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greenhouse suck factor

Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 669
Location: Zone 5
for some of us greenhouses are everything we think of as permie...solves an array of things, gives an array of things... for me. 

Some schmuck built a big house and a big barn here on opposit sides of the yard, we bought it...it snows here...think plastic quansit hut to connect the two (will happen to run north south).

The well house is there already so will be encompased so plumbing will be down to a minimum, and the power we use now to heat the wellhouse will instead go in to a whole system of food production (fish and plants with maybe small mammals too).

And on my 10 trips a day to the barn I will not have to walk thru the snow.  It will keep my house warmer and cleaner. 

What is not great about it  Cost? ....
Pish, it is worth what ever it costs.
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 669
Location: Zone 5
As soon as I hit send I realized I forgot the quail.  I will give a try to quail and they would be a logical addition to my greenhouse.  My chickens may even like a spot in there.  I am sure I am forgetting some finer details yet, but you all get my point I hope.

I still have to convince hubby to go as big as we can, as he is a 'greenhouses suck" sort a guy...but he sees why it is perfect here.
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2221
Location: FL
    
  58
A greenhouse connected to a structure is a fine means of supplementing heat in that structure.  I would have connected the new greenhouse to my house but there is a problem with the house right now (a tree fell on it).  In NY this spring I built a greenhouse 13x80 on the south wall of the horse barn.  Once covered, the temperature inside the GH hit 120 degrees-in the middle of April!  The windows of the barn were opened allowing the heat in the greenhouse to warm the barn and come back down to a reasonable 90 degrees.  Shut the windows when the sun goes down, the GH serves as an insulating buffer for the structure.
I put up a sign and ads on Craigslist and freecycle: Glass Wanted.  Let me tell you, the glass showed up, enough to cover 2/3 of the 8' high, 80' long south wall by the time I left.

A GH connected to a home can significantly reduce the fuel demand for heating that home.  Statistics show that as much as 1/3 of the heating fuel demand can be eliminated with a GH covering 60% of the south wall of a structure.  Someone burning 9 cords of wood in a season would only need 6 cords.  I'm sure the trees and woodland ecosystem are thankful.  If the heat is oil, 1000 gallons being reduced to 670 gallons more than makes up for the petroleum inputs in the construction materials, and thats just in 1 season.

Ive used my GH for drying laundry during the rain.  I've used it for housing chicks until they are large enough they can't get through the wire fence in the corner of the yard.  I've not used it for drying firewood, but have extensive notes to that effect.

Before I had a GH I was able to produce plenty of food in my garden.  I had a full and meaningful life.  I was at peace with myself.  Now that I have a GH, none of this has changed.  However, there are some advantages found since I built the first one. 

I use my GH primarily for propagation of seeds and cuttings.  I can get hundreds of plants started in a small space.  I can repot the seedlings and keep them growing until they are about 6" tall with deep roots.  If the plants were in the beds, I woulduse considerable water maintaining soil moisture levels.  Being in containers and in a small area inside the GH, I can water hundred of plants with just a few gallons of water.  This means reduced energy demand for water pumping, and reduced water consumption from the worlds already stressed water supply.  I also use less seed since the germination and survivability rate is increased in a controlled environment.  This means less shipping of mail order seed and the diesel fuel consumption that goes along with it.

Since I am able to raise such a copious amount of vegetable plants to such a size before transplanting, the time the plants spend in the beds is reduced.  In the backyard I can raise crops all year.  Instead of 4 crops in a year, the GH gives me a turnover rate of 5 crops/year.  This means hundreds of square feet of land that does not have to be cultivated.  It can be left in its natural state.  I get all the fresh vegetables I can stand, my neighbor too, and minimize my strain on the ecosystem.  Imagine!

