Greenhouse in the snow
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Questions and Answers
What can you grow in a geo-thermal greenhouse?
Perhaps the easier question is: what do you want to grow? Visitors of our greenhouses, in Alliance, Nebraska, are always impressed by the citrus trees in the middle of winter. Our many customers grow a wide variety including: common garden vegetables, asparagus, strawberries, grapes, kiwis, figes, cauliflower, orchids, and other exotic flowers.
What else can you grow in a geo-thermal greenhouse?
The main advantage of a geo-thermal greenhouse is that even in cold climates, where it can easily dip to – 10 degrees, that they are freeze resistant. We do recommend some kind of back-up heat system, just in case. Russ uses a simple forced air propane heater that he has only had to turn on a few times in the last 23 years. Plants that do not like cool night time temperatures can benefit from a back-up heat system.
What plants can we grow in a geo-thermal greenhouse?
Most plants do not perform well when the length of day is less than 10 hours. LED grow lights can be used very successfully to lengthen the hours of light available to your plants.
Can you do aquaponics in a geo-thermal greenhouse?
Yes. We have several customers that have ponds and tanks in their greenhouses. Some are focused on fish, such as tilapia, while others are more interested in the various water flowers that can be grown. Water in a pond is a great way to store heat from the daytime that releases at night. Most people who are raising warm water fish, like tilapia, will need to heat the water. That can be done during daytime using the heat from the peak of the greenhouse and others use more traditional methods.
Can I build a geo-thermal greenhouse where there is a high water table?
The short answer is yes. We have some greenhouses in area’s where the geo thermal air tubes are in the water at various times of the year. This sometimes has some challenges. The floor of the greenhouse must be about 1,2 meters in the ground. If the water table is higher than that, it is best to find an alternate site.
Some however, have opted to build a berm and then put the greenhouse in the berm to get above the water table. Disadvantage is that ground work costs will be higher.
Can a geo-thermal greenhouse function off grid?
Yes. The big advantage of this geo thermal concept is that we use low amounts of electricity to let the system work. There are several options to reach an off grid setup.
What should I expect to spend on a geo-thermal greenhouse?
Prices can be quoted on request, but generally speaking you should expect a Greenhouse in the Snow completed cost to be similar to a traditional permanent greenhouse. The BIG difference is the energy cost for a geo-thermal greenhouse versus the traditional.
Can I put my Greenhouse in the Snow up myself?
Yes; most of our customers do. Be sure to abide by all local regulations. Some of our customers have all of the necessary equipment, but most will hire someone to excavate the 2,4 meter deep ditch for the heat tubes and the 1,2 meter deep floor for the greenhouse.
Can I heat a traditional greenhouse using the geo-thermal tubes?
Generally speaking, no. The radiation heat loss in a conventional greenhouse is simply too great for the low grade geo-thermal to overcome. We have also found that the 1.2 meter below grade floor level combined with a carefully controlled total volume in the greenhouse are keys to a successful of this concept.
Is there a climate too cold for a geo-thermal greenhouse?
We have geo-thermal greenhouses as far north as Canada and the northern peninsula of Michigan. Russ has build his greenhouse in western Nebraska which is almost 1200 meters above sea level and can be plagued with harsh winds and very cold winter temperatures. Actual temperatures of -20 to -30 degrees Celcius are seen most winters. On occasion, it can get -37 to -42 degrees Celcius.
Our customers in the northern locations report good results as well.
I don’t have much building experience. Will I be able to construct my geo-thermal greenhouse concept?
Most of our customers construct their own greenhouses. A few have opted to have them professionally built. Most customers with relatively limited building experience have been able to find a friend or a neighbor to help them through the process but it is important to note that we are available about 12 hours a day and usually 7 days a week if you have questions. Our phone and internet technical support is free to anyone that has purchased a greenhouse concept kit from Greenhouse in the Snow.
We do supply a manual how to build the greenhouse in a step by step way. This should answer most of your questions.
What size greenhouse do I need?
From an efficiency standpoint, in terms of energy and investment, a 30 meter greenhouse seems to be the optimum size. Shorter greenhouses still require the buried geo thermal tubes to be the same length although lesser tubes. This makes the investment for a shorter greenhouses larger per square meter to build.
When Russ first started selling greenhouses about 10 years ago, the 24 meter greenhouse was the most popular length but the 30 meter is now the overwhelming favorite in the US
Will banks lend on a geo-thermal greenhouse?
Some will; although this is out of our area of expertise. We do, however, accept credit cards for greenhouse kit payments.
Do you ship greenhouse concept in Europe?
Yes, we do ship greenhouse concept throughout Europe. We can add this option to your quotation. It does require a forklift or some other method to unload the kit. You can also opt to pick up your kits in person. Be sure to check with us for the needed trailer size and type.
Are the greenhouse kits made in the Europe?
Yes, they are manufactured in Peillac in the province of Brittany in France with largely European made products.
Are geo-thermal greenhouses environmentally friendly?
Yes, very much so. The steel we use in our geo-thermal greenhouses has a high recycled content. The polycarbonate sheets are very durable and last many years and the power consumption to keep the greenhouse frost free and prevent overheating is kept to a minimum.
How many geo-thermal greenhouse kits have you sold?
As of January 2020 there are close to 100 geo-thermal greenhouses located in the U.S. and Canada. This number is changing rapidly. Due to the increasing demand among others from Europe, we have decided to make this unique concept available for the European market too.
Does the geo-thermal greenhouse concept fit with our desire to produce our own food throughout the year?
Yes because of the frost free conditions in full winter it is ideal to have a year around production of fruits and vegetables.
Can we add light depredation screens within the greenhouse to increase productivity?
We are in the process of testing different systems and we hope we have a good solution within the next period of time.
Do you have issues with polarisation of crops?
It all depends on what you are growing and what is needed to pollinate the crops. Citrus for example is self fertile while tomatoes and peppers wind or shake pollinate. If you can or like you can add a bee hive too.