Nebraska retiree uses earths's heat to grow oranges in snow

Nebraska retiree uses earths's heat to grow oranges in snow

Winter temperatures in Alliance, Nebraska can drop to -20°F (the record low is -40°F/C), but retired mailman Russ Finch grows oranges in his backyard greenhouse without paying for heat. Instead, he draws on the earth’s stable temperature (around 52 degrees in his region) to grow warm weather produce- citrus, figs, pomegranates – in the snow.

Finch first discovered geothermal heating in 1979 when he and his wife built it into their 4400-square-foot dream home to cut energy costs. Eighteen years later they decided to add a 16’x80′ greenhouse in the backyard. The greenhouse resembles a pit greenhouse (walipini) in that the floor is dug down 4 feet below the surface and the roof is slanted to catch the southern sun.

To avoid using heaters for the cold Nebraska winter nights, Finch relies on the warm underground air fed into the greenhouse via plastic tubing under the yard and one fan.

Finch sells a “Citrus in the Snow” report detailing his work with his “geo-air” greenhouses and says anyone can build a market-producing greenhouse for about $25,000 or “less than the cost of a heat system on a traditional greenhouse”.


  1. Omar Chaudhry on August 8, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    incredible! thank you for sharing and teaching!

    how does pollination take place in the green house?

  2. Paul Ladendorf on August 8, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    "We have skeptics that say this won’t work. When I’m told that I pick an orange and try to figure where I went wrong while I eat it." 😀

  3. justin mcarthur on August 8, 2021 at 9:45 pm

    Any tips for a small yard only about 50 yards of space?

  4. SamuHell782 on August 8, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    Great.. Now I want a Earthship AND a Geo Greenhouse with Aquaponics. Oh tks alot Kristen! 😁

  5. R S on August 8, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    Rewatching in 2021. Walipini’s just popped up in my head and I had to re-watch this fascinating video. Someday… I promise someday I’ll have my dream garden and greenhouse

  6. Christine VR on August 8, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    I want to do this so much. I live in Canada and I want to grow my own oranges through the winter AND heat my house.

  7. richard poulin on August 8, 2021 at 9:55 pm

    Long life to you Baba!❤️

  8. The Intuitive Body Foodie Network on August 8, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    Wow, this is awesome!!

  9. Doris Edwards on August 8, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    Nebraska retiree uses "earths’s" heat to grow oranges in snow. 🙂 Does youtube not have an Edit feature?

  10. Haley Fitzpatrick on August 8, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    My husband has a dream of growing citrus in the cascade mountains in Washington state. It’s our favorite place in the world and he has a love of citrus trees. Our house is full of them. I’ll have to show him this video

  11. Nate Murphy on August 8, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    Wow I would love to have that heat in western Washington I have a small 14 foot greenhouse

  12. Shovel County on August 8, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    Do anyone know if he has holes in his pipes underground

  13. Y T on August 8, 2021 at 9:59 pm

    Thanks Dr.Finch for taking the time to speak and give me a private tour🤓

  14. xXelitegpXx on August 8, 2021 at 9:59 pm

    After learning about so many ways to harness energy from natural resources I am amazed at how the government was able to create such a huge necessity of natural gas. I mean a compost mound with some food scraps and dried grass can provide gases for cooking and heat to warm an entire house or greenhouse.

  15. teelermeeler on August 8, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    does anyone think this can be accomplished in CO, specifically the SW? Grow zone 6a I believe. thanks

  16. Hany on August 8, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    Does this asymmetrical shape of greenhouse – with a curved front and a straightish back wall – have a name?
    Would love to use this design and wondering whether the frame could be sourced as is.

  17. David Treibs on August 8, 2021 at 10:01 pm

    Wonder if you could grow mangosteen. Wonder if it would be worth the trouble.

