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what is wrong with greenhouses?

 
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A person can only eat so many root crops before you get sick of them. If the frost don't get stuff here the wind will. I have seen snow here on the 4th of July. Peas and beans did "ok" but not like they did when i was living in the midwest. Kale, Bok Choy, Spinach, and such did well. Carrots always do well and store in the root cellar for up to a year in sand. Cabbage did terrible this past year as it went in so late due to 20* temps the white flies got it no matter what natural remedy i used. Previous years have been good with it though. Broccoli did well with little white fly damage. Onions, i finally found a variety that stores well and had nearly 100# this past year. Pickles i have given up on and buy from the Hutterites who farm 200 miles east of me and deliver to the farmers markets on the weekends. They lost a MAJOR portion of their crops to the August frost last year as well. Potatoes? Over 500# but give a lot of those away to struggling families. I have a 15 yr old daughter that cannot eat potatoes due to an allergy so pasta and tomato sauce is a regular thing here VS mashed taters and gravy. We have had her in Homeopathy for nearly 6 months for potato and corn allergies, (grow our own of both from heirloom strains) and little difference has been noted. She is currently taking Stoneroot, Cilantro, Plantain, Burdock and Baccopa. This is the reason i am desperate for Tomatoes. I also grow a lot of different peppers for natural seasonings. For example, I smoked and ground nearly 10# of over ripe Jalapenos to make Chipotle powder. For me the greenhouse paid for itself the 1st season. Now it's money in the bank..........
 
gardener
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Toensmeier and Coleman are two excellent examples of the use of unheated greenhouses. Perhaps Mr. Frey will weigh in. Toensmeier's newest book "Paradise Lot" is a great read. " Bioshelter Market Garden" is another I have enjoyed. Again I can't emphasize enough a zonal knowledge of growing conditions is important to make an educated argument for what others outside a specific area are faced with.
 
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Matt Ferrall wrote:It only becomes a crutch if a persons food system is dependent on it.Whether it is a tool or crutch depends on what is inside it and whether it is a means to an end or an end in itself.



In that case, canning is as much of a crutch as a greenhouse.
 
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ageed!I would never trust my winter food security to glass and plastic.Instead ,every structure I build is crammed to the hilt with hanging drying racks.Im still drying apples so I will have fruit in april and may.
For those too attached to the common annuals they are familiar with,how about a slogan like"the global lifestyle is not negotiable!"
 
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It's clear that everyone has different priorities in terms of the decisions they make on their property, and the goals they hope to achieve.

I'm thinking back to a seminar I attended a few weeks ago where an older woman who had been a dedicated and intensive gardener for decades stated that she "feels like she doesn't know how to garden anymore." In many places the weather, temperatures and availability of water are shifting in ways we can't predict. Species that die here now might thrive in 15 years, and vice versa.

For me personally, every decision I make here is grounded in the need to have as much diversity and redundancy built into my system as possible. I'm not going to give up on growing a potentially vital source of calories and nutrients (if I can grow it in a sustainable manner) simply because they're not native to this area. I see enough challenges to our food supply coming down the road as it is without creating any more for myself.
 
Matt Ferrall
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I wasnt advocating for natives so much as plants that do well without outside inputs or artificial environments.
 
Matt Smith
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Matt Ferrall wrote:I wasnt advocating for natives so much as plants that do well without outside inputs or artificial environments.



Gotcha... thanks for clarifying. Like I said, everybody's got different goals and means. For whatever it's worth I do applaud your approach, even if it isn't my own.
 
Author
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Ah, i need to chime in here. What is wrong with a greenhouse? What is wrong with a people house? Maybe we should save resources and wear lots of clothes and find shelter amongst the trees to spend the winter. or why even wear the clothes? lets all move to the tropics again and wear mud to protect us from bugs and sun.
However, if we are to build buildings, and live in them, and want to eat local food... what is the objection to a greenhouse really??? Whos is against them and why? i mean for real?
 