The new GH I'm building is 9x12.  I'm salvaging as much material as I can from the old one which was 8x8.  The new one will be large enough to put in a tank for raising catfish.  I also intend to raise redworms.  The worms consume waste of all forms-grass clipping, peelings, coffee grounds, newspaper, and some chicken poop here and there.  The worms feed the catfish, the catfish feed me.  The water from the catfish tank will need to be changed, about 1/3 of it each day.  This will be directed to the garden for a nitrate rich irrigation supplement.  The tank will help maintain the temperature inside the GH, absorbing heat in the day, giving up that heat at night.  Guts and fishheads will go to the chickens, reducing their feed requirement.

My GH offers numerous advantages that I did not have before.  I could get by without one, but for the same productivity, I would use more land, more energy, more water, more time, and the local landfill would be overflowing into the next county.



Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
                              


Joined: May 03, 2009
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
On a note for those that might want to tie a greenhouse in with their house.  Please do careful research into the humidity issues that could be involved.  This will be affected by climate.  Where I live, there are few heating days per year and thus a greenhouse is not going to benefit your home much on the comfort side of things.  So definitely careful thought and research must be done on that front.

kpeavey,
Research aquaponics for a possible way to reduce the water change needs of the catfish tanks.  I've been raising catfish quite well in my side yard using aquaponics, very good eating catfish is.

And as for feeding the heads and guts to the chickens.  Mine love the guts and eggs but are not nearly so quick to tuck into the heads (hard to get much off them with only beaks as tools.)  You might look into a BSF bin for processing the fish heads into handy food for the chickens and fish.

As to feeding the catfish worms.  That is fine for a supplement to their diet but I think you will need additional fish feed to round it out.  I think worms and BSF larva are both a bit too high in fat to be the sole food for catfish or tilapia. 

TCLynx
[url]http://www.tclynx.com/[/url]
[img]http://www.permies.com/permaculture-images/2692_740/Avitar.jpg[/img]
Matt Ferrall


Joined: Dec 26, 2008
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
    
    4
Very good pts kpeavey and others.I totally agree that a person makes the choices to create an extremely inefficient culture.In choosing to purchase or create a massive house that burns 9?!? cords of wood a year,it is possible to make the addition of a greenhouse look good!I also agree that if a person chooses to create a culture around nutrient and disturbance demanding annuals,they will feel better about using less space and have higher yields in a limited season by using a greenhouse.In short,I believe it is possible to create such an inefficient culture as to make the addition of greenhouses look good or like a necessity and that industrial product fetishism marketed as being more ecological has as its only defense,an improvement over even more wastefull practices.


There is nothing permanent in a culture dependent on such temporaries as civilization.

www.feralfarmagroforestry.com
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15227
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
lapinerobert,

I haven't caught up on all of this thread, but I feel I need to express the following right away ....

I think your concerns about the validity about many of mt.goat's posts are valid.  Especially when you work in some of the qualifications you seek.  And especially again, when you work in the way that mt.goat makes his statements. 

I pointed out that some of the statements used were ... uh .... possibly more provocative than accurate.  It seems that mt.goat mentioned that he would try to rope this in a bit. 

So, while I think mt.goat has a bit more roping in to do in that department, and I would really like to see him qualify his statements more to be with my comfort zone as site admin .... I would also like to personally vouch for some aspects of mt.goat.

I have been to his property and I have visited at length with him. 

I would go so far as to say that he is an expert eco builder.  Perhaps he will post pictures here some day.  I would also say that when it comes to edible perennials and permaculture, he is, again, an expert. 

I would say he is a trailblazer in the world of permaculture.  On even more topics than I have so far mentioned.  I would also say he does make a lot of personal sacrifice for the sake of his experiments.  A lot. 

And .... there is a flip side to this ..... while I hold his permaculture accomplishments in exceptionally high regard, there was at least one time where his .... uh .... choices ... in combination with how he communicates ....  left me where I had a powerful urge to punch him in the mouth. 

It is my impression that mt.goat understands my .... uh .... discomfort.  And I sincerely believe he is going to great lengths to make me more comfortable. 

