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The Year Round Solar Greenhouse by Lindsey Schiller  RSS feed

 
Michael Newby
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Which has a larger overall fossil fuel cost:  Growing produce in Florida then shipping it all the way to New York to sell or growing that same produce in New York in a conventional greenhouse and selling at local markets?  Believe it or not, the conventional greenhouse selling locally can still use 10 times the fossil fuels that growing in Florida then trucking it over 1000 miles to be sold! 

How is this possible?!?

Well, conventional greenhouses actually aren't that efficient.  They tend to get too hot in the summer, requiring some way to cool them down, then they get too cold in the winter, requiring some kind of heating to keep it warm enough for plant growth.

The Year Round Solar Greenhouse shows us that this doesn't have to be the way greenhouses are.  It is possible to have a net-positive (produces more energy than it uses) greenhouse that will allow you to grow bananas at 9000' in the cold Colorado Rockies.  This book gives you a myriad of techniques that allow you to harvest and hold those precious few degrees during the winter while minimizing overheating in the summer, all while minimizing your need for energy hungry heating and cooling systems.

The Year Round Solar Greenhouse isn't a detailed step-by-step how to book but rather a collection of knowledge that explains the why behind what they recommend you do.  If you're looking for a book that has detailed build instructions with material lists and plans then this isn't the book for you but if you're trying to design the the best greenhouse for you're specific site then I think that this book is indispensable.

From the Ceres website:
Want to grow your own bananas avocados tomatoes and nutrient dense food year-round, even through the winter? The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse is the one-stop guide to designing and building greenhouses that harness and store energy from the sun to create naturally heated, lush growing environments even in the depths of winter. Topics include:

-Principles of solar greenhouse design (siting, glazing and insulation)
-Selecting and installing glazing materials
-Ventilation methods
-Construction methods
-Sustainable heating and cooling methods (passive thermal mass materials, compost heaters, rocket mass heaters and GAHT systems).

The book covers Ceres solar greenhouse design, as well as many variations, including:

-Attached solar greenhouses,
-Earth-sheltered and underground greenhouses
-Aquaponics greenhouses
-Off-grid greenhouses using solar panels

About the author:



Lindsey Schiller is an avid gardener and greenhouse designer. In 2011, she co-founded Ceres Greenhouse Solutions, which researches, designs and builds energy-efficient year-round greenhouses. Lindsey studied greenhouse design at the University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) before delving into passive solar greenhouse design. Lindsey has designed, toured and helped build hundreds of energy-efficient greenhouses spanning small residential structures to acre-size commercial facilities.

She is also the author, along with Marc Plinke, of The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse: How to Design and Build a Net-Zero Energy Greenhouse. She believes the key to a green thumb is knowledge, and her goal is to make it easier backyard gardners, schools, and small-scale farmers to grow their own food, sustainably and year-round.

Source: Mother Earth News



Where To Buy:

Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Ceres Official Website


Related Permies.com Forums:

Greenhouses Forum
Passive Solar Forum
 
Michael Newby
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I give The Year Round Solar Greenhouse 9 out of 10 Acorns.

I highly recommend that anyone thinking of building a greenhouse picks this book up before they get too far into the design process.  The wealth of information covered by the authors is sure to give you insight into the best design for your greenhouse, even if you think you've figured it all out.  It was quite revealing to me just how inefficient traditional greenhouses are and how much room for improvement there is in their design.  I especially like that they aren't pushing some one-size-fits-all miracle greenhouse (that they happen to sell) that is going to do everything for everyone.  This book gets into the reasoning behind the designs so you can understand if a specific design element applies to your design or not.

The reason I gave this book a 9 instead of a 10 wasn't due to not liking the book, just that the book left me wanting a little more.  While the illustrations were clear and concise it would have really been great if the whole book had color illustrations/photos instead of just the color section in the middle of the book.  I understand that it's a cost of publishing thing but I personally would be willing to pay more for a full color version.  I also feel like it would have been nice to have a section that did have some actual detailed plans of greenhouses the average DIY person could build.  I know that it would fill an entire book with plans to cover every design solution for every person but I bet you could cover a good number of people's needs throughout various climates with a handful of specific designs.

 
Dean Howard
Posts: 126
Location: NE ARIZONA, Zone 5B, 7K feet, 24" rain
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This is just awesome.  After having a greenhouse in N. Arizona for a year, I can really see the value to mass thermal storage and an insulated greenhouse.  Like all great designs, this involves thinking ahead and putting in a system that is sustaining and long-lived... sometimes not in our budgets, but totally worthwhile and sustainable.  This really keeps me interested in permaculture.

 
Ty Morrison
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Location: Boise, Idaho (a balmy 7a)
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It can always be added outside in the ground.  Not quite peak placement, but close.  Add a few light bulbs at night, especially to increase grow cycle lighting (solar powered, eh?  Probably incandescent heat, still not a huge demand on a point-source solar array).  Still, if I had known it worked beyond early experiments in the 1980's, I would have used this idea more often.

Now, I will recommend research of this system to my clients with limited budgets.

I still like RMH, but I think bricks are more expensive than pipe...next test, eh?
 
R Jay
Posts: 36
Location: 54 North BC Canada
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Just a quick reminder for Canadian permies:

I checked and the book "The Year Round Solar Greenhouse" is available thru the Canadian Organic Growers {COG} lending library.  Once you become a member, you get to borrow up to 4 books for a month thru the mail. 
Postage is prepaid by COG for sending and returning the books.

I find that this is an excellent way to preview books before buying them.  It helps separate the books that  are truly informative from the books that are info-advertisements for some system or another.  For example, I borrowed 3 of Elliot Coleman's books and the "Market Gardener" by JM Fortier, and by the time I had to send them back, I had placed an order thru the local bookstore to buy all 4.

At the moment, COG is moving their office to new headquarters, but will start taking requests for borrowing books again in mid-April.   https://www.cog.ca/index.php?page=library
 
Lindsey Schiller
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Michael, thanks for the review! And, I share your sentiments about what how the book could be better exactly. I very much wanted a color version, but also wanted a small sustainable publisher and chose New Society, which does not print in color due to the environmental impacts of color printers which are located in Asia usually. So yes, that was a bit sad. I also feel that more detailed building plans are needed, but that could be / is a whole book in itself. I think a nice supplement to The Year Round Solar Greenhouse is "How to Build Your Own Greenhouse" by Roger Marshall, which is almost entirely building plans which you can modify some. My greatest challenge with the book was the balance of what to include / not include.

So again, thanks for the nice review and suggestions. Glad you enjoyed the book!

 
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