To prepare for a natural or man-made disaster, many survivalists are busy stocking up on shelf-stable food and water. While this is definitely a good idea, one can only eat so much beef jerky and canned peaches before getting a hankering for some fresh produce. A great way to provide your family with fresh, homegrown fruits and vegetables is to construct a safe and secure underground greenhouse. As a bonus, a survival garden is usable year-round and is fairly easy on the budget. Here is some advice as well as tips on how to construct your own underground greenhouse:
Think like the South Americans
Survivalists should consider building what South Americans call a “walipini,” which is the Aymara Indian word meaning “place of warmth,” according to Tree Hugger. The structure debuted two decades ago and enables residents of South America’s mountainous regions to grow fresh food all year, regardless of weather conditions.
Also known as a pit, the walipini uses passive solar heating for warmth as well as the earth itself for shelter and protection. Most walipinis are simple in construction. They are usually around 20-by-74 feet (dug 6-8 feet in the ground) and then covered by plastic sheeting. When digging the hole, make the longest side of the rectangle face the south, which will expose it to the greatest amount of winter sun and warmth.
How a Walipini Works
The sun’s energy and light get into the underground greenhouse by passing through the plastic covering on top of the hole, where they are then absorbed throughout the walipini, according to Natural News. By using plastic sheeting instead of glass as the roof, specific light rays that actually prevent plants from growing well cannot get through. The sun not only provides needed light for plants to perform photosynthesis, it also gives off heat that is stored inside the structure, giving plants ideal growing conditions.
Easy and Economical to Build
The average cost of building a 20-by-74 foot walipini is around $250 to $300. The structure is built using fairly inexpensive but sturdy building materials like PVC pipes and UV plastic sheeting. Of course, digging a hole of this size will take more than just a shovel or two and asking a few neighbors to help. To make the process as easy and fast as possible, consider renting some digging equipment. Neff Rental features compaction equipment rentals like electric hammers that are great for breaking through brick, concrete or hard earth, as well as saws that can help remove trees and brush.
Enjoy the Bounty
Once the walipini is built, survivalists can begin to use it immediately to grow crops all year long. Growing seasons will no longer be an issue, and warm weather fruits and vegetables can be harvested in the middle of winter. Some common greenhouse crops, according to MPR News, include green vegetables like kale and lettuce, as well as a host of other delicious and healthy selections.