I think I normally would not want anybody, especially myself, to suggest publicly that anybody on permies.com is anything less than perfect.  But I get the impression that mt.goat is of such a powerfully strong personality and so dedicated to a better path, that he would be okay with this.  (and if I am mistaken, I will remove this and apologize profusely to him)

All of that said, I would like to again ask that we all refrain from suggesting that anybody on permies is anything less than perfect. 

And now ..... there is one other moderator-ish point I would like to make. 

If somebody were to say "nobody  ________" and there was one case where that statement was not true, then that somebody has just presented false information as fact - thus throwing everything else they have ever said into the world of having a certain level of probability of also being wrong.  After three of these, it gets to where you just can't even read anything that person posts. 

But the statement "I think nobody ________" is always true.  Others can think something different.  But if a second person says "That's not true", then the second person has just presented false information as fact. 

Qualifying one's position can make a really big difference between a yammering nutjob and a reliable source sharing some excellent wisdom.

I think that the information in this thread is very good.  I also think it could use ..... some cleaning up.  I would like to ask everybody that has posted something in this list to take a look at what you have written and consider editing your post.  Let the final, polished thread be a demonstration of good, healthy communication.

Please?


sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1327
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
Paul
Your original premise was that 18% of greenhouses might be useful, do you agree that in some instances greenhouses are a useful tool?

It would be helpful for all of us to refrain from speaking in absolutes. But successes and failures.
There should be no need for Paul to have to edit what should be a learning tool.
 

"There is enough in the world for everyones needs, but not enough for everyones greed"
(Buckman)
Matt Ferrall


Joined: Dec 26, 2008
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
    
    4
Oh the tulmult this thread has become!Lapinerbert-I apologize if I was missunderstood.You will please take note that I (was at least trying to)condemn only all people NOT on this site.
Jokes aside though,I agree with you that a person can not totally judge anothers survival stratagies for their location.Permaculture is not about following a template but about everyone doing the best they can where they are at.Thanks for playing a staring role with me on this thread.The ideas fleshed out through the discourse would not have been possible without you.I will avoid critique of greenhouses on any other thread than this one so it is not you personaly that I mean to attack.PEACE.mt.goat
                                          


Joined: Nov 01, 2009
Posts: 13
Thanks for a great read. You guys are all perfect!
I've no need for  a greenhouse, but got a great education pro and con, and a belly full of laughs for the evening.

                              


Joined: May 03, 2009
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
a few of my comments were a bit off toppic but other than that.

I can say I'm not offended by anything and I'm hoping no one was actually offended by any of my comments.  Lively discussion is fine.  Hopefully people can take a step back and not get too wound up.  I don't think anyone actually meant to do more than get people to think.
Matt Ferrall


Joined: Dec 26, 2008
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
    
    4
Paul,I have to agree with siderea.I know Im not neutered(my rapper name is noxious the assasinine after all)but look at the #s.Conflict.controversy,and spectecle all sell!I can only afford to be on here for one month a year so I will soon be out of your hair.I think many reading this will find it highly educational AND entertaining.I believe that censorship is not the most adventagous response for this site.This thread is pretty much played out at this point so I cant really go any further anyway.My responses have been lovingly crafted on the spot on a qwerty cellphone keypad while out in the woods.I would be very disapointed if you edited/censored/deleted any of my posts before wednesday because I have not had a chance to print them out in this format for friends to read and also as a main component in my resume as I was going to use it to get a radio host position playing the`bad cop`on a local sustainability show. My local library will be open next on tuesday and I will be able to print it out then.If you m
Matt Ferrall


Joined: Dec 26, 2008
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
    
    4
I have worked hard at being an active contributer to this site and therefore it will also take me awile to go over my posts and figure out what I need to change so your patience and courtesy are much appriciated!!Thanks for allowing me this forum to practice my technique and knowledge and especialy thanks for the props.That means a lot to me!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15227
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The weird thing is, that I feel I am in agreement with all of the posts.

