I have run across articles on earthbermed south oriented greenhouses in China with bricked and concrete blocks on the north sides supported with some earth berming, anyone know of where I might find that again ? This article is about similar production but does not demonstrate the earth berming :
I see in that like that they are using mats rolled up in day time then rolled down at night,this was something that ive been thinking about for a while,but just a little unsure how to i would do it on my tunnelhouse, it needs to be water proof but also when its rolled up frost on the cover may make it stick together if it were a fabric type material. I was also thinking that if i did have a cover of some kind and in stored electric power i could use grow lights to one add a few extra hours at each end of the dayin winter, but also on cloudy cold days the covers could stay on and use the lights instead.
This 'earth greenhouse' was an old ruined stone building surrounded on three sides by earth, that's to say, built back into a bank. All we did was remove all the rubble, build a front out of old windows and doors from the tip, and topped it with a polycarbonate roof. Despite two weeks of minus 10C most nights, I was amazed to see that the avocado plants, guavas and passion fruit have all survived, despite the fact there was no heating at all. At the same time, in the polytunnel, plants inside a heated propagator (a couple of hundred watts) still froze and were lost! My next project is to build at least one more greenhouse into this south facing bank. As for the danger of collapse, the old timers must have known what they were doing as the 'conservatory' in the picture (originally a wine making 'cellier') has retaining walls made of local stone without any mortar. Earth greenhouses are a very good way to go if you want to save heating costs and grow exotic things in cold climates.
Last Edit: Feb 26, 2012 3:49:40 GMT -5 by bertiefox
Sorry richardw. Are you not seeing the photo? I made the mistake of just putting in the url first and then realising I could put the link as an image with the link... the image shows up when I read the post but I'll try uploading it as a file here.
Post by bvillebill on Mar 18, 2012 13:35:49 GMT -5
Years ago a friend built a version on a south facing slope. It was more of a very large cold frame, maybe 6' high by 6' wide and about 30' long. It was dug into the slope, the rear wall was 2x8 timbers from an old wood bridge being removed. It worked great in an area where it would get below zero in the winter.
The idea is great, but as has been mentioned make sure the rear wall is strong enough to support a load when the hill starts to move down.
Sorry for late reply to comments above about my old 'earth greenhouse'. The house dates back to at least 1789 as it is on the Cassini map of France. I'd guess the old 'cellier' which forms the walls of the 'greenhouse' now is at least that old. The amazing thing is the walls are built directly on clay with no foundations and there was only one small bit near the front which had collapsed and which I have rebuilt with blocks tied into the old stone, using lime mortar and render to make it blend in. Yet the walls are holding back tons of earth with quite a few trees and bushes rooted into the surrounds. I admire the masonry skills of these past generations. Only problem now is to try to find a way of stopping the roof leaking!