The Greenhouse of The Future? The Earthship Greenhouse!

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Systems PhotosAn Earthship is a remarkable housing innovation that creates a completely off-grid and full-featured sustainable home. Utilizing passive solar as its main source of energy, earthships also collect and treat their own water, keeps the climate warm and cool when necessary, and has the ability to grow enough food for a small family. Earthships can be built in any climate and overall the design has been becoming very popular as of late. Especially since they use a great deal of recycled materials making the cost of construction quite cheap.

But what if you needed more space to grow food year round? Or if you weren’t able to go all out and build an earthship but still wanted to utilize its ideologies to grow food? That’s where the earthship greenhouse comes in. Using many of the same tactics a regular earthship would use, an earthship green house gives you the ability to grow fruits and vegetables year round in any climate using off grid methods.

When thinking about food production in year round climates, we would need to consider temperature control, water, ventilation and sunlight. It’s also important that plants are kept in their growing stage and climax points as long as possible. An earthship green house tackles all of these factors using innovative and inexpensive strategies.

The overall structure would incorporate the classic tire wall method that regular earthships utilize. This means the structure is built partially underground and its base walls are constructed with dirt packed tires. The reason for this design is it allows for a successful transfer of warm and cool temperatures to help regulate climate naturally. This design greatly assists in keeping the structure warm even in cold temperatures.

When it comes to water, the roof of the green house would collect water during rainfall and store it in cisterns beneath the ground. During the winter, the reservoir, as well as snow-melt, would be used for watering. An earthship green house of a fair size would easily be able to collect enough water to sustain it even in climates with very little rain. If incorporating aquaponics into the design, the collection water would be used for this process as well.

Similar to the earthship design, the green house would feature large windows on the front of the walls to allow sunlight and heat to enter naturally. Since the walls are built with tires, the heat from the sun would be retained well during the day and time released at nightfall when temperatures get colder.  If need be, solar panels can be added to the roof to generate any necessary electricity for further heating devices or pumps for aquaponics systems. This of course is not necessary however.

With the structure itself taking care of those elements, the rest is up to the builder as to how they would like to have it function. Building garden boxes, hanging structures or digging into the ground are all viable options for vegetation growth.

The design can be taken to the next step to incorporate an aquaponics system. Aquaponics is a symiotic system that incorporates fish and plants to help automate a large yield of diverse foods.

When it comes to the cost for an earthship green house, you could expect to pay anywhere from $3000 – $6000 depending on the size and features you choose to incorporate. This model could produce enough food for a couple of families and can pay for itself in a matter of a few short years. The good news is you will know where your food is coming from and you can pick it fresh from the garden when you want to use it.  If you choose, you could make an earthship greenhouse an extension of your home so it would feel as though you are growing food directly inside. With the right design, this can supply clean purified air to the home as well.

In a time when we are becoming more aware of where our food comes from and the desire for self-produced, clean, organic food is on the rise, an earthship green house is an awesome project to take on if you have the space for it. Pair up with another family or a couple friends and get building!

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  1. DC

    Thanks Joe, I have a real garden at home I’m working hard on but also am involved in a Aquaponics Community Garden for all of us here on the island, great

  2. lifegamer

    I love the many sustainable home/community designs. Have you looked into ? I’ve been keeping up with their project since they began…extremely interesting, so verrry well thought out in every aspect & detail. The open-blueprint concept just rang my little Soul Sounds! You would really like their pod structures & layout…and talk about a magnificent green-greenhouse! Joy of joys to be enveloped with the plant-people & surrounded by their beauty & givingness at the center of Life.

    I was actually quite ready & prepared to give my head, hands, & heart to this endeavor, as well at hand were the craftsmanships & love of those within my realms who are all about being grander examples, & very talented,indeed. Unfortunately, animal beings are not on their list of welcomed beginnings…totally understandable considering the range & depth of the project, but those that come to me or to those around me, are forever by their choice…They are Family…and no one can be left behind. This is just fine…We are just fine…and I will continue to keep an eye on One Community & their progress, & support the efforts in other ways…like letting folks know of their ideas & ideals to keep sparks of higher-thinking alive & fruitful.

    Their site is insightful, to say the least…Enjoy the browse, if you haven’t had opportunity already. :)

  3. Nicolas

    We need some links here. I’ll be doing my own research on the matter, but a link would have been a great starting point. Great article nonetheless!

  4. Ash827

    What an amazing idea. It is my goal to have an Earthship home one day!

  5. Rick Maschek

    MIT built their first solar heated demo house in 1939 and billed it as the first solar heated home in America. Cliff dwelling Native Americans built their dwellings to receive the sun in the winter and be in the shade when the hot summer sun was overhead.

    Years ago we plated trees on the east and west sides of our home that now shade it in the summer and drop their leaves in the winter allowing warming sun in the winter. We also glazed our whole south side and have 2′ eves that allow passive solar heating in the winter, even when there is snow on the ground except for cloudy days when we use aux heating.


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