Solar Cones

tom_n_6bzone(Western Maryland 6b)September 21, 2007

There was an excellent book, around the same time as Eliot Coleman's great book "Four Season Harvest" named "Solar Gardening" by Lea Poisson (if memory serves). In it was described how to make Solar Pods (4x8 raised cold frames that looked like tanning beds) and Solar Cones. Has anyone tried these? I am especially interested in Solar Cones. I'd love to hear from anyone that has experienced either one and the results. From what I recall and have found some scant items on the internet, the cone was made from thin plexiglass or something like it and had a hole in the top, like a funnel pointed to the sky. One site said it was 3 feet in diameter at the bottom and 3 feet high. Any clues or extra reading surely would be appreciated. Thank you.

~tom

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catherine_nm

I have that book, but I haven't bothered to build any of the gadgets. After reading Four Season Harvest, I decided to try simple low poly tunnels over row covers instead of rigid structures, and it has worked fine for me. Sometimes a heavy snow collapses my tunnels for a while, but when the sun comes out everything melts and the tunnels stand up again. I guess if we had deeper snow cover or more cloud cover I would need more rigid structures. Snow doesn't last long at 7200 feet in Northern New Mexico, even in the dead of winter. It doesn't last long in eastern Colorado, either, where I used to live.

Catherine

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 7:09AM
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tennesse_tuxedo(5 nw ohio)

I have both and use them in late fall, winter and early spring. The pod is good for all winter with hardy greens that can withstand some frost. I also found to be a tremendous assest in the spring for starting transplants. I start my seeds for tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, onions etc and once they are started inside and have a little size are shipped into to the pod. I'm able to prop one side of the pod up and the plants are exposed to wind and some fresh air. When it gets cold enough to freeze I close the pod at night. The plants come out stockey and tough with no need to harden, something that I always disliked with plants that I started in the house. The pod makes me feel like a pro for transplants. It's rather limited for space for growing large amounts of greens but they do very well with the douible layer of sheeting and angel hair insulation. I use the cone mainly for keeping hardier herbs protected in the colder weather.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 3:56PM
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billtex(8atx)

cathrine what are you using for row covers, material,source, etc, thanks for info. bill

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 9:53AM
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catherine_nm

I use 10 ft lenths of 1-inch PVC pipe bent over a 4-ft bed and just stuck about 6 inches into the soil. Then I use a painter's drop cloth 10 ft x 14 ft or so draped over it and clamped to the pipe with bull-nose clips. My beds are 8 ft long, so that gives me enough plastic on the ends to fold and wrap it enough for a good enough closure. We have sunny days all winter long, so one end gets left open during the day into November. When the nights get really cold, I add pine straw around the plants and a floating row cover (I like 6 ft wide) over everything inside, and from Thanksgiving through January that's how it is buttoned up. We usually have a warm spell in February, and I open up and drop a few seeds in empty spots. The lettuce is usually mush by then, so it's time for some new greens. April winds have been known to blow my set-up to pieces, though. We have a nasty windy season!

Hope that helps

Catherine

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 8:05AM
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oregonizedb_aol_com

These solar cones are for sale on Ebay as "Solar Plant Cones". They seem to be well made and are affordable. We plan to use ours to extend our growing season, and to grow some vegetable right through the winter (since we live in a mild climate along the southern Oregon coast). Also we plan to start our vegies early right in the garden for next year.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 1:27PM
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