Build a $300 Underground Greenhouse for Year-round Fresh Food

Gardening and people who love to put their hands into soil and tend to growing plants know no boundaries — certainly there’s no less of them in the cold climates — but you can’t just go outside and garden all year round once you get away from the hot equator.

One thing some people do, though, is extend their growing seasons with greenhouses, indoor and outdoor. And another way to do it is to build an underground pit greenhouse, which is better in the way that it costs less to heat than a standing greenhouse. These originated in South America about 20 years ago.

How does year-round gardening at a price of a few hundred dollars sound to you? So that you can just go out and get some lettuce, tomatoes, or any other produce at any time – no trip to the grocery store, and you know your food is fresh. People are doing this in these underground gardens. How are they set up?

It’s basically a pit dug in the dirt near your house. The best style is probably the room-shaped rectangle pit. It’s easier to put a roof on. They dig a few feed down , then lay out their garden paths and the areas of soil for their crops.

Some people also put in a fireplace. This has two functions. One is that if they ever need to heat up their greenhouse, they can burn wood in it. But another use is in the summer when it gets really hot – over 100 degrees, the fireplace acts as a vent, letting the hot air out through the chimney.

On top of the recessed room, people dig a small staircase and door for entry (or more than one door, which also can allow air flow). Then they set up a simple a-frame roof frame and staple clear poly sheets on it to let light in and keep heat in. They set up a plastic (or other) barrel as a water reservoir. A hose comes through the wall to fill it. Another hose comes out and waters the greenhouse beds.

The total cost of this, depending on what you already have around and what you can get a deal on, is estimated to be between $100 and $300.

Now, a lot of you already are thinking, probably, about the vegetables and fruits you can grow in here, whether for yourself or to sell at a local produce market, but you can also grow flowers in a greenhouse – and if you have a big greenhouse, why not? Here’s a list of plants that can be grown in greenhouses:

Achimenes ,Agapanthus, Ageratum, Alonsoa (Mask Flower), Anthericum (St Bernard Lily), Antirrhinum (Snapdragon), Aristolochia (Dutchman’s Pipe), Arum Lily, Azalea ,Babiana ,Begonia, Beloperone (The Shrimp Plant), Bougainviilea, Browallia, Brunfelsia, Calceolaria (Slipper Flower), Calendula (Pot Marigold), Camellia, Campanula (Bell-flower), Canna (Indian Shot), Carnations, Celosia, Celsia, Chorizema, Chrysanthemum, Cineraria, Clarkia, Ciivia, Cobaea (Cups and Saucers), Coleus, Columnea, Cornflower, Crocus, Cyclamen, Cytisus, Daphne, Deutzia, Dicentra (Bleeding Heart), Echium, Erica (Heath), Erythrina, Eucomis (Pineapple Flower), Exacum, Forsythia, Francoa (Bridal Wreath), Freesia, Fremontia, Fuchsia, Gerbera (Barberton Daisy), Gloriosa, Gloxinia, Godetia, Heliotrope (Cherry Pie), Hippeastrum, Hoya, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Impatiens (Balsam), Ipomoea, Iris, Kalanchoe, Laburnum, Lachenalia, Lantana, Lapageria, Lilium, Mignonette, Narcissus, Naegelia, Nemesia, Nerine, Nerium (Oleander), Pelargonium, Petunia, Phlox, Plumbago, Primula, Rehmannia, Rhododendron, Saintpaulia (The African Violet), Salpiglossis, Salvia, Schizanthus (The Butterfly Flower), Scilla, Solanum (Winter Cherry), Sparmannia, Statice, Stephanotis, Streptocarpus, Streptosolen, Thunbergia, Torenia, Trachelium, Trachymene, Tritonia, Tuberose, Tulip, Vallota, Verbena, Viscaria, Zinnia

Some people also keep animals in the greenhouse! Chickens and even herds like goats (during the coldest times of year mostly). These are cheap livestock because chickens can live freely and just come in to the greenhouse to lay eggs and get warm, while they can just find their own food outside. So they cost nothing or close to it.

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