I think the whole thing about buying a greenhouse is feeding the oil industry and, thus, harming everybody is true.  BUT!  And this is a big but ....  this is true for damn near every purchased product.  Therefore, this issue is far better for another thread than for this one.  While the point is valid, it is something that is a perpetual dilemma for myself and .... everybody participating in this thread - because if you are using the internet at all, you are feeding that same beast.  Therefore, I must move my personal greenhouse or not decision forward with this being one factor in the decision, but by no means the only factor.  Further, this factor would probably not have as much weight to me as ROI. 

While I know that mt.goat has reduced his use of stuff (therfore, oil) far more than most people, I know that he is not completely weaned.  I think he is blazing an excellent path for the rest of us.  And, while I applaud his efforts to tell us about this path, and I appreciate learning how to improve my own path, I do feel uncomfortable with anything resembling condemnation for not being as far along this path as others.

I think it would be great to have a thread about "the eco path" and we can talk about what one might find further and further down the path, and we can also talk about path velocity and how to improve the velocity of others.  Etc.




paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15227
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The validity of my points is revealed through the popularity of this thread.


I'm gonna say that I think this connection is .... less than accurate.  I think the validity of your position will stand on logic and reason.  The popularity of the thread is, IMOO, not connected. 

Paul
Your original premise was that 18% of greenhouses might be useful, do you agree that in some instances greenhouses are a useful tool?


Yes!

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15227
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I moved some stuff about karma to MD.

I deleted a couple of small things - nothing serious.  Most were either small and off topic, or they were about the cleanup.   

This has taken me about three hours to clean things up - mostly reading every spec of everything and thinking about "should I move it?" and then learning that splitting a really big thread is a lot of tedious work (split the thread fragment, then move the new thread to MD, then merge the new fragment with the old fragment).

Thanks to all the folks that cleaned up your own posts.  That made my job a lot easier.  I hope that this sort of occasional cleanup helps to set a precedent so future folks will have an idea of how we do things here and, they then follow the precedent, thus leading to less cleanup. 

John Meshna


Joined: Jul 22, 2006
Posts: 111
Location: Vermont
I like greenhouses. I'm presently on a mission with the folks at /Archis Acres in California of set up and east coast version of their outfit. http://www.archisacres.com. ; they offer hope to people who may have little if any left.
My friend in Ripton has an insulated green house she grows salad in year round in a mountain climate where that would be impossible otherwise.  the food she grows helps her live better as she was diagnosed with brain cancer and after chemo(is that how you spell it?) the organic food helps her feel better and the excess is sold in shops all around Addison County.  This one person probably feeds about 100 people a week and keeps herself alive doing it. Keeps her farm economy going too. She grows in insulated radiant heat pits directly in the ground so the additional heat requirements are minimal.
On the other hand there's a gigantic glass greenhouse in Shelburn, Vt that grows the best tomatoes you ever ate but they pump so much propane heat into it during the winter it doesn't seem sustainable to me but the technology is changing all the time and we're getting smarter everyday about how to build and maintain them.
I have an attached greenhouse on my solar underground house here that keeps my out door plants alive year round and gives me a cozy place to start my sets in the late winter and it adds some heat to the house on sunny days.  Being attached to the house it doesn't require any additional heat and it provides and air lock between the house and the out doors reducing the air infiltration to the house. It's a good thing.
so, I guess I thing greenhouses are good things when properly built and used.


John Meshna (owner)
Green State Hydroponics
1195 Dog Team Road
New Haven, Vt 05472
                              


Joined: May 03, 2009
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
Paul, I applaud your intensive efforts to keep your forum clean and well running.  I know the amount of spam that will show up on even a dead forum.  An active web site gets so much more traffic that the cleaning efforts are multiplied greatly.


Back to greenhouses.  Well I suppose the amount of thought one should put into deciding if they are appropriate to an individual situation could be quite a suck factor.  As with all things, careful weighting of the options is important.

Now I'm hoping Mt goat will share with us some of his methods and successes at finding/planting perennial edible plants for his place (please include details on the location/climate too.)
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
"Now I'm hoping Mt goat will share with us some of his methods and successes at finding/planting perennial edible plants for his place (please include details on the location/climate too.) "

i second that!


