Topic: Extreme Environment Gardening

So, I've wanted to be growing more food.  Last year, I managed a dozen peppers, and a single stalk of basil.  The kale, the rest of the peppers, and all the other herbs succumbed to coming from the nursery (Lowes Hardware lol) infected with pests.  A dual infestation of aphids and cabbage moths just destroyed the kale. No matter how much manual removal and pesticides were applied I never managed to grow more than a few leaves.

Those peppers and basil were really good though, so I've resolved to start again from seed this time to better control the pests. But, we also moved from LA to Big Bear Lake, which means year-round, outdoor growing is out.

So

I've resolved to try greenhouse gardening,

If you're gonna greenhouse in freezing weather, you've gotta have a thermal mass inside to warm up other than just the air, cause the thermal mass of air is shit.  The real way of doing this is: dig a 4 foot trench all the way around the perimeter and then bury sheets of foam insulation in the trench, creating a big icecooler of dirt that the greenhouse sits on top off.   It doesn't need a bottom cause geothermal and drainage; you're just separating it from the frozen ground around it.  Now you've got an enormous volume of soil that the greenhouse can dump heat into all day, that will radiate it back out, from the ground up.  This is by far the best way to do this, and if you can manage it, do it.  I did not manage it. 

the original trench
DAMN IT ROCKS SUCK.

So, my trenching ability aside, I decided instead on a floor, floating on concrete pavers, and to rely on buckets of water and pots of soil for thermal mass, and pick up some insulation for freezing days.

Next, you need to protect from rodents, as you are building a very nice warm shelter and filling it with food.  Originally I had imagined some metal flashing buried with the foam insulation in the trench.  I decided to try a shallower trench, and bury only the metal flashing.  This was an utter failure.  The trench was still shit, and the panel gaps between the flashing were wide enough to appear as premade mouseholes.

Not Good.

So, I settled on the way things currently stand.  I gave up on keeping rodents from gaining access to the perimeter by tunneling, but covered the entire bottom of the floor with the flashing that was originally intended for the foamboard.
THE FLOOR
THE FLOOR AGAIN
THE FLOOR ONE LAST TIME

They could still theoretically squeeze through the gaps around the sides, so I'm laying down a floor border that should seal it up good.

Floor Border

Assembly of the frame was pretty slick.  It definitely wont take a hurricane or WI blizzard, it should hold up to the snow and wind we get in San Bernardino County. Tolerances were about as good as IKEA, and everything had either an it-doesn't-matter-which-end-is-which design or an it-can-only-fit-one-way design, which made the picture-only, slightly obtuse instructions pretty usable.  Aluminum extrusion is cool!  I hadn't ever worked with this much of it before in such a variety of die shapes.

Assembly

Have been putting off starting the seed trays till I had it up, but it's up, so that's next.

Last edited by Beeg (2020-11-17 05:22:03)

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Re: Extreme Environment Gardening

I kill all plants, but am getting incrementally better about /not/ doing so. Over or under-watering is/are my specialty. I can manage indoor hot peppers and outdoor strawberries, and several varieties of tree. I grew 7 carrots this season, of an uncountable multitude planted. Have a simple soil test kit; may remember to use it tomorrow.

(UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada)

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Re: Extreme Environment Gardening

lil front porch
stuff

I did a coat of sealant on the floor rail yesterday, and installed it today.  Also did a little front porch of cement pavers in front. Got some stuff moved in.  Did a layer of reflective bubblewrap insulation on the north wall.  Tomorrow's agenda is to fill the pots with soil, get the composter inside and filled, and get a water barrel going.  I've been trying to get a read on the temperatures inside and outside, so I bought a little remote wireless thermometer and put it in the greenhouse, with the remote outside.  The low seems accurate enough, and shows that without any thermal mass it makes a poor shelter from the cold.  Precisely no shelter.  Low readings inside and out were basically identical.

thermometer reading LO34OUT LO33IN

The Hi is another matter. 

The outdoor reading seems to match local thermometers, but the indoor thermometer is off the chart.  The first day, I came in to find it reading 136F. I was warm, but needless to say, I wasn't actively cooking.  The culprit turns out to be the black plastic enclosure for the device.  It absorbs any and all heat from light shining on it.  I've embarked on a quest to shield it, while still allowing it to a)communicate with the wireless station ouside, b) not receive any direct sunlight {in a greenhouse} and c) be present in the ambient air volume.  Currently it's sitting at the bottom of a planter pot.  We shall see tomorrow, if the black plastic of the planter has its own absorption issues.

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Re: Extreme Environment Gardening

Lololol, I assembled the composter, but it turned out to be too big to fit through the door. Luckily, aluminum is very plastic. Pics to follow.

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Re: Extreme Environment Gardening

oops

Last edited by Beeg (2020-11-20 00:03:48)

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Re: Extreme Environment Gardening

big oof.

That's freakin hilarious, though, not gonna lie big_smile

Witness me!

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Re: Extreme Environment Gardening

<sets a goddam alarm to test soil>

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