Winter Gardening in a Growing Dome: No Heat Required

Do you need to heat your Growing Dome® in the Winter?

Before I share a few reasons why you might want to heat your Growing Dome in the winter, and what type of heaters we recommend, the short answer to the above question is:

No. You do not need to heat your Growing Dome in the winter.

The Growing Dome is designed as a self-sufficient, net zero energy structure.

winter gardening in a greenhouse

Winter gardening

It is capable of growing food year round in most climates of the United States, without additional heat, even in the heart of winter.

Through the design of its systems, the Growing Dome comes equipped with its own internal heaters…

…the above ground pond and the solar powered central air system.

Furthermore, given the amount of insulation, and the inherent energy efficiency of its geodesic shape, it requires a third less energy than a traditional greenhouse. It can withstand temperatures down to zero outside, while not freezing inside.

With over 25 years of experience, we know that the design is sound and effective, which means that we have confidence that you can grow food in the winter without additonal heating of your Growing Dome.

In a moment, you’ll discover why we sometimes heat our Growing Domes, and why you might want to do the same. But first, if you choose to have no additional heater…

you need to grow frost hardy plants. There are many varieties of frost hardy plants that will withstand a little freezing.

Winter Gardening Frost Hardy Crops

Root Crops:

Beets, turnips, radishes, rutabaga, daikon, and carrots.

Leafy Crops And All Members Of The Cabbage Family:

Cabbage, kale, collards, brussels sprouts, radicchio, rutabaga, spinach, swiss chard,

onions, garlic, and leeks.

Lettuces:

Japanese greens, mizuna, tatsoi, endive, bok choy, and arugula,

Herbs:

All of the herbs grow really well, with the exception of cilantro and basil. But rosemary, sage, oregano, marjoram, thyme, and parsley all do exceptionally well, both winter and summer, in the Growing Dome.

Heating Your Growing Dome In Winter Falls Into Three Main Levels Of Heating

First Level: No heating.

Second Level: Heating if the temperature gets into the single digits.

Third Level: Never letting the Growing Dome freeze.

Growing Dome Heat Loss Calculation

Spread Sheet

Calculate exactly how much heat is required to reach a desired temperature inside your Growing Dome

Click Here For The Heat Loss Spread Sheet

No Heating

I have a number of friends here in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, who have chosen not to heat their Growing Domes.

I personally have only heated my 22′ Growing Dome for one week in 15 years. That was after a week of no sun, followed by temperatures in the -20s!

A little ice forming on the tank inspired me to heat it.

However, I have grown many of the above-mentioned crops successfully.

Here is a shot of our 15′ Growing Dome, we are not heating it, and you can see that these frost hardy plants are doing great.

winter gardening no heat

Heating When Temperatures Drop Into Single Digits

At Growing Spaces® we tend to heat our Growing Domes when the temperature dips into the single digits…

…because we want to encourage growth throughout the winter, maintain winter produce for our staff, and present an inspiring environment for our customers to see.

To this end, for our smaller Growing Domes, we use a Mr. Heater.

winter gardening heating

It has three settings from 9000 BTU to 14,000 BTU which keeps smaller domes from freezing on those cold nights.

The disadvantage is that you have to light the heater at night and turn it off the next morning.

Never Letting The Growing Dome Freeze

A lot of people have frost sensitive plants including citrus and subtropical varieties of shrubs.

In this case, the heater we recommend is called a Southern Burner.

winter gardening heating

The beauty of this heater is that it is controlled by a thermostat so you can set the minimum temperature that you want the dome to go down to.

The Southern Burner heater gives out 25,000 BTUs which is enough to heat a 33′ Growing Dome very adequately.

If you use a heater of this kind, there will be more condensation on the polycarbonate, which then drips down inside.

Some people have thought their dome was leaking, but this is usually not the case. 

Here is another article on Heating the Growing Dome during the winter months, and a post written by a customer on Heating, Building, & Enjoying the Growing Dome.

Watch the winter gardening video below to see the different types of heaters and what happens to the plants if they freeze.

