I hadn’t until very recently, but they are pretty intriguing . . . especially if you live in a colder climate.
A walipini can fill your greenhouse needs and then some. It can enable you to garden year-round. And it can be constructed very economically (i.e., it’s cheap).
The Walipini: What It Is and How to Build One
Growers in colder climates often utilize various approaches to extend the growing season or to give their crops a boost, whether it’s coldframes, hoop houses or greenhouses.
Greenhouses are usually glazed structures, but are typically expensive to construct and heat throughout the winter. A much more affordable and effective alternative to glass greenhouses is the walipini (an Aymara Indian word for a “place of warmth”), also known as an underground or pit greenhouse. First developed over 20 years ago for the cold mountainous regions of South America, this method allows growers to maintain a productive garden year-round, even in the coldest of climates. (To read the original article and watch the video, click here.)
I can’t say it’s pretty, but . . . wow! (I really hope you watched the video to see how the walipini works.)
A walipini really can take the place of a greenhouse or a coldframe or a hoop house and/or even livestock shelter.
Admittedly, this is not for an urban or probably even suburban gardener with limited space, and there is a good bit of labor involved. But this sort of “structure” is definitely a doable solution if you have the land and labor and want to garden year round. And maintenance definitely seems like it would be minimal.
So . . . the ground should be thawing soon. You might want to start recruiting that labor.
Have you heard of walpinis before? Do you know of anyone who has one or have you seen one? If so, please post a comment and let us know what you thought of it.
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