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How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters

 
Rabid Wolf

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07/13/2014 07:36 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
*snip*
Not like anyone living in a "harsh climate" could use your plan.
 Quoting: Lester 35595779


Sounds more like you are describing a brutal winter climate, not a harsh one, but lets not get hung up on adjectives.

The OP's idea wouldn't work in Antarctica either, but for the vast majority of humans on the planet, it would work.

If you happen to live in an exceptionally cold winter environment, then it wont work for you.
Anonymous Coward
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07/13/2014 07:37 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
My high tunnel aquaponic garden was previously featured on C2C back in 2011 shortly after I had built it: [link to www.coasttocoastam.com]

I'm writing to share an update because my project has expanded to such a degree--and in such strange directions--that I think a lot of you will be fascinated by what I'm doing and will hopefully be inspired to create your own systems.

I now not only grow huge amounts of blue tilapia (more than enough to feed my family), I successfully grow lots of edible bananas, figs, and other tropical crops here in Kansas...using almost no electricity or complex technology.

My main goal has been to figure out how to grow healthy 'real' food year-round in a state with harsh winters. My first system, the one featured on C2C, accomplished this via what I call high tunnel aquaponics. Here is a brief pictorial tour showing how that system progressed from 'boring' vegetables into a rainforest burgeoning with bananas and papayas: [link to www.greenfingardens.com] . That system satisfied my goal fairly well and was fairly inexpensive ($2,500 to build myself), but it was more complicated than most folks would want to manage, so I tried to come up with a better system that more people could adopt.

My second year-round food production system is far simpler and even more productive: a well insulated semi-pit tunnel greenhouse that is very cheap ($1,500 to build myself), extremely robust (withstanding winds in the 70-80 mph range on a half-dozen occasions), easy to manage, and, most important, amazingly productive. Even without heating, the lowest the temperature got in there this past winter was 39F...despite three separate polar vortexes that plunged our outdoor air temps to -10F. That allows me to not only grow enough vegetables over the winter to feed a small army (especially stuff like lettuce, spinach, beets, and even sweet potatoes), but to also grow fun tropical and semi-tropical crops like bananas and figs. Sure the bananas stop growing for a few months and die back a bit in the dead of winter, but they come roaring back in the spring because it just doesn't get cold enough to do substantial damage to them. What's more, this makes for a perfect environment for safely raising native fish like catfish year-round. The only power this system really needs is a measly 40 watts to power a small inflation fan that inflates the space between the two layers of greenhouse plastic. This inflation not only creates an extremely effective layer of insulation, it provides rigidity to the plastic, causing wind to slide over it rather than whip and shred it. Here's a pictorial tour that shows the construction and the various crops I've grown in there: [link to www.greenfingardens.com]

These are just simple test systems, but they have been amazingly productive. Hopefully they'll inspire other folks to create their own such systems...or even better systems!

My Dad is Type 2 diabetic, and I started this project primarily as a means to help keep him healthy if he were unable to get his meds for an extended period. It then quickly expanded into a search for a good answer to the question, "How can we keep everyone well-fed regardless of circumstances, whether it's war, pandemics, economic collapse, power grid failure, EMP's, shipping breakdowns, solar flares, peak oil, radical climate change, nuclear meltdowns, etc?" I don't know when or if most of those things will occur, but I sincerely believe that there are simple--and easily scalable--methods for safeguarding ourselves against them, at least from a food-production standpoint. If people lose access to food, society will disintegrate; but if we can all remain well-fed in a calamity, that gives us a good chance at not just surviving it, but thriving in spite of it.

That's why my big-picture goal is to create arrays of decent sized (~10 acre) highly intensive off-grid greenhouse food production facilities, arranged in satellite fashion around communities, that can provide a complete and exceptionally healthy diet that is entirely produced within a few miles of where it is eaten. Virtually anything can be grown in this manner by tailoring the design of each greenhouse to naturally provide the specific environmental needs of whatever is being grown in it. This style of hyperlocalized food production would not only allow folks to have direct and constant access to healthier food (no need for GMO's in our pampered greenhouse environments, for example), we'd get far tastier food, since we'd grow the best tasting varieties rather than the best shipping varieties, and we'd pick them when they're ripe rather than when they'd ship the best.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Hope it can be helpful to some of you.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57472949


Why create that which you can steal?

