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Winter greenhouse. Input Needed.  RSS feed

 
Jared Brown
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Hello,

I recently acquired some land and with the goal of becoming completely self sufficient in the future I plan to start by building a green house that will produce food most of the year; ideally year round. I am near the North Dakota and Minnesota border at 47° latitude and am on a budget of about $2,000. Winters are frigid and I plan to get this built before the snow falls. Right now I am leaning towards a walipini (pit greenhouse) with a rocket mass heater.

I am a novice and would greatly appreciate any thoughts, tips, ideas... really any useful input.

Thank you,

Jared
 
Jen Van
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Good luck! I am also hoping to build a greenhouse here near the Twin Cities in our yard!
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3981
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Howdy Jared, welcome to permies!

I built a "pit" greenhouse years ago in Wyoming. I think I posted a picture of it around here somewhere.
I got some free wood from a house that was beeing torn down and basically built an A frame over a hole I had dug out of a side of a hill.
Put a door in one end and covered it with plastic.
It worked great and was pretty cheap.
Might be able to use old windows too?
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
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Jared Brown wrote:Hello,

I recently acquired some land and with the goal of becoming completely self sufficient in the future I plan to start by building a green house that will produce food most of the year; ideally year round. I am near the North Dakota and Minnesota border at 47° latitude and am on a budget of about $2,000. Winters are frigid and I plan to get this built before the snow falls. Right now I am leaning towards a walipini (pit greenhouse) with a rocket mass heater.

I am a novice and would greatly appreciate any thoughts, tips, ideas... really any useful input.

Thank you,

Jared
This is the most accurate info I have ever seen. http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/. Notice he does not use heat in his greenhouses.

If you notice, he is selling vegetables until almost mid-winter in Maine. Using his practice of covering beds with multiple layers of plastic, I harvest the last of my frost-nipped vegetables in January. (I do not heat mine either)

He is accurate when he says that the vegetables grow very little once it gets cold out: that means that the main growing season is during the summer whlle the main harvest is in the winter. My best vegetables was beets: I harvested greens for my salads all summer long and the beets were the last to be frost-damaged. When I finally harvested the beets, my largest one was 6 inches across! Of course it had been in the ground for 8 months!

Lastly, to make my greenhouse I painted pressure treated wood, nailed the frame together, put plastic hoops over the top, and added a sheet of plastic for the top. The sun and the weather make the plastic brittle, so you an only expect it to last for 9 months. A real greenhouse "skin" would last much, much better!
 
Tim Malacarne
Posts: 226
Location: South central Illinois, USA
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I built a 8' X 16' coldframe with inground beds, a sort of pit greenhouse. I will second the idea that, once the weather gets cold, you are basically holding the veggies, they hardly grow at all then. The work some do with the row covers and hoop houses is great. Right now I am excavating the soil from the coldframe, and installing 3" PVC pipes for bottom heating purposes and thermal flywheel. Good luck! Best, TM
 
paul sanego
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I live in the UK so it usually doesn't get extremely cold, wet and windy is the normal pattern, so I recently built a triple wall polycarbonate greenhouse and I'm using horticultural fleece to help protect tender plants at night. I don't plan on using any additional heat, fuel costs are just too high, I'll know better by spring if I have done enough to keep salad crops etc in my unheated greenhouse.
Here is a short video of the crops and fleece...

http://youtu.be/yg4MiAmwZwk
 
Mike Feddersen
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I love the simplicity of a dug in greenhouse.
I just watched this earthship style greenhouse, very labor intensive. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=275yi8OAVC8

I saw an article on here about a couple in Minnesota that grew greens all winter, I will go see if I can find it. http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/02/03/regional/deep-winter-green-house
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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So the problem is providing minerals in the winter, for that you could do nuts instead, then there is storage vegetables like cabbage, beets, radish, and other root crops, there is also dehydrated fruits and also smoked meats (beef jerky/ham/fish/etc) then you could ferment stuff like pickles, wine, cider, milk to cheese.


As others have stated, the greenhouse will really only function as in ground storage and not active growth. For that Kale overwinters well. So how many heads of lettuce/greens do you need to survive for the winter. How much land will that take for in ground storage. 10,000sqft and how much money will it cost to cover that much land with a greenhouse, earth sheltered or not.
 
Brian Cantley
Posts: 17
Location: Sprague River, Oregon
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Have built an underground greenhouse here in the high desert of southern oregon. (just north of Klamath falls at about 4300 feet altitude) As seasons change, it's not only temperature that effects growth but hours of light.

The greenhouse was very simple construction with a combination of lumber and t-posts for the walls and a slanted 2x4 roof with plastic on both sides of the 2x4's to create an extra barrier to the cold. Inside, after we dug down to the local hard layer of rock(hardpan) we then built the floor back up using hugelkultur. Large pine logs were put in rows leaving the middle of the greenhouse open. The middle was vertical pallets covered with a mesh fabric to prevent dirt from falling through the pallets. Halfway up the pallets a simple wooden walkway was nailed in leaving an open space below the walkway about a foot wide and a foot and a half high. The idea here was to use this as a cold sink like is used in igloos in the far north. The cold air will sit there instead of on the plants which are a bit higher on the hugelkultur bed. After the logs for the bed we added a mixture of goat poop and hay(we have a goat dairy and this is what we clean out of their living area).

I built this in my nephews place and he has since moved on so I only have input from the first winter in which kale and cabbage survived the winter where temperatures dropped to -30F.

As in any underground greenhouse the idea is that the steady temperature in the surrounding earth keep the temperature inside the greenhouse higher than the frigid winter air.

Am still experimenting up here now with an above-ground hugelkultur bed but can't report on that yet.

For a few pics of the above-ground bed and the underground greenhouse construction with center walkway you can check out this facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KBPermies/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
 
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