Tag Archives: conservation

Underground Greenhouses or a Walipini

Underground Greenhouses are

Missing in Tennessee

Underground greenhouses  or Walipini seem to be missing in Tennessee  as  illustrated by the apparently more desired above ground type . 

Here is a picture of the above ground greenhouse at the University of Tennessee Agricultural Institute which looks more like a factory than a greenhouse. 

Greenhouse UTIA
Greenhouse UTIA

Other than the case of three men who lived in Trousedale County, Tn in 2005 underground greenhouses seem missing.  The men managed to build caves under their house approximately 250 feet long and equipped them with grow lights for their underground “Pot” farm.  

Because of their misfortune in borrowing extra power directly from the power lines and a subsequent  run in with the utility company they were arrested. 

These above ground  greenhouses are not as useful to people in under developed countries who prefer something called a Walipini in Bolivia. 

Of course the UTIA greenhouse  is used by the students as a class room, but is still all above ground and not taking advantage of the heat storage available to underground greenhouses.
Contrast it with the Walipini in this video! 

The ones made in Bolivia are sunk into the ground so that the earth can absorb the heat produced by the sun passing through the plastic top. Plastic is used  as it is much less expensive than glass, also much easier to apply and doesn’t mind earthquakes.

Since digging a hole is much less expensive than constructing walls, the Walipini  is immediately a much less expensive undertaking.   Many are scrapped together with what ever material can be scrounged for or recycled from other buildings.

There are  Walipini being constructed in Europe, Nepal and many other countries. 

One very interesting Walipini was in Romania built by a man who wanted to grow citrus trees.  

Americans tend to build as a lean to on a barn  as this one in Minnesota was done.  There is also a kindle book with a program called The Zero Energy Thermal Mass Greenhouse / One Hour of Free Video Instruction.  

An American has shared his construction videos  beginning with video  1 through video 4 .  Here is the first, when he was doing the heavy digging. 

His soil is very rocky and a pick axe was necessary to do a lot of the digging.  Also, he didn’t dig the whole underground greenhouse floor as low as some that are shown elsewhere. 

However he reduced his workload by leaving a shelf of dirt to place pots and growing flats on.  Some diggers dug it out, then put the soil in barrels and used the top of them as a shelf….

Now on to Video 3 as you can  follow what he is doing in each video.

Harder work than you think.  But beginning to look like a real greenhouse.  Much neater than the greenhouse below.  However,  the one below is a true thermal sunken greenhouse built using the thermal greenhouse plan referenced  above.  

From what I read in several places is that it is better to keep the air space above the hole as small as possible so that extra heat generated is stored by the earth surrounding the hole.

 The Greenhouse above used the dirt dug out of the hole to fill drums with dirt to go under the tables and along the walls to provide extra mass for heat storage during the day.   

Since they do not  heat this greenhouse in the middle of winter they tend to grow cold tolerant plants like broccoli and cabbage later in the season.

Sunken Greenhouse or Walipini… what ever you call it, if built right can provide extra food for a small investment in building materials. 

Everyone seems to modify any plans they use to match their particular soil and location and preference as to what kind of planting arrangements they want to use.

From the above video is an excerpt from the video description about the origin of the Walipini. 

On Nov. 27, 2009, my dad, David Allan, gave an extemporaneous presentation on the Walipini greenhouse methodology. One of the main principles involves embedding the greenhouse in the earth to take advantage of the earth’s constant temperature, to store the solar energy collected during the day. The Walipini was first developed more than 20 years ago by the Benson Institute in Provo, Utah; deployed in South and Central America. The success of those projects has spurred the parent organization, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to help sponsor deployment of the technology worldwide.

Deep Winter greenhouse featured by MPRNews is interesting because they used recycled gutters as hanging plant boxes.   The Tree Hugger features a very detailed description with pictures of the Walipini and shows a much deeper penetration into the ground making the roof almost level with the ground as it was in the first video.  In places where you have limited rainfall the slope of the roof can be much less. 

From what I understand, if you live in an area of  high winds, then the lower your profile, the better.  Except roofers will tell you that high pitched roofs deal with high winds better, the difference is that the lower roof conserves heat more efficiently.   Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed our trip  and share.


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7 Ways to Go Green Without Spending Money

Finding 7 Ways to Go Green that really work, isn’t easy

Go Green  without spending money sounds great, but finding easy ways to make your home and life more environmentally friendly takes work.

Find 7 Ways to Go Green and make a difference
Find 7 Ways to Go Green and make a difference

Easy Ways to Make your Home More Eco-Friendly

We all want to do our part to protect the environment, but without a large paycheck, that can be seem difficult, if not impossible.

But doing your part doesn’t have to be hard. Small steps add up to a big difference, you just have to know which ones to take.

