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The Visqueen Greenhouse

In the early 1990's we wanted to experiment with growing corn and squashes. Our Alaskan summers are not conductive to growing these crops, for they are too short and a little too cool (especially in August). So to help provide a little extra heat and a more controlled environment we put up a 5 meter by 15 meter (15 foot by 50 foot) structure. I have build greenhouses like this before, and our technique was very simple: poles of varying lengths at the ends with light rope between the tops of the poles. Over the ropes we put a clear plastic sheeting. This results in a Quonset hut shaped structure (half cylinder). Since we put this up over a fairly high quality dirt, we could plant our pre-plants right in the soil.

Our success with this structure was limited, due partly to the location: although there was a pond, there was no way to pump the water from the pond. This made it difficult to provide enough water. It also turned out to be a very warm summer, and inside the poorly ventilated (we had no power either, so we couldn't run fans) greenhouse the temperature often got up to 45° C (110° F). Although this did not kill our crops the daily temperature swings (frequently down to 10° C at night) did enough damage that productivity was very limited.

Due to these problems we discontinued this greenhouse after the first summer.

Copyright © Summer 1999