Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Into new territory

After meeting a good friend for lunch today and telling her all about my latest and greatest events in my life she has insisted that I start a blog and log my journey with everyone else on the planet as a witness. What she seems so interested in was our new greenhouse and growing system that we put in.
What I have come up with was a combination of a Walipini (underground greenhouse) and an Aquaponic system. The walipini was a no brainier for us as we live out on the prairie. Wind and hail are a norm for us. All the normal greenhouses that you can buy from box stores and such are just no match for what mother nature has in store for us out here. Sure I could buy one, but a day later someone in Kansas would be happy with my new purchase! Therefore after lots of searching and research we decided that a walipini was right for us.

Our Walipini has an inner dimention of 20'x36' and is 6' deep. We also added a ramp big enough for a bobcat in case we ever needed to get something big down there. Yes, we live on acreage in case you were wondering. :)
Post holes down the middle
Set the 12' 4x4 posts. 3' in the ground 9' above

Added a middle beam 2x6's

12' 2x4's going from middle to the sides

 The outer dimensions are 24'x40' The rafters span 2' over the ground on all sides of the walipini.

I found some used doors on craigslist for $60 and 3 used small windows for $60. Also, we added some used mulch from the city to add a nice cushy layer on the bottom before we put the top on.
 For now the top on the walipini is a clear greenhouse tarp I found online at Farmtek. Great store and very helpful if you call in to chat with them about your project.
Added another 2x4 to the top of the tarp to hold in place

For the sides above the ground we used the clear poly roof material for now. It works and does what we needed it to do...let in sunlight!
We put back our wood fencing around it to add a little more protection from the wind. The top middle line only is about 3' off the ground. You can't see this unless you are close to it or in a plane.
The inside is cozy and we love it!

From start to finish this only took us about 2 weeks to put together.  All posts down the middle and sides were concreted in. We made the frames for the doors on either end. On the warmer days all windows and doors are open to allow for a draft. This last photo was taken in the AM just as the sun was coming up.

Hope you enjoy our journey as much as my friends and family have so far. It seems we are always trying and coming up with new things to try. I will post more about our Aquponics system in the next blog.

Be sure to read the other blogs that I have posted that have updated stuff all about the Walipini and aquaponics.



  1. The best blog EVER!!! Amazing project and I can't wait to hear all about the yummy, foods you will grow! :)

  2. Kaydi awesome! I was wondering since it has been almost 2 years since you constructed this, how it is holding up? The concern that came to mind was the sides caving in after large amounts of rainfall.
    Thank you for sharing!!! :)

    1. I was going to ask this same question. I would suspect after watering and weather the walls would cave.

    2. Hello Mike, We actually dug a small trench around the outside of the structure to take the large amounts of rainfall away from the Walipini itself. We typically don't get a ton of rain in our area either. Also, the top covers 2' extra of dirt on all sides that this has prevented any problems.

  3. Hello Kaydi, I came for the walipini (thank you for that - got some new ideas) but also enjoyed watching Brodi grow up (and toughen-up) - looks like you've raised a mighty good man.

  4. How much your initial investment? How much money do u pay for utilities in the winter? Please advise. We are going to start an aquaponics in VA. Thank you for your any advice and sharing.

    1. Hello Bmc, my initial investment for just the Walipini will be different than others. Somethings we didn't have a charges for ie: tractor, backhoe, bobcat, labor, dump truck ect...because we live on a farm and have access to that equipment or things. The wood itself was around $600 and the greenhouse material for the top was also $600. The doors and windows I found on Craigslist. All were under $100/each. The other things like lag screws, hangers, nails, concrete, saw blades were probably another couple of hundred dollars. Hope this helps. If you want numbers on the aquaponics part....that is going to take me a little longer to crunch numbers. :)

    2. Oh and as far as utilities for the winter go, I only run one side with one pump. This winter I only have the pump going through a filter for the pond. I didn't have time to put in a winter crop. I couldn't tell you what they would normally run me anyways with all the other animal tank heaters and crap we run out here. However, I will say that I didn't notice a large jump in the bill from the previous year. I did at 1 point think about covering the whole top of the Walipini with insulation or something like that and putting grow lights down there for the winter intested. It is cold in there and the condensation is a problem in the winter with it freezing to the top. It did help when I covered the pond with styrofoam.

  5. Love this. How do you keep the rain water from flowing down the ramp entrance and into the greenhouse?

  6. Thanks for sharing your Walapini journey. I learned a lot from it. Walapini and aquaphonics combo is a great combo. Specially in the Ca. High Desert where I will be doing this.

  7. cool idea. we are going to try it here in the high country of colorado. windy alot here. love the idea of it being low.