Guest Post: The Advantages Of Greenhouse Gardening For Survival

Tyler Durden's picture

From Brandon Smith of Alt-Market

The Advantages Of Greenhouse Gardening For Survival

I receive letters often that contain questions on the limits of growing your own food in colder climates like Montana and the rest of the "Redoubt", and sometimes, even broad accusations that regions like this are "incapable" of sustaining food production.  Usually, these claims come from people who have never lived here, never built a sustainable garden, or never put any real thought into how to do so effectively.  There are numerous methods for growing vibrant gardens in less than perfect weather, and growing in colder northern areas with longer winters is absolutely possible, given the gardener has some brains.  In the video series below produced by The Survival Podcast, they showcase a very straightforward no nonsense experiment which proves that with a little ingenuity (and rudimentary greenhouse methods) you can indeed grow vegetables regardless of the temperature or the region in which you live.  Anyone who says otherwise simply doesn't know what he is talking about...



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aerojet's picture

Eugenics went out of style with the Nazis and George Prescott Bush!

Gully Foyle's picture


Got a link?

Pond dead center or against the back? And isn't that your compost pile, not mulch.

Badabing's picture

Sorry no link, Its my green house back yard farming is a family tradition going back to Europe the pond is in the center.

The evaporating water from the pond keeps the air nice and humid for the dry winter days the sun heats the pond during the day and at night the pond gives off heat and moisture I use to heat the water with a water heater but with the price of fuel and my wife complaining I had to find another heat source.

I’ve always noticed how my mulch pile steams in the winter and the snow never sticks on it so I got coiled copper pipe and put it deep into the mulch pile the water circulates into the pond where I raise fresh water bass that go into a 22,000 gal. converted swimming pool in the spring the young bass that stay in the green house for the winter never go into hibernation and just keep growing.

When the bass in the pool get big enough we wrap them in tin foil add butter and garlic and through them on the barbe.   

francis_sawyer's picture

Good idea!...

There are a lot of good ideas (if one uses materials & the environment to their advantage)... In the foto above, notice how the window panels themselves are buttressed against the brick wall (which holds heat very well)... You can also use standard insulation boards & cheap mylar...

Oddly... My main problems aren't as much with COLD as they are with HOT SUMMERS... I've had a much tougher time keeping the beds 'cool' enough during the summer for certain things to go year round (I've experimented with different diffused light, shade, misting systems & even underground copper tubing to regulate soil temps... I have some standard greenhouses, but recently I replaced all the windows in the house & kept the old windows to build into more greenhouses (which look remarkably similar to the ones in the picture above)...

krispkritter's picture

Plenty of shade cloth, misters, and things like lettuce go in rafts in the aquaponics tanks. I also have one end of the hoop house in the shade of the woods, a timer controlled fan runs every half hour to pull that coolness into the tunnel and move it around. I tried raised beds here but aside from hugelkultur beds in partial shade, the water loss and soil temps are too much except for peppers or other 'hot' plants.

francis_sawyer's picture

Yeah ~ that's the thing that a lot of people don't get...

Oftentimes HEAT is more of a problem than COLD... Lot's of stuff grows in cool temps & if it's not too harsh a climate, it's probably easier to WARM than to cool...

I'd rather live in Montana than in the middle of the desert... There are, however, workarounds... Some desert folks have mastered ways of putting sand layers to serve as an insulation wall within clay pottery... They keep the sand wet with water & the soil in the inner chamber stays cooler than the outside temps... I've tried it in a rudimentary way (mostly by putting smaller clay pots inside larger clay pots ~ & mostly using the idea on big plants on a wooden deck (that generally gets hotter than the air temps)... At the same time, I use "misting systems" & lattice pergolas for diffused shading... (You mentioned 'shade cloth', which is fine & correct, but then you have to account for the big high wind thunderstorm that's going to come along and turn those [now 'sails'] into something that wrecks half your infrastructure)...

Gotta use your noodle...

krispkritter's picture

:) My shade cloth is in the tunnels mostly. Any that's outside is only tied tight on one side so the other breaks free when we get our tropical-like storm fronts. It doesn't have the mass to do much but knock over pots. It also doubles as chicken-guard to keep them out of the seeding/germinating areas. Anything like an impending hurricane and it all comes down. I also have the benefit of changing elevation so the tunnels and what not are below the top of the hill. 300+ acres of pasture in front of me makes a great booster for ground level winds but a berm and treeline at the top cuts it back. The woods protect the downhill side. Took me almost two years to find this place. I started Permaculture practices about 5 years ago.  It's not easy doing the work involved but beats turning your brain to sludge watching the glowing box...

francis_sawyer's picture

I'll AMEN to all of that...