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
One con I'd like to point out has to do with attached greenhouses...

I have an 8X6 greenhouse frame on the southeast side of my house and when the ice melts and falls off the gutters above they come crashing down hard. Luckily I don't have any plastic on there yet 

I figure I'll mitigate this by putting wooden boards across the danger zone.


http://www.greenshireecofarms.com
Zone 5a in Central Ontario, Canada
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 669
Location: Zone 5
I hope to hear from Mt. goat too....
                          


Joined: Jan 17, 2010
Posts: 31
I hope you don't mind some additional comments from a newb

I think the whole thing about buying a greenhouse is feeding the oil industry and, thus, harming everybody is true.


Ultimately, manufacturing of glass or plastic ( or aluminum framing ) all feed the beast.  But the larger question is not the 'one shot' feeding of the beast at the point of erecting a greenhouse, but the incremental starving of that beast over a period of years as the greenhouse 'pays back' the initial investment so to speak.  Granted that some greenhouse owners continue to feed the beast forever ( i.e. the commercial tomato operation in VT ) ... but I for one refuse to do so, using my greenhouse only for a moderate extension of the natural growing season without the aid of active heating.

Agreed that siting of a greenhouse is probably the #1 up-front consideration.  This is not only hugely important in regard to direct sun in the spring and fall, but also important in regard to winter / storm damage survival !!!

Following on, greenhouse structure selection is probably the #2 consideration.  Again it is important to consider what sort of wind loads / snow loads the greenhouse will need to survive in a particular area.  Because of my northern NY location I opted for an interlocked PVC frame design that is stiffened by the use of small steel wire stays ( which function like ersatz roof trusses ), and it has repeatedly survived 3 feet of winter snow on its 'roof'

Type of glazing is probably the #3 consideration.  As others have posted, there is an inverse relationship between the light transmission properties of the glazing and the heat retention properties.  Also, different types of glazings are more or less susceptible to impact from storm-blown branches.  Because I'm in a stormy area, and because I do not intend to try and actively heat my greenhouse for year round use, I opted for single thickness polycarb on the sides ( for maximum light transmission ) and double thickness polycarb on the 'roof' ( for a bit of nighttime heat retention improvement, plus some moderation of maximum mid-day greenhouse temperatures in July / August when the sun enters at a much higher angle )

Again following on the maximum temperature aspect, as others have posted, greenhouses are famous for 'baking' plants in July / August.  Thus no matter what sort of greenhouse you are considering, it is absolutely essential to include automatic ventilation.  Not only should this include automatically opening / closing vents ( driven by wax capsule cylinders, bimetal arms, whatever ), but should also include an active thermostatically controlled fan.  This isn't to say that such a fan can't be powered by an alternative energy source, but even if it's conventionally powered the energy usage is tiny compared to the 'insurance' value it provides against 'baking' of greenhouse plants.

Related to the 'baking' potential, it is absolutely essential that greenhouse plants have enough water retention to ride through peak July / August afternoon temperatures ( even if those temperatures have been lowered from 120F to perhaps 105F by automatic vents and fan ) without dehydrating.  This leads to consideration of an automatic watering / misting system, or the use of deep beds / so-called 'self-watering' pots.

And yes, as others have posted, even in northern climates there will probably be 1-2 weeks in July / August when a very high outdoor temperature plus a cloudless sky will result in more solar heating than even an automatic vent and fan system plus an automatic misting system can handle.  For those occasions, it's simply unavoidable that a partially translucent cover be thrown over the top of the greenhouse to partially block the direct sunlight.

In regard to a greenhouse being 'separated' from nature, this is indeed a plus as well as a minus.  Personally, for my own greenhouse, I have commandeered an old computer science theorem of 'garbage in = garbage out'.  As such, I raise every single plant seedling that will eventually wind up in my greenhouse from seed ( via my attached sunporch and LED grow lights in Feb / March ) using sterile potting soil. 

