Four-Season Gardening is Possible When You Build A Geodesic Greenhouse
Learning to garden through all four seasons – instead of only one plus a bit of spring and fall – is sort of like learning to think in four dimensions. That being said, the rewards come in mind-boggling abundance: fresh greens at Christmas, spinach in February, carrots in March, in fact a whole new appreciation of what’s possible when growing in a geodesic greenhouse.
For many growers in the upper two-thirds of North America, planting under cover of a greenhouse is essential for four season production at a level that produces enough to supplement the family diet year round.
Sure, you might say, that’s possible in the high northern states, 300+ sunny days, but what about cloudy Michigan or chilly Pennsylvania? Or even the plains of Oklahoma? Don’t worry, it can be done and you can do it!
A Basic Cold Frame
You can start with a simple cold frame (a wooden box with a hinged glass lid that is open to the ground.) The cold frame’s low height – only 6 to 10 inches above the ground, is sufficient to keep some crops growing through the winter months. While you won’t get the same results as you would with a geodesic greenhouse, the maintenance is simple: simply prop each glass lid up with a notched 2-by-2 in the mornings and closes them at night.
Serious Four Season Growing – Greenhouse Style
With the addition of a simple, easy to build, passive solar geodesic greenhouse it is easy to grow edible plants year round. In many cases simply by selecting cold-ready crops and understanding the effect of timed successive plantings that work with the length of days, your geodesic greenhouse is able to produce healthy, nutritious crops year round.
Remember, you aren’t going to be able to change that critical amount of light that your plants need (unless you supplement the light with LED metal halides) so don’t try grow vegetables that are radically out of season. Tomatoes in April? Probably not. Overwintered carrots and beet roots? You bet. Kale, Brussels sprouts, and parsnips planted late, and harvested throughout winter? Definitely.
Build Two Biodome Greenhouses and Grow Even MORE
If you have a large family or are just really into winter harvesting, two small geodesic greenhouses are better than one large one. Then you can keep one warm enough to get a head start on summer crops, and keep the cooler loving crops in the other one.
There are definitely things that you will need to take into consideration when planning to build a geodesic greenhouse and extend your growing season to four seasons. Some of them I will address in further posts such as: heating your soil, using manure/animals for heat, capturing ammonia build up and how to use water to best advantage as both nutrient and passive heat storage.
Meanwhile start thinking about these great candidates for winter production in your geodesic greenhouse food factory!
Cold Hardy Greenhouse Crops
Beets for greens
Carrots: Sugarsnax, Napoli
Asian greens: Mei Quin and Joy chois, Mizuna, Mustard greens
Kale: Russian, Winterbor, Toscano
Turnips: Hakurei, for roots and greens
Lettuces: Mache, Marvel of Four Seasons, Winter Density