Heating Your Greenhouse in Europe This Winter

Started by Bern, September 03, 2022, 09:59:17 AM

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Here's another view of Canis Major, the bigger dog, with the image rotated to make the dog appear to have his feet on the ground.

Canis Major Orientation.jpg

And what a difference one week has made with the temperatures.  It was 9F (-13C) last Friday night and today it was sunny and 65F (18C). 

Have a Happy New Year!

David Pilling

Quote from: Bern on December 30, 2022, 05:35:55 PMHere's another view of Canis Major

Dog with a diamond in its collar... What do the stars foretell for gardening in 2023 - a mast year, a year when the amaryllis flower, a plague of frogs, what to plant...

It would be helpful to assign star signs to bulbs on the wiki based on when they flower.

"And so, as Tiny Tim said, 'A Happy New Year to us all; God bless us, everyone!"


This is not Canis Major the constellation, but it is a big dog. It's an English Bull Terrier. This one is from a Breed Rescue site in the US. The dog's name is Hammy and he's about 80 pounds. I wanted to own one of these dogs for years, but as I learned more about them, especially the ones for adoption, I finally gave up on them.  Here are some of the undesirable traits that many of these dogs exhibit.

Best if it is the only dog in the household.
Does not walk well on a leash.
Has a very high prey drive.
Will try to be dominate over other members in the household other than the owner.
Best if there are no small children in the house.
Cannot be around a cat for any reason.
Is working on overcoming its food aggression.

A woman at the park where I walk has one of these dogs and it is a very impressive animal.  Fittingly, his name is Ego and he clocks in at almost 90 pounds and is all muscle. She confirmed everything on the above list and even added a few more. The breed has a lot of skin problems and as a consequence she has very high veterinary bills. It once bit her husband on the face, requiring an emergency room visit for stitches and a follow-up visit by the local animal control officer for a behavioral evaluation. And my favorite story is that Ego one day caught and ate a snake before she could do anything to prevent it. This is the first time I've heard of a dog catching and eating a snake.

I was recently looking at Jack Russell terriers and they have the same issue in a smaller package. They'd be great if you owned a large piece of property and had problems in your garden with gophers, voles, moles, or mice.


An AWFUL lot of rubbish talked there if the bull terrier was UK bloodlines.

Over here in the UK, they have a very phlegmatic disposition and are actually very loving and lovable, although lots of people are wary because of their looks, and reputations transferred from bull-terrier breeds that are a result of the morrons at the opposite end of the leads.

No dog likes to share if they are there first, but how things go is down to the human at least as much as the dogs.

Most of the nonsense is down to people, NOT the dogs.

Terriers are terriers - up and at 'em, always at the ready, and then lick you half way to death.

Hounds, even minature dach's, are off into the far blue yonder after a scent if they have half a chance.


Living as lap-dogs has done little to change what they were actually bred for. Thankfully.

Martin Bohnet

Actually I don't think dogs will be too helpful in heating ones greenhouse. As a cat-owned person (we all know its this way around) I can say they're excellent pre-heaters for seats in case you manage to move them away, but it is a very local effect.

That said I seem to be the only person happy with middle-European winter weather, as the westwind drift seem to be set in stone for at least the second decade of January. All the weatherguys n girls are whining about "too warm for the season". I'm still not sure what they like about the cold - the increased number of car crashes due to bad conditions, the homeless people frozen to death, the extra leverage for Putins gas blackmail attempt? Currently, the German national gas reserve increases since December 21st. I like.
Martin (pronouns: he/his/him)

Judy Glattstein

I think I remember reading something about keeping rabbits - or was it chickens? - under the greenhouse benches as an auxiliary heat source. Myself, I'd go for rabbits. Their waste is neatly pelleted, easy to clean. Chicken poop is sloppy. Rabbits are quiet. Chickens are not.

Just saying . . .


We kept a couple of male mini-lops in the small CT greenhouse one brutal winter and the ammonia buildup was problematic and required extra ventilation. I'd guess it was a zero-sum game.

