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The Ultimate Prepper Greenhouse

This is a discussion on The Ultimate Prepper Greenhouse within the Gardening forums, part of the Survival Food Procurement category; As someone with a lifelong passion for farming and food production, I have often dreamed of the perfect greenhouse. In my opinion, the perfect greenhouse ...

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Thread: The Ultimate Prepper Greenhouse

  1. #1
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    The Ultimate Prepper Greenhouse

    As someone with a lifelong passion for farming and food production, I have often dreamed of the perfect greenhouse. In my opinion, the perfect greenhouse would be one that would maintain a stable growing temperature year round with minimal energy cost to do so. In college I took a class on sustainable building and architecture that gave me some good ideas of how to build such a structure. There are a variety of different techniques that can be used to store solar energy, the simplest and most cost effective of which being the use of black water barrels to collect solar energy during the day and then passively release it during the night.

    I'm located in the midwest, and in most parts of the midwest the winters can get very cold, so a large surface area greenhouse with windows on all sides is just not a good idea if you're really trying to maintain growing conditions year round. After years of studying this topic, I've decided that the best greenhouse for most places in my latitude would be southern facing and earth-contact or earth-sheltered structure. So when looking for properties I made sure to get one with a south facing hill. I've made dozens of designs and most have ended up having a projected cost almost on par with my house. I expect it will be a significant investment, but to me a perfect greenhouse would be as important if not more important than a house in SHTF.

    As a farmer planning for a long life of plant cultivation, a greenhouse or series of greenhouses with raised beds is also a practical prep that makes sense for a person in an inevitably aging human form who will not be able to stoop down to pick tomatoes for his entire life.

    Last year I found this video and it really excited me and gave me hope that perhaps a complex of greenhouses might not be as extremely costly of an investment as I had initially thought. This 85 year old man in Nebraska has been growing oranges for decades in his greenhouses that use a series of earth tubes to heat them throughout the Nebraska winters which can often feature temperatures of -10 to -20 degrees F. Can you imagine the price of a bag of oranges in the midwest in SHTF? He did this without fancy materials - simple polycarbonate panels.

    A Watchman, Michael_Js and Annie like this.

  2. #2
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    Here our problem is just the oposite, as for most of the year, it gets too hot in the greenhouses, so they need windows for ventilation and some shade. It is a real oven inside a greenhouse here in the summer. The air gets so moist it is hard to breath. Very different climate from were you live.
    If you are going to have it at least partially underground, be aware of how will you drain the water that might acumulate inside. If you plan to grow vegetables for selling, it is a very good idea, you will pay off the greenhouse by selling your produce, and in a possible SHTF situation, you would already know how to operate everything.
    StratMaster and bigwheel like this.

  3. #3
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    I have a neighbor who has two greenhouses - one is a simple plastic over hoops on the soil that was on there that I helped him construct nothing fancy at all 3 season. .

    The other is built on top of an old house basement foundation. The house was built on the south side of a hill and the north wall is a couple feet higher. He placed a bunch of plastic water barrels painted black on the north side . The top cover is slanted so it sheds water / snow. Wood frame with clear hard plastic corrogated 3 x 8 sheets. He does use additional clear plastic on the inside of the at sheeting in winter. Wood stove to provide heat in winter. The old house had what I would call a Dorthy door for access. He starts things in this greenhouse then moves them to the other as weather permits.

    Currently he is able to earn about 2/3 of his income from his greenhouses.
    [1]Survival: Actions I need to do NOW to live another 5 minutes to 3 days.[2] Prepping: What I do to insure my family makes it thru an adverse event lasting 3 days to 3 months [3] Seeds and livestock: What you need for long term subsistence.

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    My wife has more patience than I, and a few years ago she planted some items in wooden casks so she could landscape the yard. I've always been amazed at how a small home garden can produce so much food.
    bigwheel likes this.
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  6. #5
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    Very good plan. When Kansas goes legal on killler weed you could be a rich republican.

