If there's a single struggle that I've had people seek advice for when it comes to growing food in this part of the world, it has to be the short growing season. Sure, you can alsways add more mulch, create micro-climates and attempt to start plants indoors before the last frost, but it's not going to give you fresh peppers in February. Honestly, I think the single biggest impact we can make in terms of food abundance in this part of the world has got to be installing passive solar greenhouses.
If you're not already familiar with the concept, a passive solar greenhouse is like a conventional greenhouse, but it utilizes as much as possible the sun's rays as it's heat source. The glazing is usually facing close to south (in the northern hemisphere, and north in the southern hemisphere), while the back of the house is to the shade side and has as much insulation as possible--up to R50 or more in some cases. Alternatively, the back may also be attached to a structure such as a home or other already heated structure to bypass the need for further insulation. There may also be additional heat-capturing devices such as black, water-filled tanks to further extend the ability of the structure to catch and store heat energy and radiate it out through the night, along with many more innovations.
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Ted Bahr is the founder of Prairie Sage Permaculture. MORE