The Forest Garden Greenhouse 2

A Guide to Year-Round Growing in the Roaring Fork Valley

For roughly 200 years, greenhouses have been a mainstay of the market garden and nursery trades. But the possibilities of these indoor gardens to transform our homes and our lives remain largely unrealized.

In this ground-breaking book, Jerome Osentowski, a Roaring Fork Valley local and one of North America’s most accomplished permaculture designers, shows how to bring a forest garden indoors, even on unlikely terrain and in cold climates, using near-net-zero technology.

The Forest Garden Greenhouse advocates a unique approach to indoor agriculture using permaculture design concepts that take season extension into new and important territory, whether you’re growing food or medicinals for your family or commercially. “I think it will be a great resource for anyone in the valley, or in other similar climates who want to grow food all year-round,” says Ostentowski.

Osentowski lives in a passive solar home he built at 7,200 feet above Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. Director and founder of Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute and a permaculture designer for thirty years, he has built five greenhouses for himself and scores of others for private clients and public schools in the Rockies and beyond. Osentowski makes his living from an intensively cultivated one acre of indoor and outdoor forest garden and plant nursery, which he uses as a backdrop for intensive permaculture and greenhouse design courses.

Osentowski, who farms on a steep, rocky hillside near Basalt (along with architect and design partner Michael Thompson), has been designing and building revolutionary greenhouses that utilize passive and active solar heat storage technologies via a revolutionary energy-cycling technology called the “climate battery.”  This subterranean air-circulation system pushes hot, moist, ambient air from the greenhouse during the day through a network of buried perforated tubes, storing heat and humidity in the soil, to be retrieved again during cold nights. This remarkable technology creates tropical and Mediterranean climates at high altitudes and in cold climates (and everywhere else).

In addition to learning how to create their own climate battery, readers will receive in-depth information about:

  • The fundamentals of design and construction of greenhouses of various sizes;
  • Capturing energy and ventilation;
  • Bed layout and soil-building techniques;
  • The secrets of successful companion planting;
  • The use of microclimates within and around the greenhouse, and more.

The Forest Garden Greenhouse includes case studies of the greenhouses in operation at CRMPI—designed specifically for the do-it-yourself builder—as well as other studies that highlight larger and more ambitious greenhouses built on the same principles.

Whether the reader’s goal is simply to extend the growing season by a few weeks or to build a year-round tropical greenhouse, this book’s detailed drawings, photos and profiles of successful greenhouse projects on all scales will fundamentally change the conversation about growing food indoors.

For more information about the book, see Chelsea Green Publications at