Yours is mine.

Keep building.

I come for it soon.
Anonymous Coward
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07/13/2014 07:43 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Why create that which you can steal?

Yours is mine.

Keep building.

I come for it soon.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 60192146


Even if you did steal the facility for growing food without getting your ass shot to pieces, how are you even going to use it? You don't have the knowledge required to operate and maintain the system, nor the knowledge to grow the food, OR the will to obtain it.

Thieves are amazingly dumb and uncreative people. It is sort of like all the South African farms that were forcibly stolen from the white farmer. The thieves still starved because they didn't know what the fuck they were doing even though they had the farms.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 07:46 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Hey OP, how did you anchor the PVC struts into the berm that you built? Did you just push them in the ground at an angle?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 56117320

I bought 10' lengths of EMT metal conduit (sold right beside the pvc pipes at places like Home Depot), cut them in half into 5' segments, and then hammered them 3' deep into the ground at an angle (angled toward the pit) so that the pvc could slip right onto them without much trouble.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 07:47 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Hey OP, how did you anchor the PVC struts into the berm that you built? Did you just push them in the ground at an angle?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 56117320

I bought 10' lengths of EMT metal conduit (sold right beside the pvc pipes at places like Home Depot), cut them in half into 5' segments, and then hammered them 3' deep into the ground at an angle (angled toward the pit) so that the pvc could slip right onto them without much trouble.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57472949

I think I used 3/4 inch EMT metal conduit.
Black Diamond
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07/13/2014 07:48 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
I always had problems with white fly when I grew green house vegetables ? How do you control them or is it too cold up there ? I'm in California.
 Quoting: Black Diamond 59709822

I didn't have any problems until I ordered some infested citrus trees from California. Then I got sooty mold (which grows on white fly poop).

My solution was to get a concentrated jug of neem oil and go bonkers spraying. I think the jug was enough to fill 85 spray bottles (after diluting), and I think I probably went through a half dozen bottles, twice a week for a couple weeks. But after that the problem was over and they haven't been back.

It helps that I'm in Kansas, since there aren't wild white flies outside to keep re-colonizing my greenhouses (I think it gets too cold, like you suggested). So once they're gone, they're gone until I accidentally re-introduce them. But it's a different story in California.

If I were in California, I'd probably have to re-spray with neem oil every month. I'd probably look into biological controls, too. Maybe there's a good creature you could stock that would eat all the white flies? That's how it is with spider mites: you can just stock with good predatory mites, and they keep the bad spider mites under control.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57472949

Thank-you for the quick reply. I had an attached G.H. for heating but moved a mile away and don't have great exposure: N.E. slope. I am real busy but maybe I'll try to build a G.H. when things settle down :).thanks o.p. !
Anonymous Coward
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07/13/2014 07:54 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Hey OP, how did you anchor the PVC struts into the berm that you built? Did you just push them in the ground at an angle?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 56117320

I bought 10' lengths of EMT metal conduit (sold right beside the pvc pipes at places like Home Depot), cut them in half into 5' segments, and then hammered them 3' deep into the ground at an angle (angled toward the pit) so that the pvc could slip right onto them without much trouble.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57472949


Cool thanks, BTW I like the design.

.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 08:00 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Trout has a high amount of omega-3, Carp is quite low in comparison (as is Tilapia).
 Quoting: Ashen

That's another reason that I feed my tilapia so little commercial feed, and instead raise them primarily on algae and greens, with other garden vegetables thrown in as treats (they frickin' love butternut squash and pumpkins).

Commercial tilapia farmers who raise their fish on commercial feed end up with fish that have a terrible omega3-to-omega6 ratio, it's roughly akin to bacon. It's easy to see why: commercial feed is largely corn (and gmo corn at that). If you raise your fish on corn, you're going to concentrate some bad things (like omega6) and fail to promote good things (like omega3).

When you raise tilapia on a diet of primarily algae and greens, you avoid the problem and end up with healthy meat that has a drastically better omega3-to-omega6 ratio.

