Need info/input about greenhouses for raising food : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I'm getting into the mode of preparing for the rest of my life after the first few months of 2000 and growing food seems to be a necessity. We live on a lake in a woods and have lots of shade and wild critters. We get sunshine down by the lake, but would probably have to use a greenhouse to keep critters out. Can food to sustain a family be raised in a greenhouse? What kind of cost and what suggestions do you have?

-- Sylvia (in Miss'ippi) (, December 21, 1998


Sounds like you have a great place!
That lake could be useful, too.
Are there fish in the lake? Have you thought of growing beneficial green algaes and related nutrients? Like spirulina, blue-green algae, etc. I know many Yourdoneers have info on this stuff :)

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx

-- Leska (, December 21, 1998.

Sylvia, I just did a hotbot search on: how to build a greenhouse exact phrase

and got a bunch of hits

Go to and try it. If you have trouble, let me know and I'll get some sites to post here.

MoVe Immediate

-- MVI (, December 21, 1998.

You will need a way to ventilate it in the summer and a way to heat in the winter if you wish to grow summer crop vegetables. If you want to keep critters out, put an 8-foot wire fence around your garden location. Put in raised beds and gopher-proof wire down first before placing soil in. Plant herbs to keep critters out and for insect control. I suggest that you purchase some organic gardening books and read up on which is the best gardening method. Also, with a greenhouse you will have limited gardening space and the maintenance of the house itself. You may also have a problem with controlling humidity. If there's no electricity to run ventilator fans, then you must find a way to get the heat and moisture out in the summer and heat in in the winter. There's a lot involved in greenhouse and hydroponic gardening.

-- bardou (, December 21, 1998.

Check your local library bluebird, you will find a ton of stuff about greenhouses, with plans. If you want to avoid a stove in winter, you will have to consider insulating the north wall instead of glazing it - you don't get any light to speak of from the north anyway. Believe it or not, there used to be folks in Indiana that grew their own oranges - greenhoused them and heated them all winter, then took the greenhouses down in summer. Darndest thing.

-- Paul Davis (, December 22, 1998.


You definitely need close to full sunshine to grow food crops. Close to the lake would be good, also, for irrigation water. For root and leaf vegetables, you would need about 200-500 square feet per person. To grow all the food a person needs, estimate about 5,000 square feet per person. (As low as 1,500 square feet per person if you subsist on mostly potatoes, instead of grains and beans.) A book titled "Four Season Gardening" describes how to harvest fresh vegetables throughout the winter with just a hoop greenhouse (plastic sheet cover)and cold frames or row covers (Remay fabric) over the vegetables, even in climates as cold as Maine. You do NOT need additional heat in the greenhouse (especially in Mississippi!), as you grow the vegetables from late summer to fall, and only harvest them through the winter. In the summer, you remove the plastic cover of the greenhouse. As for the wildlife pests, electric fencing will deal with most of them fairly effectively (inquire at your local Cooperative Extension office for information about electric fencing and greenhouse designs). Berry bushes and strawberries seem to be the most space efficient fruit crops, and they will definitely need covering with mesh when the fruit is ripe, to keep the birds out. Good luck!


-- Debra (, December 22, 1998.

Well - my experience is about 700 miles to the north so what can I say? ;) Anyway, you might want to consider the off chance of an "artic outburst" and think about some backup heat. In the great outburst of 1899 the low at Tampa hit 2 degrees below zero - way too cold for that part of the country. A barrel stove can be made for 50 or 60 bucks if you are any good at all at scrounging - and is cheap insurance.

-- Paul Davis (, December 22, 1998.

Check out this book: Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman, ISBN 0930031571. Saw a program he did on making an inexpensive greenhouse [one design out of pvc pipe and plastic]. The greenhouse was being used for starting plants (to get an earlier stronger crop in the ground), to protect new plantings, and to extend the growing season.

If you need to keep critters out mostly, you might want to look at critter-specific methods rather than a greenhouse; there are lots of methods of dealing with 4 and 6 or more legged types.

-- Karen Cook (, December 23, 1998.

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