What can you grow in a geo-thermal greenhouse?
- Perhaps the easier question is: what do you want to grow? Visitors to our greenhouse, here in Alliance, Nebraska, are always impressed by the citrus, especially the heavily laden Meyers Lemon trees in the middle of winter. Our many customers grow a wide variety including: common garden vegetables, asparagus, strawberries, grapes, kiwis, cauliflower, orchids, and other exotic flowers. A favorite of ours is flowers that bloom all winter like rose trees and petunias.
What else can you grow in a geo-thermal greenhouse?
- The main advantage of a geo-thermal greenhouse is that even in cold climates, like ours where it can easily dip to 25-35 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, is that they are freeze resistant. We do recommend some kind of back-up heat system. Russ uses a simple forced air propane heater that he has only had to turn on three times in the last 23 years. Plants that do not like cool night time temperatures can benefit from a back-up heat system.
What plants can we grow in a geo-thermal greenhouse?
- Most plants do not perform well when the length of day is less than 10 hours. Grow lights can be used very successfully to lengthen the hours of light available to your plants.
Can you do aquaponics in a geo-thermal greenhouse?
- Yes. We have several customers that have ponds and tanks in their greenhouses. Some are focused on fish, such as tilapia, while others are more interested in the various water flowers that can be grown. Water in a pond is a great way to store heat from the daytime that releases at night. Most people who are raising warm water fish like tilapia will supplemental heat the water, sometimes with a heat exchange from the peak of the greenhouse in the daytime. Others use more traditional methods.
Can I build a geo-thermal greenhouse where there is a high water table?
- The short answer is yes. We have some greenhouses in places where the air tubes are in the water at various times of the year. This sometimes has some challenges. The floor of the greenhouse must be about 4 feet in the ground. If the water table is higher than that, it is best to find an alternate site that does not have those issues. Some however, have opted to build a berm and then put the greenhouse in the berm, thus getting above the water table. This can drive up the cost substantially.
Can a geo-thermal greenhouse function off grid?
- Yes. There are several batter suppliers that offer storage batteries, solar cells, and power converters that can easily power the blower for your greenhouse.
What should I expect to spend on a geo-thermal greenhouse?
- Prices are listed on the shopping page, but generally speaking you should expect a Greenhouse in the Snow completed cost to be similar to a traditional permanent greenhouse. The BIG difference is the energy cost for a geo-thermal greenhouse versus the traditional.
Can I put my Greenhouse in the Snow up myself?
- Yes; most of our customers do. Be sure to abide by all local regulations. Some of our customers have all of the necessary equipment, but most will hire someone to excavate the 8 foot deep ditch for the heat tubes and the 4 food deep floor for the greenhouse.
Can I heat a traditional greenhouse using the geo-thermal heat tubes?
- Generally speaking, no. The radiation heat loss in a conventional greenhouse is simply too great for the low grade geo-thermal to overcome. We have also found that the 4 foot below grade floor combined with a carefully controlled total volume in the greenhouse are keys to a successful installation.
Is there a climate too cold for a geo-thermal greenhouse?
- We have geo-thermal greenhouses as far north as Canada, and the northern peninsula of Michigan. The climate here in western Nebraska is a zone 4, but being almost 4,000 feet above sea level, we can be plagued with harsh winds and very cold winter temperatures. Actual temperatures of 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit below zero are seen most winters. On occasion, we will get from 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. Our customers in the northern locations report good results as well.
I don't have much building experience. Will I be able to construct my geo-thermal greenhouse kit?
- Most of our customers construct their own greenhouses. A few have opted to have them professionally built. Most customers with relatively limited building experience have been able to find a friend or a neighbor to help them through the process but it is important to note that we are available about 12 hours a day and usually 7 days a week if you have questions. Our phone and internet technical support is free to anyone that has purchased a greenhouse kit from Greenhouse in the Snow.
What size greenhouse do I need?
- From an efficiency standpoint, in terms of energy and money, a 96-foot greenhouse seems to be the optimum size. Shorter greenhouses still require the buried tube to be the same length, less tubes because of the smaller size but the same length of excavation. This makes the shorter greenhouses cost more per square foot to build. When we first started selling greenhouses, the 78-foot was the most popular length but the 96-foot is now the overwhelming favorite.
Will banks lend on a geo-thermal greenhouse?
- Some will; although this is out of our area of expertise. We do, however, accept credit cards for greenhouse kit payments. There is no additional charge to use a credit card.
Do you ship greenhouse kits?
- Yes, we have shipped greenhouse kits. It does require a forklift or some other method to unload the kit. Most of our customers prefer to pick up their kits in person. Several have flown to Alliance and rented a U-Haul and taken their greenhouse home. Most are picked up and loaded in customer's trailers. Be sure to check with us for the needed trailer size and type.
Are the greenhouse kits made in the U.S.A?
- Yes, they are manufactured out of U.S. steel to our specifications in Alliance, Nebraska.
Are geo-thermal greenhouses environmentally friendly?
- Yes, very. Steel used in our geo-thermal greenhouses has a high recycled content and most of our greenhouse owners use little or no commercial pesticides in their operations preferring to grow organically.
How many geo-thermal greenhouse kits have you sold?
- As of this writing, January, 2020, there are about 90 geo-thermal greenhouses located in the U.S. and Canada. This number is changing rapidly.