I generally recommend that people not eat farmed tilapia from the grocery stores (most of which was grown in the Far East in very subpar conditions with subpar commercial feeds, frozen, and shipped here). Homegrown is a different story, though, if you keep and feed them right.
Anonymous Coward
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07/13/2014 08:00 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
If any of you are interested, my local newspaper did a story on my tilapia/banana setup recently: [link to themercury.com] (unfortunately, they only give a blip and a pic for free, and charge $1.99 to read the whole thing)

I wish I hadn't been a sweaty mess when they stopped by, but it's not like I look all that much better when I clean up pimp so I shouldn't complain.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57472949



Do your tilapia reproduce to keep your population levels up?
Anonymous Coward
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07/13/2014 08:06 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
that is awesome
KillerB

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07/13/2014 08:14 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Good to see you got pinned OP. This is one of the best threads of GLP.
If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.

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Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 08:19 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
That's why my big-picture goal is to create arrays of decent sized (~10 acre) highly intensive off-grid greenhouse food production facilities, arranged in satellite fashion around communities, that can provide a complete and exceptionally healthy diet that is entirely produced within a few miles of where it is eaten. Virtually anything can be grown in this manner by tailoring the design of each greenhouse to naturally provide the specific environmental needs of whatever is being grown in it. This style of hyperlocalized food production would not only allow folks to have direct and constant access to healthier food (no need for GMO's in our pampered greenhouse environments, for example), we'd get far tastier food, since we'd grow the best tasting varieties rather than the best shipping varieties, and we'd pick them when they're ripe rather than when they'd ship the best.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 60192146


Why create that which you can steal?

Yours is mine.

Keep building.

I come for it soon.

Oh I'm well aware that there are many such folks. And not just the 'bad' people, either: almost all 'good' folks would also raid my family's property if their own kids were starving or dying from an improper diabetic diet. It's just a fact of life.

But rather than wage war on such folks, I decided that the better strategy would be to help everyone by creating the large-scale facilities that I mentioned in my last paragraph of the original post (I left it in the quote so you could see what I'm referring to).

The thinking is that by creating those large-scale systems, it eliminates the need to steal, since people will be able to just keep getting their food from there as usual. These big ~10acre facilities will be hardened and entirely off-grid, so they'll keep functioning through almost any calamity. And they'll be built all over everywhere, with the goal being that almost everybody would have access to a sufficient and constant supply of healthy, delicious, and nutritious real foods grown within 10 miles of where they live.

There's no reason for us serfs to make war with each other if we can just use our noggins to eliminate the problems before they arise. So I will indeed keep building toward that goal, because not only do I want my family to be well fed, I want you and yours to be well fed, too.
U3

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07/13/2014 08:24 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
This is just awesome, OP! Thank you for sharing all this with us. I haven't looked at the whole thread or your website but I hope somewhere, you mention how you store the food, too!

Awesome job!!!! Thank you! hf
"We are the music makers. And we are the dreamers of dreams." Willy Wonka
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 08:25 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
*re-posted with formatting fixed*

That's why my big-picture goal is to create arrays of decent sized (~10 acre) highly intensive off-grid greenhouse food production facilities, arranged in satellite fashion around communities, that can provide a complete and exceptionally healthy diet that is entirely produced within a few miles of where it is eaten. Virtually anything can be grown in this manner by tailoring the design of each greenhouse to naturally provide the specific environmental needs of whatever is being grown in it. This style of hyperlocalized food production would not only allow folks to have direct and constant access to healthier food (no need for GMO's in our pampered greenhouse environments, for example), we'd get far tastier food, since we'd grow the best tasting varieties rather than the best shipping varieties, and we'd pick them when they're ripe rather than when they'd ship the best.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Hope it can be helpful to some of you.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57472949


Why create that which you can steal?

Yours is mine.

Keep building.

I come for it soon.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 60192146

Oh I'm well aware that there are many such folks. And not just the 'bad' people, either: almost all 'good' folks would also raid my family's property if their own kids were starving or dying from an improper diabetic diet. It's just a fact of life.

But rather than wage war on such folks, I decided that the better strategy would be to help everyone by creating the large-scale facilities that I mentioned in my last paragraph of the original post (I left it in the quote so you could see what I'm referring to).

