View Full Version : Greenhouse vegetable growing on 4 hours of sun?
My little homestead is in a canyon which only recieves 4 hours of direct sunlight during the shortest day of the year. I'm in a temperate climate at 43 N latitude. Night time winter temps dip below freezing.
My idea was to protect three sides with earth and plenty of insulation and route my house greywater in to not only water the plants but to add a bit of warmth as well. I was also going to provide plenty of mass inside to hold the heat in at night and possibly add a removable insulating system on the glass side.
But, given the fact I'll only have 4 hours of direct sunlight (of course, that's on the shortest day), I'm not sure doing all that would be worth my effort.
Are there any kind of vegetables that can be grown on only 4 hours of sunlight?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Welcome to the forum.
You'd do ok with leafy greens and long term perennial herbs at that time of year when the sun is least available I'd reckon. Putting some poultry in there at night would help you keep the temps up if you can work that into your system.
Personally, I wouldn't use your greywater for direct watering of vegies without some form of filtration first (reed bed, mussels etc) - it's much safer to use it with fruit trees, or even better, nut trees. You might use it by building thick guage benches in your greenhouse for any potted plants (chooks underneath at night) which are supported by drums full of grey water...this will also help with temps (perhaps that's what you intended anyway with your reference to water helping to warm?).
Putting a surface which is reflective as well as retaining heat on the inner walls the sun strikes could be a useful addition to your plans as well...even just making it white.
Been a while since I had to worry about cold and short growth hours, I'm a bit rusty (knowledge in - knowledge out situation for me :D )...will try to add something else vaguely helpful if I think of it.
Thanks for the welcome. Glad to have found this site. I'll be asking lots of questions, I'm sure;-).
As for my greenhouse, I'm very early in the planning stages...perhaps several years away....so I'm just more or less thinking out loud here. I was pondering the idea that during the summer, my greywater would run to fruit trees near the house. Then come winter...when the fruit trees wouldn't need water... I'd flip a main valve and send all the greywater to the greenhouse. I saw some reference, some where, that the greywater going in to a greenhouse would provide a bit of warmth. Not sure of the details though.
As far as your idea of having the greywater in the barrels, I like it (I like the poultry idea too). I assume you were thinking that the water would be pumped from the barrels to an infiltration bed of sorts. Is that correct? Also, are there any books or websites that talk about greywater greenhouses in depth? I have Art Ludwigs books but info on this specific subject is thin.
I appreciate your insight.
Richard on Maui
09-08-2006, 05:59 PM
If you situate your shower/bath in the greenhouse itself that would directly add some heat and humidity, provided you like a hot shower I suppose.
I wwoofed for a fellow in the south west of Australia, near Pemberton who had such a setup and his greenhouse was pretty lush. It was on the western side of his shed/house, so all the greenery probably cooled his living space down on those long hot summer afternoons too.
Not sure on where to find more info on greywater greenhouses Arby, I've only heard of it used for trees really. I had assumed you were going to use it directly onto plants in the greenhouse...if you did use the barrels you could use an overflow system on them which then took the water out of the greenhouse to a reed bed system or something like that outside the greenhouse.
In sub-zero temps, having barrels full of just greenhouse temp water and poultry in a greenhouse which is well insulated and has a reflective inner wall can keep your temps up around 6 degrees (Celsius)...not sure if your lack of sunlight hours would affect this. If you were pumping in warm greywater each day that would have potential to keep it a fair bit warmer...time your showers for the late afternoon/evening when the cold kicks in the most.
If you were really ambitious, you could go for an almost double story barn type structure with a greenhouse consructed on the upper floor, keep lots of poultry underneath for warmth and maybe an aquaponics set up (with a waterfall from the upper floor back to the fish tank for aeration), then use the upper floor just for growing...might milk a little extra sunlight hours as well if it's higher. :D
I like the shower in a greenhouse idea Richard! 8)
Some good ideas you two. Thanks!
10-08-2006, 08:18 PM
I LOVE the sound of the split-level chook-house and greenhouse with a built-in waterfall and shower ... let me know when you're open for visitors!!!
11-08-2006, 09:19 AM
Just an Idea here Arby ......Wellcome here also
withall this water being pumped around Id like to think that maybe Aquaponics could be added to the system. recirculating cleaned up grey water heating up the green house ,keeping fish at a more productive warmth,
therby warming the fish and the green house together..
Lots of good ideas flowing here. Thanks Tezza.
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