Yet another consideration for any greenhouse is pollination requirements.  Because the greenhouse is going to cut down drastically on the natural insect population, either you have to do manual pollinations, or you can try adding a few insect attractor plants ( like bee balm and dill ) inside the greenhouse to pursuade a few helpful insects to come in through the greenhouse vents.

Obviously I'm not a permaculture 'purist' ... but I try to do the best I can while dealing with the realities of my northern NY climate.



                            


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 9
For those of you who might use a greenhouse to extend your tomatoes into November - December in the north, my way is cheaper - err - more frugal...

Pull the tomato plant up out of the soil and knock the dirt off the roots.  Then just hang the plant upside down on a hook in a cool place out of the sun.  I have done this in a backroom on the east side of the house and had very good tasting tomatoes until mid December here in Michigan.  I should add that I left the basement door open a bit just so it never froze in the backroom.  I'm told sweet corn can be done in the same manner, haven't tried that yet though.  Try one plant with green tomatoes on it this coming fall when the season is over and see how good it works out.  Can also be done in a cool basement I'm told.

On the greenhouse, I would like a portable for use only in the spring for my starters.  I would prefer plastic that could be stored when not in use extending it's years of use.
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
Ray, did you cut the leaves off, and did you have any of the fruit go rotten before it ripened?
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
That's a fabulous idea and technique, Ray!  I imagine it works off the principle of capturing stored energy in the roots.  This has been used with other plants in slightly different ways. 

Tomatoes, off the vine, in December, in Michigan, with no green house - that's seriously awesome. 

I've read about (in the book Root Cellaring which covers techniques of food storage way beyond a typical cellar) the "forcing" of lettuces in a cellar over winter.  Harvest the first crop of leaves as you would all summer, then cut them entirely, dig up the root ball in autumn, and completely bury the thing to a depth of 6-8" of sand in a crate, and store in a cellar/similarly cool but not frozen place.  By about January or February, leaves will have sprouted all the way up through the sand, and you'll have a whole new head of lettuce.  So the book says anyway, but I've had such good success with escarole and endive resprouting after being hacked that I feel it would work really well.  I'll let y'all know, when we have a cellar in which to do things like that.  (next winter)
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
I've read pumpkins can also be brought through their last stages of development by bringing whatever parts of the vine are still most alive inside to a warm windowsill.

It's also the way purslane is harvested as a staple crop: the plants are cut and hung up over a cloth, and they flower and produce seed all from stored water, then drop it onto the cloth.

I bet it's a technique that could be adapted to quite a few other plants.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
                            


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 9
I removed the entire plants and brought them in whole.  Most of the leaves fell off the plants before all the tomatoes ripened.  It was not that bad as I just clean them up a couple times a week.  Every tomato ripened and was good with much more flavor then store bought.  I also start (small plant) cherry type tomatoes in the south facing kitchen window for a little bonus during the winter.

I store squash, potatoes, and onions in that backroom all winter and control the temperature via opening or closing the basement door according to the temperature or the expected temperature at night.  I have a thermometer in there and on some sunny days it  gets a bit warm.  Doesn't effect the veggies enough from what I can see as they are still good in the spring.

For sweetcorn I'm told you pull the entire plant up by the roots, knock off the dirt, and stack them in a corner of the basement.  Maybe this year I'll give that a try.
Jennifer Smith


Joined: Jul 14, 2009
Posts: 669
Location: Zone 5
This makes so much sence, I bet it works witp peppers and just about everything... I may not have thought of it on my own.  Thank you much for the education.
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
After reading this whole thread I'd like to point out that the world we live in is not the world of 2000 years ago. If we wanted to rely on the food growing techniques of our ancestors literally 2 out of 3 people would starve to death within 3 years, and every animal bigger than a breadbox that wasn't domesticated or hiding in a high mountain or deep ocean would be hunted to extinction within 10.

Greenhouses really increase productivity, if done well, they are a fantastic technology, like crop rotation, and not one we should throw out just because people didn't always know about it.

