walipini
photo via: www.schweibenalp.ch

Year-Round Gardening with a Walipini !

Growers dealing with cold weather conditions use numerous methods to prolong the growing season, or to boost their crops. Such methods include using hoop houses, cold frames, and of course, greenhouses.

Greenhouses are mostly glazed complexes, and are generally costly to build and heat all winter long. A more economical and efficient approach to glass greenhouses is the walipini (meaning “place of warmth” in an Aymara Indian), sometimes referred to a pit or underground greenhouse.

A walipini is a greenhouse below ground reliant on a clear covering (typically plastic). It remains warm by absorbing heat from the sun. The walipini stays operational by soaking up the earth’s thermal energy.underground-greenhouse-inside

Initially developed over 20 years ago for South America’s cold mountainous regions, walipinis allow growers to sustain a productive garden all year long, even in rigid climates.

What’s extraordinary about the walipini is that it mixes both earth-sheltered construction and passive solar heating. It uses the sun’s energy for cooling and heating to develop something that is both affordable and functional. This is much more economical to run than a traditional greenhouse.

Here's a large Walipini built at around 40 degrees latitude where the winter soltace is at around 62 degrees off the horizon. The floor is around 20 feet by 40 feet.
Here’s a large Walipini built at around 40 degrees latitude where the winter soltace is at around 62 degrees off the horizon. The floor is around 20 feet by 40 feet. (image credit)

The walipini taps into the earth’s thermal mass, so that significantly less energy is required to heat up the interior than an above-ground greenhouse. However, there are provisions to make involving drainage, waterproofing and ventilating. The walipini must also be aligned properly against the sun, which the manual goes over in detail.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. The text on your pages is obscured by the floating share thing. It makes the articles almost impossible to read on a tablet.

  2. Does it take into consideration cloudy months, snow coverage realize would slide off top, around the here could be up to 6′ snow. Entrance from side or back? Not enough solar energy to heat.

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