The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Cattle panel underground greenhouse

underground greenhouse picture

We've had good luck extending the growing season with our quick hoops.

If we keep moving towards a mini Ice Age Dean Steward's
cattle panel greenhouse with the cinder block basement might be a good direction to consider.

Seems like it could also incorporate some additional diy geothermal energy to keep things from freezing in the Winter and maybe cooler in the peak of Summer.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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This configuration would also be good for folks who have problems bending over to reach the weeds.
Comment by mark Fri Jan 31 20:16:31 2014
Looks good but a lot of digging
Comment by jim Fri Jan 31 23:00:42 2014

I think the idea of an underground greenhouse is fantastic. Mike Oehler has some good designs, but one of my favorites is the one featured on Treehugger a while back

Not sure how well that design would work in a place with high groundwater, though...

Comment by Jake Fri Jan 31 23:27:43 2014

Given your relatively high groundwater levels, the trench might become a pool. :-)

Maybe a path at ground level with raised beds on both sides would work better at your location?

Comment by Roland_Smith Sat Feb 1 04:41:15 2014

I bet it would be more efficient to build the brick wall above ground, facing south, and the translucent walls built as a lean-to. With the sun low in the sky during the cool months, most of the bricks in the trenched version are in the shade the way it's pictured. I doubt if such a shallow, small trench provides much of a geo-thermal effect to provide additional heat inside that structure.

My simple hoop house (no digging & no brick work) allows me to keep harvesting greens, radishes & tomatoes well into November, located 42*N.

Comment by doc Sat Feb 1 12:03:20 2014

The heat capacity of water is around 4 J·g⁻¹·K⁻¹. Concrete is only 0.88 J·g⁻¹·K⁻¹. So a kg of water can store 4x the amount of heat of a kg of concrete.

Even if you factor in the density (1 g/cm³ for water, 2.4 g/cm³ for concrete), the heat capacity of water is 4 J·cm⁻³·K⁻¹ against 2.1 J·cm⁻³·K⁻¹ for concrete. So a volume of water can store twice the amount of energy of the same volume of concrete.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Feb 2 05:56:11 2014
We actively pursued this option in southern Indiana. The water table is too high and aside from a lot of water in our holes, we got a lot of mold. I advise against the underground version in places with high water tables. A version backed into a hill might work well, if you have good drainage around the back and sides.
Comment by Robin E. Sun Feb 2 07:05:22 2014
This could still work with a high water table as long as you build up rather than dig down. It would take quite a bit of soil to do this, however, or to build it against another structure. I have been intrigued with using solar radiant heating for our home but this could extend to a greenhouse like this too. Radiantec is a company that does this commercially and they have a lot of good diagrams that show systems where you can build a heat sink to store excess heat from your water filled solar array (with antifreeze in colder areas).
Comment by David Sun Feb 2 10:07:25 2014
This is a great greenhouse idea for someone who can't bend down. Thing is, the plants are growing at ground level=cold in winter. We're exploring the idea of a walipini - plants groww at least one metre below ground level where temp is more stable.
Comment by Lesley Thu Jun 11 06:57:51 2020

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