The problem isn't that 82% (Paul's number) of greenhouses shouldn't have been built, it's that 82% of greenhouses should have been built (and should be used) better.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
i agree with Ray from Mich about hanging the tomato plants to get the last little bit of tomatoes out of them..that does work.

but back to the greenhouse suck factor.

my greenhouse has sucked bigtime this spring  ..AS.. I had been planning on moving it all winter, and this spring couldn't get the help i needed to move it so it sits empty..bigtime suck factor.

we have an area of property where we have pex buried for wood heat, and overf the winter that soil around the pex did NOT freeze, at all. The  snow melted on top of it quickly.

SO

we decided to grade an area flat over the pex and move the greenhouse to sit on that nice warm soil...the grading got done back in April..however..getting the greenhouse moved to the graded area...NOT SO MUCH !!!

I'm furious with my men..well my husband with the head injury has his excuses and son working 67 hours a week most weeks lately  has his too..but comeone..it will take about 1/2 hour !!!

anyway.

my tomatoes and pepeprs are in the food forest garden, suffering some but are there. I have a whole list of seeds that i want to put into my fall / winter garden and some of them will require being planted in July but most in August to be growing well when freezing temps come..so i have to get that greenouse moved, the soil prepared and the plants planted in the next 4 to 5 weeks..soooooooooooo...i'm gonig to get tough with they guys over memorial weekend..when they not only will have time off, but they will have neighbors here from Detroit to help

yeah, it is really disappointing to me that i have nothing but some herbs from last year growing in my greenhouse, and some lettuces and swiss chard and arugula around it..as well as a few herbs..but..i will get it moved if i have to drag it down the hill through the mixed bed and around the woodshed all by  myself.

up date to follow, hopefully with good news. Here is the list of the seeds i have now that will be going into the greenhouse this fall: (faith)gobs of mesclun, lettuces and mixed baby greens, spinach (2 kinds), swiss chard, mustard, broccoli, 4 kinds of carrots (just a small amount of each as i'll have some still under mulch out int he garden if the deer don't dig them up), 2 kinds of kohlrabi, 2 kinds of chinese cabbage, 3 kinds of radishes, 2 kinds of peas, brussel sprouts (might not have time for those in there but there are a few in the garden), and some onions, chives, and other herbs transplanted from my herb garden..esp my rosemary as it won't survive outside in the winter here..and i might dig up a couple of tomato and pepper plants and move them in there if there is room. Also considering some more tender crops as i saw a zone 5 orange in a catalog i would love to try in my greenhouse..but we'll see, also wanteed a fig but not sure i'll get it this year.


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Matt Ferrall


Joined: Dec 26, 2008
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
    
    4
Emerson,while I can appreciate your defence of convention,greenhouses have only recently appeared on the scene for homeowners.I believe things like multistory production/agroforestry.cultivating unneeded places(sports stadiums?),and unused places(mountain sides)could meet alot of our food needs in a much more ecological way without greenhouses.We now have access to more plant species than at any other point in history.There is unlimited potentials to produce more food in different ways than current meathods.The dicotomy of hunter gatherer vs.techno industrial civilization doesnt exist for people who can see these unlimited options.I like to think that permaculture and these forums are a place to explore models that offer an alternative to mainstream unsustainable models.
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
I'm not defending convention so much as pointing out that we will need to hang on to some of it. I don't understand how the recent nature of the building of greenhouses really matters, Saltwater irrigation has only been going on for 20 years but it might one day feed hundreds of millions of people inexpensively, antiquity is germane to the argument.

Sports stadiums are needed (and I say that as someone who never ever watches sports, because I find them so damn boring) because people need entertainment, and one big stadium that seats 50,000 takes up much less space than 100 small stadiums that seat 500 each ; and mountainsides are very unproductive with out things like greenhouses on them, plus we do want to leave some surfaces wild. The solution to many of our food woes will probably be for people to set up greenhouses in their suburban lots, and sell plants to their neighbors, getting 2-4 week head starts on the growing season and producing large quantities of food where lawns once stood, no matter how long a growing season is, if it has an end a head start helps produce more food. Treecrops produce prodigiously, if sporadically, but they aren't for everywhere, just like a greenhouse isn't a good choice for a forest.

