Author Topic: Keeping a greenhouse warm...without electricity  (Read 19008 times)

Offline Garrett

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 27
  • Karma: 0
Keeping a greenhouse warm...without electricity
« on: December 09, 2008, 07:17:56 AM »
New to the forum here, but not to preparedness.  I am looking to branch into a greenhouse for the winter.  I know its a little late in the year, but I am looking to have a place for some of my summer plants (i.e. blueberries and strawberries) to winter over and to start some other plants.

Some back ground:  I live south of DC and I rent my house, so I am looking at one of the Springhouse greenhouses.  I don't have a yard that I can put the house in that gets enough sun, so I am planning on putting it on my deck with a tarp on the floor and bags of dirt/manure on the floor for insulation.

I have listened to the podcasts about winter gardening, and it was suggested that you put a light bulb in there to maintain heat at night, and I can do that, but I would rather do something that does not involve cords and lamps outside as I do not want to attract attention to what is laready going to be sticking out like a sore thumb.

I have heard about using milk jugs with water and antifreeze painted black in between the plants, or making a passive solar heater out of cardboard and cans and I may try some of these, but I am looking for something that works.  Has anyone used these or other types of greenhouse heating? 

Any ideas or comments would be great.  If I am off base, tell me.

Thanks,

Garrett

Offline ModernSurvival

  • Just a Desperado Under The Eaves
  • Administrator
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 3060
  • Karma: 305
  • Liberty is precious, fight to keep it!
    • The Survival Podcast
Re: Keeping a greenhouse warm...without electricity
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2008, 09:21:40 AM »
Well first, one light bulb will do a LOT and if only run at night has a very minimum impact on an electric bill.  Keeping in mind this is for a quite small green house.

The  methods you mention should be effective to a degree.  Here are a few things I have learned this year thus far.

1.  My experiment to grow pole beans failed, even in the green house the first 29 degree night killed the beans.  Everything else made it.

2.  I just bought a 32 gallon black rubbermaid trash can at target (12 bucks).  I filled it with water and I have one of my reptile thermo probes in the water.  Yesterday it was really warm (high 70s) but at night when the air temp was down to 57 the water was still at 67.  I am thinking that will make a difference tonight when it goes down to 28!  I have pretty much decided to buy a second one based on my temp readings thus far.  I never though about antifreeze and it is probably a good idea just use the stuff that cats, dogs and children won't drink and kill themselves with.  I lost a cat two years ago that drank antifreeze and I decided after seeing how he died that if I ever found someone that did it on purpose to an animal that they just might have be "vanished" ;)  Seriously it is one of the most horrible of all deaths that can occur.  Spend the extra 2 cents a gallon.

3.  The only reason I don't just use a small heater or some bulbs myself is that the only place in my yard really suitable this time of year for my house is at the very farthest part of my yard from the house (of course  ::) ).  Keep in mind a few bulbs, even a small heater (set on the lowest setting) would only need to be run on nights below say 32-34 degrees.  You know it will work and you don't have to run them during the day.  In fact if you set up a timer you could run them say from 2 hours after dark for a few hours, then off, then back on for a few hours, then off, then on right near morning and off when the sun comes up.  Specifically with a small heater in a modest green house that would be enough.

4.  A bed of rotting compost will add some heat.  The key is it must be already starting to rot, but not finished yet.

5.  The milk jugs full of hot water from the sink, work great but only in relatively small environments.

Just realize if you go with some solar heat sinks and stick to cold weather crops (many that are hard to grow in the heat by the way) you can get by with nothing.  If you want peppers, tomatoes, etc. it is going to be really tough to get by without some form of "help".  So either stick to stuff like lettuce, broccoli and other winter crops or bring in just a bit of heat.

By the way if anyone thinks they know a better way, please speak up my experience here is a bit limited and you won't hurt my feelings.

Offline Garrett

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 27
  • Karma: 0
Re: Keeping a greenhouse warm...without electricity
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2008, 12:39:34 PM »
Jack,

thanks for the info.  I had never heard of the springhouse before your podcast and I am looking forward to giving it a shot.  I will try the trash barrel idea as well.  I have one that I use to store water from my sump pump, but since its cold, I dont need that much water anymore.

Thanks again, and keep up the good work!

Garrett

Supertramp

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a greenhouse warm...without electricity
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2008, 06:26:09 PM »
one plan that i have been mulling over in my head is a leanto on my house enclosing my southern patio door and on my deck.i heat my house with wood and the stove is about 12ft away from the patiodoor.that way when the greenhouse is cold i can just open the patio door and let the heat in or in reverse when the sun shines the heat from all those windows can be let back in the house.come summer though i guess the door stays shut and the windows open to ventilate.i still have a man door to the deck and the deck is ridiculously large so i think it is a winning idea with the exception of possible smells.i realize this is a site specific idea but may help someone out there

Offline ModernSurvival

  • Just a Desperado Under The Eaves
  • Administrator
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 3060
  • Karma: 305
  • Liberty is precious, fight to keep it!
    • The Survival Podcast
Re: Keeping a greenhouse warm...without electricity
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2008, 06:41:00 PM »
SuperTramp that is a great idea.  I want to do something similar when I finally make the big move!

Offline Stein

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1862
  • Karma: 66
Re: Keeping a greenhouse warm...without electricity
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2008, 10:24:30 PM »
How about the lowly rock?  Get a bunch for free, paint them black and stack as many in there as you can.  You could even get all fancy and make a stone floor with a stack of them under tables.

Offline Mr. Blank

  • Hookah Pimp Bitches!
  • Moderator On Leave
  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *
  • Posts: 943
  • Karma: 71
  • Have Hookah, Will Travel
Re: Keeping a greenhouse warm...without electricity
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2008, 11:03:05 PM »
HERE is an article on using compost to heat water, bet you could so something similar to heat a greenhouse.