Growing Cannabis in a Geo-dome
Recently I spent a day touring Geo Domes with the intent of understanding how these structures may be beneficial in the cultivation of cannabis. Some of the benefits of growing inside a dome include:
1. The domes require little or no reliance on outside energy. They are self-sustainable with automatic opening window vents for cooling. The three vents, one above and two below create a chimney effect, bringing in cooler air from below and venting the hot air out the top.
2. The domes are set up with a solar powered central air system. A fan blows the air inside the greenhouse through pipes buried in the soil bed, effectively heating the underground soil in the winter and cooling it in the summer. Essentially you could grow year-round but would need to supplement heating in the winter and more then likely lighting, for cannabis cultivation.
3. Geo domes withstand heavy snow loads and strong winds. It will keep out both animals and hail. They are the safest and strongest buildings in existence and can withstand hurricane force winds.
4. An above ground pond inside the dome regulates thermal air mass and keeps temperatures 30 degrees warmer then the outside temperature in the winter. In the summer, air is cooler then outside due to the north wall insulation. The insulation known as reflectix, reflects light evenly onto the plants and provides shade during the harsh sun.
5. The dome panels are made with clear polycarbonate which allows for 65% light transmission. This helps to keep plants from burning up. The geo structure disperses light evenly throughout the day, whereas in a green house, lighting is more direct in spots depending on the suns location .
6. A foundation wall is built around the base of the dome to prevent flower beds from losing heat during the winter months.
1. The heat inside the domes during summer may prove too much for cannabis. One dome owner I spoke with stated temps sometimes rise above 100, even with a shade cloth. Electricity could potentially be run to the dome along with installation of an a/c unit, but it may be costly to operate.
2. The raised beds inside the dome leave little room for cannabis plants to grow in height. Smaller domes have a ceiling height of 10’ to 11’. It is lower on the sides then in the center. Theoretically cannabis plants could be trained to grow vertically up a trellis. Or a floor plan could be designed where plants are placed in the center of the dome and companion plants around the walls. With raised beds, there is not much room to grow.
3. The above ground pond takes up significant square footage. Unfortunately, you cannot grow cannabis in bloom using aquaponics, but you can put your vegetative plants in here. This is valuable real estate inside the dome. Finding a way to utilize this space should be of importance.
4. Temps in the winter are likely to dip below freezing at night without supplemental heating. This is too cold for cannabis and your plants will die. Consider adding electricity along with a supplemental greenhouse heater or a wood stove with a blower. I besupplemental lighting would be needed in the Winter as cannabis should ideally have 12 hours of sun in bloom.
5. The domes are a significant investment. The cost of a geo dome can range from $9,000 for a 15 ft. diameter to $40,000 for a 42 foot diameter. This is before installation costs, which increase the price significantly. Most domes are warrantied for 10 years and expected to last up to 20.