Let the learning curve begin. So as the weather cools the main focus of the dome is for growing cool weather greens, but we have put a few warm weather plants in to test how well things will go as the temps drop. Right now the lowest inside temp has been 56 degrees on a 38 degree night. Knowing our Indiana winters with cold and cloudy days I am going to have to add some additional heat. The dome has a 3000 gallon water tank that helps moderate the temps somewhat. I am adding several 55 gal in an area that is typically warmer. I am also adding a small space heater inset in concrete blocks to create a warm zone. Our Master Gardener friend Roy donated a Coffee plant, Jackfruit, Papaya, Dragon Fruit, and Pineapple. I am going to do my best to keep these alive. We also have Basil, Tomatoes, Beans, Peppers, and some flowers to try to keep alive. This is how it looks now. The hoops are so I can throw some plastic over the warm weather plants. First time in awhile I am looking forward to the cold weather so I can see what this thing can do.
It is hard to believe the Dome has only been up a month and it is growing like crazy already. My first plan was to just fill the beds and plant mostly greens and just bring the place to life as I study the dome to see how it operates. It is amazing how fast things germinate with heat and moisture. We are already harvesting out of the dome. Next up was to put together an off grid water warmer to help keep the 3000 gallon pond warmer in the winter months. The creation was made with some 3/4 inch pvc irrigation tubing. Will built a box to house the coil, lined it with foam insulation, and painted it black. the coil was added and a piece of plexiglass was installed to help trap the heat in the box. Danny installed some fittings and a pump. Right now the plan is to put a timer on the pump to start and stop the flow every 30 min to let the coils warm up. We installed a backflow valve so the water would stay in the coil while it warms. We mounted in above the pond which does put a little strain on the pump, but all in all it seems to be working great. Below are some pictures of Danny and Will building the heater, and of it in place. This is just one of the educational features we will be tracking in the future.
Here is my little YouTube with the first glance inside the dome with its features. This first winter I will be testing all sorts of plants. I will also be tracking the inside temps overnight. I also plan on creating a solar water heater to help maintain the water temp in the pond. Watch for more updates.
About 14 years ago someone shared a youtube with a couple old hippies showing off their growing dome. I was hooked, and started reseaching. What I found was a unique was of growing using passive energy. So I reached out and ask Growing Spaces about donating one. They told me the the giving for the year was done, but to check back next year. We were just starting out Unity Garden and had many other focuses. So about 3 years ago we were starting on our 10 year plan which now included a Geo Dome, an educational bus, a wash station and walk in cooler, and some other smaller projects. So we took a tour of the facility, meet the owners and started the process. They gave us a great discount and education on how things work. The Growing Spaces folks helped with the permitting and sent two awesome supervisors to help the team from Reentry. In just five days we went from a flat base to a dome. Watch this blog to see whats next. The plans are limitless! This first season I will plant a large variety a test subjects and track the indoor temps.
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