My Solar Pit Greenhouse Failure

I have always been a fan of Mike Ohler, who hasn’t? He wrote The 50 Dollar and Up Underground House Book and He also authored The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse book. The last book was part of my motivation to try my hand at building my own Pit Greenhouse.

I had researched all over the internet for info and found a video interview with  Mike Ohler in his greenhouse, I was pretty stoked to see that.

So after seeing the video, I figured I could handle this.

I had a young man whom I consider a son bring down his tractor to do a little digging.

I was going to modify my design a little and  build a simple A-frame over a 4 foot pit with glass on my southern side. I figured I could walk down into it and start my seedlings and such in there, not really try to grow year round at this point. I had seen a example of this design elsewhere.

So we proceeded to dig and things were going well until we ran into a little issue. Water.

I thought where we were digging was high enough up from the water table that we would be fine, looks like I was wrong. We ended up digging a four foot wading pool. Never one to get discouraged I decided to utilize my new found source of water and build me a couple of mini wells (I will post more on these later)

So over the next few weeks I got busy with some other projects when the young man  who owned the tractor called me up and said hey, want to see what I have been doing? Sure I replied and hopped in my car and drove over to his house.

I was shocked and amazed when I got out of my car.

His garden area right in front of his greenhouse.

He had salvaged a bulkhead door for entry.

and he had cut all the cedar off his 3 acre property and with a weeks hard work and some plastic sheeting, he made himself a solar pit greenhouse. He said my project had motivated him to try it, I guess it wasn’t a failure after all.

I need to find some higher land darn it!

Here are a couple books Mike had written on the subject.

The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book

The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book

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Our family relocated to Maine 17 Years ago to get to a simpler way of life after the birth of our daughter. We decided to document everything we do about six years ago so we could share our projects with people who are also looking to slow down a little. This site developed from that goal of sharing knowledge.
  • Dennis

    Cool entry. Fun to see what people can build. I wonder if pushing up earth around the building so the hole wouldn’t have to be so deep would be any good?

  • Hugo

    How did his greenhouse ended up working? Is it doing the job? I’m thinking of making one in USDA zone 5b. I wonder if I could save a few weeks both in the spring and in the fall.

    • thehomesteadingboards

      It worked well, he was able to extend the season here in Maine quite a bit