ok, i blame google.
i was looking up ways that i might be able to heat the greenhouse, ideally using solar or some other passive technology, because part of me is just not confident that hooking up a small heater to an extension cord won’t be an excuse for a massive fire. short answer: it’s hard.
less short answer: compost, an ever-wonderous thing.
i came across a blog post from the (sadly now-defunct) hudson valley garden association were one of the members was heating her greenhouse using compost – even in the winter, even when compost materials collection would be hard. she was using a combination of coffee grounds from her local starbucks and leaf litter collected in the fall and spring. the result? a few degrees’ warmth and, more importantly, an indoor “hot bed”, which more googling revealed to be an old victorian gardening technique which involved using the decomposition of materials to generate enough heat to start seeds or force bulbs even in the winter for a longer season.
oh, man, how much did my mind go into overdrive? TOO MUCH. it was impossible to concentrate on my “nikita” reruns for the rest of the day, and i think i tore apart my gardeners supply company catalogue thinking about raised beds and other sundries (so much for narrowing my shopping list).
my goal here would be simple, really: generate enough bottom heat so that i can start all my bedding plants, including hundreds of cosmos, zinnias, etc, and save that precious few weeks in the spring for other stuff. maybe force my dahlia tubers (because yes, obviously i ordered more of them). that’s it. relatively modest.
the greenhouse is 6×8 and currently has two tables in it. i think i can build a bed under one of the tables, and i will move the other table outside for use as a potting bench during the summer.
in the end i’d like to have something like this:
though right now all i have is this, which is much less cool/effective/useful:
(the surface area/volume is so small that i probably won’t get any heat, so it’s back to the drawing board while i continue to hoard materials.)
also, this is the path to my greenhouse right now:
the current materials ratio: approximately 2 parts UCG and 3 parts shredded hay (which means this batch, if it composts, will not be useable in the garden due to unkilled weed seeds from the hay), plus 1 cup, give or take, of high-nitrogen blood meal in an attempt to activate it like a straw bale garden.
maybe i should put a straw bale on the floor and treat the straw bale like a mini hotbed?