Growing fruit trees and grapevines in unheated greenhouses in cold climates is not only an ecologic solution but has also several significant advantages over growing them outside in the field, says engineer Dan Bostan, founder and president of the Montreal-based Human Wisdom, specialized in sustainable solutions.
During the last ten years he has built and tested several models of unheated greenhouses and then applied all the lessons he learned into a 3,500 square feet experimental model of an unheated greenhouse that can enhance the local climate zone by 4 zones, which he called the Plus4Zones greenhouse.
"Inside this experimental greenhouse," says Dan, "we created an indoor orchard that produces delicious and 100% organic fruits, which could not be cultivated outside in our local cold winter climate where minimum temperatures can drop down to -30 degrees Celsius / -22 Fahrenheit, such as cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, figs and table grapes.
During this experiment, Dan noticed at least ten major benefits of growing fruit trees and grapevines in an unheated greenhouse, which makes this growing solution in cold climates highly rewarding:
1. Increasing the minimum winter temperature and eliminating the wind factor, which makes it possible to grow a wider variety of fruits that could not otherwise grow in a cold winter climate.
2. Diminishing the risk of late frost in spring, which can destroy an entire harvest each year it occurs.
3. Wind and hail protection.
4. Diminishing the risk for fungal diseases (particularly for grapevines) due to the fact that rain does not fall on the leaves.
5. Thanks to advantage #4, it makes it much easier to produce 100% organic fruits.
6. Pollination is not affected by heavy rain, which can wash out the pollen during that critical period of the year.
7. Fruits (particularly cherries) do not crack and also do not have a "watery" taste during the years with excessive rain.
8. Fruit harvesting and 'pick your own fruits' can be done even in rainy days.
9. Fruits can be ready for harvest 2-3 weeks before the fruits cultivated outside in the field.
10. All the fruits in our trees and grapevines will be ours to harvest, consume and share... and not destroyed by birds and other "competitors"!
Dan is sharing his knowledge and work results with everyone interested in building thermal-efficient unheated greenhouses and creating indoor orchards. He published a YouTube video (inserted below), which presents in detail the construction process of each of the seven unheated greenhouses that he built and tested to date.
Dan is also offering consulting services through video conference, including concept, design and construction assistance for projects of all sizes from a backyard mini-orchard, to self-sustainable communities and hobby farms, and to commercial organic fruit growing projects.
The construction information about his unheated greenhouses including the Plus4Zones model can be found on this YouTube video presentation:
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