Enjoy,

Udgar Parsons

Winter Gardening in a Growing Dome: No Heat Required

 

Comments

  1. Hi,

    I’m very excited about your greenhouse design and its strong functionality.

    My experience with Winter growing here in NY State is that things really slow to a crawl until about February 15th when the Winter sun has climbed high enough to give enough light and to warm things up. I can see how the dome shape captures more of the sun, but I can’t imagine much growth takes place before mid February.

    I haven’t penetrated your site far enough to find the pest issues discussed, but I’ve experienced a lot of white fly, scale and aphids in my greenhouse. It will be interesting to see what you have found best control for those guys.

    Do you have any installations near me? My zip is 12525 and I’m in the Hudson Valley of New York. Finally, I would love to see pricing for the various sizes.

        • Denise,

          You can definitely use LED grow lights to increase the photo-period for your plants in the winter months. Supplemental lighting will help the plants grow faster. LED’s are great due low wattage, and therefore, low power consumption.

          Thanks,

          Kyle

    • Hi George, I don’t know where 12525 is in the Hudson valley, but I’m at 12740, which is on the border of Sullivan and Ulster counties. I’m just completing the tank on my 18′ dome from growing spaces, so I don’t have the thermal sink yet to hold the heat. However, I did notice today on a very bright sunny day that the temp outside the dome (shade) was 23 and the temp in the dome was 68. Feel free to contact me. Jeff

      • Hi Jeff,
        We’re in Orange County, NY and would really enjoy connecting with you. We’re looking at putting in a dome, but haven’t found anyone near us with one, until you 🙂

      • Jeff: Sounds great with the heat, but how about the lack of sunshine? Are you using any grow lights?
        Thanks,
        Denise

    • The size of the tank varies according to the size of the dome.
      They range from 600 gallons to 3500 gallons
      This cute video explains how it works, moderating the temperature in both winter and summer
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=25&v=etPukDimGDg
      Also an excerpt from our features page:
      This extraordinary Growing Dome greenhouse design feature, a large above ground pond, acts as the “Power Pack” of the solar greenhouse.
      Our greenhouse kits are the only kits available that include this special feature.
      The pond is a thermal mass that keeps the geodesic Growing Dome warm in the winter and cool in the summer creating an optimum environment in these green houses for year round growth.
      Unique among greenhouse designs, the pond can be used as a beautiful space both for aquatic plants and fish. VIEW VIDEO of the pond and how it works in our year round greenhouses.
      Lots more on our you tube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk2WGCAHYJg

  2. Awesome! Just one question, it does not appear that your Southern Heater is equipped to bring in outside air for combustion as strongly suggested by the manufacturer. Through your experience with that heater, do you consider outside air intake to be an important consideration?

    • The manufacturer of the Southern Burner recommends you install a 2″ diameter air intake pipe.
      I would not disagree with that recommendation if you are going to install the heater in one of our smaller domes.
      I personally have never done that with no ill effects that I am aware of

  3. I’m so impressed – I live in Lafayette, Indiana and own an acre of ground; and, have dreamed of putting a nice greenhouse in my back yard. Could you please send me all your pricing information on your net-zero energy dome?

    Keep up the good work. Thank you

    Shelby Smith

  4. I would like to hear from growers in the southeastern US. Since winter vegetables do great outdoors, what do you have in your Grow Domes?

    • We actually have very few growers in the Southwest as they have a mild climate.
      I have heard of folk enjoying orchids and mainly tropicals.
      Our dome perform best and are most needed in the Rocky Mountains, which have cold nghts and sunny days and a fairly dry climate

  5. ok.. Let’s talk REAL north. I am in Dawson City, Yukon. What is the viability of this dome up here for regular household plants and vegetables?

    • You are Pretty far north do you get any winter sun at all?
      The growing dome is the most energy efficient greenhouse structure available so it will make the most of any heat you put in that whether that be Solar or some kind of added heat

  6. I love this idea!! I’m in zone 3 on the Canadian Prairies in Alberta. Would it get too cold up here for this? Most years (not including this one) it’s -30 (Celsius) plus a frigid windchill with 2-4 feet of snow.
    I would love to continue my growing season because ours is so short! We usually have 7 months of winter.
    Thanks!!

