It is the dark and cold of mid-January but I’m beginning to plan for what will be our third summer growing season in our 20′ dome in the backyard of our home in Nome. It was a bit of an investment upfront, but even my spendthrift husband agrees it’s been a great investment that adds considerably to the quality of our life in Nome. Our initial shipment came minus a few parts and pieces, but James made good on everything, and all at his own expense. This said a lot to us about the integrity of the person we were dealing with – even if his written instructions could have been a little better!
Nome experiences fairly dramatic wind and blizzards, but the dome has held up just fine – and I’m counting on it continuing to do so for many years! It’s a delight to dig my way in in winter, and be out of the wind and snow and smell and see the dark earth. In summer Nome is known for cool and often rainy weather, but the dome has been prolific! We eat from the greenhouse from late June into October, and once we add a Toyo stove our season will begin earlier and last longer. What a treat to have fresh, organic vegetables for ourselves, our freezer, our friends and even a friend’s small cafe.
Lettuce grows so fast that I anticipate 2-3 plantings this summer. We enjoy an abundance of cherry tomatoes and mid-size tomatoes each season, along with cucumbers, peppers, peas, kale, beets, green onions, cauliflower, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, collards, chard, beans, turnips, herbs, strawberries – and flowers. We’ve set aside space for a small table and chairs where we often enjoy take our meals. It’s like adding a another room to our home!
We try to eat as locally as possible, from setting net for salmon, hoping a friend gets a moose or a few caribou, to picking wild greens and LOTS of wild berries! The dome now provides a wonderful array of vegetables we can enjoy for a number of months. And it’s amazing all the winter meals one can slip some frozen kale into! We love our dome greenhouse!
Sue S. Nome, AK
We constructed our 40′ dome last July (2016). The assembly was straight-forward and I was amazed at how smoothly the structure went together. James was helpful at every step in the process and we are very happy with how everything turned out.
I believe the key to the smooth installation was the foundation preparation. For a foundation, we placed concrete piers at each vertex and a treated 4×4 perimeter chord on top of those piers. James came out to the site and laid out perimeter boards so we could precisely locate our foundation both horizontally and vertically. We established precise perimeter elevations with a laser level. The foundation elevated the wall and provided positive drainage away from the structure.
The main reason we went with this dome was its advertised structural strength. As we connected dome struts and worked our way up the walls, everything seemed pretty rickety; but as soon as the last structural members went into place at the peak, the entire structure became very solid and inspired confidence in it’s inherent strength.
In my opinion, the hardest part of the entire project was installing the plastic shell. For that, James came out to direct and assist in the installation of the uppermost plastic panels… he also gave us a clear understanding of how to accomplish the installation of the remaining plastic.
One of the unique features of our dome is the 4′ wall height and 2’x4′ drop-down wall-vent panels. We requested the panel openings to try and keep the dome as cool as possible without having to install vent fans. On sunny days we left the wall vents open. I monitored temperatures within the dome and compared those to temperatures in our 13’x37′ greenhouse about 100′ away. We have vent fans in the greenhouse and none in the dome. In general, on warm, sunny days, ground level temperatures inside the dome were about 10 degrees cooler than the greenhouse. So far we are very glad that we have the panels for passive temperature control. At the 24′ peak inside the dome, temperatures were roughly comparable to the greenhouse.
Lastly, I would like to give an example of the benefits of working with an Alaskan based, hands-on company like Arctic Dome Greenhouses. We are growing 10 trees inside our dome. After giving us a price quote, James thought about how we were using the dome and decided to add about 4′ to the height of the structure to give us more “headroom” for the trees. Doing so also simplified construction (how it did so is a bit too technical to explain here). This modification was made without adjusting the price tag and shows James’ commitment to making sure the dome was the very best it could be …for us.
HM (Butch) and Cindy D.
Most awesome and PRACTICAL greenhouse for Alaska. Incredible snow load strength will allow a no worry winter escape for me and no need to remove the cover! Looking forward to a FAST start early spring. Great staff on the install and once I had my part done went up fast . Thanks James for all your extra efforts and imparted knowledge.
Thank you, LT