Miller's Greenhouse (23 images)
Construction of a solar passive high tunnel, zone 4-5
Click a picture to see a larger view.
There are notes about the construction of the greenhouse on each page.
I've been asked to list results of the various plants I've been experimenting with. Sorry, I haven't listed all the varieties here, but you can inquire.
- Through 2012 - here are the successes (ie, the things we ate the most, some of the previous successes, like pac choi, we just didn't eat for some reason.)
- Several varieties of lettuce, esp oakleaf, butter, romaine
- Ditto for kale - russian red and lucinato (black) kale
- Ditto for chard - red & bright lights
- Spinach - American & Noble
- Savoy cabbage
- Cilantro, parsley, onions (half grown already)
- Beets & carrots - added in 2011
- Mache & claytonia
- Arugula, and radicchio - added in 2012
- We plant about Sept. 1, and by late September or early oct we are thinning for salads
- We now let the greenhouse go dormant in the summer. We start pulling things out as we
eat them in March.
- Things that didn't do well: kohlrabi, broccoli, brussel's sprouts, shallots
- Things that did well, but we didn't eat: pac choi, tatsoi
- Planted in fall of 2009, a single layer of floating row cover (4 degrees) was added. The inside-outside temperature differential is 20 degrees:
Russian red kale, chard, tatsoi, pac-choi, lettuce, kohlrabi, parsley, cilantro, snow peas, savoy cabbage, red cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts
arrowhead cabbage, mache (corn salad), claytonia (miner's lettuce), beets, carrots, violets, nasturtium, canterbury bells.
- In December, -15 when we were out of town knocked back the lettuce and chard, which were not quite that hardy.
- We added a 2nd layer of floating row cover (8 degrees) in January, and in Feb., added water bottles down the centers of the
beds ~ every 4' feet or so, under the floating row cover.
- After those additions, the soil never got below 42, and the water in the bottles never froze at all, even when it was below 0 inside the greenhouse.
- The kohlrabi never really amounted to much. It'd been planted in the SW corner, the coldest spot, and the leaves routinely got nipped. The roots didn't develop
- The beets produced great greens, but the beet roots barely developed and were woody
- The carrots grew slowly all winter and were reasonably tender in the spring, tho not large
- The snow peas .... eh
- As might be expected the claytonia & mache were magnificent, but all the rest of the greens except the
lettuce and chard, which never quite recovered from their December shock, were pretty magnificent too
- By Feb, when the days began to lengthen, everything was growing like mad and we were begging our neighbors to come
and get greens.
- Pac choi, tatsoi, kales, began to bolt and flower with the coming of spring. And I began to ruthlessly pull them out to make room for
- The tatsoi'd formed these beautiful large rosettes that were too pretty to eat, and then
suddenly bolted for the sky. Next winter we'll eat them
- Planted in Feb/March of 2010: carrots, fresh kale, cabbage, chard, parsley, pulled out the mache.
- The carrots I planted in late Feb developed quickly (tho not large) and we harvested them in April - wonderfully
tender and sweet
- Everything that I planted at this time grew rapidly
- Planted in April/May of 2010: as the last of the 2009 greens were removed (except the chard) I replanted w/ new greens.
- Planted lettuces, but it got too hot inside for them to do well
- Planted 1 tomato by way of experiment. Although the windows were open, only a couple of fruit developed. Lots of growth tho.
I should have known that although the ambient light from the opaque twin-wall is better for
growth than direct light, the amount of direct light is important for fruit to set.
- Planted peppers - ditto results as for tomatoes. They do better outside, or would need supplemental light which
is not on the agenda.
- Planted in August 2010: lettuces, chard, mache (in that coldest SE corner), claytonia, kales, more
- The cabbages I planted in the spring are ready to harvest.
- This year's experiment is shallots. I planted some that were pretty small from my summer crop in
our main vege garden. I'm curious to see what'll happen. (ehh - so so)
- Sept 1, 2011 - planted all from previous years plus beets and carrots - which did very well. By March, 2012 we starting simply pulling things out as we got ready for the
- Sept 2, 2012 - plantederratic all from previous years, plus moved half grown onions from main garden - this year's experiment.
The even more amazing thing about this is not the greenhouse, but the community where I live. I'm a very erratic member of a local
garden group who take turns visiting each others' gardens during the spring-summer-fall. They came to see our gardens and greenhouse last night.
- A couple whose son & daughter-in-law ware professional permaculture trainers, who picked and preserved
47 pounds of mulberries last year (they're young!),
- a woman who knows about how to determine whether one's compost tea has the correct balance of fungi,
bacteria & nutrients,
- a woman growing extremely late, tall, mums, -- who'll give me cuttings
- a woman & husband whose extensive most-seasons gardens comprise about 20 'mini-greenhouses',
- women collecting and raising various native & prairie wildflowers,
- a family whose 20-something daughter is a trainer for John Jeavons (who, if you haven't heard of him)
is the 'garden-guru' who wrote "How to raise more food than you thought possible in less space
than you can imagine" - the bible of organic & bio-intensive gardeners.
- And then a bunch of people who are only mild or minimal gardeners but who love to go once
a week and just look at someone's garden.
This tiny community of 10,000, located in the rolling hills of SE Iowa, Fairfield, IA, includes (and this list
is woefully short).
- A small university whose educational programs include a program in sustainable agriculture
- An eco village where families build off-the-grid homes, and who trains & interns would-be gardeners & farmers in sustainable, organic gardening &
- Huge university-owned greenhouses growing organic produce for the university and the community
- An excellent whole-foods market providing mostly organic produce and grocery items at very reasonable prices
- Apparently more restaurants per capita than San Francisco, or so they say
- A thriving First Friday Art Walk with themed events each month, heavily attended by folks from all over south-east Iowa, and
featuring artists, musicians & entertainers from well beyond the Fairfield community
- The Iowa Source, a regional monthly news-magazine providing fascinating articles about the arts, people, literature, and goings on for much of Iowa
- The Weekly Reader, a weekly newspaper doing the same
- Fairfield won a designation as one of Iowa's Great Places in 2009
- A new arts & convention center including the Steven Sondheim Theater