Build a geodesic dome solar greenhouse to grow your own food

Collin Dunn

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What do you do when you want to grow your own food, but live more than a mile above sea level in Colorado? That’s the question my dad wanted to answer when he started this project about a year ago: Living at 7,750 feet above sea level, with a summer growing season of about 80 days between killing freezes, how can you grow your own food? His answer: A geodesic dome solar greenhouse.

Click through to see what it’s like to build one for yourself, and how the garden grows inside once you’re done.

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What do you do when you want to grow your own food, but live here? That’s the question my dad wanted to answer when he started this project about a year ago: Living at 7,750 feet above sea level, with a summer growing season of 80 days, at best, between killing freezes, how can you grow your own food? The answer, as it turns out, is pretty cool: A geodesic dome solar greenhouse.

Click through to see what it’s like to build one for yourself, and how the garden grows inside once you’re done.

Photo credit: Jim Dunn

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Here’s Dad’s garden, prior to the greenhouse. It’s on a south-facing slope, behind the house, which is good for sun, but the direct sunlight during the middle of the day caused a lot of wilting in the lettuce and spinach and such that he liked to grow there. Plus, the local elk, deer, and rabbits who frequent the backyard would also make short work of eating everything — hence the elaborate and quasi-functional netting system over top. All of this, plus the short growing season, meant that these raised beds weren’t really cutting it.

Photo credit: Jim Dunn

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After some research, Dad decided that a greenhouse would be a good way to extend the growing season, and that a geodesic dome would be a good shape to get the most out of the southern exposure (Bucky Fuller would probably agree) and maximize the solar energy from the 300 days of sun in Colorado. As it turns out, a company called Growing Spaces — TreeHugger Sami spied them recently — builds kits for just such a situation. So here’s the proposed spot for the dome.

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The local Home Owners Association was quite interested in his plan, and not in a good way, unfortunately. After several rounds of proposals, some less-than-polite exchanges, and a few compromises — the trees on the left side of the photo had to be added, to help the dome “blend in,” for example — the HOA bought it and he was allowed to break ground.

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The proposed spot is on a bit of a slope, so some excavation was required to flatten it out. The extra soil, piled off to the side, was saved to be added to the beds inside the greenhouse, upon completion.

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A layer of rodent wire goes down before the foundation, to help keep any unsavory characters from tunneling up into the warmth and potential food supply that’ll soon be inside the domed walls.

http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/green-food/build-a-geodesic-dome-solar-greenhouse-to-grow-your-own-food/page/11/#slide-top

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