However here are some ideas shared by friends and family.

Use less water.

Saving water is all about small steps,  just to name a  few that will help save big.

  • – Shut off the water while you brush your teeth
  • – Take showers that are a minute or two shorter
  • – Only flush the toilet when you need to
  • – Only run full loads of laundry and dishes
  • – Buy from sustainable producers.

Sustainable producers  are farmers, ranchers, and other producers that use techniques that pollute less and use less water. You can do some research online or ask at your local organic market to find these products.

Use less energy.

If you don’t have the money to buy a hybrid car or convert your house to solar power, you can make a big difference with small changes.

– Buy energy efficient appliances. They may be more expensive, but make up for the increased cost in lower energy bills.
– Unplug chargers when you’re not using them.

Cell phone and other chargers use up power even if there’s nothing attached to them.

– Put devices with remotes, like T.V.s, VCRs, and stereos, on a power strip and turn it off when you’re not using them.

These devices all use a lot of power to run the remote receiver even when they are  off, unless their power source is missing.

Go Green by cutting transportation costs.

– Walk or ride your bike for short trips.

– Buy local products.

It takes energy to transport food and other products across the country.

Buying local not only supports your local economy, it helps you  use less energy.

When it comes to saving energy and water, it’s a great idea to get the kids or even the whole family involved.

You can even make it a game.

Have everyone track how much water and electricity they are  using.  Compete to see who uses the least water.  Maybe even award a prize!


Most of us know the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, but when we work on conserving, we often leave reuse out of the picture.

While you can often find tips on how to reuse common products from other people, what you need most is creativity.

With a little thought there are many items around your home that can be reused

  • – toilet paper holders can be used to sow seeds for the vegetable patch.
  • And old yogurt containers can be cut into strip to make plant labels.
  • Old food jars can be refilled with homemade foods or can make great impromptu vases.

Become Inventive and share your ideas!

Become a Go Green Detective When Shopping

Use environmentally friendly products that you find in the stores.

When you go to the grocery store, you probably see more and more “natural” or “eco friendly” products every time.

There are generally two big problems with these products:

  • 1. Just because they’re more natural than regular products, doesn’t mean they’re entirely natural.
  • 2, They’re often expensive.

If you want inexpensive, natural, safe products, why not just make them yourself.  Read the labels of the expensive cleaners and disinfectants and see what you can duplicate!

Cleaner:  Vinegar is a great way to clean and disinfect glass and other surfaces.

Stain Removal:  Need to remove stubborn stains? Just add some baking soda to your vinegar cleaner.

Some quick searching online will lead you to hundreds of other natural safe home-made cleaning products.

We all knowing that going green means better for the environment, but it’s also better for you.

Conserving resources also helps save you money, which is something most of us are happy to live with.

Need some more?

There’s a lot of things you’re already doing. Do you text, or email? That’s environmentally friendly.

Rather than photocopying, try to scan.

Don’t print anything you don’t really need.
Solar chargers and also battery-less flashlights powered by solar!

Yahoo Answers had an answer that was different:

Eat less meat and here is their reason:

Here’s why: In their natural setting, animals replenish the earth as they consume its resources. For instance, cattle eat grass, fertilize the earth with their manure, and work their fertilizer into the ground with their hoofs. Pigs, who have a very narrow temperature tolerance, use hay to keep warm, and mud to keep cool. In a factory farm setting, animals are kept indoors in very tight (hyper “efficiant”) quarters, which are wired up with lighting, heating, and cooling (these huge buildings do NOT run low electric bills), and are fed feedlot style — eating imported food, which takes more carbon to fuel the trucks it was brought in on, as well as the factories in which it was manufactured. Their waste is disposed of rather than utilized for its high nitrogen content which is perfect for fertilizing crops, and ends up as harmful runoff which pollutes waterways. And to top that off, the nitrogen which farmers DO use as fertilizer comes from petroleum, which is just that much more wasted fuel. It’s a vicious cycle — you get the picture.

(https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080710163042AAMyDZi  )

The U.S. Government has a great site dedicated to  Go Green.  In addition to listing websites and other resources for making changes in your home and business, they had this great link:

Check out the Tax Breaks that are available…

Energy Tax Incentives

If you purchase energy efficient appliances or make energy saving improvements to your home or business, you can save money on your utility bills. You can also save more money on these purchases, in the form of tax incentives, such as tax credits and rebates, or sales tax holidays. Use these databases to find out if you qualify for state, local, utility, and federal incentives:

There is also a page or two of listing for every kind of energy savings.

There should be at least 7 go green projects for you on this page, so pick a few and get going!

A long list, but worth sharing with you, especially if you are looking for a way to Go Green!


Green Energy