Solar Pyramids
In The Minibeds

27 March 2017

It's a rainy, overcast day here in upstate New York. There is still snow in the hollows, but my Minibeds-on-Plastic experimental garden is clear. So, today, in the midst of so much wetness, I set up some Whizbang solar pyramids in the minibeds. 

As you can see in the picture above, the solar pyramids fit the minibeds perfectly. And the plastic flaps on the pyramid covers fit under the minibed frames right nice. I didn't have the solar pyramids in mind when I decided on the minibed size last summer. So this is a pleasant surprise, indeed.

If you have read my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners (and visited the special hidden web site I created just for readers of that book), you are familiar with my solar pyramid idea. But for those of you who have not seen these unique garden devices, here is a picture I took several years ago that illustrates just how remarkable these solar pyramids are...

In the picture above, you can see a tomato plant inside a solar pyramid, and you can tell that it is a good size. In the background (on the right) you can see some smaller tomato plants. Believe it or not, all the tomato plants were transplanted into the garden on the same day, and they were the same size when planted. The tomato plant in the solar pyramid was in a totally ideal  growing environment, while the others were not. That made all the difference.

It's not a pyramid-power thing. It's a solar thing. And, as I explain in my book, this idea came from Leandre Poissson's excellent Solar Gardening book. Leandre made solar cones using an expensive rigid plastic. My solar pyramids are made using a much-less-expensive (but very durable) woven plastic. Here's a picture of Leandre Poisson with one of his solar cones...

The diffuse light inside the cone is ideal for plant growth. And the dynamics of the open top on the cone (with the bottom being sealed) play an important role in maintaining optimum growing conditions. The growth inside one of these things is nothing short of amazing.

It is much too early to plant anything in the garden, but I have been reading about winter sowing of garden seeds (thank you, Scott Cooper). I have a feeling that I can vary the common winter sowing approach and simply plant seeds directly in the earth inside the solar cones. When the soil temperature and environment in the cones is right (long before it is right outside the cones) the seeds will get themselves started.

If I can start tomatoes from seed, directly in the soil, in very early spring, here in upstate NY, and have them be at least as big as the usual transplants at the usual planting time, that would be quite an accomplishment. Same goes for some other crops that are not usually planted this early.

I've wanted to try this for a few years and haven't done it. This year will be different. I now have an experimental Minibeds-on-Plastic garden!

Stay tuned...


  1. Hi Herrick, I ordered the stuff from the guy out west that you recommended and got enough that I could build ten of those. Used them last spring to get a bunch of squash and melon plants going way early for here. Got a lot and a few muskmelons about 8-12" circumference.
    I wondered if they would fit over ,like the Haxnicks or inside but Hadn't tried it yet.

    Also picked up 4 more Haxnicks for a now total of ten of them. IPLAN ON HAVING SOME KALE THIS YEAR!

    Got six people coming over to look at the setup with the mini beds. Mostly older, 50 and up to see what it is all about. Will be handing out slips with a couple of email/blog addy's on them!!

    Then there is another group who want to do a community garden on space let by a rather well to do guy here on the Island. I am wondering how much foot traffic this 6 mil bunker cover will tolerate before it starts to breakdown, or if it even will! I try to take a different route for every trip up and down the space.

    Put in four mini beds of lettuce and two of Kale inside the HT. I think tomorrow I'll install the solar cloches on each to help heat them up for a month or so. I am actually having FUN doing this this way! See you around the campus!!

  2. Everett—

    I have no idea how much foot traffic the bunker cover plastic will endure. I guess your garden will be more of a test than mine. I can tell you that the billboard plastic appears to be much thicker and more durable than the bunker cover. But it is only available in widths up to 16ft.

    I ordered a large size of the billboard plastic to use the minibed idea (without the frames) to make a bramble "grove" on the land I own away from my house. And I ordered a smaller billboard cover for one of my sons who is inspired to have his first garden. He wants a huge garden but I got him plastic enough for a garden with 18 minibeds. That is enough to grow a lot of food with minimal work. He has a regular job and does remodeling work on the side so I'm pretty sure a large garden, even if it's minibeds, would get neglected.

    I think this concept with its small-bed manageability and total suppression of weed growth outside the beds is most appealing to older people. That's the feedback I'm getting thus far.

    Those Haxnicks cloches are very convenient. I wish they weren't so expensive. But they do the job. I'm curious to see how many seasons they last.

    Solar pyramids inside a high tunnel. That's some real climate change!

    Thanks for the feedback, and positivity.