An All Year Solar Greenhouse

Learn how to effectively use a solar greenhouse all year, including growing winter greens, fall fumigation, growing summer beans, and spring starts.


| November/December 1983



Herbal Fumigation

All the ingredients for herbal fumigation.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Our master gardeners share their secrets for getting the most out of indoor crop producing.

It's one (wonderful) thing to have a solar greenhouse . . . but it's quite another (not so easy) thing to know how best to use the facility. Invariably, as soon as you start an indoor garden, a multitude of questions will crop up: What can you do to keep aphids from spreading like white dust over your greenery? Which vegetables grow and yield best in such a space-tight and temperature-varying environment? And is there anything to do with the structure during the warm months besides using it to store gardening tools?

Well, there's no way we here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS can answer every question you may have about greenhouse growing ... because so much depends on your particular structure, your own climatic conditions, and your growing preferences. We can, though, share the insights of Barbara and Kerry Sullivan, the master gardeners who've successfully "solar greenhoused" for the past three years out at MOTHER EARTH NEWS' Ecological Research Center. And we'll bet a bed of February lettuce that you're bound to find some useful tips from their experience . . . ideas that-once you adapt them to your own situation-will be helpful to you wherever or whatever your indoor growing spot may be. So let's go (or should we say grow?) through a year in MOTHER EARTH NEWS' solar greenhouse with Barb and Kerry, beginning with . . .

Fall Fumigation

Before MOTHER EARTH NEWS gardeners start their winter crop of greenhouse vegetables, they frequently give the building a preventive purification to ward off insect problems. Naturally, our holistic-minded growers don't zap the place with toxic pesticides. Instead, they give the plant house a cleansing fumigation with a concoction they learned about from Juliette de Bairach Levy's Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable. (She recommends this treatment for clearing farm livestock buildings of parasites and pests.) To make the fumigant, Barbara and Kerry dry and powder equal parts of cayenne pepper . . . old garlic skins and stems . . . and cow or horse dung. The first two ingredients are the potent pest-discouragers of the mix (indeed, the Sullivans often make the blend "heavy on the pepper"), while the manure is used mainly to help the combination burn better. The gardeners remove any plants that may be in the greenhouse, set a tin pan containing the mix either on a small portable gas stove or right above the firebox of their building's backup heater, then close and seal the greenhouse (from the outside, of course!). It takes about one-quarter pound of the mix to fully gas their 12' X 16' structure. The fumigant smolders for about one and a half hours, but our growers leave the smoke trapped in the little building for several hours more.

And just how do they know whether the spicy fumes have done the job? To assess a treatment, our gardeners sometimes leave a plant or two in the greenhouse before they smoke it, so that most aphids, whiteflies, and other bugs will gather on that specimen. When the growers come back to check, they frequently find the plant flecked with lots of dead or convulsing insects. (If the bugs appear too lively, Barb and Kerry may repeat the treatment. In fact, they often give the house a second fumigation a week after the first one anyway . . . when any eggs left unscathed by the initial treatment have had a chance to hatch out.)





dairy goat

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Aug. 5-6, 2017
Albany, Ore.

Discover a dazzling array of workshops and lectures designed to get you further down the path to independence and self-reliance.

LEARN MORE