Alberta has a pretty darn short growing season. Greenhouses are a must if you are vegetable producer out here. The cost of operating a greenhouse during the hard winters we have out on the Prairies can be quite, well, painful. On top of that, you’ll likely have to burn some sort of fossil fuel like natural gas or use electricity to get your seeds to germinate and keep your seedlings nice and warm on the inside of your greenhouse. There is another way though, but it does involve rethinking how we think of greenhouse growing. Passive solar greenhouses, if done right, require no external energy inputs like natural gas or electricity, but instead use the warmth of the sun, thermal mass and a lot of insulation to grow vegetables. This design helps to dramatically decrease your heating bill and the carbon footprint of what you are producing.
In this episode, Daniel Chappell, a professional horticulturist, instructor at Olds College and farm manger at Shirley’s Greenhouse in Didsbury takes you through what can and cannot be produced in a passive solar greenhouse and how to design and operate this type of set up.
Want to learn more? Check out our episode on On-Farm Geothermal with Dr. Jonathan Banks of the University of Alberta.