Geodesic dome solar greenhouse for growing vegetables


Photo credit: Jim Dunn

Treehugger has a slideshow about building a great-looking geodesic dome solar greenhouse for growing vegetables.

What do you do when you want to grow your own food, but live here? That's the question my dad wanted to answer when he started this project about a year ago: Living at 7,750 feet above sea level, with a summer growing season of 80 days, at best, between killing freezes, how can you grow your own food? The answer, as it turns out, is pretty cool: A geodesic dome solar greenhouse.

Click through to see what it's like to build one for yourself, and how the garden grows inside once you're done.

Build a Geodesic Dome Solar Greenhouse to Grow Your Own Food


  1. Tell them to move that dome out of the woods. You won’t grow much at that elevation in the shade, no matter how pretty the pines are.

  2. this is it! this is exactly what i want to build in the next few years! except i want it a little bit larger so i can put a small citrus (orange or grapefruit) tree right in the middle. damn them; they stole my idea right out of my skull!!!

  3. I don’t think putting the word “solar” in front of the word “greenhouse” adds any valuable information. All greenhouses are solar.

  4. Those thingamajigs near the bridge on all those star destroyers were GREENHOUSES? The Empire was more ecologically friendly than I thought.

  5. > I don’t think putting the word “solar” in front of the word “greenhouse” adds any valuable information. All greenhouses are solar.

    Maybe ‘LUNAR’? . . .

  6. We have a 26′ dome from the company in Pagosa Springs, CO: Growing Spaces. The dome is providing us with a 12 month growing season in western MA. We built it ourselves and it is fantastic.

  7. It would be so much easier to just build a boring, normal-shaped greenhouse instead of spending a ridiculous amount of time cutting out all those triangular pieces of plastic.

  8. I think “the answer” is just “a greenhouse.” That it’s a geodesic dome is cool but doesn’t make it better at growing stuff, as far as I can see.

  9. #12: depending on what his winters are like at that elevation and latitude, a boring, normal-shaped greenhouse might get collapsed by accumulated snow, or blown over. Or both!

    #5: If he’s going to go to all the effort of moving out of the woods, he should just move south to a more temperate climate and be done with it.

  10. Page 4 describes what is wrong in this country:

    “The local Home Owners Association was quite interested in his plan, and not in a good way, unfortunately. After several rounds of proposals, some less-than-polite exchanges, and a few compromises — the trees on the left side of the photo had to be added, to help the dome “blend in,” for example — the HOA bought it and he was allowed to break ground. ”

    It’s crap like this that just ups my blood pressure.

  11. As a minor note re the construction… additional growing room can easily be attained by digging down a couple of cinder block depths for the perimeter and having a single block walkway around. For something with a limited floor space, height becomes important.

    What I did NOT see was any produce. Was it any good? A flacid cucumber and pitted gourd are great but an engorged melon is something to behold. Sorry, garden pron kicking in…

    Lots of short term crops (lettuce, cucumber etc) what about tomatoes or (as someone wittily pointed out) weed control…

  12. for nearly 9!000 $$$ you could provide a serious amount of clean drinking water for poor children. as an example.

  13. I caught them raiding my truck patch, and now I’ve got six of them I’m holding prisoner in an old bird feeder.
    They fascinated me as a child, and every time I smell t’mater plants, I go search for them, but haven’t seen one in many, many years.
    What a surprise to find them on my t’mater plants! Just over an inch long so far, but I hope to get at least one to grow to 2-1/2, 3 inches long. I swear I seen it.
    Tomato worms- you know I love ’em!

  14. ” I don’t think putting the word “solar” in front of the word “greenhouse” adds any valuable information. All greenhouses are solar. ”

    JPW –
    This greenhouse has several features , that make it a ” Solar ” greenhouse. His water storage, the reflective material on the north wall, his system of ducting under the growing beds to warm the soil during the day. All of these are good “passive” & “active” solar design tricks.

    As for the dome critics , I had a 5/8 -3 Phase – 18 foot dome greenhouse back in the 70’s. My friend Randy made the frame from 3/4 conduit. It was covered with flat translucent fiberglass.

    I grew tomatoes at 8500 ft. on the Ark. River in Colorado. Because of how strong the dome is, it is possible to grow them in 5 gallon buckets at all the hub points.

    Air movement is important in greenhouses, for example my current greenhouse has been well over 120 degrees the past few weeks. It ain’t a dome. But with vents in the top of a dome, and panels open on the sides the excess heat can be managed with out the aid of any fans.

    I could go on , but you get the point.

  15. I also designed a PVC set of hub connectors for domes. Using 1 1/2 in PVC pipe. Never had the money for the injection molds.

  16. I’m concerned that this article may leave the uninitiated with the impression that this is somehow better than a regular greenhouse, and that if they want a really good greenhouse, they must fork out for this expensive techtopian novelty.

    There are good design features in this greenhouse, but little of it is dependent upon being geodesic.

    Truly, any well-designed greenhouse could (and should) incorporate passive solar features.

    (Addendum: It appears that this company’s smallest model is $4,570.00. I’m horrified. For half the money, he could have built a greenhouse with 4 times the capacity. This is nothing more than conspicuous consumption. )

  17. I would love to come across a regular greenhouse kit that could grow year round in the Rockies without a heater, Never have so far
    Without a heater, a regular greenhouse is simply a season extender
    Unfortunately regular greenhouses do not contain as part of their kits the necessary passive solar features
    Sure you could design and build your own passive solar greenhouse for 1/4 of the price
    but we are comparing apples with apples ie: ready to assemble greenhouse kits
    Here is a price and features comparison from the company’s website
    Actually you are incorrect about the performance having little to do with being geodesic
    A dome has the minimum surface area for the maximum enclosed volume approx 60% of a rectangular structure
    Heat loss from any structure is proportional to surface area (on a cold winter night)

  18. Actually the Geodesic design Tracks the Sun far better than rectangular greenhouse’s, also prevents direct sun in overlage areas that can burn plants.
    they withstand high winds, i have seen them after 150 mph winds without damage, there built and working well all over the US and Canada, even Aleutian Islands, I had a 33 footer for 5 years, at 8200 feet in Colorado and never had to heat it, Fig tress flourished in ours along with grapes, tomatoes and anything else we planeted, I’ve sen 42′ Growingspaces dome in Kansas growing several varieties of Banana, these Greenhouse work.

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