There are many ways that people use the dome for indoor gardening. One is to have raised beds, and the other is to enjoy container gardening. We have found the raised bed to be the more successful method of securing optimum plant growth as the raised bed creates a much more thermal stability than container gardening. What the dome owners have found over the years is that the plants in the containers tend to dry out much quicker and experience more extremes of temperature thus creating more stress and more potential problems with plant growth, pests and diseases.
In the Growing Dome, usually there is an outer raised bed, a circular pathway, and then an inner raised bed. The beds generally are anywhere between one and two foot high depending on the personal preference of the owner and raised bed design is entirely up to the owner of the Growing Dome. Over the years, we have found our owners use recycled plastic lumber, Douglas Fir, plywood, sheet metal, adobe, rocks, and many other methods of creating the walls for the raised beds.
The pathways can be of bark chips, gravel, flagstone or brick pavers. However, what we have found is that in order to maintain moderate temperatures, especially in the summer, that luxuriant plant growth shades the soil thus helping to keep the dome cool. If there are large expanses of rock or brick, which is not shaded, this can heat up quite significantly in the day, thus creating overheating in the dome greenhouse.
In the Growing Dome there are generally two seasons: winter and summer. The whole purpose of passive solar design is to use the ambient temperatures in the seasons to the optimum. Therefore, in the summer in the Growing Dome, we grow heat-loving plants, such as tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, melon, okra, basil, beans and many other varieties of heat-loving plants, especially organic vegetables. In the winter, however, we grow cool hardy and cold tolerant vegetables. Among these are members of the cabbage family, cabbage kale, collards, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, all the members of the onion family, garlic, leek, peas, lettuce, root crop such as radish, rutabaga, turnips, beets, carrots and daikon radish. Also spinach and Swiss chard, the Japanese greens and exotic greens such as tatsoi, bok choy, mizuna, arugula and the mescalun mix type of greens grow very, very well in the Growing Dome greenhouse during the winter months.
Because the greenhouse is such an energy efficient greenhouse, it can withstand 20 to 30 degrees of frost outside before it freezes inside the structure. Even though it may freeze if we are growing frost hardy plants in the greenhouse, then as soon as the sun comes out the plants thaw out and keep on producing winter growth throughout the colds months of the year. Many people choose to grow a variety of organic vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs such as parsley, marjoram, thyme, sage, rosemary, dill, fennel, etc. These plants seem to grow equally well both winter and summer as the Growing Dome greenhouse creates a protected indoor garden for year-round enjoyment.
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