Underground Greenhouses

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    By utilizing the timeless technology of tapping into the earth’s warmth, it is possible to create a fruiting oasis even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
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    Nectarines thrive in the Ott-Kimm Conservatory, which has 6-foot-thick, concrete, in-ground walls. It sits on a gravel bed near a river, which keeps the interior humid.
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    Pears and other fruit trees in the enclosed system of the Ott-Kimm Conservatory. John Hemighaus discovered that by mimicking the cycles found in nature, the greenhouse soil renewed itself without help from outside elements.
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    Zach Weiss in his poly-culture paradise. When he can afford it, he plans to remove the plastic and install Solexx panels.

The thought of growing trees heavily laden with nectarines, peaches, figs and even persimmons in northern climates seems the stuff of fantasy. Yet, by constructing a greenhouse deep enough to utilize the earth’s consistent temperature, it’s possible to grow sub-tropical plants without an additional heat source in regions where sub-zero temperatures are common.
In-ground greenhouse design is not new. It dates back to the late 1800s in this country, but fell out of favor until recently. Homeowners have rediscovered it as they look for ways to provide more of their own food without relying on outside sources.

Two Approaches
Over 35 years ago, John Hemighaus wanted to see what was possible to grow in an in-ground greenhouse. Fueled by a keen scientific mind and plenty of muscle, he built his private passive solar greenhouse called the Ott-Kimm Conservatory. It boasts a Zone-8 climate in the Zone-4 area of Montana’s Gallatin Valley. “I did this for my own research and study, and to feed my family,” John said. He hand-dug the greenhouse with a base 5 feet below the ground’s surface, and poured 6-inch-thick reinforced concrete walls.

Within the greenhouse, he created an enclosed ecosystem. Pacific Northwest tree frogs are one of the tiny predators that keep insect levels in check, and the natural cycle of plants, fungi, bacteria and insects maintains the soil balance. His experiment and labor of love worked like a charm. “If it’s done properly, it will feed a modest family in perpetuity,” he said.

Fore more information on Perpetual Green Gardens, visit:http://www.perpetualgreengardens.com/

BUY NOW! AT New Pioneer Winter 2014

  • rob

    wont work but good concept

    • Sebastiaan Stokhof De Jong

      it does work, the example above has been functioning for decades

    • Ben Hughes

      The place works really well. I understand how a person could be skeptical of the idea, but to see it in action is remarkable. I don’t see how anyone aside from John could actually create such a place. He’s meticulous, driven, and is about as unique a guy as you’ll ever meet.