Monday, September 17, 2012

3 Sisters Bioshelter Tour

Today Bob and I drove up to Mercer County PA to Three Sisters Farm to check out their Bioshelter and market gardens during a PASA field day.  Three sisters grows mainly herbs and beautiful salad mixes of unusual greens and edible flowers.  They also teach permaculture design courses.  Darrell Frey talked with us about designing a "shelter for life" - basically a greenhouse environment that supports an entire ecosystem.  Support of a diverse crew of beneficial insects to manage pests was one of my main hopes of learning for the day.

Maintaining a growing temperature year-round is one of the main challenges of running the bioshelter.  In the winter, it is heated by both active and passive solar. The thermal mass from black barrels of water and concrete blocks of the growing beds within the structure absorb and then release heat.  Fans also pump in heat generated by compost into a pebble layer underneath the growing beds and a woodstove burned for a few hours is a backup heating source for the coldest nights.



Goldenrod and New England Aster

Tiny beneficial parasitic wasp on a flowering mustard plant

Dried out Queen Ann's Lace

Tansy.  If you plant it, they (the beneficials) will come!  It wily though, so contain it like mint,


Darrell discusses the cold frames at the base of the bioshelter

A little mini-greenhouse

Mini salad greens planters

Sun coming in the acrylic glazing on the roof of the bioshelter

Micro Greens grown in a thin layer of soil on newspaper in bread trays

First floor of the bioshelter. Herbs abound.

Potting station

Awesome farmstand on our way back to Pittsburgh

Farm stand goodness

Magic farmstand pumpkins

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