*Micro-Climates For Gardening*
By: Swabbie
26 July 2003

I've seen that there is some confusion about "micro-climates" for gardening use... We need to set that confusion to rest.

Some possible microclimates are:
1) cold frames
2) hot frames
3) greenhouses
4) natural protected areas
5) indoors growing areas

Cold frames
Nothing more than a sheltered area where you can use and trap the sun's heat throughout the day to provide heat throughout the colder nights.

In a SHTF scenario during the colder non-growing months this would be a good way to keep plants growing. Some advantages to this are 1) warms the soil up earlier so you can jumpstart your spring garden, 2) allows yo to grow cold weather veggies in non-optimum conditions. Some possibilities, especially for warmer climates in the southern regions are chard, lettuce, carrots, colard greens, kale, some beans, etc. 3) best used in small plots as they are not very tall. Thus they wouldn't be as visible from farther away. However, the glass tops could quite possibly be seen from rises and the air farther away when the sun glints off of them

Hot frames
A cold frame that uses some form of artifical heat to maintain growing temps. In most modern terms this means using some type of power to provide heat. However, if you rigged a solar heating system that used convection then it would be possible to do this without external power.

Green houses
Basically a very large cold/hot frame. The trouble is that these are once again large and easily visible from far away. I have seen plans that involved semi burying a green house that would allow them to be less prominent. The advantage of this is that using the earth as a "heatsink" would help to hold some of the heat in during the colder nights. Another advantage is that you could grow larger plants in these.

Natural protected areas
This requires that you use natural barriers to winter weather and the southern exposed flank to try and create a more comfortable growing condition for your plants. Also you would need to tailer your plants to those that are winter hardy such as kale, collards, etc.

Indoor growing areas
Probably the best of the lot. You're already providing heat for yourself and your family so that's taken care of. A southern facing window would provide some light for the plants. If you already have power requirements for your retreat then you can use this to also provide artifical lighting for your plants. The big problem is ROOM! The room required to grow a majority of your produce would be way to much to try to heat and power for any length of time.

Obviously any single one of these would not answer every questionable condition that would come up. The best solution would be to try and use each one to provide a little of your requirements. A good point on this also is that you tend to isloate your plantings to different environments so that a castastrophe to one would not effect all.
Another factor to consider here is this. Many plants require pollination to bear fruit. If you are trying to grow in a climate controlled and sealed environment then you'd better know how to pollinate by hand. Of course you could plant those vegetables that don't require pollination to fruit but you'd be limiting yourself to some degree on varities of plants.
Swabbie



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