Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Job Description: Greenhouse

The greenhouse in late winter can be a haven of warmth and a visit into the future season of growth while the weather outdoors is still ignorant of the impending springtime. A layer of plastic is all it takes in the day-time, especially when it is sunny, but at night, or when the weather is -like today- a snow-storm, the job of the greenhouse is more of a struggle.
The greenhouse's strategy in doing its job well begins with wood. Lots of firewood which feeds a furnace. The furnace's job is to release energy from the wood in the most efficient manner possible. Since an efficient burn is a hot, fast burn, the question remains how to hold the heat at a moderate temperature for a longer period.
The burn chamber is surrounded by a huge water tank (2000 gallons) to act like a heat battery.
The furnace is in the ell of the barn, and the distance between it and the greenhouse can be a snowy, cold, trek.
The greenhouse works hard to maintain a surreal spring within its thin plastic envelope.
 A relatively small volume of the hot water from the furnace gets piped out underground to the greenhouse where the heat is released into the air through a radiating fan, and through a network of pipes running directly under the plants.

The heat from the bottom allows seeds to sprout quickly and healthily even though the air temperature is pretty low. These artichoke plants were born into 72 degree soil.
The Greenhouse is the hardest worker on the farm tonight as a late winter storm rolls through. It provides protection for fragile life: the same as a warm overcoat; but it's impossible to witness without a sense of expectation of the coming easing of the cold season into spring. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the look at youir awesome boiler and bench warming system, John!
    To Broadturn from Village with love, Polly