The thinking is that by creating those large-scale systems, it eliminates the need to steal, since people will be able to just keep getting their food from there as usual. These big ~10acre facilities will be hardened and entirely off-grid, so they'll keep functioning through almost any calamity. And they'll be built all over everywhere, with the goal being that almost everybody would have access to a sufficient and constant supply of healthy, delicious, and nutritious real foods grown within 10 miles of where they live.

There's no reason for us serfs to make war with each other if we can just use our noggins to eliminate the problems before they arise. So I will indeed keep building toward that goal, because not only do I want my family to be well fed, I want you and yours to be well fed, too.
Lil Sis

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07/13/2014 08:27 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Why create that which you can steal?

Yours is mine.

Keep building.

I come for it soon.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 60192146


Even if you did steal the facility for growing food without getting your ass shot to pieces, how are you even going to use it? You don't have the knowledge required to operate and maintain the system, nor the knowledge to grow the food, OR the will to obtain it.

Thieves are amazingly dumb and uncreative people. It is sort of like all the South African farms that were forcibly stolen from the white farmer. The thieves still starved because they didn't know what the fuck they were doing even though they had the farms.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 60086221


^^^^
This. The OP has obviously been working for some years to gain the knowledge to be able to operate a system like this from season to season, and successfully grow food on a consistent basis.

Carrying any kind of vegetables through the winter in most of the continental USA is an endeavor. You can't just buy a greenhouse, put it up and have that happen in those areas that have 4 seasons.

The dummies will remain dumb, no matter how much they steal. Those with intelligence, sense and initiative will make it through, and step over the bodies of the dummies on their way to the other side.
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Let Freedom Ring 365

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07/13/2014 08:28 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Awesome post hf
You are the creator of your own master plan... Make it a good one.

Wake the fuk up and be ready... This is absolutely no time to be stupid!

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” - Nikola Tesla
U3

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07/13/2014 08:31 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
*re-posted with formatting fixed*

That's why my big-picture goal is to create arrays of decent sized (~10 acre) highly intensive off-grid greenhouse food production facilities, arranged in satellite fashion around communities, that can provide a complete and exceptionally healthy diet that is entirely produced within a few miles of where it is eaten. Virtually anything can be grown in this manner by tailoring the design of each greenhouse to naturally provide the specific environmental needs of whatever is being grown in it. This style of hyperlocalized food production would not only allow folks to have direct and constant access to healthier food (no need for GMO's in our pampered greenhouse environments, for example), we'd get far tastier food, since we'd grow the best tasting varieties rather than the best shipping varieties, and we'd pick them when they're ripe rather than when they'd ship the best.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Hope it can be helpful to some of you.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57472949


Why create that which you can steal?

Yours is mine.

Keep building.

I come for it soon.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 60192146

Oh I'm well aware that there are many such folks. And not just the 'bad' people, either: almost all 'good' folks would also raid my family's property if their own kids were starving or dying from an improper diabetic diet. It's just a fact of life.

But rather than wage war on such folks, I decided that the better strategy would be to help everyone by creating the large-scale facilities that I mentioned in my last paragraph of the original post (I left it in the quote so you could see what I'm referring to).

The thinking is that by creating those large-scale systems, it eliminates the need to steal, since people will be able to just keep getting their food from there as usual. These big ~10acre facilities will be hardened and entirely off-grid, so they'll keep functioning through almost any calamity. And they'll be built all over everywhere, with the goal being that almost everybody would have access to a sufficient and constant supply of healthy, delicious, and nutritious real foods grown within 10 miles of where they live.

There's no reason for us serfs to make war with each other if we can just use our noggins to eliminate the problems before they arise. So I will indeed keep building toward that goal, because not only do I want my family to be well fed, I want you and yours to be well fed, too.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57472949





OP, you and this guy have the same idea. He is doing this same type thing in his town in S. Africa and hopes to see it spread. I see it as a great way for everyone to transition from buying from the grocery stores to growing our own. Obviously, a lot of folks aren't prepared but those that are, will be able to help a lot of folks.


"We are the music makers. And we are the dreamers of dreams." Willy Wonka
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 08:33 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
This is just awesome, OP! Thank you for sharing all this with us. I haven't looked at the whole thread or your website but I hope somewhere, you mention how you store the food, too!

