with condensation issues.
 
gardener
Posts: 723
Location: south central VA 7B
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I inherited a green/hoop house with a building I bought in town. i've cut it in half and getting ready to locate the other 1/2 to the farm. I am situating it facing southwest (new studies are showing the even solar panels amp up their % of function with a more western exposure). As for heat, I've been gathering rocks which we will lay in rows, some buried and others mounded up for a deeper heat sink, planting in the corresponding rows, directly in the dirt vs pots. This should allow cole crops all winter long. I'll let you know.

 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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It seems most love their greenhouses for the fresh greens during winter.Looking at pre industrial cultures and contemplating the greenhouse issues,I personaly believe that fermented foods are the solution to greenhouses.They provide live foods for the winter without the ick factor of plastic.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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Not all greenhouses are made with plastic pre industrial greenhouses used an oiled cloth. My greenhouse attached to my house does dual duty in providing passive heating. A greenhouse is a tool for those in areas where that extended growing season is required.
 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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I think its important for people to question what is "required" if we want to move in a sustainable direction.Its also good to experiment with other options.Blindly accepting the product dependent culture we are in will not move us forward.What I like about this thread is that it challenges the assumed neccesity of greenhouses.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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Would a greenhouse made of salvaged materials be considered sustainable?
Does my using my greenhouse to nuture cuttings for outside planting have a benefit?
I've seen a definite challenge on describing sustainable and if one can truly be sustainable without external inputs from outside their haven.
How does one keep animals in or out of pastures without some external input if the property does not have a woodlot?
Does passive solar heat have any value for a greehouse attached to a house?
Required clothing in a cool climate is definetly different than those of one living in a PNW rainforest or New Mexico desert. Zonal differences definitely make a difference in what's required to survive.
Are any season extenders a good thing?
The intelligent proper use of a tools, and greenhouses are a tool, is what has moved us from loin cloth and stick and I don't think that we need or will de-evolve to that time. We will have to move away from petroleum products. Plant based or bio plastic might be an answer to ick.
What I hope is that those who don't live or garden in a cold climate are open minded enough that they can accept what those of us that do, utilize tools that are not required in their area. I'm not blindly accepting a product I'm implementing Roman technology.
For instance my overnight temperature last night was 7 degrees and right now it's 55 degrees being in the mountains as I am even in the summer the range of temperatures swing wildly some type of season extender is important and prudent.
I've lived in areas that had no need for a greenhouse but a greenhouse now gives me the ability to be resilient and productive.
 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Even eskimos dont require a greenhouse.One of the best ways to evolve lifestyle wise is to question the neccesity of the industrial products we use.Looking to the many models from the past where people lived quite well without.Clearly this past shows us that greenhouses are a want not a need regardless of climate."greenhouse cultures use too many resources and create dependencies on water and energy"sepp holzer.Which culture are you?
 
Robert Ray
gardener
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I'm of the adaptive culture. I think evolving requires pushing the envelope remaining static and not searching is not evolving.
My green house with raised beds that have haybale bases have been very effective in decreasing water requirements and providing insulation.
I am of the opinion that we will see change but not slide back to pre industrialization. Dependent on more localized infrastructure but still connected outside my circle. I like to think that we are able to adapt and will.
Those of us in challenging areas will continue to use tools that are a prudent choice for our particular circumstance. I hope that my efforts are within the 18% that are considered a success.
Do you consider an Oehler design having any merit? Does the use of salvaged material removing that salvage from the waste stream have value? Is there any instance in where you think a greenhouse has any value?
I envy my daughter who lives in Woodland and doesn't need a greenhouse but I still kick ass in overall production some of which is in a greenhouse.

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Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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I agree that greenhouses made with reused materials that are used to start trees and perennials are great because the use leads away from dependence similar to building swales ect.I in no way meant to imply that humans should go back to the past but that we should go forward non industrially using the increased availability of plant genetics and examples of technique gleaned from non industrial cultures around the world past and present.
 
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