The Forest Garden Greenhouse
*Alpine Botanicals Staff Favorite
With a revolutionary new “Climate Battery” design for near-net-zero heating and cooling
By the turn of the nineteenth century, thousands of acres of glass houses surrounded large American cities, becoming a commonplace symbol of the market garden and nursery trades. But the possibilities of the indoor garden to transform our homes and our lives remain largely unrealized.
In this groundbreaking book, Jerome Osentowski, one of North America’s most accomplished permaculture designers, presents a wholly new approach to a very old horticultural subject. In The Forest Garden Greenhouse, he shows how bringing the forest garden indoors is not only possible, but doable on unlikely terrain and in cold climates, using near-net-zero technology. Different from other books on greenhouse design and management, this book advocates for an indoor agriculture using permaculture design concepts—integration, multi-functions, perennials, and polycultures—that take season extension into new and important territory.
Osentowski, director and founder of Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI), farms at 7,200 feet on a steep, rocky hillside in Colorado, incorporating deep, holistic permaculture design with practical common sense. It is at this site, high on a mountaintop, where Osentowski (along with architect and design partner Michael Thompson) has been designing and building revolutionary greenhouses that utilize passive and active solar technology via what they call the “climate battery”—a subterranean air-circulation system that takes the hot, moist, ambient air from the greenhouse during the day, stores it in the soil, and discharges it at night—that can offer tropical and Mediterranean climates at similarly high altitudes and in cold climates (and everywhere else). Osentowski’s greenhouse designs, which can range from the backyard homesteader to commercial greenhouses, are completely ecological and use a simple design that traps hot and cold air and regulates it for best possible use. The book is part case study of the amazing greenhouses at CRMPI and part how-to primer for anyone interested in a more integrated model for growing food and medicine in a greenhouse. With detailed design drawings, photos, and profiles of successful greenhouse projects on all scales, this inspirational manual will considerably change the conversation about greenhouse design.
Reviews and Praise
"Osentowski shows how building and maintaining a Mediterranean or tropical greenhouse full of figs, lemons, papayas, and bananas can be both affordable and practical. Drawing on his 30 years of experimentation and teaching in the harsh, dry mountain environment of his Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, he offers lush descriptions of his five greenhouses and in-depth, layered advice on designing and constructing a balmy winter retreat. His method uses a 'climate battery’ consisting of tubes buried underground to collect and hold warm air from the greenhouse, which then recirculate it when the temperature cools, backed up in the coldest days with a pellet or wood stove that can simultaneously heat an attached sauna. Osentowski admits that he prefers a hands-on method of teaching, and his written tours through greenhouses are sometimes hard to follow. Novices may be intimidated by the lack of step-by-step, formulaic instruction. But more experienced gardeners, builders, and tinkerers, and even intrepid beginners willing to carefully observe, compute, and ponder, will find this readable guide jam-packed with enough information and inspiration to help them attempt their own indoor paradises.”