Friday, June 21, 2019

Indoor Growing in the SGSM

This is not about growing food in your bed room, but if you want - go for it. If we want to be really prepared for the cooler times heading this way, we need to look at the complete array of things that we can do to feed our families, neighbors and communities. Indoor growing is a part and probably a large part of doing just that. I have been growing indoors for years. There are many approaches to doing just that and I will cover some of them in this blog. 
So here is a list of things that can be indoors. Indoors means indoors as in a greenhouse or actually in your house. A greenhouse even a small one is a good idea as it extends your growing season. Some  vegetables can be grown in a greenhouse when its really cold, like -30F outside. You just need to know how. People have been doing it for years. Yes, probably not tomatoes, but greens of all sorts.

  • Greenhouse
  • Cold Frames

So lets talk about greenhouses. I have two now and have had up to 5 of them from time-to-time. My smallest now is a 12 x 34 foot one and a large 30 x 96 foot one. All are enclosed and covered with 6 mil greenhouse plastic. I don't use raised sides greenhouses because of bugs and animals. The primary reason for using a green house is for the season extension. They are also useful for growing your starts for planting after frost is not a problem: and as an added advantage very cold greens growing. During the SGSM you will want as deep of beds in the greenhouse as possible. Ruth Stout beds would be great. I guess you can see I like the Ruth Stout method and it has been paying off recently as the season progresses and I harvest some of the best veggies I have ever eaten.
The secret to growing in very cold weather in a greenhouse is deep beds and plenty of cover for the plants. This will be hay and thick black plastic. Also 50 gallon black tanks of water can be used to capture heat during the day and heat at night. Kale and other cold weather plants can be grown. When its gets very cold, pull the black plastic over the beds. Make sure you have loads of hay and other matter to nestle the plants in. During the day pull back the plastic if it gets warm. This will allow the beds to heat up and for the plants to see the sun. To be successful you need to keep the beds as warm as possible and use cold weather plants. The above can be done in really large or small greenhouses. When spring arrives then you can go back to (possibly) normal growing what ever that may be.

Choosing a Greenhouse

On choosing a greenhouse, make sure it will be able to survive really high winds. The legs of the greenhouse should be driven into the ground and even cemented if possible, Don't purchase one of those cheap crappy greenhouses. They wont last and will sail off when the next storm blows through. Probably the minimum that you should spend on a greenhouse is around $1500 to $2000, anything less will just be a waste of money. Two smaller greenhouses is better than one large one. Also think about keeping your chickens in one end.

Also don't purchase one of those fancy gardener hobby type greenhouses. The fancy guy or woman growing in there very upscale cool looking greenhouse probably wont make it. Small hoop high tunnels are the best. The back and front should be made of wood with a small door on one side or both. The idea here is to have a strong structure that will take a beating. You are out of luck if you have softball size hail though! Warning: I have lost the skin on my greenhouse three times in the last six years due to high  winds - 95+ MPH straight line winds.

Keep a replacement set of plastic in a dry and dark place just because - because you will not get any later and because of bad weather. Also think ahead, most green house plastic lasts 4 years or so. Make sure to place your greenhouse in a protected area that receives a minimum of 6 or 7 hours of sunlight. East west orientation of the greenhouse is recommended. If you are handy I would suggest that you purchase a kit. These come with everything like hoops, purlins, plastic (6 mil) clips and wiggle wire. You will have to construct the front and back and provide the wood that runs along the bottom of the greenhouse. Seal it up good and make sure it is at a elevation that does not flood.

As I talked about preciously, a Ruth Stout garden would work well in a greenhouse. I would also recommend that you purchase some 5 gallon plastic grow bags. While you might grow in them in the winter, they would be really handy for summer gardening. I am using them in my outside summer garden as well. The great thing about grow bags is no weeding. I grow potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and peppers in them, Egg plant grows really well too. Ill do a blog later on grow bags.

High Tunnel Hoop House construction. If you don't have a greenhouse, the picture below is just getting constructed.  The hoop are usually 4 ft. apart. This one has 6 purlins which are the tubing that runs on the top and down the sides of the hoops. While not shown, a heavy set of 2x6's are run horizontally down the structure and set on the ground (not shown).  To place the plastic on the greenhouse, channels are run over the front and back hoop and down both sides of the 2x6's. The plastic is then pulled over the hoops, and wiggle wire is used to attach to the channels. Attach the plastic using wiggle wire across one end. Go to the other end and pull tight and connect with wiggle wire. Once connected, connect the sides. This makes for a really strong arrangement.  The front and back or the greenhouse is usually constructed of 2x4's and ply-wood. The width and length is up to you and what you want. In the SGSM, smaller may be better because of bad weather. Some greenhouses have a double layer of plastic with an air pump that inflates the two layers. The problem is that takes electricity.

Cold Frames

Actually a cold frame is usually built outside, but it all in how you look at it. A cold frame is an enclosed box that plants are grown it. The usually have a glass, plastic or wood door than can be closed. The idea is to keep the plants warm during colds nights. When things get warmer during the day and there is ample sun they can be opened. Cold Frames are good protection from frost as well.  In the SGSM, a cold frame should be built low to the ground  as the weather will be much cooler and the earth can provide heat. if you have a plastic or glass  top this will admit sunlight and prevent heat loss especially at night. If you think about it, a cold frame is similar to a greenhouse. Graphic (C) Author.

So would you use a cold frame for in the SGSM? It would be a great place to grow starts or grow some good cold weather plants like lettuce, onions, kale and others. If its really cold, and the cold frame is covered with snow, leave the snow on the frame until things get warmed up. Snow is a good insulation.

So come back later and I will have another blog on indoor growing where I will cover the following items:
  • Vertical in house growing
  • Microgreens
  • Sprouts
I am developing a blog for later on growing microgreens and also one on grow bags so you are invited back for sure.  In the grow bag one Ill show you some pictures of my greenhouse and how I use grow bags.

At the moment China is putting up thousands of new greenhouses. Hmmm I wonder why they are doing this? Perhaps they know what is coming, and so now you do too. Think Greenhouse.

Cheers and I wish you the best of everything


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All the equipment in my store is used personally by me or recommended by me.

I have updated and enlarged the Surviving the Super Grand Solar Minimum book. I also have the SGSM book and three others at this URL. They all come in a PDF format.

I am plan to keep the paperback book (older version) which was very popular at Amazon at this URL for a bit longer.

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