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Darrell Frey wrote:Ah, i need to chime in here. What is wrong with a greenhouse? What is wrong with a people house? Maybe we should save resources and wear lots of clothes and find shelter amongst the trees to spend the winter. or why even wear the clothes? lets all move to the tropics again and wear mud to protect us from bugs and sun.
However, if we are to build buildings, and live in them, and want to eat local food... what is the objection to a greenhouse really??? Whos is against them and why? i mean for real?





Basically, I think he (The original poster) is saying humanity needs to go back to an early agrarian or hunter / gatherer type society. Any use of human ingenuity will eventually lead to doom. Basically a "slippery slope" logical argument.


*Self edited for not being nice. *


 
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I don't think anyone, including Matt, has advocated living in caves....or living on nuts and berries....or becoming malnurished.

EDITed...I correct myself...permaculture actually is promoting more natural homes as in cob and wofati and is certainly advocating more nuts and berries along with other perennial fruits and even wild game. No one suggests malnurishment as part of this lifestyle.
 
Robert Ray
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Matt
Would you like to see evolution to or de-evolution to something similar to the Wheaton HUSP type of life or something else?
 
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If one decides that starting plants in greenhouses is an abnormal situation to trick nature into supporting plants that don't belong in the ecoregion, then it stands to reason that irrigation is just as unnatural. Watering your garden is promoting plants that otherwise would not have survived there with 'natural' conditions.

So, if greenhouses should be labeled as "bad", then garden hoses should be in that same category.
Where should we draw the line? Planting seeds is also trying to "Fool Mother Nature".



 
Matt Ferrall
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agreed!I personally dont have nor use running water in my landscape.A person coudnt get more dependant than that.If avoiding irrigation is a permi theme,seems avoiding greenhouses should be too.Hence this thread.Was it not Paul Wheaton himself who coined the permaculture vs irrigation thread/idea?
 
Robert Ray
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Seriously Matt, by your own admission you have never gardened or had any experience in gardening in zone 3.
I'm sorry but your current experience is not rounded enough to have any actual hands on experience to dismiss or judge the use of greenhouses by those who live in a challenging zone. Give those of us that use greenhouses the benefit of doubt that we do indeed care and act responsibly.
By your own admission you use technology and infrastructure that IMO far outstrip greenhouse use as far as a detrimental footprint.
You apparently have made impressive strides in developing your own property that's great. We would all be better off talking about appropriate uses of technology than lumping all technology as bad. With a productive discussion that looks at the appropriate use of technology and how to lessen dependency and wasteful disregard to the planet with that use, we can have a discussion that has meaning.
Right now with your experience and mine it's as if your playing football and I'm playing rugby, the ball looks the same but it's an entirely different game.
You get 80 inches of rain, what I could do with that much rain I get less than a quarter of that. Your at 250 feet above sea level that's only a mile lower than I was in Wyoming. With my own eyes I've seen people having to travel miles for water because some waka doodle and his friends control an area. We've got it good.
What are you doing and how would be much more productive and helpful than picking someone else's method and telling them they are wrong
 
Matt Ferrall
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Robert,I havnt lumped all technology into any catagory and yes, we may be playing different games but that really begs the question of-Why do you continue to post on a thread that has no bearing on your circumstances?I mean what if I went on all the pro greenhouse threads and made sure everytime someone posted anything, I posted about how they were wrong?RIDICULOUS!Is the narrative here moraly wrong to even exist?Do you feel it your duty to suppress anti greenhouse dialog?I fail to see how harping on the same point over and over serves any purpose in this discussion.Please find someone else to harass with all your free time.
 
Robert Ray
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Matt
The discussion was initiated with the premise that big names in permaculture opposed greenhouses.
I have never said that all greenhouses were a good thing.
There is a definite difference in being wrong and not having enough information. Morality might come into play when making a false claim but I would appreciate it if you would show me where I have made any unsubstantiated claim or knowledge base.
I haven't suppressed any dialog.
I guess we're both harping aren't we?
I think I have given arguments that support my premise that not all use of greenhouses are bad.
What is wrong with x seems to leave the possibility that something is right with x.
One should have a bit of algebra before they take on calculus.
I am pretty sure that dualistic is not the word that would apply to my position let alone my imagination. There is nothing wrong with dualism and it more readily describes your lifestyle than mine and that's ok. Mixing old and new insures resiliance.
Your initial claim and subsequent posts are .....perfect
 
Matt Ferrall
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Yes,my posts are against greenhouses and I enjoy dialog in defense of that.If you feel you have NEW or INTERESTING points that could evolve this narrative,than great!.If you posts consist of the same point regurgitated in myriad combinations,Im at a loss to move the conversation in any direction.
 