  7. I live on a hill in central KY that experiences very strong winter winds in February and March. How sturdy is the dome when it comes to wind?

  8. Where can I purchase one? I live in Canada but just 1.5 hours north of Seattle. If you dont sell in Canada – I can just drive down and get it.

    What sizes do they come in and how much do they retail?

    Thanks!

    • Christine: Did you purchase a dome? I would like to know if you are growing anything in the winter? I live in the panhandle of Idaho. We average 166 sunny days a year.
      Thanks,
      Denise

  9. What wonderful ideas! I write newspaper columns (working on children’s nature-connect books written from the wildlife’s point of telling to the two leggeds) – horses, backcountry, wildlife, conservation. I have a new column starting up too in the New Year, more on that perhaps some other time.

    I would love to know if you, or any of your readers, have used this equipment in SERIOUSLY cold temperatures, or madly variable ones (such as, say, might happen in the future with extreme weather changes).

    Really, I am thinking almost more about SERIOUSLY cold places, such as the Arctic (minimal sunlight so far north of the Arctic Circle) – where food is dreadfully expensive, therefore not bought, junk food substitutes and thus, yuck, poor nutritional quality of life for communities up there.

    So, for these communities, say, and also thinking a bit to the future perhaps, of extreme temperatures both ways, how would these wonderful structures work, d’you think?

    And, for size/cost (sorry about all these questions!), would they work within ‘community’ or school projects gardens?

    Very many thanks for all feedback, feel as if I’ve walked into a very good place for ideas, wonderful!
    Very best regards,
    Pam Asheton

  10. I’m always interested in passive energy, and farming. This most certainly hits the mark.

    I wonder if you’ve had experience with vertical gardens, and if you think your insulation wall over the pond might be suitable for one. Especially if you could grow fish simultaneously, vertical gardens are spectacular for water filtration, and may be able to use an otherwise empty space to some advantage.

    A picture of the sort of thing I’m talking about: https://www.milkwood.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/283922_265836586767229_153088704708685_1250779_7815711_n_2.jpg

  11. Do you have domes in Utah, Salt Lake area? I have considered one since I first saw your info a couple years ago. I’d love to see one in person in our Northern Utah environment. Very interesting

    • Hi Kris, it has been a few years but just wanted to let you know that we have one in Salt Lake, Utah. It has plenty of suns since the greenhouse is located on top of a hill with no shades nearby. It keeps all of the citrus plants alive and seemingly thriving. Last year was my first year using it and I had a constant supply of lettuce and arugula. This winter, I’m going nuts with all of the cold weather crops and they are sprouting like crazy. If you are planning to get a dome greenhouse, I highly suggest at least a screen door and the cloth shade since it does get really really warm.

  12. We are on our third day of 10+ below zero during the day and 35 below at night. We have been thinking of getting a dome next year after we retire and wouldn’t want it too be to expensive running heat in it. My husband asked if you can put around the outside of the dome raised garden beds that would butt up to the greenhouse to help insulate? If so, what could a person use between the greenhouse and the raised beds to prevent water from coming into the greenhouse when it rains.

    • Greetings,
      sounds like a pretty cold climate. Where are you located? The downside of putting a garden bed next to the wall is that the wall is partly there to prevent the snow that slides off the dome from building up and blocking the solar gain. A better option would be to double up on the insulation inside the wall.
      Also it would be hard to prevent moisture getting behind any membrane and rotting the wall.

  13. Hey there,

    I live in Saskatchewan, Canada and I am very interested in your greenhouse design. Temperatures here can get very cold (got down to -40C with the wind this year), are you products suitable for this climate? Of course a heater would be required, but how much cold can the greenhouse itself withstand?

    Any/All information you could give about our frigid winters and your product would be great!

    Thanks!

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