Martin Bohnet

current suggestions for rabbit keeping are at a minimum of 4m² per couple if they are taken out regularly or 6m² if permanently confined to that space - that's neither a huge heating source nor a huge ammonia buildup - the 50cm x 50 cm cages my dad used when I was young are long gone...
Martin (pronouns: he/his/him)

David Pilling

The thing about rabbits is fur... as critters get smaller there comes a point where fur is no longer a winning strategy for retaining warmth, so they become naked.


Does anyone from the PBS have working terriers or other dogs that they use to control their rodent problems?  Most people keep their dogs as pets and they no longer use them for their pest control abilities.

Here is some information about a group in New York City that takes their canine companions into the streets and alleys at night to catch rats.

"The Ryder's Alley Trencher-fed Society, more commonly known as R.A.T.S., is a group of vigilante pups and their devoted owners who venture out into the dark New York City streets for the sole purpose of tracking and killing pesky rodents."


Pretty amazing!


To Bern's question about dogs and rodent control: I raised, trained, and showed Alaskan Malamute dogs for about 40 years, and would have one now if my knees still allowed me to run. In interior Alaska it was fun to watch them hunt voles under the snow, and they adapted the same technique (high pounce, stunning landing, quick dig) in soil after we moved to Oregon. I had a couple of females I could leave loose at night (fenced 10 acres), and they kept all the deer away but were cautious about the elk. They regularly caught rabbits, chipmunks (OK, cute, but pests to pots), field mice, even "mountain beavers" (Oplodontia), pack rats, rats, and moles, though they did not eat the moles, which apparently are unpalatable even to a dog. Coyotes and raccoons were chased away. They did not kill snakes, but they liked to roll on them for the nasty odor. This is, of course, an unspecialized working dog selected for survival!


Hey Jane, that's quite a story about your Alaskan Malamutes. I bet you have many interesting stories about your adventures living in the interior of Alaska. Your relocation to Oregon must have seemed at first tropical by comparison. And thanks for the mention of "mountain beavers," Aplodontia rufa. I had never heard of them before. Here's a photo of one for folks to see.


"Mountain beavers are gray or brown, but their fur can range from slightly more reddish to more blackish depending on subspecies, with a light patch under each ear. The animals have distinctively short tails. Adults weigh about 500–900 g (18–32 oz), with a few specimens topping 1,000 g (35 oz). Total length is about 30–50 cm (12–20 in), with a tail length of 1–4 cm (0.39–1.57 in). Their superficial similarity with true beavers reflects only their relatively large size (for rodents), strong odor, preference for living in extremely watery / moist habitats, and propensity to consume tree seedlings as food. Mountain beavers do not fell adult trees (though such trees may be killed by "girdling"), build dams, live in lodges, or communicate by tail slappings. They are predominantly nocturnal in above ground activities.[6] They are known to climb trees a few meters to acquire food in the form of branches and leaves, but otherwise their diet consists mostly of ferns, especially species that are toxic to other animals."  [From Wikipedia]


Quote from: Bern on January 06, 2023, 01:24:01 PMother dogs that they use to control their rodent problems? 
My daughter's Ibizan (a blazingly fast sighthound) keeps her yard and veggie garden free from rabbits and our Australian terrier would often catch and dispatch garter snakes and chipmunks in the CT rock gardens. The giant schnauzers prefer to hunt two-legged rodents.

Diane Whitehead

Quote from: Judy Glattstein on January 05, 2023, 03:26:57 PMI think I remember reading something about keeping rabbits - or was it chickens? - under the greenhouse benches 
The person who did it had ripe tomatoes all winter. It worked well with chickens, but when she tried putting some sheep in, they left as it was too hot for them. I can't remember the name of the book.  I think she copied  Solviva.

I was inspired when I first read it but then realized that it would only work on the east coast of North America, where they get sun in the winter.  Here on the west coast, we seldom see the sun in winter, and if it is out, it is hiding behind tall conifers. No chance of solar heating.
Diane Whitehead        Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters  70 cm rain,   sandy soil


California is getting plastered by a major storm off the Pacific Ocean.  This is the second back-to-back "Atmospheric River" event to hit them. There is torrential rain, widespread flooding, major wind damage, coastal flooding, and lots of snow in the mountains.  I spoke with a woman at a Northern California nursery supply today and she said that the roads going into Oregon were closed due to flooding.  There will be a lot of negative impacts on agriculture and, of course, greenhouses.