I'll also look forward to reading your comments on any future thread on this subject... I've only been at this for 4 years now & every day I wake up I feel like a rookie...


SheepDog-One's picture

Great to grow stuff, but make sure you know it makes you a target too.

Dr. Engali's picture

You said it dog. I prefer a little discretion.

francis_sawyer's picture

I disagree...

Let's play out your scenario... System collapses & then you have gangs roaming the landscape looking for food & they come across your greenhouse... These people aren't FARMERS (they probably couldn't grow a tomato with perfectly pH balanced soil & all the things to do it... Secondly, you can't grow a tomoto overnight... So they eat & leave)...

If you have a greenhouse & are worried about the above, you have taken the bounty of many harvests & have a pretty strong seed vault (which is hidden)... As well, you have probably canned (& hidden) a lot of food & otherwise dried it... You're still going to make out a lot better than anyone else because you have a skill... It also takes a lot more than just a greenhouse or a plot of soil... 9/10th's of the soil out there you can't grow shit on... It takes years to make it ready...

Probably the WORST that happens is that if a gang comes to invade your property, you now have an ARMY to go along with your food production because you know what you're doing...

hedgeless_horseman's picture



More of a target?  Maybe.  In the mean time (which may be a very long time, possibly even the rest of my life) my family eats healthy and are very much enjoying making our home more productive and beautiful. 

Enjoy hunkering in the basement and eating Pink Slime.

aerojet's picture

Yeah, except mobs don't act rationally--they will kill the one smart guy, eat all the food, and then burn down the house with all the seeds stored somewhere inside of it.  It's the same reason Africa can't get its act together.

francis_sawyer's picture

Well let's put it another way...

I have the choice to spend my time "gardening" (where I run the risk of the garden hose rearing up like a python in a Steven King movie & strangling me to death & otherwise wait for the unpredictable day when a mob of zombies is going to attack my greenhouse & kill me after the apocalypse)...


I could go into the city and buy a Starbucks (every day), & risk to have a car accident, get mugged, get hit crossing the street, or have some disgruntled Starbucks employee jack off in my latte...

Ummm... let me think...

Lednbrass's picture

You also have to realize that in small town and rural areas people hang together to a far greater degree then urban enviroments.  Some roving gang isnt likely to encounter lone farmers, more like a small group putting holes in anyone they dont know at hundreds of yards.  The vast majority of urban humanity absoutely sucks with weapon use, the small portion that shoot spend most of their time at 25 yard urban ranges.  Good luck against the guys with .270's and .30-06's that would have a hard time missing something as large as a human at 500 yards.

trembo slice's picture

I prefer two big ass dogs -- an English Mastiff and a German Shepherd -- and a shotgun.  I'm not too worried about a couple of punks robbing me.  If, God forbid, they shoot one of my dogs they'll have a hole blown in them before they see me come outside.

i-dog's picture


"makes you a target too"

Yep ... for the grazing beasts down the road when their EBT and SNAP cards are frozen. The .gov is far less of a potential threat than your fellow slaves.

Janice's picture

Yes, when they come to my house, I will feed them a lovely fall Polk Salad (Salet) with fresh Polk berries and roots, beautiful foxglove stir-fried, seasoned with garlic and onions, and fresh grilled chicken wrapped in elephant ears.  If they make it to the desert round, I may whip  them up something extra special.


PS. Don't try this at home.  Only a trained chef can pull this one off.

WillyGroper's picture

them gators got u grinnin!

pods's picture

Belladonna marmalade over some ergot laden rye bread?



TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

...and don't forget the Jimsonweed.

I always get a laugh from the account written in 1705 of what happened to the British soldiers sent to quell Bacon's Rebellion in 1676:

"The James-Town Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru, and I take to be the plant so call'd) is supposed to be one of the greatest coolers in the world. This being an early plant, was gather'd very young for a boil'd salad, by some of the soldiers sent thither to quell the rebellion of Bacon (1676); and some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days: one would blow up a feather in the air; another would dart straws at it with much fury; and another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making mows [grimaces] at them; a fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and sneer in their faces with a countenance more antic than any in a Dutch droll.

In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their folly, destroy themselves — though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature. Indeed, they were not very cleanly; for they would have wallowed in their own excrements, if they had not been prevented. A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after eleven days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed."

Plenty of lolz all around.


francis_sawyer's picture

Perfect analogy Janice!

I always say that I'm going to laugh my ass off when they come for my food & I ask them if they enjoy 'Russian Roulette'...

I'll ask them to try and figure out which is the food that I tainted with cyanide...

