Paul and many other people have come up with awesome ideas that could work. But do they? We can't expect Paul to try them all up at the lab - he's a busy guy. But some of us could take them on. I've run across a few ideas in recent days that need to be tested out. I'm sure there are dozens more.
This is a WIKI so we can add to the list, put our names down if we're running the trial and add links to trial results. Please suggest additions to the list, especially if they have a thread discussing them already.
Garden ATI - making warm spots in the garden: This is a method to attempt to warm the soil (and possibly the air) around a spot in the landscape using heat from a pipe sunk deeply into the earth. Digging equipment would be required.
Mike Jay wrote: This is a method to create a warm microclimate. Uses ATI (umbrella) in a berm to catch and store solar energy to radiate back at your microclimate. Additional details are a reflecting pond.
I might be able to try this one in a new zone-stretching garden I have planned in the coming year.
On making warm spots; you can also take advantage of warm spots over your septic tank and drain field . I have a 6x8 greenhouse on my septic tank and a 10 x 20 on my drain field, which allows me to capture the rising heat, and extend my growing season at least a month in either direction as well as overwinter less cold hardy species without the addition of added heating. For instance I had a peach pit germinate from compost in the 6x8 in February without any additional heat, it was just buried in the floor by accident, but for zone 5, that is pretty early.
Also on making warm spots, what about using a modified hugelkultur to keep a bed warm using a hot compost layer buried deep with the wood? I know I commented on season extension when I posted about my first hugelbeet years ago, as my specific composition included a lot of raw manure and woody bits of varying sizes, and a hole poked deep into the bed in February of that year yielded steam.
I have also experimented with capped cardboard tubes acting as biodegradable compost chutes to the woody core of a hugelbeet, allowing me to keep feeding scraps to the hungry hot compost machine, keeping the temperatures up in the winter. The edges of the bed were crispy and hard, but the three feet or so around each compost chute was soft and growing clovers and other small green manures.
Would this be a piece of a separate experiment, or would it fall under one of the others?
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Philosophically, I'm thinking this is a list for ideas that need to be experimented with OR ideas that have had initial experiments but need to be tried in more places to verify they work. Then maybe they can be put into more of a "tool kit" list.
So the idea of a huglebed with a hot composting core seems like a pretty gnarly thing to do further experiments on. So I'll add it to the list above and say you're working on it. Can you create a thread to describe the experiment you're running so that others can read more about it there and copy/enhance at their own sites? As others begin to experiment, we can list them here as experimenters or they can post to your thread.
Once an idea is tried and proven, I guess it comes off the list above and will live on as the thread the experimenter created (or in the cases like TEFA, in the origination thread by Paul). And/or it can live on in a "tool kit" wiki post.
I am not totally sure of your goals here. I am going to suggest another thread topic should be solar heating. The single biggest user of energy in the average home is heating in most of the US and many other parts of the world. So I am going to suggest solar thermal heating should be added to the list of experiments. Might want to break it down into solar thermal air and solar thermal water. This the low hanging fruit of the energy world especially if we can use recycled materials for all or part of it.
Here is the link to my little possible addition to solar air.