Awesome job!!!! Thank you! hf
 Quoting: U3

Thanks for the nice comments :)

I have yet to really get into storing what I grow other than outdoor sweet corn, which I grow huge amounts of and freeze because I love it so much, and cucumbers, because I like pickles so much. Right now my whole focus is on how to provide sufficient fresh food 365 days/yr so that storage isn't needed.

That said, food storage is incredibly important, and I don't mean to knock it by being focused on year-round fresh food production. If you or anybody else has a good thread on food storage to recommend, please feel free to share it in this thread.
Anonymous Coward
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07/13/2014 08:34 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
we have a similar system- but used horizontally cut barrels inside of pallet walls (insulated with plastic on both sides), instead of digging. Our pest control is FROGS. Ours is partially open most of the year, surrounded by a greenhouse fence frame for a trellis and greenhouse roof. The greenhouse walls are added for winter. Large barrels of water not only serve to water plants and frogs, but also as a thermal. Water is collected off the greenhouse roof into the barrels. Currently our system is 40 square feet of grow space, plus two indoor systems, and raised beds for root crops not under canopy. We hope to expand next season, another 40 feet. No elec used at all. It works great! And our pest control is self-sustaining and organic. They live inside the frame, which also has a 4 foot high insect screen around it, sitting just above the bed area. This allows pollination but limits insects to the frogs management ability. Also keeps baby frogs from hopping away.
Anonymous Coward
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07/13/2014 08:38 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
this looks like the Fukushima farms, same type of greenhouses the Japanese grow their food in.

I just wonder why they use opaque plastic, instead of transparent plastic. Seems like more sunlight would be better.
U3

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07/13/2014 08:45 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
This is just awesome, OP! Thank you for sharing all this with us. I haven't looked at the whole thread or your website but I hope somewhere, you mention how you store the food, too!

Awesome job!!!! Thank you! hf
 Quoting: U3

Thanks for the nice comments :)

I have yet to really get into storing what I grow other than outdoor sweet corn, which I grow huge amounts of and freeze because I love it so much, and cucumbers, because I like pickles so much. Right now my whole focus is on how to provide sufficient fresh food 365 days/yr so that storage isn't needed.

That said, food storage is incredibly important, and I don't mean to knock it by being focused on year-round fresh food production. If you or anybody else has a good thread on food storage to recommend, please feel free to share it in this thread.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 57472949




What a great idea to focus on eating fresh every day. I like that.

Back when I checked out how to store food, I looked into a couple of things that I liked. One was a family I knew in Northern Canada, they had a cellar in the basement. It had a room in it with shelves and bins.

They stored vegetables in there all winter. I am sure they had to check the bins and make sure the vegetables were getting enough air. I remember she used old hose to store some of the veggies in.

But, they would just go down there and get whatever they wanted. It was surrounded by some fencing so mice couldn't get in there.

Another thing I saw was a shed that was built with double insulation. It had real thick walls and they used it for food storage. It seems like they also stored meat in there but I'm not sure about that. But, even in heat or cold, it held a good temperature for their vegetables, year round.

Dehydrating is a good way to store food and it takes less space for storage. I used to dehydrate in the back window of my car, lol! It's a great way to preserve and a person could build some kind of solar room or shed for large amounts of food to be dehydrated. You can use the food dehydrated or re-hydrate it and use it.

I'll be interested to see what else people are doing for food storage. I am sure there are some great ideas floating around. :)

Last Edited by ERE3 on 07/13/2014 08:47 PM
"We are the music makers. And we are the dreamers of dreams." Willy Wonka
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 08:46 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Do your tilapia reproduce to keep your population levels up?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 58172779

Yes, I made sure that my initial stocks were mixed sex pure bred blue tilapia so that I could keep breeding and growing more.

In-breeding can become problematic if left unchecked, so you either need to actively manage the gene pool (by controlled breeding and culling) or passively manage it (by occasionally injecting new genetic stock into your population from other fish farms). The best approach is to do both active and passive management, imo.