There are a wide variety of different ways to make food, unlimited options as you say, but don't limit out this option. Greenhouses have a lot of benefit in a lot of situations. Here in Anchorage, AK where I live a there is game (moose) and there are wild berries and fish, but the native peoples did not farm, because the season is too short for most things, but with a greenhouse (or cold frame, row covers, or other forms of mini greenhouse) huge vegetables can be grown, Alaska holds several world records for vegetable production, largely thanks to greenhouses and the like, they turn a risky proposition into a big win, and really reduce the amount of oil used moving veggies up here (and yes, the forests would be cut down and the animals hunted to extinction, again, if we immediately rejected all oil products). Greenhouses aren't a small step in the right direction, they are a big step, and if they are unsustainable it's over a time period of several thousand years that that will become apparent, right now we should be building them as a bridge to a more sustainable world, building them and using them well.
Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
I have worked several cold frames in upstate new york. A valley that had a bit of limited light because of the hills but pretty much full sun. Those things produced all winter long and saved plants for seed over winter like beats, celery, rosemary, carrots, fennel, and kept figs fine. It was big enough to run a 25 horsepower tractor through it fine. With proper fencing, it could keep any farm animal through the winter easily. cover crops could keep quite a few animals over winter for a family quite easily. 20' by 50' gothic arch and 25' by 200'.

These are for the size much cheaper than a glass greenhouse, but we must replace the plastic every 5 years, less if it tears...


But if you can grow vegetable crops well and sell them, these things are always sound investments in the world of capitalism.

Hey isn't there a government grant out there too for first timers?
Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
The only problem is, the sunlight is more limited up here in the north. You can't get vitamin D from the sun in the winter here.
Really the greenhouse is best in my opinion for overwintering things, not growing things.

People claim greenhouses block the ability of some plants to produce some nutrients... any structure we build will ultimately block some form of light from the sun am I not correct? I would think it would be ideal and beneficial to open up large portions of the roof to the sun during the warmer months and warmer days.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
a cloche or coldframe or even a row cover will provide the same cut in sunlight nutrition as a greenhouse..

sure a greenhouse may not be an ideal answer..but if you can eat homegrown rather than storebought in the winter..it doesn't completely suck
Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1327
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
Perception of perfection.
I thought this thread was dead...
As I said earlier a greenhouse is a tool and if you use it where it's needed how it's needed and when it's needed it doesn't  "suck".
When a thread starts out with a negative title or less than positive premise it takes me out of that zone of perfection.
  It does however make for a lively discussion.
Matt Ferrall


Joined: Dec 26, 2008
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
    
    4
Industrial tools have ecological costs to manufacure and use.Every person in the 1st world has rationalized how the tools they are using are correct and the use appropriate enough to be ok.Many in the rest of the world beg to differ.Compared to worse options greenhouses look great.compared to better options greenhouses suck.Most people tend to look for worse options to they can feel great without changing.
Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1327
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
Both our paths though divergent are perfect.
Matt Ferrall


Joined: Dec 26, 2008
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
    
    4
Yea all our paths are perfect and if some paths lead to the gulf oil spill,hey thats perfect too!
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
The only way that industry will die is if it starves, you cannot artificially starve it. As it turns out you would need industry yourself to keep other people from using it. The industry needed to produce greenhouses isn't anything compared to the industry needed to produce food with out them.
                            


Joined: May 29, 2010
Posts: 3
I built a greenhouse last year (tall hoop style).  I live in a northern climate and I use it to start plants and to extend my garden season.  I also use it for my chickens.  In the fall I let the chickens in to clean, till, etc. (chickens are great gardeners .  I also use it in the spring as a place to finish raising chicks.  Admittedly a greenhouse is not natural, but it can be multipurpose and diverse.  It also increases the growing season (thus the ability to eat local longer).  For these reasons it is a valuable part of my farm.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
 
subject: greenhouse suck factor
 
cast iron skillet 49er

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