It's like that scene in "Shawshank Redemption"... You know, the one about the 'bite reflex'...

The Butchers Dog's picture

I do love the cleverness of your idea, but I still think it would much better to just feed them lead.


francis_sawyer's picture

"Lead" may be an 'a la carte' item on the menu...

But I figure this... I'm not going to waste a day worrying about whether some thug is going to kill me over a potato... The VERY DAY you realize to grow a 10 pound crop of potatoes, then MASH those potatoes & distill them into moonshine...

You realize that you've just bought yourself a hell of an insurance policy...

viahj's picture

"they were both poisoned for I had spent years building up an immunity to iocaine"

kekekekekekeke's picture

lol took me a second but I get it

aerojet's picture

They'll die pretty fast.  Well, most of them.  I figure if you can get through the first three months, you're pretty much going to be all right. 

francis_sawyer's picture

See? That's the point...

You have to play the chess moves a lot farther out than you really think...

Most of the idiots will probably die off rather quickly... The ones who survive, are going to sooner or later realize that the task of surviving means that it's more than just running around looting & killing...

Nobody can predict what will really happen, but I'd tend to believe that people would be end up being fractured into different types... The urban zombies would become sort of a survival of the fittest, whereby the rural types would try & band together... It's all about "low hanging fruit"... The "lowest hanging fruit" is that you stick close to your terrain... There is more risk in leaving than staying put...

The gang members with arsenals are more likely to immediately commandeer an urban food supply depot (& stay put) than they would risking it out in the countryside (for a fucking stalk of broccoli), where a bunch of hicks might have more rifles than they do...

Lednbrass's picture

Bingo. I would feel confident with any group of local rednecks in my area against urban humanoids at odss up to 10:1, maybe more.  Not only do the rednecks have the guns, they spend alot of time using them.  There is gunfire in my neighborhood a few times a week, yet no crime at all and nobody ever gets hurt.

I agree that the rural and small town types will band together and form groups very quickly.  Folks in those areas are already used to looking out for each other.

gaoptimize's picture

Lack of access to clean water will take the majority in afew weeks.  Dehydration from dysentery.  I agree with you and have sized my ammuinition and other stores based on that timing.

Uncle Remus's picture

Which is why you need to know who your neighbors are.

francis_sawyer's picture

Aquaponics bitchez!

Eugend66's picture

Skills matter ! Well done.

Flakmeister's picture

It was only a matter of time.... I am now waiting for the ZH articles about using human feces for fertilizer....

All paths lead to collapse.....

Gully Foyle's picture


Is that with or without the composting chemical toilet?

mayhem_korner's picture



Sounds eerily like an Ezekiel reference...

francis_sawyer's picture

You probably realize that you cannot do that (f4f)...

However... urine is sterile & can be used... You basically have to dilute it at about a 10-1 ratio, but the plants like the ammonia & nitrogen... It's not dissimilar to "aquaponics" (where you recycle aquarium waste, usually, tilapia, to feed the plants, which cycles back as oxygenated water for the fish tank after a biofilter)...

francis_sawyer's picture

Whoever junked me doesn't know shit... (or PISS as the case may be)... :-)

Canaduh's picture

Human shit is a valuable source of organic matter and minerals if you are going the sustainable route. It must be properly composted, and only used on perennial crops(fruit trees etc.) or on accumulator plants used to make compost themselves (comfrey etc.). Using it on your regular vegetable patch is asking for trouble.

francis_sawyer's picture

Yes... good clarification... (& from the 'bread helmet' avatar)... Now THAT'S ingenuity!

francis_sawyer's picture

Yes... good clarification... (& from the 'bread helmet' avatar)... Now THAT'S ingenuity!

WillyGroper's picture

I believe it's urine & woodash, isn't it?

Shell Game's picture

No doubt.  Real men lean on the State with fingers crossed..

bigdumbnugly's picture

don't bogart that butthash, man.


Red Heeler's picture

"I am now waiting for the ZH articles about using human feces for fertilizer...."

I recommend the excellent book, Holy Shit, by Gene Logsdon.

Decolat's picture

Got that one. My wife refuses to let me practice its doctrine... but any info on composting and recycling may no doubt prove very useful in short order.

Cyrano de Bivouac's picture

I just started a blog called Humanurity. A classic on the use of manures for agriculture would be F.H. King's "Farmers of 40 Centuries".

fadgadget's picture

more temperate climes do not require permanent strutures like greenhouses.  i use double plastic hoop houses and hot composting techniques with great effect.

i grow all our fresh fruits and veggies 10 months per year on a 40x140 suburban lot.  the kicker is that i'm not a genius, so you can do it to.