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Old 07-09-2014, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Help Me Choose Greenhouse.

I don't even know where to start.
There is such a wide variation in price and they all "look the same"... how do I go selecting which one we want/need.

We live in on a mountain where there is little southern exposure. And we get 6 feet of snow per year. Our growing season is not that long (northern Idaho).

Not sure if that matters... my husband has done all the research on greenhouses and he doesn't know which one to pick. I, on the otherhand, know little about them. But, I'm helping him out... asking for advice from you.

We are swamped with this off-grid living... there is so much work to do and I have two little ones that prevent me from doing much, right now).
TIA.

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Old 07-09-2014, 09:17 AM
 
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For starters, you'll need one to withstand snow! First, though, assess what your needs are. Eliot Coleman writes some great books about growing year-round, and he lives in New England. He might have some good recommendations.

Tell us what you are considering, why you can't decide between which design, etc., and that might help us help you.

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Old 07-10-2014, 10:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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*shucks* I deleted my post before I got to post it. This is now a condensed version. :S

We like the dome greenhouses, but they are very expensive. Is it worth investing in that or will something cheaper (preferable) do the same job just as well?

We need a grower greenhouse to also keep maybe a small tree in there.
A warm one too... but we are off-grid, so keeping it warm thru most of the winter presents a challenge. We do not get alot of sun (little southern exposure) and we have plenty cloudy days.

Good point about the snow. A steep roof is ideal to slide the snow off.

DH has read so many Mother Earth News magazines in the last several years and he still doesn't know what he wants/needs. He just doesn't know if a cheaper one (same size, shape) would do the same as a more expensive one. So, now I am just starting to google... and reading thru this ... http://eartheasy.com/how-to-buy-a-greenhouse.html ...I can see where the costs would go. So, I need to sit down and find out what we need. Our neighbor has a dome greenhouse... we are fairly new to the area... (from Washington DC to northern ID) ...and not sure if I should just walk over there (can't see their house from dirt-unmaintained road)... some people around these neck of the woods are... how do I put it, protective of their property/privacy.

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Old 07-10-2014, 10:33 AM
 
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If you are in a small area, someone knows someone who knows these folks, or if you recognize them in their car, wave them down when you pass and introduce yourself, or keep an eye out for them at home.

If I were in N ID, I would invest in a sturdy greenhouse. Where I live, on the Wet Side of the Cascades, hoop houses work fine for the occasional snows we get, and plastic sheeting works fine over the top. Some folks have metal hoops, but many get by on PVC. Cattle fencing panels make good base structure for small, moveable greenhouses covered in plastic. That might be a good place to start, simply placing these over certain crops. It wouldn't be insulated, but it's amazing how much you can achieve by keeping out snow and protecting against frosts and rains.

How do you keep it warm? Make it big enough to have room for compost piles and chickens in winter. Attach one onto the house.

If lived there and wanted to extend the harvest in both directions, I definitely would throw as much money as I dared at these things. I would invest in multiple, smaller inexpensive greenhouses, some portable, and then you don't need as much space for the "big greenhouse".

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Old 07-10-2014, 10:37 AM
 
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P. S. Infrastructure takes a lot of money and effort, doesn't it? Getting all the systems in place: greenhouse, fences, trellises, coops, sheds, cisterns, greywater.......

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Old 07-10-2014, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes! we planned on chickens but were wondering how to keep them warm. I never thought of just keeping them in the greenhouse. Makes total sense! I read SolViva or something like that about a greenhouse in Maine and they had rabbits and a large pool of water to keep things warm.

Attach to the house? Hmmmmm.... Not sure how do-able that would be at this point.

Thanks for the tips...

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Old 07-10-2014, 08:58 PM
 
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Now, chickens I know much more than greenhouses, and keeping them warm is not a big deal. Raise the big-bodied breeds with smallish combs, avoiding the Mediterranean breeds like Leghorns. Chickens stay warm. Chanticlers are a breed developed for Canadian winters. They have a cushion comb, which stays close to the head. Chickens and cold are no big deal.

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Old 07-10-2014, 11:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Good to know. Awesome!

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Old 07-11-2014, 07:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germin8 View Post
Yes! we planned on chickens but were wondering how to keep them warm. I never thought of just keeping them in the greenhouse. Makes total sense! I read SolViva or something like that about a greenhouse in Maine and they had rabbits and a large pool of water to keep things warm.

Attach to the house? Hmmmmm.... Not sure how do-able that would be at this point.

Thanks for the tips...
That's what I was going to suggest - the biothermal heat from the chickens (depending upon the size of the flock) will help regulate the temperature for the plants.

