Mercantile: Solar Gem Greenhouse and the Ultimate Cheese Press Review

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Mercantile: Solar Gem Greenhouse and the Ultimate Cheese Press Reviews

MOTHER’s product picks for December 2018/January 2019. 


Solar Gem Greenhouse

From $2,030 at Solar Gem Greenhouses

A reliable greenhouse can be a game-changer when it comes to self-sufficiency. Greenhouses can extend your growing season and provide a more controlled environment to give your plants the best chance possible. Wrap those benefits up in a tough, no-fuss package with tons of utility and multiple uses, and you have the American-made Solar Gem Greenhouse. As editor Russell Mullin puts it, “My Solar Gem Greenhouse is a hassle-free, multipurpose structure that, after a few personal customizations, I also use as an outdoor washroom (complete with a solar shower and composting toilet) and storage shed for garden tools.”

Despite being tough, Solar Gem Greenhouses are also lightweight because of their one-piece fiberglass construction and ribbed Gothic-arch design. The automatic ceiling vents open and close, depending on the temperature, without relying on electricity or thermostats, and the entire structure has a smooth, marine-grade gel-coat exterior that won’t discolor.

With multiple sizes to choose from and a whole line of cedar worktables and accessories, it’s easy to create a space that functions just how you need it to. Russell says, “I ordered my medium greenhouse with a door at either end because I plan to use a third of the interior as a chicken house that will open up to an area of annually rotating chicken runs and garden beds. The extra warmth generated by the chickens, along with the addition of thermal mass in the form of stored water, should help extend my growing season significantly.”

One of Russell’s passions is stacking functions in order to get the most out of his time, space, and investments. He says, “If you’re looking for a greenhouse, garden shed, chicken coop, washroom, or all of the above, a Solar Gem Greenhouse might be just the thing. My Solar Gem Greenhouse is proving to be an incredibly versatile piece of infrastructure with so much year-round utility that I actually have a hard time just calling it a greenhouse; I look at it more as a sun-capturing, multiple-use outbuilding. Your imagination is the limit.”

Solar Gem Greenhouses, 800-370-3459

The Ultimate Cheese Press

For $169.95 at

The Ultimate Cheese Press from Homesteader’s Supply is a high-end hardwood cheese press for home cheesemakers, designed and manufactured right here in the United States. This press is perfect for making all types of hard and semihard cheeses, and the two included food-grade plastic hoops can press out 1 to 5 pounds of cheese without the detrimental rapid cooling that can occur with stainless steel presses. Homesteader’s Supply designed the press with ergonomics in mind to minimize the stress to your hands and fingers during use, and maintaining it is easy: Simply hand-wash the press with soap and warm water, let it dry, and then reapply an oil of your choice to the wooden components.

The Ultimate Cheese Press is available in maple or cherry, and it comes pre-finished with organic, cold-pressed coconut oil (although you can ask to have yours shipped unfinished if you’d rather apply a different oil). It also comes with instructions, a cheddar recipe, and plenty of cheesecloth to get you started.

Mother Earth News Store, 800-234-3368

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368