Build a $300 Underground Greenhouse for Year-round Fresh Food

About 20 years ago, underground greenhouses came about in South America as an alternative way to extend the growing season other than just the normal ‘above ground’ greenhouse. Apart from being novel, they also cost significantly less than your standard greenhouse above ground, as it costs less to heat.

Gardening is such a deep passion for those that enjoy it, plus a necessity for food production, but is often not possible to do all year round due to the climate and varying weather depending on where you are situated relevant to your distance from the equator.

Build A $300 Underground Greenhouse "Walipini" That Grows Food ...

So, if this idea appeals to you to have all year round gardening at your fingertips , your own fresh vegetables at anytime of year with no need to go shopping for them – read on!

It is ultimately a big rectangular (easiest shape to put a roof on) hole dug a few feet into the ground. Layout is to your preference of how many beds you want and then some gravel or stones with a good layer of soil and compost ready for your crops to be planted. You can even do raised beds if you prefer this option,  the greenhouse is your ‘oyster!’

It is cost effective and can have more than one function. Not only are people growing their crops in it, some even use it during the colder months for keeping smaller livestock inside too. An ideal place that is warm and cosy, attracting the chickens to lay eggs inside while they forage for food outside.

This led to some people even installing fireplaces inside to heat it up that also has a dual purpose, as in the hotter months the flue is used as a vent to release hot air. These greenhouses get extremely warm in the warmer weather.

A small room can also be built on top of the greenhouse that could have 2 entrances (one from inside the greenhouse with steps up into it and one from outside too) that allows for more air circulation. This room is often just a simple A-frame structure with clear roof sheeting (same as the greenhouse without this room) to allow light in whilst keeping the heat contained.

For irrigation a water tank can be filled from the roof of the small room or from another source, and is piped from the tank down into the greenhouse that can be either a tap and hose system, or a more involved irrigation system if you choose.


Costings will depend on your final design of course and what materials you have existing and what you can re-purpose or pick up for a good price.  Gardeners often seem to have lots of useful materials stockpiled! Estimated costs are around $100 to $300.

Below is a list of plants , including flowers that are suitable to be grown in a greenhouse, but of course is not limited to this list:

Achimenes ,Agapanthus, Ageratum, Alonsoa (Mask Flower), Anthericum (St Bernard Lily), Antirrhinum (Snapdragon), Aristolochia (Dutchman’s Pipe), Arum Lily, Azalea ,Babiana ,Begonia, Beloperone (The Shrimp Plant), Bougainviilea, Browallia, Brunfelsia, Calceolaria (Slipper Flower), Calendula (Pot Marigold), Camellia, Campanula (Bell-flower), Canna (Indian Shot), Carnations, Celosia, Celsia, Chorizema, Chrysanthemum, Cineraria, Clarkia, Ciivia, Cobaea (Cups and Saucers), Coleus, Columnea, Cornflower, Crocus, Cyclamen, Cytisus, Daphne, Deutzia, Dicentra (Bleeding Heart), Echium, Erica (Heath), Erythrina, Eucomis (Pineapple Flower), Exacum, Forsythia, Francoa (Bridal Wreath), Freesia, Fremontia, Fuchsia, Gerbera (Barberton Daisy), Gloriosa, Gloxinia, Godetia, Heliotrope (Cherry Pie), Hippeastrum, Hoya, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Impatiens (Balsam), Ipomoea, Iris, Kalanchoe, Laburnum, Lachenalia, Lantana, Lapageria, Lilium, Mignonette, Narcissus, Naegelia, Nemesia, Nerine, Nerium (Oleander), Pelargonium, Petunia, Phlox, Plumbago, Primula, Rehmannia, Rhododendron, Saintpaulia (The African Violet), Salpiglossis, Salvia, Schizanthus (The Butterfly Flower), Scilla, Solanum (Winter Cherry), Sparmannia, Statice, Stephanotis, Streptocarpus, Streptosolen, Thunbergia, Torenia, Trachelium, Trachymene, Tritonia, Tuberose, Tulip, Vallota, Verbena, Viscaria, Zinnia



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