How big of a tree do you need to accommodate? And are you looking to build it yourself, or buy a kit?

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Old 07-11-2014, 10:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We don't know what tree... we want the ability to keep a food-producing tree in there that we wouldn't otherwise be able to grow out here. It gets cold (-10F sometimes).

We wanted to buy a kit. We just don't have the time to build. We need it IN by this fall to be ready for the next growing season.

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Old 07-12-2014, 12:25 AM
 
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If you aren't sure what tree I'd try to get the greenhouse at least 10' tall in the center (or where ever the tree would go). You can get most types of trees in a dwarf size that will grow to about 8-10' tall.

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Old 07-12-2014, 08:31 AM
 
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You are not going to be able to keep a greenhouse so warm that you can get a tree needing higher winter temps to thrive. You can maybe fudge it by 10 degrees. That's just a guess based on what we've done in our greenhouses. You would need another heat source and keep it constant. I would choose a plant that is close to that low temp, but not quite, can take heavy pruning if necessary, and does not rely heavily on pollinators-- a fig comes to mind, Desert King the best for northern climates. That fig survives alright in our area (low temps typical 10º, sometimes -1) but won't produce because it has to grow back too much. In a greenhouse, even unheated, we'd have figs coming out our ears! Figs produce fresh figs nicely without needing the fig wasp that doesn't live in the northern states. You just can't get those nice, seedy figs. Fresh figs dry nicely if split open and flat. They are chewy and sweet and .... mmmmmm.....

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Old 07-12-2014, 10:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Figs! What a great idea! Thanks for the tips all.

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Old 07-16-2014, 05:12 PM
 
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we live just outside Pullman WA. Welcome to the area!

We know one of our fellow local growers actually has rigged up a wood stove in one of their hoophouses to get an early start in the spring and sometimes will do so near the fall to keep it going just a little longer. I would bet that it wouldn't bee too complicated to rig up something similar for any type of greenhouse if only to take the edge off the cold temps!

We brooded chicks in one of our hoophouses this last winter (Oct-Jan/Feb) and it worked out pretty well. Since we were brooding, we did provide them with a mini-house and heat lamps so that they had a guaranteed place to get warm because it was cold! (didn't help that they ripped a couple little holes bigger in the side walls... silly birds) We still had challenges providing them with liquid water that was also easily accessible for us and i think something like a woodstove may be possible to make that particular chore a little easier especially since we were dealing with 150-200 little chickens. There was definitely a noticeable difference in temps in their hoophouse and in the non-chicken hoophouse but as to specific degree differences, I couldn't say. and you can bet that the plants in their hoophouse now are LOVING all the nitrogen in there! Keeping chicks/chickens out of plants that are in the hoophouse or greenhouse at the same time as the chickens would be difficult because they are so programmed to look for fresh veggies that they'll get into and strip it bare, I'll almost guarantee it! especially littler ones because they fit through so much and electronet is more to keep predators out at that age than to keep chicks in per se...

Look at the options and look at what you need. if a cheaper option will provide you with what you need (plus a little room to expand if you want) then that's fine. a greenhouse is basically a glass house that is sealed enough to keep out the cold and preserve the heat. if you can obtain building materials and windows for cheaper than buying a kit then do it that way even! (even if it costs you some beer and a nice home-cooked meal to find yourself some back labor or knowledgeable assistance) it doesn't HAVE to be a kit unless you WANT it to be a kit whether because you feel you don't understand it well enough yet or because you simply do not have the time to dedicate to putting ALL of the parts together on paper AND in person.

definitely don't forget about the snow load issue. bonus of a steeper roof is more direct sun exposure to collect more heat. think about siting carefully to best take advantage of southern sun exposure. building it off your house on the south side if possible would be helpful also as the house can help heat the greenhouse a little if needed and the greenhouse can funnell it's extra heat into your house thus reducing your costs to heat your house. our neighbors do that and it's REALLY NICE!

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Old 07-24-2014, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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For future reference, these two websites were helpful:

http://www.greenhousereview.com/
http://eartheasy.com/how-to-buy-a-greenhouse.html

There are some other things the above link didn't mention... and I actually found kits that used galvanized steel... so just FYI. I just really liked the two above.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organ...#axzz38K7LGw00

I think we are going with the Grandio.
I found the ClimaPod for super cheap... but not sure if that would be a good idea. Maybe as a second... but seems like a bigger one is better than two separate ones.

I found on this website that we need .44 acres per vegetarian person to live off the land year round.
http://pureenergies.com/us/blog/live-off-the-land-2/
So, we definitely do not have enough land to garden on... and not one space big enough for a greenhouse... so we might need two.

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