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My cool growing Orchid chamber (with Pics)!

Discussion in 'Growing Areas' started by mini-catts, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. mini-catts

    mini-catts Member

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    This is my set up for growing cool and intermediate miniatures.
    The box is made of wood and insulation foam board. Other supplies include a dryer vent tube and attachments, a fountain pump, a desk fan, and wet pad.
    Dimensions of the grow box are 3' long, 18"' wide, 2' tall.
    I put this together in less than a weekend.
    (note that i'm not the best carpenter, but the box is adequate!)

    Cooling: it has a homemade evaporative cooler that supplies cool humid air. The temps range from 60-70 in winter, and about 70-77 degrees in summer. The relative humidity is usually above 70%.

    Misting: there is a misting pump with 2 nozzles. I use a digital timer to automatically turn on the pump/misters. Only RO pure water is used.
    The floor of the unit is covered in plastic to protect the wood bottom.

    Lights: There are 3 23 watt cfl's that seem to provide enough light. the walls are white so they reflect nicely.

    I've had varying success so far. The truly cool growers like Masdevallias have suffered a bit as i'm not able to keep it cool enough in the Summer, especially at night.
    The intermediates grow fine.

    Some of the other learnings are:
    1) Be on the look out for pests as they multiply rapidly in this closed environment. I had to battle soft brown scale, mealybugs, and bush snails.
    2) Be sure to the keep reservoirs filled with water. A couple of times, the evap cooler went dry, which means warm dry air was being pumped in!
    3) Adjust misting times depending on season. Warm and dry times mean more mistings.
    4) Check the individual pots often to see if watering is needed. All the pots in this unit are in NZ moss.

    Here are a few pictures:

    The entire unit:
    afarm4.static.flickr.com_3350_3234323466_26f85fd49a.jpg

    The cooling unit:
    [​IMG]

    The dryer tubing detail:
    afarm4.static.flickr.com_3257_3233478491_8ff09d097e.jpg

    And a peek inside:
    afarm4.static.flickr.com_3395_3234335548_abf9cd7019.jpg

    Here is a link to more photos:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/minicatt/sets/72157613044939305/

    I would be happy to answer any questions you might have...
    Thanks,
    Peter T.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Dale

    Dale New Member

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    Heliamphora! Nice.
     
  3. Jon

    Jon Mmmm... bulbophyllum...

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    Details on the evap cooler, please. Maybe some pics with detail... :)

    That's pretty sweet, Peter. Reminds me of my basement cabinets.
     
  4. mini-catts

    mini-catts Member

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    Jon, it's a bit hard to take pics as the cooler is all set up and running. Let me try and describe it for you.
    The container is a storage box found at Lowes/home depot. I used a knife to cut a hole on one end for the fan and dryer tube. The other has a square cut out for the wet pad and air intake. The fan is placed on the inside with the air flowing into the dryer tube.

    On the other end is a fountain pump with a tube that goes into a short length of pvc pipe. The pipe has holes drilled in for the water to flow through and on to the piece of wet pad. The wet pad is also from lowes and is used as a wet pad replacement for evap coolers.
    The fan is turned on and the air is pulled through the wet pad, thus cooling and humidifying the air, which is forced through the dryer tube up into the chamber.

    Here is the picture of the wet pad end:

    afarm4.static.flickr.com_3108_3233484245_3cbe7d13e4.jpg

    Since i'm in California, the air is pretty dry most of the year. Dry air is best for an effective evap cooler.
    If i had to do it all over again, i probably would place the air intake next to a window. That way i could get it cooler in the box at night.
    Peter T.
     
  5. Mary Jane

    Mary Jane New Member

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    Tell ya what, next time you hear somebody say, I love it but I can't maintain temps/humidity, etc...!, send them this link. That advice goes for me too. So many times I've thought, 'man, I want to try that but I can't do it in my present situation." well duh, yes I can.

    That is so straight forward and basic. I love it. Thank you, Peter.
     
  6. Tom_in_PA

    Tom_in_PA I am not an addict

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    Thanks for the inspiration!

    I am running out of room in my space downstairs and really need to get a new area setup.
     
  7. Forrest

    Forrest Really Neat

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    These cabinets make me miss the nice things about indoor growing. That is a nice one you have here.
     
  8. Wendy H

    Wendy H Just me

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    Very ingenious!!!
     
  9. Karen

    Karen Species nut

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    WOW! I just saw this! Amazing, Peter!
    Thanks for posting it!
     
  10. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Peter, things look very good in there. Well done.
     
  11. mini-catts

    mini-catts Member

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    Thanks everyone....this shows you the great lengths i go to try and grow the cool little minis in my hot and dry climate. I'm proud of my success, but can also show you the dumpster full of plants that didn't make it!
    On the other hand, i'm also surprised of the tough little ones that did grow and thrive.
    Thanks,
    Peter T.
     
