Saturday, February 14, 2009

Greenhouse Design

I realized that I needed to take a step back and explain what my objectives are in building this greenhouse and the design that I have chosen. I live in the high desert with temperatures ranging from -20 for weeks at a time to 110 in the summer. I've been gardening in this climate for over 20 years. I've had cold frames, and have one traditional, above ground greenhouse. I also have raised beds and garden plots. Here's a photo of how my new greenhouse looks today.

Greenhouse 004

The type greenhouse I have chosen and built is called a "Pit Greenhouse". I got the general idea from a book I have called "The Solar Greenhouse Book by James McCullagh and printed by Rodale press. This type greenhouse is designed for extreme temperatures. The premise is that you use the ambient temperature of the earth ( at four feet below surface) to keep a steady 50 degree temperature all year round. Of course it needs a little help to keep the temperature just right. I will explain this as I show how it has been built.
When it is complete, I plan to experiment with different methods of gardening. I've always been an organic gardener, but I plan to try the Mittleider method, hydroponics, aquaponics and of course some of my traditional organic gardening techniques. I'm building this greenhouse as a laboratory, open to the public. I plan on documenting temps, lighting, nutrients, home made aquaponic and hydroponic equipment. I've read the latest mags such as Maximum Yield and Garden Greenhouse and Gardener and I've seen the pretty pictures, but everything is too expensive. This is a back to basics experiment and I'm only interested in growing food. (cucumbers, tomatoes, brocolli, lettuce and many greens). My goal is sustainability for my family. Being able to grow year round in an area that is not gardening friendly. I also raise chickens...I'm the 4-H poultry leader for my area. I feel that the food chain is being compromised and people need to have more direct control over what they eat. I believe in buying locally, but most of all growing your own.
Be sure to ask questions. When it is all done, and up and running, perhaps you can even come visit. When it is running well I will be posting pictures and information often. My next post will continue the building sequence. Soon to come...


  1. Perhaps some inexpensive reflectors could be used to increase light and heat duruing the winter.

  2. Anxiously awaiting more posts! I'm in the research stage of building a pit greenhouse and live in a rough climate as well though not quite as tough as yours...I'm in the Utah mountains at 6300 ft. Check out this link...this has given me very high standards for what I want to build...well it won't let me post my link. Search for Solar Cold Climate Greenhouse and there is this awesome greenhouse in Wisconsin that gets a min temp of 50 in winter and is often 80 during the day.

  3. Hi. Your greenhouse looks sort of familiar. I'm in the process of building the "Gardener's Solar Greenhouse" from the book by Ray Wolf, published by Rodale Press. I've got all the concrete work and framing done, and all the materials purchased, and am currently in the process of sheathing the walls and getting ready to install glass. You can see my progress at my web site.

  4. sweet my friend! best wishes im doing research and writing small papers about this kind of thing. thank you for having a commin interest!

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