Matt Ferrall
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For many people"self sufficiency"impiies a reduction in dependence on industrial technologies.Personaly,I think there is great value in critique of these industrial products and our dependence on them.A person might still use some but that doesnt negate a critique of others.Any one looking to live closer to the earth or reduce their ecological footprint should be open to lifestyle change.But change is unlikely unless it has a reason and other options are presented.I would love to have dialog with people concerning negative points about industrial products and solutions to said products.
 
Judith Browning
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There has been a trend in our area for hoop houses...the really cheap ones with pvc hoops and plastic coverings. The point was to bump up the local food production but as far as I've noticed there is no more produce showing up at the market here. Our particular climate is from lows in the teens to days in the seventies over the winter so in my opinion even a hoop house here is too much to maintain with those fluctuating temperatures. We try to avoid plastic sheeting all together. We are working slowly towards a variety of plants and trees and bushes that do well here with a minimum of care after planting but still find ourselves pulling out the hoses mid summer.
I agree with needing variety in our diets but I also want even more than that my independence from the grocery store. We are doing better and better at that. I am drying more and more and still canning some. We never had a freezer so did not have to pull away from that dependency. We have slightly less variety over the winter but fill some gaps with sprouts and herbs and plants that survive the winters here.
I did some reading a couple years ago about nitrite/nitrate accumulation in winter greens having to do with less sun...shorter days. Evidently there were high amounts even in organic greens and esp. lettuces I think. I am sorry I can't site the study...through ATTRA I believe.
So, avoiding as much plastic as I can...I like the idea that anything I use could be composted but that is my ideal not my reality.
Sorry about my 4am ramble.
 
Matt Ferrall
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Great to get away from freezers!Yea,the cheap plastic greenhouses with PVC are almost 'disposable'.I really aplaud your efforts Judith!Industrial technology doesnt have to be an all or nothing arrangement.I prefer to slowly extricate myself from its grasp.Really,its about always challenging ourselves to do better.Sure,I do canning ocationally too,but Im always exploring other options.Its good to be open to change and personally,I like the challenge.Sprouts!I really like that idea.Sprouts would definitely count as a solution to greenhouses.
 
Judith Browning
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I too love the challange. But to be honest, if we had moved to a harsher climate...winters below freezing and feet of snow for months...we would probably be dead or gone by now (this was forty years ago). As it was we had folks asking us all of the time why we wanted to live like our grandparents did...that wasn't our intent at all. What we wanted was to pare down to bare necessities and live a mindful life but people only see things from their own history and experience and we weren't very good at explaining. I guess I am bringing that up because over the years our living conditions have changed...not always in ways I would call improvement...but I always have that "bare bones" period to compare too. I notice a lot on these forums that the struggle folks are having is with the other end of the spectrum...giving up or compromising food security...a steady income...a comfortable house...fresh citrus in the winter. I'm wandering off topic I guess.
 
Cris Bessette
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I think we need to set some premises that can be agreed upon so that the discussion can continue without repeatedly "harping" on some points.

Can we agree that the concept "greenhouse" is a wide and varied concept? It could be a Passive greenhouse - It could be a Commercial greenhouse with gas heaters. It could be the Romans and their Specularium , it could be the Earth itself and its atmosphere.

Can we agree that the the Greenhouse effect is an inherent part of nature?

Can we agree that there is a difference between "depending on" and making appropriate use of human ingenuity?

