Earth-Sheltered Passive Solar Greenhouse

We’re hoping to begin construction on our greenhouse before the ground freezes, and have it up and running by spring.

Our greenhouse design will be based on the works of Mike Oehler. His design uses the sun, water barrels and/or animals, and earth bank walls to heat the interior. The earth banks against the walls also insulate against the outside temperatures. Another aspect of the design is that the glass is angled to optimize winter sun exposure.

In his book he recommends that the greenhouse be sunk into the ground a few feet to get even better thermal insulation but our water table is so high that we’ll have to build at, or slightly below ground level and hill up earth around the walls to avoid flooding the greenhouse floor and growing area.

Here’s a link to Mike’s website:

And here’s a youtube video of a tour of one of his prototype greenhouses:

Our greenhouse won’t be as big as his. Because we’re altering the original design due to the water table, we’re going to go smaller for this first ‘experiment’. If it’s a success, then we’ll get permits for more and larger greenhouses.

We’re hoping that this greenhouse will allow us to have a supply of leafy greens for the winter, and a place to start our tomatoes and peppers etc. in the spring, without the need for grow lights and electric heaters.

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