Year-Round Greenhouse Gardening Using Passive Solar and Microclimates



A poorly planned greenhouse can end up costing you a fortune. Between construction, heating, cooling, and time spent managing the erratic climate conditions, greenhouses are often a lot more work than they are worth in potential savings. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Instead, use passive solar building principles and garden microclimate management techniques to create a bountiful and beautiful greenhouse garden year-round. Then you can truly enjoy the fruits of your labor in that lovely health-promoting extension of your indoor living area.

Use Passive Solar Building Techniques

Like building a passive solar house, to make your greenhouse more naturally sustainable, you need to carefully consider your location and materials used. Your choices will vary by the conditions where you live. But make sure to think beyond just choosing a full sun location. Also, building materials will vary by what you can afford and what’s available where you live.

Here are a few things to consider as you start your planning.

Climate-Based Construction. In extreme cold climates, your shady side wall may need to be a stone heat sink rather than glass or polycarbonate panels. Or, perhaps, you might need to consider building partially underground such as in a walapini style structure. Alternatively, you may want to pre-plan to harness some geothermal heating and cooling techniques into your design.    

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Maximize insolation by siting the greenhouse with the broadside facing due South. The shadow of a vertical rod at 12:00 standard time will create a line oriented in a North-South direction.

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