I think I can assume that most posters here consider the industrial greenhouse complex to be inherently unsustainable with its high ratio of inputs to outputs.
(IE we can effectively leave these out of the discussion, because we agree)




 
Matt Ferrall
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Like I posted earlier,I do not agree that an industrial greenhouse operation is inherently less sustainable than lots of small greenhouses because the larger greenhouses have an economy of scale.They are just easier targets because the outside inputs are easier to see and quantify.Heating an industrial greenhouse would use far less energy per square foot than heating the same floor space spread over many smaller greenhouses.Economy of scale is what makes industrial technologies efficient.If lots of small greenhouses used less energy,than companies would opt for them instead(since they have to pay for the outside inputs).I think it is a fallicy that small scale industrial production is somehow more ecological.It just looks cuter.
 
Cris Bessette
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Like I posted earlier,I do not agree that an industrial greenhouse operation is inherently less sustainable than lots of small greenhouses because the larger greenhouses have an economy of scale.They are just easier targets because the outside inputs are easier to see and quantify.Heating an industrial greenhouse would use far less energy per square foot than heating the same floor space spread over many smaller greenhouses.Economy of scale is what makes industrial technologies efficient.If lots of small greenhouses used less energy,than companies would opt for them instead(since they have to pay for the outside inputs).I think it is a fallicy that small scale industrial production is somehow more ecological.It just looks cuter.



Ok, so you have made your position clear on the industrial use of greenhouses, or artificially heated greenhouses, regardless of size.

What about the other positions I laid out?
 
Matt Ferrall
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Yes,I agree that the term 'greenhouse'is somewhat relative.There is ,of course,a varied spectrum of applications and appropriate uses.That ,however, makes for boring reading so hopfully you will pardon my sometimes dogmatic antagonism in the attempt to spurn conversation.The thread provides a context for points that,on their own,would have little effect.
Whether or not the use of a greenhouse is a crutch or tool is dependent on how it is used.Whether or not it has an ecological cost that outweighs its benefits is largely dependent on how its constructed.These factors are hard to judge here but I think the narrative, thus far ,provides the reader with some ideas as to how the lines are deliniated.
The human mind however loves to rationalize so perhaps a more clearly articulated deliniation of what 'appropriate use' looks like is in order.
 
Robert Ray
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I think Cris's view would be more in line with "big names in permaculture" views.
I'm not sure what small scale industrial is, would that be local mom and pop nurseries?
 
Matt Smith
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Like I posted earlier,I do not agree that an industrial greenhouse operation is inherently less sustainable than lots of small greenhouses because the larger greenhouses have an economy of scale.They are just easier targets because the outside inputs are easier to see and quantify.Heating an industrial greenhouse would use far less energy per square foot than heating the same floor space spread over many smaller greenhouses.Economy of scale is what makes industrial technologies efficient.If lots of small greenhouses used less energy,than companies would opt for them instead(since they have to pay for the outside inputs).I think it is a fallicy that small scale industrial production is somehow more ecological.It just looks cuter.



This would seem to presume that the smaller greenhouses would be using identical energy inputs as the larger industrial ones, just on a smaller scale. I think that this is not the case. Most of the small greenhouses (for personal use, not industrial) I see are entirely passive and don't have dedicated energy inputs related to heating them.

It's also worth discussing what the purpose of those two different types of greenhouses tends to be. Huge-scale industrial greenhouses tend to be more geared towards monocropping of species of plants that likely could not be grown outside of that environment (for whatever reason). Smaller-scale greenhouses are more likely to be used for a wider variety of species and purposes, including basic season-extension of plants that can be grown outside of that environment.

 
Matt Ferrall
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Well to me, small scale industrial would be any greenhouse made with the same industrially manufactured materials distributed through the same industrial distribution structure as a large greenhouse.So if an individual were to purchase a backyard greenhouse and not use salvaged materials than they would be supporting the same industrial structure and production but WITHOUT any economy of scale.They would already be operating at far less effeciency than their large scale peers.
 
