I have been a farmer and rancher all my life and we grow the majority of our own food. We just finished building a greenhouse. I have been calling it a high tunnel but it is more accurately a walipini, it is dug into the earth with the north wall built of boulders that hold thermal mass. We have six growing beds 100 ft long and 3 ft wide, plus more growing space in pots and in the stone walls, a total of 2000 sq ft. The thermal mass is working! we have not had a frost inside yet and our coldest nights have been down to 5 degrees fahrenheit. Our advantage is a climate where we get a lot of winter sun that heats the stone through the greenhouse plastic and keeps things warm at night. The round wood door you see in the picture is 10 ft tall and 4 ft wide. I built everything you see here. I did the excavation, stone work, steel work, and I installed the steel frame and plastic with friends and family. In another year I will be releasing a film about building it and growing food for the first year.
I love unusual vegetable varieties and I have never seen pointed cabbages until Charles showed them in the videos. (Well… I have grown Early Jersey Wakefield but it is not like yours!!!) I was inspired and tried to purchase seed. I searched for days to find Fielderkrout and there is only one supplier I could find in North America. I ordered it!
I have done no till farming for a long time but you have taught me many details that have really helped me understand the efficiency and productivity of small garden spaces. My plan was to have a no till system in the new walipini all along and to experiment until I figured out the best ways… but now that I discovered you I am doing No Dig in my new walipini because you have already figured it all out! Thanks again!
*Update from William received October 2022
The Walipini greenhouse is going great and I love no dig. I have a large vermicomposting bin that is making fantastic compost. It is 12 ft long, 4 ft wide and is a flow through system that I cut off at the bottom and the finished compost falls to the ground. I built it myself with recycled materials so the cost was less than $10.00 for some screws to fasten it together. A commercial unit that does the same thing costs $10,000. So I feel pretty good about it!
My strawberries are doing exceptionally well with the best of size and flavor. The Scarlet runner beans attracted many hummingbirds which is an absolute delight, they are such an amazing creature.
I graduated from Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web School where she trained me to analyse soil and compost with a microscope. It is fantastic to see how the no dig gardens are healthy and have a functioning soil.
One new detail I have been incorporating into my gardens and greenhouse is planting many species together to maintain a minimum of four plant families with the hope of increasing microbial activity and therefore turning on secondary metabolites within the plants. The hope is two fold: 1- to maximize a healthy ecosystem without losses of food crops to pests and disease. 2- To grow the healthiest food possible.
I am saving my own seed for most of the plants I grow and I am developing Landrace varieties in order to adapt them to our harsh growing conditions here in the Great Basin Desert. Our place is at 5,836 feet above sea level and the mountains behind the greenhouse soar up to 10,873 elevation. This spring our last frost was June 15, and most years the first killing fall frost is the last week of August. We usually figure on an 80 day frost free growing season in our outdoor farming. The Landrace breeding project is vital to creating vegetables that can withstand these conditions that are common throughout the high desert mountain valleys in the western United States. We have had success developing cantaloupe, dry beans, miniature watermelon, and sweet corn with short maturity times. None of these have stabilized genetically yet to give consistent and reliable characteristics so it will be a few years at least before we can release a new variety. I have had a watermelon plant show some frost resistance which is unheard of in the botany world so this is truly fascinating and thrilling work I am involved in.
I recommend no dig to people who want the best flavoured food, the most nutrient dense food, and the least amount of work to grow such food.
If anybody wishes to contact me my info is found on my website www.georgicrevolution.com