Hello to all who read this!!! Everytime I Google something growing/off grid related, permies always comes up. Figured I'd post up my ideas and get the collective creative juices flowing!!!
What I'm trying to do:
Build a greenhouse that will be able to support my family of three with fresh food throughout our winter. What I mean by fresh food? Whatever I can grow. If my end-build will support tomatoes, cool. If not, well, we do like salads!!! I would like this eventual build to be off-grid.
Where I live:
Eastern Washington, zone 6a. We average 300 days of sun a year. Where I live, I have full, un-blocked, exposure to the south. Lots of space.
I'm not sure on the space I'd need in the greenhouse to fulfill the food requirements...I probably need to do more research on that. I have done some, but everything I am finding seems to be based on only one, maybe two, harvests per year. If I am successful in building an operating deep winter greenhouse and can grow vegetables all year, can I drop something that requires 100-row feet (one harvest) to 25 feet (four harvests)?
The biggest one I'm working out is heating. My plan as of now is to bury IBC's in the ground under the greenhouse, one tote per two 3'x8' raised bed. In those raised beds I am thinking of putting coils of poly pipe to heat the beds and double as a bit of a radiant heater. In the totes would be two separate coils of poly (two separate circuits). One circuit would be the heat exchanger for the beds, and the other would run out to solarwater heater panels. One panel per tote, each panel would have (I'm guessing here) ~400' of black poly. The reason for two separate circuits? The collector circuit I could have antifreeze in (some "environmentally safe" stuff). The water in the totes 'shouldn't' need antifreeze because they are buried in the ground, and are to be full of warm water anyways...these totes are non-returnable in my industry (not sure WHAT was in them). The coil to the beds would also not need antifreeze for the same reason as the tote water. I figured this would be the safest way to ensure nothing 'bad' could ever leach into my beds.
Not sure if it would be better to manifold each circuit together to share each's respective load (all the solar collectors tied together/all the bed heaters tied together)? That would surely reduce the number of pumps I'd need, which would make the PV design part lower cost.
I did see on another DW build a recommendation to allow 4 gallons of water thermal storage for each square foot of south-facing glazing. Is this for those depending on direct solar radiation to heat the water? What about my ideas above for solar collectors to heat the water? I would imagine having more storage couldn't hurt as long as I can get it warm in a day...
Going off that same build I linked to above, he was able to sustain good overnight temps with his one tote and an air-to-water exchanger. I could go that route and forgo the solar collectors all together...or do both? I don't have to pay for the totes, or the poly pipe. I'm using what get's pulled out of the orchards and ends up getting thrown away.
I am trying to do as much recycling as possible. I'll be hitting Craigslist. ALOT.
I'm thinking wood frame construction. Recycled glass windows and doors.
I have plenty of well water available. For the totally off-grid end of this dream, I'm working out some kind of deep gutter on the north and south faces to catch snow melt and rain runoff. Pond liner buried in the ground (under gravel) creating a trough, and a DC powered submersible pump on a float switch in a deep well to move the water to another series of totes manifolded together, also underground (maybe have THOSE totes under the greenhouse as well?)... Another DC pump in one tote to water the garden.
At least 4, maybe more. Each bed is an old excavator track. They are made of steel and rubber and weigh somewhere around 1,200 pounds each (more thermal mass???). We will lay them over to make a long oval. About 8' long, 3' wide, and 3' tall. I am getting a dump truck load (10 yards) of steer manure, and the entire field behind the house is grass/alfalfa for raising cows. And, there a HUGE pile of old hay bails that's been sitting for YEARS, already decomposing. Sounds like a perfect soil mix to me!!!
After a bit of research last night, now I'm second guessing using those beds in the greenhouse as it may be too hot in there for year-round use? And, with the south-facing wall at 60 degrees, not much light would be getting into the greenhouse during summer...unless my south facing wall had a bit of a multi-facet aspect? I could cover the summer facet with insulating panels (inside) over winter to help retain heat and remove them in summer to let the light in? Perhaps I design-in some kind of geothermal heat exchanger to help cool it in the summer?
I'm REALLY enjoying crunching out this project. I'm keeping a google document set with notes and ideas and as things get more nailed down, I may even start sketching things out.
I welcome any and all feedback, even if it's flames. The way I look at it, every problem has a solution. It's up to me and my family if said solution is worth the end result. Also, like I said before. If I can't grow tomatoes, I'm okay with that. But, it would be WAY cool to have some dwarf orange bushes in there, when we can't even grow them outdoors here!!!
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit