Sunday, January 26, 2014

Here comes the Sun.....and it's alright!

Sometimes I do realize how fortunate I am to live where I do. It is the hotbed of information, supplies, and ideas for Food Storage and Preparedness.  Having said that, there are folks all around me who often are unaware, don't express an interest, or just are oblivious to the good fortune surrounding them.  

Yesterday was woe of those "I am so grateful" moments. This is because I attended a Winter gardening/Greenhouse class taught by the infamous Cale Warnock.  

In all fairness to Caleb, he never stopped moving even though he agreed to allow me to take his picture.  I took several....this is one of the good ones.  Guess where we all are?  In his Greenhouse....see the foliage?

This is his Greenhouse that he let a lot of us tour and snack in.  It is a lean-to style Greenhouse that he had constructed on the back of his barn.  Want to take a little tour?

This is the floor.  Now, he (and I for that matter) live in an area that has lots of rocks under the soil, and many of them are huge. I remember driving up to the site of our current home while it was under construction.  The basement had just been dug and it looked like somewhere that Fred Flintstone and Barney would hang out.  Caleb informed us that he had heavy equipment come and dig down 8 feet, then back-filled 4 feet of just rock.  This is necessary for something called "Thermal Mass".

I think everyone knows that the soil is warm when you dig deep. Think of  Geo-Thermal heat.  He said he used the rocks to help transmit the heat through "Thermal Mass".

See the timbers and the rebar?

He has layered Timbers (and secured with rebar running through the timbers). These raised beds are about 4 feet tall. They are reportedly filled with that same rock to again take advantage of the Thermal Mass.  He reports that he has very little soil on top, about 1/2 to 1 inch for most foods.  The exception would be root vegetables.

Back to the floor, he has a couple of tubes that the rock was back filled have a direct conduit for the warmth to travel into his Greenhouse.

The roof is made from "Twin-wall Polycarbonate" and not glass. 

As you might expect, the Greenhouse gets very hot.  It needs to be vented.  Here is the large vent.  Class members were surprised to feel the heat that was coming out if it on a bitterly cold winter day.

Here is another vent that can be opened when needed.

The window is another vent.  In the photo above, you saw a vent near the peak of the roof, here is another view from the outside.  See the hinges and clasp.

Sooooo, what is he growing?

Lots of delicious greens.  He allowed us to take pieces of the leaves and sample them.  Fresh and delicious.  

Here he is pointing out a sprouted potato.  He planted potatoes on New Years Eve, less than a month ago.

Lots of greens,,,,  Notice, no pots here.  He says in the bed is better because of the thermal mass.  

And continual crop rotation and planting.  I love the sticks dividing each item....simple and effective.

The Water barrel is in the corner allowing him to water "in 90 seconds" as he says. How in the world does he get water in his Greenhouse?

He uses rain water and melting snow that he captures from rain gutters.  Now, before some Utahns get going, it is now legal to capture and keep up to 200 gallons of your own rain water...and he does.  Can you imagine hauling water into this Greenhouse?  That alone would stop me from considering it!

Although difficult to see, there is a Thermometer in the corner.  


What is the take-home message?
  • He raises his food year-round.  He makes a great point about being dependent on the food supply chain.  He is also correct about the modified seed, generous use of pesticides, and Irradiation (a slight exposure to radiation to manage pests etc, but takes away up to 10% of the nutrients of your produce).  
  • You need to know what varieties will grow in the winter...and he does.  See his book "Backyard Winter Gardening" which lists varieties to use.  He does not use hybrid seeds, more like an Heirloom seed.
  • He not only uses his Green house, but cold frames as well.  

He reports that it does not take a lot of time, and this Greenhouse does not require electricity to run.  This is huge point!

You can learn more about Winter Gardening from his book:

Here, you can hear and see him give you the personal tour....

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