Monday, January 10, 2011

Manure-Heated Greenhouse

Our outside thermometer read 22 degrees early this morning, while the greenhouse temperature was 30 degrees.  The big compost bin may be working!  It steams slightly, more when I turn it with a shovel.  Now, at 10:30, under cloudy skies, the gray sky has warmed the outside temp to 28 and the greenhouse to 45.

"So what's next?" says Virginia.

Several things come to mind:

1.  I may insert black plastic drainpipes with the hope that they'll bring more of the heat directly into the air.  As it stands now, the outer layers might be serving as insulation, keeping the heat in.  Any chemists out there with suggestions?

2.  I'll place some wooden slats across the top of the compost bin, and on top of them put seed-starting flats.  I resisted the urge to order a few heating pads to place under seed flats, because I want to keep this project free of traditional energy usage. The compost bin may serve the same function as the heaters.

3.  I should completely fill the bin.  I suspect the more mass, the more effective it will be.

4.  I may add another bin or bins to the greenhouse.

5.  Several commenters on other blogs expressed concern about the compost burning the place down.  A couple years ago wood chip mulch started a fire in nearby Lexington.  I doubt this will be an issue with the moist manure mix I'm using, so long as I keep the straw and other carbon elements well distributed, but I'm keeping an eye on the possibility.  Perhaps I should find a thermometer with a probe that measures the highest heat in the pile.
"What's that white stuff?" says Virginia.  "Looks like tinder to me."

She's right.  I emptied our paper shredder this morning and failed to turn it in well.

6.  For next winter, I want to consider a solar heater of some sort, with solar panels.

7.  It's about time to get seeds started -- for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and other early spring feeders.

8.  Eight varieties of lettuce, two types of broccoli, and some cabbage have sprouted in the two raised beds.  They're growing very slowly in the cool temps.  I wish I'd planted them earlier, but there was no greenhouse earlier.
You may need to click on the photo to see a couple rows of tiny lettuces.
Above you'll see some broccoli.

If anyone has experience with manure-heating, please don't hesitate to comment.  If you have trouble getting Blogspot to accept the comment, try the anonymous option.


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