This idea just crossed my mind, all inspired by your work. What if you combined a crater garden and a greenhouse, or a bio-dome kinda thing in order to create an even warmer microclimate. that could be cool.
From the pictures on the Perpetual Green Earth Powered Greenhouse page it looks like you use greenhouses mainly to create ecosystems which are actually planted in the house. Is this accurate? What else do you use greenhouses for?
Our greenhouses are indeed used mainly to create ecosystems inside the structure. This is important because once established it takes a huge amount of the work out of the greenhouse. Nature is doing the work. Fertility, pest control, climate control; all of these are achieved passively without any fossil fuel or human input. It's amazing how many people are open to natural pest control once they learn that it can be done and will happen so long as they are patient and read nature. These greenhouses are also excellent for propagation, that's now one of my main uses for them. The species propagated in the greenhouses can then be planted outdoors in larger gardens, for example a crater garden.
I love the idea of a crater garden/greenhouse, but in a way that is exactly what we are doing with the greenhouses. Digging the greenhouse into the ground to gain from the earth temperature and create an enhanced micro-climate.
The thing I really like about crater gardens is that you can treat such a large area for such a long timescale as opposed to a greenhouse. A large crater garden/greenhouse would be quite an expensive project. To give you an idea we created a crater garden and a greenhouse on the same project last year. The greenhouse was about 80k for a 1000 square foot structure while the crater garden was 30k for an acre area, 43,560 square foot. Roughly $80 per square foot for a greenhouse versus $0.7 per square foot.
The crater garden will last for generations, whereas the greenhouse will need new plastic every 20 years, maybe new framing every couple 100 years. A much shorter lifespan with a much greater investment. Granted there are lots of things you can do in a greenhouse that you can't do in a crater garden, but if a crater garden isn't maintained for a couple of decades or even a few hundred years it's still going to be thriving. The growth and development of soil over that period will be massive; they only get lusher. It's watered by the sky, it gains from all of the resources that nature provides. I've seen plenty of dilapidated and un-maintained greenhouses, if they go un-watered for a year or two pretty much everything is kaput.
Crater gardens are a solution where the inputs really pay off over time. And this is a very affordable solution for the common person. 30k is not a large investment for a landowner, in our area a well is roughly 20k. With a greenhouse there is all sorts of cement and concrete, plastic, metal, things with a lot of embodied energy. The earthworks can be created for just a few pickup loads of liquid, it's quite amazing really. This is why I'm really pushing my business in the direction of earthworks, it's a solution that just makes so much sense on every level.
Right. I agree with everything you just said. It is extraordinary what Earthworks can accomplish and there are still so many potential earthwork designs that have not even been thought of yet. Designs which could stretch the limits well beyond what we can currently do. And I believe that many ideas like crater gardens are still in there infancy and they have yet to develop into their full potential.