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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

This is my first time posting so please forgive me if this post is not in the typical forum format.

A few of my classmates and I were given the honor of running our school's greenhouse for the 2013-2014 school year after our Horticulture teacher resigned. I have experience in Prepper gardening (I guess that's what you call it) and some basic mechanical knowledge, but I wanted to ask my fellow Preppers, who probably know much more than I, about their opinions on certain issues we are facing.

Firstly, our School's greenhouse has no heater. Why no one thought to put one in is beyond me, but I digress. We were thinking about making a makeshift geothermal heater, does anyone know anything about doing this? If not, does anyone out there know of cheap, preferably renewable, ways to heat a greenhouse?

Secondly, My friends and I have prior knowledge in gardening (as I mentioned before), but none of us has ever grown anything in a greenhouse (excluding our fall garden this year, which we had done individually before). Our BIGGEST question is this: When is it safe to start? What kind of plants are best for a greenhouse in the spring? What kind of trellising, if any, do we need?

Besides these, please tell us any other tips and/or tricks you may have. We know Preppers to be the some of the most resourceful bunch of folks on the planet so we ask you.

The greenhouse is dome shaped, 21' in diameter, and about 14' high. It has two entrances, one fan vented window, one vented window (for air intake when the fan is on), and one window with a zip-able plastic cover (of the same kind that covers the rest of the greenhouse). The floor is red colored gravel which extends for at least 4" to sand, and because of this we have raised beds consisting of gutters filled with soil which rest upon cinder blocks (which sit upright long ways). The greenhouse is located in Northern Indiana, maybe three miles max from the Southern Tip of Lake Michigan.

Thanks for Your Time and May God Bless,
R. Anderson
 

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Welcome to the site. I wish I had a greenhouse and could then help you out. Sorry.
Just a thought though - our high school has a greenhouse and the students grow stuff to sell. Mostly flowers - I know they grew a lot of small roses for fall prom time.
 

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Geothermal won't work for you unless the school is willing to let you do a lot of digging on the premises and you have a lot of money to spend. It probably would not take too big a heater to keep it warm enough overnight though, is there electricity available?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes there is. A 110amp outlet on a light post about 30' away. In the fall we heated it with a space heater (which worked pretty well until about Mid November). We need something with better heating qualities (and something a little safer).

Oh, and Thanks for the welcome MrsInor, I appreciate it.
 

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Welcome randerson,

You're greenhouse is large compared to the smaller backyard varieties and you are pretty far north in a much colder than we are used to. A couple of shop heaters with thermostats should work. You don't want the heaters running all night and burning up so thermostats with shut off capability is a must. A small propane heater or two might work as well.

I know people who have their manure and compost piles in their greenhouses which gives off some heat as the compost process occurs and I know that works in warmer climates and smaller greenhouses.

Good luck and let us know what you do.
 

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A salamander kerosene or propane heater on a thermostat would work pretty well (propane would be best just for the lack of stink) unfortunately nothing in life is free. Maybe you could get a local hardware store or farm supply to sponsor you some fuel and borrow a heater from somebodies dad.
 

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Is the greenhouse close enough to the school building that running some hot water pipes from the school might be an option?

Th reason I thought of this is because there is a famous mansion here called Glensheen, formerly owned by a lumber baron, that has a HUGE greenhouse on the north Shore of Lake Superior. They heated it with hot water from the mansion.
 
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Water is a great way to hold the heat. I don't know much about your area but what I have always done is to catch the heat of the sun in water and let it keep the green house warm at night. In my current G-house I have 55 gal barrels that hold up my planting benches. I also have a "pond" that is 4' x 16' and 4' deep that I use to grow tilapia. This pond is on my most southern side so collects more sunlight and therefore heat. The sun heats the water and keeps the fish warm and all of the water in the ponds as well as the barrels hold the heat and help to retain the heat in the house over night. Using black containers (black barrels, pond liner) helps to absorb the suns warmth.
The more water containers you have of course the more heat you can hold, but it does take up room so you have to build around that idea.
 

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Water is a great way to hold the heat. I don't know much about your area but what I have always done is to catch the heat of the sun in water and let it keep the green house warm at night. In my current G-house I have 55 gal barrels that hold up my planting benches. I also have a "pond" that is 4' x 16' and 4' deep that I use to grow tilapia. This pond is on my most southern side so collects more sunlight and therefore heat. The sun heats the water and keeps the fish warm and all of the water in the ponds as well as the barrels hold the heat and help to retain the heat in the house over night. Using black containers (black barrels, pond liner) helps to absorb the suns warmth.
The more water containers you have of course the more heat you can hold, but it does take up room so you have to build around that idea.
Great idea using the water barrels for both support, warmth as well as a water source! Excellent tip.
 

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Water is a great way to hold the heat. I don't know much about your area but what I have always done is to catch the heat of the sun in water and let it keep the green house warm at night. In my current G-house I have 55 gal barrels that hold up my planting benches. I also have a "pond" that is 4' x 16' and 4' deep that I use to grow tilapia. This pond is on my most southern side so collects more sunlight and therefore heat. The sun heats the water and keeps the fish warm and all of the water in the ponds as well as the barrels hold the heat and help to retain the heat in the house over night. Using black containers (black barrels, pond liner) helps to absorb the suns warmth.
The more water containers you have of course the more heat you can hold, but it does take up room so you have to build around that idea.
That is a great idea, I am afraid He may be too far North for that to provide enough heat until spring though. The water along with some kind of supplemental heat source might work overnight, but I am afraid water alone would not be enough if you had a cloudy day followed by a cold evening.
 

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Electric heater coil like used to heat up a pot of water. Set one of those up for each barrel of water & you can increase the heat of the water to cover the cold evenings. Advantage is you aren't adding the unwanted gases inside the dome that LP or kerosene heater would add.
 

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At that latitude I would suggest you look into a rocket type mass heater. Running water or glycol piping from the school building is very expensive and you do not know if the existing heating system can handle the additional load. Electric heating is an option but the operating cost is quite high.

I suggest you study all the rocket mass heater system designs. We have one in our greenhouse and it works perfectly. Here is a link to some ideas . . .https://www.google.com/search?q=rocket+mass+heater&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:eek:fficial&client=firefox-a#q=rocket+mass+heater+greenhouse&revid=1089995662&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:eek:fficial
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
At that latitude I would suggest you look into a rocket type mass heater. Running water or glycol piping from the school building is very expensive and you do not know if the existing heating system can handle the additional load. Electric heating is an option but the operating cost is quite high.

I suggest you study all the rocket mass heater system designs. We have one in our greenhouse and it works perfectly. Here is a link to some ideas . . .https://www.google.com/search?q=rocket+mass+heater&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:eek:fficial&client=firefox-a#q=rocket+mass+heater+greenhouse&revid=1089995662&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:eek:fficial
I have never heard of this before, and I didn't get to mention earlier (sorry) that there is a parking lot that separates the lot from the greenhouse. Thank you for all the suggestion everyone, I appreciate all the time you all took to answer.

God Bless, and Once Again Thank You- Ray
 

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Allot of these fumes will kill blossoms. You really want your heat source to be vented like a real furnace. I have a monitor in my greenhouse. It's direct vented.

I don't think your school would like to foot the heat bill being you're from Indian. Probably the water barrels are your best bet. I never understood why schools have greenhouses in the cold states because most of the time they can use it is when school is not in session. Doesn't make sense to me.
 
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