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Home > Video > Video Display > Greenhouse heating using compost and thermal mass – Chauffage de serre avec compost
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Greenhouse heating using compost and thermal mass – Chauffage de serre avec compost

In this video I show different methods that I am using to heat my newly built 16 meter square greenhouse. The main heat source being heat generated from a  batch compost pile.
About the greenhouse:
Some time ago I found 4 bent tubes – I put them aside for an eventual greenhouse – Since then I have been collecting things to build this green house wood (from palettes), windows, and divers bits and pieces. What i actually bought was the special  uv resistant greenhouse plastic sheet and wire. This was a low cost construction.
The green house has three areas: 1- Several shelves that are made into the hill for see germination, 2- The central path, that also is used to store the water in bins, and the compost pile, 3- A planting bed. Given that the soil is rocky clay mix where I live I created this bed using the lasagna method: layers of alternate organic matter (rich in nitrogen and carbon), compost and soil.The methods I use to keep the green house from below zero temperatures during the night include:
- Hot composting, the Berkeley method, producing high temperatures and a usable compost after about 20 days.
- Water storage, water is an excellent accumulator of thermal mass, I plan to add more water storage bins.
- Part of the green house is in the hill so this too serves as a thermal mass, accumulating the heat during the day and returning it during the night.
- The position of the greenhouse that is protected from dominant winds
- and of course during the day the sun !The compost pile:
- The size to begin with is about 1m50 height, by 1 meter x 1 meter.
- To make this I use one bail of hay, 5  garbage bins of horse manure mix (see bellow), two garbage bins of water, I also trough into the water some manure, soil from different parts of the garden and some ash. (I’ll do a video on this at some point)
- The nitrogen part is a mixture of horse manure, horse urine and wood saw dust- really powerful stuff. I get this for free at a local horse stables.
- The carbon part is hay from a local source. I am given for freehay bails that have begun to decompse  (perfect !)
- The pile is made and left to stand for about 4 or 5 days, during this time the internal temperature rises up to and over 60 degrees Celcius. At that point the pile is turned every 2 days about 5 or 6 times. By that time the compost pile has totally cooled and can be used in the garden. I generally let it rest for a few weeks after that and add soil to it. Then use it where I need it.Other uses of the heat from the compost:
You may have noticed in the video that I had a few trays of planted seed pots on top of the compost pile. This also promotes fast sprouting.Temperatures:
At the time of making the video (3rd week of February) the outside temperature were between -3 degrees Celsius at night to 12 degrees Celsius and the inside temperatures inside the green house ranged between 5 degrees Celsius at night and 45 degrees Celsius during the day!Eventual Improvements:
- Add more water containers
- Make an air ventilation system that passes through the compost pile and is controlled by a thermostat (idea suggested by someone who left a comment)
- make a double lining for the roof or wrap the green house with a thick bubble wrap
- fill most of the empty space with pots filled with earth and plants (more thermal mass)Great music by:
Dave Depper – “Coming into focus” Singley – “Signs of Life” …
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