If your long term prepping and survival strategy includes sheltering in place in a secure location, growing your own food is an important component of what you’ll be doing. Rick Austin, the man who wrote about a secret garden of survival, now tells us about a secret greenhouse of survival, and it could make a big difference in growing your own food.
Rick was my guest on DestinySurvival Radio to talk about his latest book, Secret Greenhouse of Survival–How to Build the Ultimate Homesteader and Prepper Greenhouse. He was on with me in 2013 to talk about his first book, and you can view my post about it here.
Who is the Survivalist Gardener?
Rick Austin is known as the Survivalist Gardener, and is a preparedness and off grid living expert. He is the author of Secret Garden of Survival–How to Grow a Camouflaged Food Forest which is now the number one Best Selling book in Garden Design. Rick has also been featured on National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Castle, Doomsday Preppers, as well as the documentary film Beyond Off Grid, and in Mother Earth News (twice). Rick also does a radio show, Secrets of a Survivalist, where each week he talks with survival experts who share their own secrets of survival.
What About the Greenhouse Book?
Rick’s first book, Secret Garden of Survival, has proven to be of interest to a wider audience than preppers. It became the number one best selling book in garden design. and my guess is this second book will have a wide appeal, too.
Secret Greenhouse of Survival lays out a simple, straight-forward, step by step approach to creating your own Secret Greenhouse of Survival. Colorful illustrations abound. And chapters cover the following subjects.
- What Rick knows
- Starting With a Plan
- Building From The Ground Up
- The Frame
- The Roof
- Windows, Doors, and Siding
- Preparing the Nursery for Baby Plants
- Pest Control
- And Appendices with more info on making your own plans
Why is it a Survival Greenhouse?
Here’s what Rick says his greenhouse can do.
- Heat your home in the winter
- Heat your home’s hot water
- Grow five times more food per square foot than a hoop house
- Provide food for you and your family all year long
- Lets You grow vegetables in 3 dimensions
- You never have to use fertilizer
- You never have to use pesticide
- Grow exotic foods, such as citrus or coffee trees (even if you live in New England)
- Lets you start your garden seedlings in the spring
- Hide your solar electric system
- It can house your small farm animals
- And you can use it to incubate chickens and ducks
The way it’s constructed, it’s disguised to look like a porch on your home. That way desperate and hungry passersby would have no idea that you have food growing there. As a result, your greenhouse isn’t a ready target, like it would be if you had a conventional greenhouse or hoop house.
What Did We Talk About?
Rick emphasizes both stealth and functionality with both his garden and greenhouse. We talked some about his approach to both. He’s a proponent of sustainable gardening and permaculture. He grows as naturally as possible.
Add-on greenhouses aren’t a new idea. But Rick incorporated his knowledge of sustainable building into his. It’s like a fortress for intensive gardening.
It’s well insulated, uses highly efficient glass, and has plenty of thermal mass to give off heat. Even in below zero temps in winter, the inside temp didn’t go below 45 degrees. And that’s without supplemental heat. Plus, it helps heat the house and water.
Vents, solar fans and shade cloth help keep the greenhouse cool in summer’s heat.
Rick makes use of grey water. He also collects rain water from the roof. He grows clover, beans, peas and other legumes to fix nitrogen in the soil of his grow beds. He practices companion planting, too.
The greenhouse produces 3-4 seasons of greens and other veggies in a year. It produces all the squash and melons he and his wife want. Amazingly, he’s been able to grow a good amount of corn, too.
Rick’s not exaggerating when he says it’s possible to grow citrus and coffee trees in his greenhouse. He’s actually doing it.
Yes, he keeps animals in it any time of year, too. For example, he incubates ducks and rases rabbits. It’s suitable for doing aquaponics as well.
Diseases aren’t much of a problem. Pests can be though. Spiders and a lizard are welcome in Rick’s greenhouse. He’s got a favorite kind of mouse trap, too. In the book he goes into more detail about pest control.
Building a greenhouse like Rick’s isn’t a DIY project, unless you’re handy with building. You’ll need to start by coming up with a plan with the info in his book. Then round up the help and funds for materials. Rick says it’s not as expensive as it looks, especially when you consider the energy savings.
Thanks to Rick’s guidance, you don’t have to make the mistakes he’s made along the way. Pay attention to his construction tips, such as the kind of screws he uses.
How Can You Find Out More?
Hear my entire conversation with Rick Austin by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for January 9, 2014. (Right click to download.)
Order Secret Greenhouse of Survival by clicking on its title wherever you see it in this post. Or click the book’s image above. The page that appears will give you the opportunity to buy your copy.
Is this something you’re interested in doing on your homestead? Would you like to incorporate a survival greenhouse into your prepping strategy? Or, looking on the darker side, considering how bizarre the world is these days, am I giving you false hope by even suggesting you build such a greenhouse?