Nature's pretty resilient, though: I doubt you'd have much trouble producing all the fish you'd need for decades even if you start with a few dozen of one strain and completely ignore broodstock management of any kind. You probably wouldn't grow world-class trophy fish that way, but you'd still be well fed.
Vision Thing

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07/13/2014 08:52 PM

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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Most excellent and inspiring post OP, so glad you posted here and that I didn't overlook it. THANKS!
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. " (1 Thessalonians 5.18)

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:6-7
Anonymous Coward
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07/13/2014 09:05 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Most excellent and inspiring post OP, so glad you posted here and that I didn't overlook it. THANKS!
 Quoting: Vision Thing


all mine.


I take it now.

Tomato, potato, watermelon,,



mine..........
U3

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07/13/2014 09:22 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
OP, I showed your link to a friend of mine. He wants to know:

1) how does he contain the water (one of the great advantages of aquaponics is the bacterial cycle which makes it all work and conserves water)

2) what keeps the gravel from compacting when he walks on it?

Thank you
hf
"We are the music makers. And we are the dreamers of dreams." Willy Wonka
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 09:54 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
Sure, I'll alter my tone....

-10/-15F you say, but rather doubtful you get that on a 24/7 basis for months or weeks on end. Correct?

Kind of clueless is my observation about what a "harsh" Winter is.
 Quoting: Lester 35595779

Thanks for agreeing to be civil instead of caustic and attacking.

Yes, it is correct that our typical winters don't have -10F/-15F for months on end. This past winter it dipped down there on three separate occasions for about 7-10 days each time.

Winters are indeed harsh here. Just because they're more harsh farther north doesn't mean they're not harsh here. For the context of this thread, 'harsh' should be taken to mean that food cannot be grown outdoors.

why not raise better quality fish?
 Quoting: Lester 35595779

First of all, you're making a bad assumption that I don't grow other types of fish.

As for why I grow blue tilapia, I've already explained that. But to go into a bit more specific detail: I chose to grow a fast-growing vegetarian fish so that I could create a constant source of clean white meat for my father, who suffers from Type 2 diabetes. Since my fish are vegetarian, I can easily grow their food on-site year-round.

What you write about here is useless to anyone in the Intermountain West, Canada, or further North. Might be useful in BC if on the Pacific side of the mountains; but nowehere that actually has a "harsh" Winter. Clueless.
 Quoting: Lester 35595779

Oh, I get it. You weren't really agreeing to be civil, you were just trying to be sarcastic.

Saying that my thread is useless to those folks doesn't really seem relevant, since I clearly said that I hoped SOME folks could find it useful, not that EVERYONE EVERYWHERE would be able to exactly copy my Kansas systems with success. You're just attacking a straw man that you yourself erected.

Furthermore, it's really inaccurate to think that it's "useless to anyone in the Intermountain West, Canada, or further North," since this type of system can be relatively easily adapted to achieve success in such locales. One of the easiest ways would be to further incorporate the concept of solar furnaces. I could make it hot enough to boil water in a greenhouse in Canada--EASILY--it just requires bouncing enough extra light into the system from inexpensive external reflectors. That was half of the trick of how I kept my initial high tunnel aquaponics system in the 50's during its first winter: I built large external reflectors (8' x 25')for very little cost that simply bounced in as much extra light/energy as I wanted (about 50% more light/energy than would have otherwise entered the system). It was warm and the plants loved the extra light.

So to edit my current design and tailor it to being a kickass Canadian greenhouse, I would start with these two things:

1) create external reflectors to bounce a bunch of extra light/energy into the planted greenhouse system...but not enough to fry the plants;

2) build a large-scale solar furnace adjacent to the planted greenhouse to serve as a sort of boiler to supply extra heat to the greenhouse if need be. I would build a very large pool of water in the furnace (covering almost the entire floor) and insulate it extremely well, then pipe it from there over to the planted greenhouse. I could either keep the tens of thousands of gallons of water in the furnace cool enough to still support fish life (say, under 100F), or I could ramp it up to literally whatever water temp I want. Want 150F water in there? No problem, easy to do. But I'd probably keep it around 95-100F on a full charge so that I could still raise tilapia in there (mine have survived up to 106F). Overall a pretty easy project for a good engineer, but I certainly understand how daunting and impossible it can sound to someone who doesn't have experience with these types of design elements.