Cris Bessette
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Yes,I agree that the term 'greenhouse'is somewhat relative.There is ,of course,a varied spectrum of applications and appropriate uses.That ,however, makes for boring reading so hopfully you will pardon my sometimes dogmatic antagonism in the attempt to spurn conversation.The thread provides a context for points that,on their own,would have little effect.
Whether or not the use of a greenhouse is a crutch or tool is dependent on how it is used.Whether or not it has an ecological cost that outweighs its benefits is largely dependent on how its constructed.These factors are hard to judge here but I think the narrative, thus far ,provides the reader with some ideas as to how the lines are deliniated.
The human mind however loves to rationalize so perhaps a more clearly articulated deliniation of what 'appropriate use' looks like is in order.



Thanks, I was having a hard time grasping what your premise or root philosophy was.

You have made a statement on a few occasions regarding finding a "solution for greenhouses" which to me indicated that you thought the whole concept was bad, no matter what form it took.

So, I am in agreement with you that we need to focus on "appropriate use" so that we can steer this discussion in a useful direction.

 
Matt Smith
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Matt Ferrall wrote:So if an individual were to purchase a backyard greenhouse and not use salvaged materials than they would be supporting the same industrial structure and production but WITHOUT any economy of scale.They would already be operating at far less effeciency than their large scale peers.



But what if the large greenhouse required huge and constant inputs of fossil fuel to operate and the small one did not? Would that difference not be made up quite quickly?
 
Matt Ferrall
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Cris:before we leap safely into the subjective and relativistic realm of 'appropriate use',I think in general,that(based on points already expounded apon)avoiding/moving away from greenhouses is the best direction concerning this topic.When in doubt,dont.We have discussed their many downsides and the danger is real in allowing yourself to snuggle up to a lifestyle based on industrial products.
Matt:yes,everyone here agrees that some sort of 'appropriate use'may exist out there but unfortunatly even the crasses examples can be found hiding beneath such slogans.In fact the worst examples are the most likely to cling to ambiguous concepts.A tell tale sighn is when they compare to something worse as a rationalisation.
 
Cris Bessette
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Cris:before we leap safely into the subjective and relativistic realm of 'appropriate use',I think in general,that(based on points already expounded apon)avoiding/moving away from greenhouses is the best direction concerning this topic.When in doubt,dont.We have discussed their many downsides and the danger is real in allowing yourself to snuggle up to a lifestyle based on industrial products.
Matt:yes,everyone here agrees that some sort of 'appropriate use'may exist out there but unfortunatly even the crasses examples can be found hiding beneath such slogans.In fact the worst examples are the most likely to cling to ambiguous concepts.



I'm going to quote you:

Matt Ferrall wrote: The human mind however loves to rationalize so perhaps a more clearly articulated deliniation of what 'appropriate use' looks like is in order.



That is what you said the previous message to this one:

Matt Ferrall wrote: I think in general,that(based on points already expounded apon)avoiding/moving away from greenhouses is the best direction concerning this topic.



The first one says you agree, there are appropriate uses, and the next you are back to "no appropriate uses" This to me is an "ambiguous concept"!
We have to stick to one position or the other, as the two are mutually exclusive concepts.


 
Matt Ferrall
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Well it seems you would like me to be idiologically consistant regardless of converstional context and quite frankly,Im really not uptight enough to pull that off.I do,however,appreciate that you care enough to track down any percieved inconsistancies in my posts.I stand by them in the context they were spoken.
 
Robert Ray
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So to clarify small scale industrial production is related to the manufacture of the structure itself not the production of food within the structure?
Economy of scale is referencing the amount of input required to heat and cool the greenhouse not the cost of producing the structure?
So am I understanding correctly that a passive greenhouse that is made of recycled material and requiring no added input would then be removed from the small industrial production definition?
 
Matt Ferrall
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Correct,a reused materials greenhouse would escape the industrial production critique.Only one of many potential down sides.
Economy of scale applies to all aspects,both in manufacture and in use
 
Robert Ray
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OK, what would be a potential downside on a passive repurposed greenhouse that produces food year round.
 
Cris Bessette
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Matt Ferrall wrote:Well it seems you would like me to be idiologically consistant regardless of converstional context and quite frankly,Im really not uptight enough to pull that off.I do,however,appreciate that you care enough to track down any percieved inconsistancies in my posts.I stand by them in the context they were spoken.



Those two quotes were taken from two consecutive posts by you. The context was the same.



 
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