  12. Forrest

    Forrest Really Neat

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    pictures of the dumpster please.
     
  13. mini-catts

    mini-catts Member

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  14. Ray

    Ray Orchid Iconoclast Supporting Member

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    Peter, you might get more cooling capacity out of your swamp cooler if you put pads in the two remaining sides, too.
     
  15. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze Anglican Supporting Member

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    Can anyone please provide some thoughts on whether tis better to have the fan in the box, pulling air in through the pads and pushing wet air up, as described. Or...have the fan on one of the sides or through the top, pushing air in, with the pad at the side where the tubing would exit. Seems to me that the second way, the fan would be pushing dry air and thus would last longer (big deal, eh? fans are cheap). I get that the way it is designed it duplicates a regular size greenhouse with exhaust fan, but I don't know why that is better. :confused:

    If I were to make one I would be sorely tempted to put the fan through the top and have wet pads through two or three of the sides, like Ray suggests, maybe using some kind of ghetto-manifold. Then you could have multiple ports pumping in the air. I was thinking soaker hose affixed along the top of the pads somehow, might work. But again, if pulling the air through the pads is better than pushing it through, why? thanks
     
  16. T&J San Antonio

    T&J San Antonio New Member

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    You post an interesting point and one I asked myself about 5 years ago. I believe the common thought on the matter is to pull air through the cool pads across the plants and back to the outside environment. Unfortunately, I have one small problem with that method. In effect, by doing this, you are creating a vacuum inside the greenhouse by the exit fans so that they can pull the outside air in. Now if your greenhouse is completely air tight (which most are not), you can get good cooling and moisture introduced to the greenhouse. The problem arrises when you get a small opening, possibly around the entry door or a crack in the joint caulking. Anything passing by that area is then sucked through the opening and granted full exposure to your plants.

    That scenareo generated a different concept for me. Why not pressurize the greenhouse? By placing the fan or fans outside the greenouse infront of the cooling pads, the same cooling effect is achieved but any openings around the door or covering has a steady pressure of air. Unless the hole is really large, the outgiong air pressure discourages even the most determined insect. Of course with the fans out side of the greenhouse you will need to build a covering over the fans to protect them from the rain. This system works and I have a working model of it myself.

    About eight years ago, I built my first greenhouse using the standard method of construction. The house measures 28 feet by 12 feet with a slopped roof giving me floor to ceiling measurements of 8 feet on one side of the house and 12 feet on the opposing side. Several years later, I built a second, stand alone greenhouse out in the center of our back yard where it recieved full sun all day long. The size of that greenhouse is 10 feet wide by 12 feet long with a standard gable type roof design giving me 6 feet clearance at the walls with a roof pitch that gave me 9 feet in the center. On each end of the peaked roof I installed a 1 foot square louvered exhaust port. My intention at the time was to install a small exhaust fan on each end of the greenouse to assist in removing the air from the greenhouse. I hooked up on fan by the louvers and tied it to a thrermostat set at 90 degrees. For the cooling pads, I cut a hole 24 inches high by eight feet long. Outside the greenhouse, I constructed ductwork that housed a 14 inch high pitched fanblade powered by a 1/8th hp motor. The opening faces the front of the greenhouse and is covered by a protective screen to keep bugs, grass, birds, and puppy dogs from being sucked into the fan.

    Without going into even more detail, the results were surprising to me. First of all the main fan created so much pressure, that it forced to louvers at the peak ends of the greenhouse open whenever it came on. I never did mount the second exhaust fan because the one that I did install never comes on but the blade turns by the air exiting the greenhouse from the other fan. This second green house consistantly runs between five and ten degrees cooler than my first greenhouse. It has been in full operation for the last five years and the only problem I have had was the bearing on my main fan gave way (it was an old used motor I had left over from another project). When it did give way, the other fan mounted up at the roof peak did kick in and while it did not completely cool down my greenhouse, it did manage to keep the temps. below 110 degrees when the outside temperature was over one hundred degrees. The reason for the difference was that the sun shining on the greenhouse created higher temps than the outside air. Still, with the four internal circulating fans and the one small exhaust fan, it did mange to save my plants until I could get another fan motor installed.

    Now I know all of this explanation was probably more that you really wanted or needed to hear, but I am very pleased with my second greenhouse set up and I wanted a chance to explain its principals of operation.

    just tom

    PS. I have pictures of both my greenhouses in my profile. Th pictures of the second greenhouse were taken right after completion and I only had a few plants in it then. Now it is crammed full of plants I had to move in that I had growing outside under a shade cloth.