There is no "geothermal" effect from ground soil.
 Quoting: Lester 35595779

I've only been talking about the geothermal effect gained from a pit that is dug down into the earth and covered with a greenhouse, not ground-level soil.

Not like anyone living in a "harsh climate" could use your plan.
 Quoting: Lester 35595779

So what? Even if it were true (which it isn't), it's irrelevant and not a sound basis to attack me.

And it's not a plan. I'm sharing what I do to grow food year-round in Kansas despite our harsh winters here. I'm extremely clear and straightforward about that. Intelligent people can then, if they wish, take whatever elements they want from it and incorporate it into their own designs that are tailored to where they live.

Are you going to keep attacking and insulting me like I'm some sort of low-brow enemy, or can we be cool now?
Lil Sis

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07/13/2014 09:55 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
We have a cool room in our basement which works well for storing vegetables through the winter.

I store apples, potatoes, squash, onions, cabbage and sometimes root vegetable. I stored carrots until we got the greenhouse.

We grow our potatoes in the ground, not greenhouse. We dig them, hose them off and when they are pretty dry I put them in a storage shed laid out on a tarp for acouple of days to really dry well. I sort out the babies for seed and store them away, sort out any that got cut in the digging for eating right away, then store the rest in wood produce baskets. They last until spring in the cool room.

Onions I hang in a net bag, the rest goes into wood baskets.

You can pull carrots and store them straight up in a 5 gallon bucket with moist sand in it, and they will stay alive and sweet. Or some people use a wooden box, and lay them down more in layers with sand in between.

Check your produce occasionally to make sure no bruised produce got in an started to spoil.

A couple of years ago I got a dozen baskets 18" ones from Texas Basket.
[link to www.texasbasket.com]

We grow enought to store and share. We do not have a big setup like OP, but our small garden produces plenty to share with neighbors, store/can/freeze and for us to eat off of most of the year.

Last Edited by Lil Sis on 07/13/2014 09:57 PM
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Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 10:03 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
we have a similar system- but used horizontally cut barrels inside of pallet walls (insulated with plastic on both sides), instead of digging. Our pest control is FROGS. Ours is partially open most of the year, surrounded by a greenhouse fence frame for a trellis and greenhouse roof. The greenhouse walls are added for winter. Large barrels of water not only serve to water plants and frogs, but also as a thermal. Water is collected off the greenhouse roof into the barrels. Currently our system is 40 square feet of grow space, plus two indoor systems, and raised beds for root crops not under canopy. We hope to expand next season, another 40 feet. No elec used at all. It works great! And our pest control is self-sustaining and organic. They live inside the frame, which also has a 4 foot high insect screen around it, sitting just above the bed area. This allows pollination but limits insects to the frogs management ability. Also keeps baby frogs from hopping away.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 43884349

Awesome, well done! Isn't it fun?

I've got a toad the size of a softball that considers himself king of my semi-pit tunnel. He poops bigger than any toad I've ever seen, lol. Well fed, he is.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 10:04 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
OP, you and this guy have the same idea. He is doing this same type thing in his town in S. Africa and hopes to see it spread. I see it as a great way for everyone to transition from buying from the grocery stores to growing our own. Obviously, a lot of folks aren't prepared but those that are, will be able to help a lot of folks.


 Quoting: U3

Thanks for posting this.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/13/2014 10:16 PM
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Re: How I grow food year-round despite harsh winters
OP, I showed your link to a friend of mine. He wants to know:

1) how does he contain the water (one of the great advantages of aquaponics is the bacterial cycle which makes it all work and conserves water)

2) what keeps the gravel from compacting when he walks on it?

Thank you
hf
 Quoting: U3


1) I use heavy duty 45 mil Firestone epdm pond liners to contain the water in the fish tank and the water/gravel in the grow bed.

2) I lay planks of plywood down that are about 1.5' x 2.5' (same premise as snow shoes, it spreads out the downward force).

Regarding the gravel, make sure to use 2" river rock to prevent clogging. If you use pea gravel (which sounds like it would make sense, the thinking being that smaller rocks would filter better), it'll quickly get clogged. You want the poop to be able to settle down to the bottom through the crevices of the bigger 2" river gravel, where the composting worms can then eat it at their leisure.





GLP