For the last few weeks of seedlings which have been started indoors. The idea is basically to build a 3ft cubic compost pile, then a small greenhouse over the top. This seems like a great solution for home scale gardeners without a heated greenhouse in northern climates. I believe the article came out prior to the readily available hoop bender, which could be utilized to make the frame. Anyone have experience with this model or others
I'm using hugelkultur as the compost to heat my cold frame from below, and I've got the whole thing below ground to help insulate it: http://woodforfood.blogspot.com/2014/04/underground-cold-frame-part-i.html I've heard that in France in the 1800's, horse manure was used to heat cold frames and more wintertime produce was grown this way than anywhere else in Europe at the time. It makes a lot of sense but I haven't found any drawings of the designs they used back then -- wouldn't that be neat?
If anyone has suggestions on where to take it from here, I'm all ears (see photos on above link for the stage it is at right now). I'm hoping to slant the cold frame toward the southwest by building the walls higher on the northeast side, and then I'm thinking to attach the window to a wooden frame that can sit on top of the rock walls. Have you seen any designs that include the cold frame being underground?
Julie Ashmore wrote:
I've heard that in France in the 1800's, horse manure was used to heat cold frames and more wintertime produce was grown this way than anywhere else in Europe at the time. It makes a lot of sense but I haven't found any drawings of the designs they used back then -- wouldn't that be neat?
Bearing in mind that this was before cars and there was widespread concern that horse manure would end up burying cities. They had quantities available far beyond the wildest dreams of a small farm with a couple of horses. I suspect that you would be able to nurture a small number of plants through a winter but you would need to find a regular and plentiful supply of manure to take it beyond hobby scale. These days most stables dose their horses with all sorts of antibiotics so the manure is rather less than ideal.
Growing Pineapples with Manure
Notice that they needed 30 tonnes of horse manure to ripen 10 pineapples.
Jean Pain compost mound heat for hot water loop to hoop house/green house, low tech and very good data:
A pile of leaves is a very effective insulator as well, so often will feel warmer and drier than the surroundings. You can make a really really warm and comfortable winter survival shelter from twigs and leaves heaped up. Do a search for 'debris hit' to see what I mean.
What appears to matter though is the rate at which heat is produced, rather than the temperature that can be reached. Similar conversations happen with solar power - you can make an insulated box that gets hot enough to warp and melt plastic but is still lousy because the rate of energy gain is too small.
By all means try it but my own experiences suggest it is unlikely to be successful. After all - farmers and market gardeners have been using these techniques for generations and have always advocated tonnes of the freshest horse manure they can get.