  18. Ee J on August 8, 2021 at 10:01 pm

    I see, there is air in the tubes. You could also circulate a liquid with a low boiling point and circulate it into a coil to transfer that heat to water or an air blower because just like earth’s temperature varies less than air, so does water. Its harder to lay a liquid tight system in the soil and can also make wildlife curious enuf to dig it up, ultimately, but prob gathers more heat in less feet of pipe. Just putting that out there.
    I am Re-watching this in 2021. This is one of your best videos ever thanks for your good work

  19. Donald Burroughs on August 8, 2021 at 10:04 pm

    Not only is this video important, but documenting it on paper is also imperative. These type of local homespun successes are antithetical to industrial farming in its current model of production.

  20. jo3y86 on August 8, 2021 at 10:04 pm

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  21. My Container Garden on August 8, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE YOUR VIDEOS!

  22. LYSA FOX on August 8, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    How can I get more information, closing on 9 acres next week. Want to build utilizing the earth.

  23. Evan Hodge on August 8, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    Great to see anyone exercise their imagination and intelligence for a definite improvement in life. Mr Finch is more than inspiring, he’s a prophet.

  24. Karl Hungus on August 8, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    Wonderful story. This gentleman is fantastic and a wealth of knowledge.

  25. greenhouseinsnow on August 8, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    Russ Finch: Thank you Kirsten for the great video it raised so many questions I thought I needed to answer some.
    Pollination: There area lot of misconnects about pollination while most plants can benefit not many require pollination to produce. While citrus might benefit they set so much fruit that they abort until they can support what remains. The only plant we need to hand pollinate is the pomegranate.
    Bees: If there are bees in the area they will find their way into the unit through the open ventilation windows.
    Co2: Is overblown there seems to be no shortage in our system we have trouble keeping growth under control.
    Latitude: We have learned so much about latitude with this project mostly it isn’t reliable for gaging heat and cold. The important thing is local climates. South of Oslo Norway is around 57° latitude where we are 42° but their winter average is 10° warmer than ours. The ocean and lake effects influence also.
    52°: Lots of confusion about the temperature of the earth in relation to the greenhouse temp. The blower for the earth geo only turns on at 50° or below until then the warmth from the pit radiates heat and during the day in the middle of a February day, outside temp. 20° if the sun is out the temp at 6′ will be around 80° and the peak of the unit will get to over 124°.
    Radon: WE have never heard of radon problems probably because the solution for radon is ventilation and that is our whole system.
    Break even point; We have 41 units all over the U.S. and Canada now and the oldest units growing commercially are less than 3 years old so we have little information. The typical 96′ greenhouse for local growing will cost about $24,000 if you have access to a backhoe and can do the labor. That size unit can support around 18 citrus trees that will take up 20% of the growing area. The citrus will produce fruit from the first year and be what we would call mature ( about 100# per tree) in from 6 to 12 years. The rest of the growing area can be used for any crop and should produce income to pay for the unit before the citrus is mature.
    Grants: We have shied away from outside money after being approved for a $70,000 grant from the University of Nebraska only to have them decide to "not release the funds" after we had started to build. At that time we scaled back on the size and financed it our self.
    Insects; Very little problem with insects after the first 3 years when we stopped using toxic chemicals and started using Horticulture oil (ultra refined mineral oil) it is safe and effective we just tree the problem area not the entire unit.
    Agriculture needs to grow this way; This type growing can produce some of our table vegetables and fruit but there is no way we can produce enough to replace conventional farming.

    We have skeptics that say this won’t work when I’m told that I pick an orange and try to figure where I went wrong while I eat it.

  26. Free Thinker on August 8, 2021 at 10:15 pm

    I wonder is there an issue with radon ?

  27. Chase Me on August 8, 2021 at 10:18 pm

    If the corrugated pipe was replaced with smooth wall piping, they could greatly reduce the HP requirements on the fan motors. Also, replace the PSC motors with ECM motors.

  28. King G on August 8, 2021 at 10:20 pm

    Quick question "!! How can i get to be a taste tester "!! Seriously. I love me some citrus.

