Build a $300 Underground Greenhouse for Year-Round Gardening


Even though gardening will never become a national sport, it does have many benefits for the gardener. Many people look forward to the season of gardening and dislike the wait for the weather to get well. However, with this new invention, you do not have to wait anymore on the weather.

Having your grown vegetables and fruits from your garden can have a great sense of accomplishment and boost of self-esteem. People use gardening to pay the bills, and others garden to make their house look good. Other people engage in gardening for the health benefits it brings.

No matter what reason you have for gardening, the benefits of an indoor, enclosed space which protects the products from the outdoor elements can be seen. Greenhouses give this enclosure for the products because of its roofs and walls made from transparent materials like glass. Plants in these greenhouses can produce fresh fruit, flowers, and vegetables in any season of the year.

Two types of greenhouses that can be used for gardening. One is a regular greenhouse that serves as a season extender which extends the season of growth for two to three more weeks in the fall and spring. The second greenhouse is a growing dome, a stronger, larger, and more regulated version of the regular greenhouse. This greenhouse creates an enclosed, indoor garden that allows your plants to grow the entire year.

Many gardeners have a greenhouse erected in their gardens. The greenhouses are ideal for the growth of new seedlings earlier and later in the year. They protect the plants from the cold with the regulated temperatures inside of them. However, the expenses of building a greenhouse can reach high amounts which discourage the gardeners and hobbyists from ever getting one.

Luckily, many fanatics of gardening made an alternative called “walipini” that allows them to grow vegetables and fruits for 365 days per year. Gardeners usually use many techniques to extend the growing time frame when they grow crops in colder climates. Some of these techniques include erecting cold frames, hoop houses, or greenhouses to protect their plants.

Walipini is an Aymaran Indian word that means “a place of warmth”. This alternative is an underground or pit greenhouse that was first developed in South America in mountainous areas. These areas experience very cold weather throughout the year because of their altitude. The walipini allows the gardeners to keep their garden products throughout the year, even in the coldest places.

By combining the principles of an earth-sheltered building with passive solar heating, the creators of this invention took advantage of the core elements of both. The earth-sheltered building can be easily made on your own. It is basically a dugout. An American sustainable agriculture non-profit, Benson Institute, created a manual on how a walipini works and how to make your one.

Building The Walipini

“The Walipini, in simplest terms, is a rectangular hole in the ground 6’ to 8’ deep covered by plastic sheeting. The longest area of the rectangle faces the winter sun — to the north in the Southern Hemisphere and to the south in the Northern Hemisphere. A thick wall of rammed earth at the back of the building and a much lower wall at the front provide the needed angle for the plastic sheet roof. This roof seals the hole, provides an insulating airspace between the two layers of plastic (a sheet on the top and another on the bottom of the roof/poles) and allows the sun’s rays to penetrate creating a warm, stable environment for plant growth.”

A visual aid is also included in the manual, showing how to position and build the walipini. The manual also emphasizes on locating the growing area 6’ to 8’ undergrown, aligning it properly to the sun which helps store and capture daytime solar radiation.

Using Natural Heating Sources

By combining the thermal energy from the earth and the sun, very little energy is required to heat the inside of the walipini than an ordinary above-ground greenhouse. You need to take precautions in waterproofing, ventilation, and draining the walipini depending on your location’s land type.

Not only is the walipini useful, but cost-effective as well. One average 20-foot by 74-foot walipini greenhouse can cost you about $300 to build. This is the perfect solution for gardeners who want to grow food throughout the year, no matter what location they are in the world.


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