[Market-farming] High Tunnel Winter Growing

Allan Balliett aballiett at frontiernet.net
Thu Nov 26 01:10:49 EST 2009

The horse manure fired seedling incubator was a standard component of 
Steve Moore's passive solar greenhouse design back when he taught in 
and around York, PA

Essentially, in January of each year he would 'stack' a 3sided cinder 
block trough along some portion of the north wall of the greenhouse. 
The curved wall would get a layer of insulation board, the short 
sides were perpendicular to the rear wall. dimensions were usually 
4x8 to accommodate a sheet of 3/4 ply as the lid. I think these 
containers were usually about 3 runs of blocks. You filled the 
container with horse manure and straw in January so that it w.b. 
cooking quite well by mid-February when you are ready to start 
working with brassica seedlings in the greenhouse (seedlings that get 
below 40 degrees in Feb/March are prone to produce plants that will 
bolt by June) Heat is controlled by using spacers under the seedling 
trays. There is a 3/4 plywood lid for the box. By April the horse 
manure would be out of heat and quite 'reduced' and absolutely 
perfect for planting cucumbers into. No spring mucking is ever 
required. (Yes, early on the ammonia (from horse urine)  smell can be 
overwhelming but I do not know of this every causing 'harm.')

On manures and salts: it is my understanding that this is not a 
problem in biologically active beds and is only a problem in 
conventional agriculture. We haven't seen a salt build up in our 
house, which is in its 7th season. I'm wondering if you other 
biological growers have actually had salt build up problems or have 
simply been warned about them by conventional extension agents, etc?

-Allan in WV who wonders about these other guys writing from WV

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