Greenhouse in the Snow Canada
Grow with Geothermal!
Highly efficient - low energy use
Fresh produce – All year!
From Greenhouse to Table
Greenhouse in the Snow – Kirsten Dirksen
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Greenhouse in the Snow
Russ Finch is the creator and designer of the Greenhouse in the Snow concept. After his retirement from the Post Office, he wanted to build an efficient greenhouse that was both economical and ecological in its design to keep the temperatures above zero during the harsh Nebraskan winters. Russ’s greenhouse is attached to the back of his house, and it is truly magnificent. Over a period of 35 years, Russ perfected his greenhouse design using low-grade geothermal in order to produce citrus, fruits, vegetables, and many flowers all year round. In his greenhouse, he currently has hundreds of plants, from which he harvests 1000’s of pounds of produce each year!
Over the past 7 years the greenhouse package has been sold commercially. There are now close to 200 of the greenhouses in production across North America. In spring of 2020 it was licensed into Canada and is now being manufactured and distributed here. Our greenhouses are built to the specifications that Russ Finch designed, and we will provide many Canadians with the opportunity to garden year-round, grow exotic crops, and produce more food using less energy.
Exotic Fruits & Plants
Low Operational Costs
Special & Unique
Be Ready for the Future
What can you grow in a geothermal greenhouse?
Perhaps the easier question is: what do you want to grow? Visitors to the original greenhouse in Alliance Nebraska, are always impressed by the citrus, especially the heavily laden Meyers Lemon trees in the middle of winter. Our many customers grow a wide variety including common garden vegetables, oranges, limes, passionfruit, figs, asparagus, strawberries, southern grapes, kiwis, roses, orchids, and other exotic flowers.
What temperatures can a geothermal greenhouse operate in?
The main advantage of a geothermal greenhouse is that even in cold climates, like in Nebraska where it can easily dip to 25-35 degrees Fahrenheit below zero ( -32C to -37C), is that they are freeze resistant. We do recommend some kind of back-up heat system. Russ uses a simple forced air propane heater that he has only had to turn on three times in the last 23 years. Plants that do not like cool nighttime temperatures can benefit from a back-up heat system.
What plants can we grow in a geothermal greenhouse?
Most plants do not perform well when the length of day is less than 10 hours. Grow lights can be used very successfully to lengthen the hours of light available to your plants.
Can you do aquaponics in a geothermal greenhouse?
Yes. We have several customers that have ponds and tanks in their greenhouses. Some are focused on fish, such as tilapia, while others are more interested in the various water flowers that can be grown. Water in a pond is a great way to store heat from the daytime that releases at night. Most people who are raising warm water fish like tilapia will supplemental heat the water, sometimes with a heat exchange from the peak of the greenhouse in the daytime. Others use more traditional methods.
Can I build a geo-thermal greenhouse where there is a high water table?
The short answer is yes. We have some greenhouses in places where the air tubes are in the water at various times of the year. This sometimes has some challenges. The floor of the greenhouse must be about 4 feet in the ground. If the water table is higher than that, it is best to find an alternate site that does not have those issues. Some however, have opted to build a berm and then put the greenhouse in the berm, thus getting above the water table. This can drive up the cost substantially.
Can a geothermal greenhouse function off grid?
Yes. The big advantage of this geo-thermal concept is that we use low amounts of electricity to let the system work. There are several options to reach an off-grid setup.
What should I expect to spend on a geothermal greenhouse?
Prices can be obtained through the ‘Download Prices’ button, but generally speaking, you should expect a Greenhouse in the Snow completed cost to be similar to a traditional permanent greenhouse. The BIG difference is the energy cost for a geothermal greenhouse versus the traditional. The operational costs of the Greenhouse in the Snow are much much lower!!
Are geothermal greenhouses environmentally friendly?
Yes, very much so. The steel we use in our geothermal greenhouses has a high recycled content. The polycarbonate sheets are very durable and last many years and the power consumption to keep the greenhouse frost-free and prevent overheating is kept to a minimum. Most of our greenhouse owners use little or no commercial pesticides in their operations preferring to grow organically.
Can I put my Greenhouse in the Snow up myself?
Yes; most of our customers do. Be sure to abide by all local regulations. Some of our customers have all of the necessary equipment, but most will hire someone to excavate the 8-foot deep ditch for the heat tubes and the 4 food deep floor for the greenhouse.
Can I heat a traditional greenhouse using the geothermal heat tubes?
Generally speaking, no. The radiation heat loss in a conventional greenhouse is simply too great for the low grade geo-thermal to overcome. We have also found that the 4 foot below grade floor combined with a carefully controlled total volume in the greenhouse are keys to a successful installation.
Is there a climate too cold for a geothermal greenhouse?
We have geothermal greenhouses as far north as Canada, and the northern peninsula of Michigan. The climate in western Nebraska is a zone 4, but being almost 4,000 feet above sea level, they can be plagued with harsh winds and very cold winter temperatures. Actual temperatures of 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit below zero (-29C to -35C) are seen most winters. On occasion, they will get from 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit below zero (-37C to -43C). Our customers in the northern locations report good results as well.
I don't have much building experience. Will I be able to construct my geothermal greenhouse kit?
Most of our customers construct their own greenhouses. A few have opted to have them professionally built. Most customers with relatively limited building experience have been able to find a friend or a neighbor to help them through the process but it is important to note that we are available to answer your questions. Our phone and internet technical support is free to anyone that has purchased a greenhouse kit from Greenhouse in the Snow.
We do supply a manual on how to build the greenhouse in a step by step way. This should answer most of your questions.
What size greenhouse do I need?
From an efficiency standpoint, in terms of energy and money, a 96ft/ 102ft greenhouses seem to be the optimum size. Shorter greenhouses still require the buried tube to be the same length, less tubes because of the smaller size but the same length of excavation. This makes the shorter greenhouses cost more per square foot to build. When we first started selling greenhouses, the 78ft was the most popular length but the 96ft or 102ft are now the overwhelming favorites.
What is the cost of a greenhouse kit?
Your Greenhouse in the Snow Kit can range between $6750 – $29000 depending on length.
Will banks lend on a geothermal greenhouse?
Some will; although this is out of our area of expertise. We accept credit cards and bank transfers for greenhouse kit payments.
Do you ship greenhouse kits?
Yes, we ship our kits across Canada, coast to coast. It does require a forklift or some other method to unload the kit at your site. They can be picked up in person also. Be sure to check with us for the needed trailer size and type.
Are the greenhouse kits made in the Canada?
Yes, they are manufactured out of Canadian steel to our specifications. The polycarbonate is also a Canadian product. We take pride to support Canadian businesses when sourcing all our materials!
How many geothermal greenhouse kits have you sold?
As of this writing, August 2020, there are about 200 geothermal greenhouses located in the U.S. and Canada. This number is changing rapidly.
Does the geothermal greenhouse concept fit with our desire to produce our own food throughout the year?
Yes because of the frost-free conditions in full winter it is ideal to have a year around production of fruits and vegetables.
Do you have issues with pollinizing of crops?
It all depends on what you are growing and what is needed to pollinate the crops. Citrus, for example, is self-fertile while tomatoes and peppers wind or shake pollinate. If you like, add a mason bee colony to your greenhouse.