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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Repairing the Growing Dome

Back at the end of September I had a dismaying phone call while we were in Michigan. Some of the cows had found a way into the Growing Dome, lumbered around inside for a couple of days and you can guess the aftermath. You can read about it here.

We were pretty much cleaned out produce-wise and most of the left hand side's raised bed was destroyed. It took us a while to figure out that the ducting under the dirt was smashed, too. A 900 pound Angus steer will do that.

 The ducting goes under the soil. A solar powered fan pulls air through the ducting, helping to keep the soil warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

 Here's the end of the ducting on the "good" side of the dome. The fan pulls air through the ends near the water tank, under the soil and out through the fan.

That silvery stuff is like bubble wrap with a shiny side. It helps insulate the north side of the dome and reflect light and heat from the sun.

It had some rips after the steer break-in so I fixed it with good old duct tape. I probably could have waited and bought some silver tape, but just wanted it done.

So we dug out the ducting and put in new stuff. By "we," I mean mostly Tom and Z did the shoveling. I did a little here and there, but they should get the credit. I had the job of gooping up the join at the left side with caulking, wrapping it in duct tape and plastic.

That's as far as we have moved on the repairs so far. But now for the good stuff: Below is a "survivor" lettuce from the bad side of the dome. I've harvested leaves off that sucker for almost a month now and it's still growing strong.

We have some stuff growing in the intact bed on the right side of the dome as you walk in. I planted late, but even so, everything is doing okay so far. Below is, from the top, Arctic lettuce, broccoli and spinach. I will be separating and/or thinning these guys pretty soon. You can't see the beets and brussels sprouts which are teeny and on the other end of the bed.

Here's a close up of the spinach. I think I will do both thinning (and eat the pickings) and also some relocating as they get larger.

Today it was in the low 40's when I took these photos, yet near the water tank, it was plenty warm. This is where I have some Earthboxes planted with herbs.

A friend says that temperature must be wrong, but I brought in another thermometer and it was the same. I think the combination of black water tank and sun coming straight at it makes it hot there. It's only like this in the winter, though, when the sun is flatter in the sky. The dome's perimeter temps are in the 70's. We are lucky to have 305 days of sun a year, so lack of sun is not much of a worry.

The solar powered water pump filters the water. I had some plants in there last summer, but they have died off. The goldfish are doing fine and don't mind the cold at all.

For me, I can't wait until spring when everything is up and running again. Man, I can just taste those homegrown tomatoes!

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