  29. Nathan Palmer on August 8, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    I’m curious about aquaponics setup they mentioned at 14:30 . I’ve been interested in both aquaponics and passive greenhouses, and would like to combine them but I feel like I would be concerned with the humidity from so much standing water. Would mold possibly growing in the underground piping be a concern?

  30. Selcuk Ipek on August 8, 2021 at 10:24 pm


  31. Ced Burner on August 8, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    The maddening step-son intriguinly warm because calf wessely talk versus a wakeful cartoon. noisy, unusual plantation

  32. Question Everything on August 8, 2021 at 10:25 pm

    Heat pumps are WAY underutilized. It is probably THE most important starting point for being energy efficient; because temperature control is probably the highest energy cost in most homes and most businesses too.

  33. King G on August 8, 2021 at 10:26 pm

    @Kirsten Dirksten I’m glad to see your doing ok …. you make me happy when you post videos " ! 🤗😇😎👈 please be safe you and your family.

  34. t Foley on August 8, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    The only thing semi new with this idea is the geothermal heat pump and that goes back to the 1940;s. Growing Oranges in harsh climates go back even further Russians were doing that over a hundred years ago! Look up Trench Gardening! But you do have to give him credit for applying the 2 concepts and making some improvements to the ideas!

  35. Two Songs on August 8, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    Geothermal energy is awesome but what about radon radiation?

  36. Candace on August 8, 2021 at 10:32 pm

    Watching in 2021 I live in Nebraska n want to start my own garden through the years n needed ideas

  37. Jacob Sparks on August 8, 2021 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing ! I can use this knowledge and apply it to my grows I Knf a am already just not underground. I’m going trough the walls and floors of raised grow rooms . About to make the switch to solar 😁

  38. Sheep In Wolves Clothing on August 8, 2021 at 10:35 pm

    Dale Gribble: "We’ll grow oranges in Alaska"

  39. Olmec One on August 8, 2021 at 10:35 pm

    I love this !!!

  40. Voujdjr on August 8, 2021 at 10:36 pm

    any info on buying these plans?

  41. JibbaJabber on August 8, 2021 at 10:36 pm


  42. Kamil Woźniak on August 8, 2021 at 10:36 pm

    So theres hot air underground there or sum?

  43. FerretFather on August 8, 2021 at 10:38 pm

    how much do they cost and where would you purchase them?

  44. abstractedaway on August 8, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    This combines so many elements of my favorite designs. This gentleman’s attention to detail is going to help a lot of people! If earthships are any clue, masonry and cisterns could add to the thermal mass, so none of the design features of this greenhouse need to be a one-off.

  45. Ben Funk on August 8, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    A rare “old timer” who has spent his life doing things better, rather than “how they’ve always been done”. Everyone needs to internalize this sort of progress, and never stop finding better ways to do things.

  46. Y eah on August 8, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    I want to give my remaining years to this young man.

  47. Alexandra on August 8, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    Makes me wanna cry, I love brave, smart, inventive, innovative people who love to dream 💖

  48. Trevor Stolz on August 8, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    Do you need sump pumps in the greenhouse to keep it from flooding the way a basement will flood in a house without sump pumps ?

  49. Double D Homestead on August 8, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    Fascinating:). thanks!

  50. Justme Here on August 8, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    Wow, my dream even at 61 years old! I so wish I had one even if it were 1/2 or 3rd the size. I would absolutely love to grow my own food year round. I live in the south & have an in ground concrete block tornado shelter. When it is hot outside, the shelter is very cool inside. When it is cold outside, the shelter is nice & warm. It has made me wish & wonder how a home could be built to use these features plus have an indoor garden. I once saw where a couple dug down in the ground and did similar to this, but did not vent the ground air. I would also like to have the fish tank area idea for fresh fish & the use of the water for the plants. That man is so ingenious and this was a pleasure to see!

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