Reg & Deb Miller’s 22′ Greenhouse
In 2002, Deb’s doctor diagnosed her with an autoimmune disorder and recommended she make a lifestyle change. After a long recovery, Reg and Deb Miller packed up their city life in Alberta in 2007 and left to start a new adventure semi-retiring in Anglemont, British Columbia.
Reg and Deb discovered Growing Spaces many years prior from her sister, who wanted a Dome but never seemed to get around to it. So just weeks after their big move, they committed to a drastic change and went all in and purchased their very own 22′ Growing Dome in 2011 to grow nutrient-dense food.
Getting & Building the Dome
Instead of shipping the greenhouse all the way to British Columbia, Reg and Deb drove down to North Dakota to pick up their DIY Geodesic Greenhouse Kit. When I asked Deb what it was like building their greenhouse, she said, “Reg is quite the handyman. He did most of the physical building, asking me to hand him certain pieces and parts. With the help of a neighbor, we were able to get it up in about three days, and it was fully functioning by spring.” They then added a simple, covered walkway connecting the greenhouse to their patio.
Even before making their big move, Reg and Deb were committed to living more independently and growing their own food. They “didn’t want to reply on outsourcing”. Deb was raised on a farm, “As one of eight kids, you either helped grow food or starved.” She then became Deb Miller, RN, Dipl. P.H., BSN and pursued a career in allopathic medicine in nursing for sixteen years. Reg was also raised on a small hobby farm and spent summers at his grandfather’s vineyard.
Inside their Growing Dome
They designed their greenhouse with cold winters and little sun in mind, adding a large center bed and perimeter beds along the foundation wall. In the summers, they use their entire greenhouse. From November 15th to mid-February or March, when light is minimal, and the heaters are on, they focus solely on the center bed where they have added supplemental grow lights to provide their crops with artificial sunlight.
Their 900-gallon pond, which comes standard in all of our 22′ Domes, has eight goldfish and an extra-large filtration system that Deb called “the cat’s meow.” It keeps the pond clear of algae and the fish happy.
What are they Growing?
Carrying on his grandfather’s legacy, Reg started a small vineyard on their property consisting of over 150 grapevines. All but about a dozen of them were propagated out of the greenhouse over the years. “The propagation and seed saving is HUGE in terms of saving money.” They don’t sell the wine they make with their produce. It is more of a passion project that they share with friends and family.
Grapes aren’t all they grow. After getting the greenhouse, Reg and Deb took an organic master gardening course through Gaia College. It took them three winters to complete, but it seems to have paid off. “A significant percentage of their diet is grown vs. bought.” Deb is particularly proud of her lemon and lime trees. With the weather dropping to -20 a few days out of the winter, this is the first season they heated the greenhouse. They use two small water tank heaters that are only 300-watt heaters and a small radiant heater when it gets really cold. With the extra heat and a set of greenhouse lights centered over the middle beds, their little trees thrived this year along with sweet potatoes and lettuces.
How has the Greenhouse affected their lives?
Deb was excited to say that their fresh from the vine “nutrient-dense diet” has been such a positive impact on both their physical and mental health. “Growing your own food is something everyone should do. I will never go back. It instills a sense of patience that giving you the opportunity to slow down and reset. It just smells good in there.”
Owning a Growing Dome has really changed their lives. Deb (Katelyn) was so in love with this newfound sense of wellness through a nutrient-dense diet that she decided to share it with the world. So that she did. In 2019 she co-published a cookbook with her sister Linda called Eat 4 Health.
“Eat 4 Health is a cookbook for anyone wishing to regain their health and energy. It provides recipes that are grain-free, dairy-free, lectin-reduced, sugar-reduced, and low in animal protein. Using delicious, organic ingredients, the recipes will help you focus on choosing foods that bring an energetic, fog-free, pain-free lifestyle. This is not a diet—it’s a new way of eating for life.”
“Turn away from processed foods and return to the basics. Let food be your friend. Join us on this wonderful journey and Eat 4 Your Health.” You can learn more or purchase a copy on their website eating4health.ca. The web site also includes gardening tips and ideas.
Advice to Future Dome Owners
“FAN FANS FANS air movement is so critical” for both growth and fighting pesky aphids. Reg and Debs Growing Dome has electricity, and they have added many fans in addition to those that come with the kit. Including one to the undersoil vents that Reg purchased from princess auto. If you focus soley on off-grid growing, we recommend our solar power fans.
In summary “Understanding the reality that it’s a whole other environment and being present determines your level of success. You need to be okay with the fact that the sun doesn’t always shine. Feed your soil properly, and every year things will improve. 2019 was our most successful winter yet.”
Show off your greenhouse!
You can find all of our Featured Growing Dome’s highlighted in our monthly newsletter “The Happy Grower,” on our social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram), and in our blog. At the end of the year, we create an annual calendar that includes every Dome of the Month. We send them to all Dome of the Month participants, along with a gift of Growing Spaces gardening goodies! Apply here. Have questions about a high altitude gardening? Send us an email to [email protected]