  7. #6
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    LOL. I think that Kansas legalizing weed is highly unlikely in the near future. It took most counties decades to legalize alcohol sales after national alcohol prohibition was repealed. Once liquor sales were once again allowed, it took decades again for it to become legal to drink in public in most places. My grandfather was fond of a restaurant in Topeka that would "rent" you your booth on a nightly basis with a legally binding lease. Once you "owned" your booth for the night, you could go to the liquor store next door owned by the same guy who owned the restaurant and bring your bottle of booze into the booth, which had a curtain so that you were technically drinking "privately" and "on your own property." When it comes to anything that intoxicates you Kansas is just about the most conservative state in the Union. Although we are now surrounded on three sides with states that have some form of legal cannabis, Kansas would definitely be on the short list to be the last state in the Union to allow it. If the laws change in a decade or so having some greenhouses would likely put an enterprising entrepreneur in a good position to capitalize upon the new market, but it is likely by then that there will be established farms in all the surrounding states that have brand loyalty and good reputations. Weed has never been my thing - even if it was legal to grow it I would rather grow food that I can eat and not make myself a target for thieves and draw the ire of my conservative christian neighbors. I farmed in Colorado for a time and stocked 2 farmers market stands with my produce. I had offers from a couple of cannabis farms to go work for them. They would have had to pay me in cash and then I would have had to pay my own taxes as an "independent contractor." Of course there was also the looming threat of potentially going to federal prison. The pay would have been a little better than the pay I received for farming vegetables but my philosophy has always been that money isn't that hard to make legally so making it illegally doesn't make much sense. I also didn't want to work for criminal dirty hippies.
    StratMaster likes this.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawker View Post
    LOL. I think that Kansas legalizing weed is highly unlikely in the near future. It took most counties decades to legalize alcohol sales after national alcohol prohibition was repealed. Once liquor sales were once again allowed, it took decades again for it to become legal to drink in public in most places. My grandfather was fond of a restaurant in Topeka that would "rent" you your booth on a nightly basis with a legally binding lease. Once you "owned" your booth for the night, you could go to the liquor store next door owned by the same guy who owned the restaurant and bring your bottle of booze into the booth, which had a curtain so that you were technically drinking "privately" and "on your own property." When it comes to anything that intoxicates you Kansas is just about the most conservative state in the Union. Although we are now surrounded on three sides with states that have some form of legal cannabis, Kansas would definitely be on the short list to be the last state in the Union to allow it. If the laws change in a decade or so having some greenhouses would likely put an enterprising entrepreneur in a good position to capitalize upon the new market, but it is likely by then that there will be established farms in all the surrounding states that have brand loyalty and good reputations. Weed has never been my thing - even if it was legal to grow it I would rather grow food that I can eat and not make myself a target for thieves and draw the ire of my conservative christian neighbors. I farmed in Colorado for a time and stocked 2 farmers market stands with my produce. I had offers from a couple of cannabis farms to go work for them. They would have had to pay me in cash and then I would have had to pay my own taxes as an "independent contractor." Of course there was also the looming threat of potentially going to federal prison. The pay would have been a little better than the pay I received for farming vegetables but my philosophy has always been that money isn't that hard to make legally so making it illegally doesn't make much sense. I also didn't want to work for criminal dirty hippies.
    Oregon of course has legalized weed. Like I said, business as usual, the sky didn't fall.

    If a state DOES legalize, as a farmer there would be a relatively small window (maybe a year) before the market is saturated and growing it becomes no more profitable than any other crop.

    I kid you not, there is a Cannabis store on every block in this town. And the price wars have driven the retail price WAY down. I was never a pothead, but I seem to remember my ex wife spending $60 on an eighth of high end weed back in the 90's. Ounces had to be maybe $360? Here in Eugene you can get ounces of high grade stank ganga for like $58 an ounce... $58 because the guy next door was asking $60. It's dirt cheap now.

    So, tooling up with all the equipment necessary to grow this stuff, you would need to get your investment back and your profit made toot sweet. I think a lot of growers here will just quit when there's no money in it anymore.

    Grow sweet onions. I'll buy some of those!
    Jayhawker and Slippy like this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by StratMaster View Post
    ...

    Grow sweet onions. I'll buy some of those!
    I'm partial to 2 different species of Sweet Onions;

    Vidalia Onions and Texas 10-15's

    Vidalias are grown in the region of Georgia near the town of Vidalia. I think it has something to do with the soil near Vidalia. Little known fact, Vidalia is between two famous Georgia towns, East Dublin, GA, the Pinestraw Capital of the Country and Statesboro, GA...inspiration for the song made famous by the Allman Brothers, Statesboro, Blues....

    Texas 10-15's are planted around October 15th or are between 10 and 15 ounces...I don't remember which! HA!
    StratMaster and Jayhawker like this.

  10. #9
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    Had me a HUGE hankerin' for a steak come onto me this afternoon... I don't usually eat anything but chicken or turkey for my protein. Picked me up a sweeeeet new York cut steak, and put her on the grill. Started another saucepan of grilled sweet onions, baby spinach, and mushrooms. Cheesy garlic mashers on the side. That's good eatin'!!!!
    Slippy likes this.
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  11. #10
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    I love onions, the only bad thing about them is that in my latitude they are more of a biannual crop, it's possible but tough to get a market sized onion in one season. I've grown vidalias and have to say they may be my favorite as well. If you want to get enough for a year you have to spend basically a whole week on your hands and knees planting starts first thing as soon as the thaw happens, and you have to be good at guessing when the final thaw really is. A frost when the starts are young can wipe out a week's back breaking work in a single night. Then there is the issue of storage. Storing them to really last a year in raw form is close to impossible. Just another great reason for a good year-round greenhouse. If you want sweet onions in June, the only reliable way to make that happen in Kansas is to have a rolling harvest that goes on throughout the year in a controlled environment.

    I love onions, but when it comes to the practical calculus of a survival garden in terms of work put in vs. benefit received, I find that chives are a way more reliable choice in general for everyday use. They grow close enough to choke out the weeds. You still get the flavor and in a tiny fraction of the time. They are also easier to keep rolling and you can use the time you would have spent in your onion patch to grow other veggies that give you better yield for the space/labor input required. Unless you're keeping them around for seed, you can just cut the tops and keep harvesting from the same small patch all season long. If you don't have a greenhouse, some chives can be easily grown in a south facing windowsill in the winter as long as you keep your interior environment from freezing.
    StratMaster, Slippy and Elvis like this.

 

 
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