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My "cool" growing area

Discussion in 'Growing Areas' started by goods, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Here's the mostly complete growing case using an old beverage refrigerator. I'm using a Zoo Med Hygrotherm to regulate the temperatures inside the fridge. Daytime high is set for 73 and nighttime low is 55. According to the humidity meter on the Hygrotherm my humidity drops to about 78% on days I don't water and the highest it's been is 91%

    IMAG0129.jpg

    Because this is so well sealed, I have to use a larger fan than the typical computer fans used in terrariums.

    IMAG0132.jpg

    And last is a not so great picture of some of the success so far. This is a Masd. coccinea. I tried to focus on the new growths while taking the picture. The fridge was dark, though, so the picture didn't come out too great. It's put out two new growths since I've had it.

    IMAG0130.jpg

    The only thing I still haven't resolved is lighting. Currently, I'm using a daylight CFL bulb in a desk lamp placed in front of the glass door. The plants are growing with it, but I'm pretty sure it's not even close to enough light to get them to bloom. Any suggestions you have for that are welcome. I'm going to focus primarily on growing Pleurothallids and possibly Oxyglossum Dendrobiums with a few odds and ends to give an idea of the light levels I'm trying to attain
    IMAG0129.jpg IMAG0132.jpg IMAG0130.jpg
     
    mossbear likes this.
  2. This_guy_Bri

    This_guy_Bri weirdo

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    looks great!
    do you introduce 'fresh air'?
     
  3. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I hand water with a pressurized sprayer daily or every other day, so it gets totally opened up to the room air then.
     
  4. mini-catts

    mini-catts Member

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    You can try a 4 tube t 5 fixture and place in front of the door. I tried something similar using a freezer unit with a thermostat. Unfortunately it failed miserably. I'm not sure if it was the humidity (lack of). I'm thinking it was the plants did not like the closed air space. Good luck! Pete
     
  5. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks Pete! I'll look into a way to mount the T5 in front of the door. There's a Hydrofarm retailer not far from me, so I'll go check out what they have. Did you keep it closed up at all times or were their times when you vented your set up? I've had this running for close to three months with decent results. I've only killed Masd. yungasensis, and everything else is putting out new growths for the most part.
     
  6. mini-catts

    mini-catts Member

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    I did not open it too often. I did try to mist it everyday. One mistake might have been i did not vary the temperature between day and night. I think i set the thermostat at 55.
    Pete
     
  7. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Yea the cool thing about the Hygrotherm is that it has a night drop setting with a light sensor, so once the timer turns off the lights the fridge kicks on to drop it to 55. Do you think I can keep Dens. like cuthbertsonii successfully if I increase the lighting?
     
  8. mini-catts

    mini-catts Member

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    you can always try. As long as you have good humidity, they should like it.
    Pete
     
  9. Tom-DE

    Tom-DE Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    with 73F/55F year round? Maybe. but without good air movement(fresh air from time to time), I doubt the plants would be happy tho.

    Are you having fungal or mite problem now? I see some spots and markings on the leaves..., for such a small, enclosed growing area, any dead leaf should be removed as soon as possible. Just my two cents. Good luck and please bring us update.
     
  10. Chris

    Chris New Member

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    Goods, I agree with Tom about fresh air.

    Also, you definitely need improved lighting.
     
  11. Chris

    Chris New Member

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    Hey Tom, are you thinking 55 is a little on the warm side for lowest low?
     
  12. Tom-DE

    Tom-DE Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Chris, it won't hurt(for Den. cuthbertsonii) if the night time temperature is few degree lower(than 55F)...
    What I am saying is a slightly cooler day time or night time temperatures during part of the year would be even better. Some seasonal changes are a good thing. While temperature drop at night daily and naturally is fantastic, the next best thing is to have some seasonal changes.
     
  13. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Tom, I vent it almost daily. I try to do it while the fan's blowing to get as much of the old air exchanged for new. Should I do it more often? The black spots you see are from when I only had a computer fan running which was nowhere near enough, and the one really bad leaf in the second picture is of a Dracula that suffered cold damage when I almost froze it.

    What temperature range are you thinking? 73 day, 55 night in the summer and what in the winter? The only reason I came up with 55 is because I've seen Marni say she grows many of her Oxyglossums 55 to 80.

    Chris, I know. My lighting sucks...
     
  14. Tom-DE

    Tom-DE Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    year round 55-73F is okay(not great) but if you keep it cooler for some part of the year(let say in the mid 60s for winter day time), your cuthbertsonii will be happier.

    About the air venting--I know you might vent it daily but "how often" is the question. If you can bring in some fresh air every hour or so, you should be okay.
     
  15. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Ok I can do that no problem. I set the thermostat at 73, but it doesn't necessarily get to that point every day in winter. I'll set the thermostat a little lower to give a seasonal change, though.

    The venting may be a more problematic issue. If I did some kind of fan system where I blow outside air in every so often, I'd have to cut open the fridge. That wouldn't be a problem except I'm not sure of a way to seal it and then open it on an hourly basis. The summer room temp can get up to 80, so leaving even a small area permanently open would seem counterproductive. Any ideas?

    I could manually vent multiple times a day. It may not be hourly, but I could do it 5-10 times a day as I walk past it.
     
  16. Chris

    Chris New Member

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    Goods, don't underestimate the power and brute force of compressor-based refrigeration. My guess is that if you drilled a small (less than 2" hole) in the side of the fridge (MAKE SURE THE CONDENSER COIL ISN'T WHERE YOU'RE DRILLING!) and installed a small PC fan over it, you could still get temps in the 50's. I very much agree with Tom that fresh air is going to be a major consideration. My tank growing experience has taught me at least that you can't get enough fresh air.
     
  17. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Oh ok. I was thinking of a much larger hole, but one that small shouldn't be a problem. I think all of the cooling components are on the top of the fridge, so I could drill into one of the walls and install it there.
     
  18. skinnybonedog

    skinnybonedog Member

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    I have some small fans if you need a couple....the intermedius tank in the frognet gallery has a custom plexi panel that I put in two small fans for the orchids....one 60mm blowing in and one even smaller one blowing out....I need to set that up again. But the fans are pretty quiet on a lower voltage setting and I simply wire them up with a variable 12 volt transformer....you can get those lots of places.
     
  19. goods

    goods Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Tammy, thanks for the offer! I've got a couple of these laying around, though from previous terrariums. I wire them up using old phone chargers.
     
  20. Alexey

    Alexey Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Goods, I had a severe mould and soft rot (bacterial, most likely Erwinia) issues, growing in enclosed environments. As it was already mentioned, regular fresh air intake will help. My DIY orchidariums ranged from 50 to 150 cubic feet and have 5 minutes of fresh air intake hourly during 20 hours. Unfortunately standard digital timers have possibility only for 20 settings. Make sure that you have not only fresh air intake opening (bottom area of the refrigerator) but exhaust air opening as well (top area of refrigerator). Otherwise inside space will be pressurized and intake fan will have low efficiency.
    Another approach to prevent mould/bacterial issues: do not follow Mather Nature with higher relative humidity and dew at night. On contrary, keep high humidity during day time and drop it at night.
    Contradicting to wide spread idea can tall, that air movement itself (up to ”hurricane” air velocity) does not prevent mould/bacterial issues in highly humid enclosures.