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Thread: Blizzard, stay home & build stuff: A Fast Terrarium SBS

  1. #1
    swords's Avatar
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    Blizzard, stay home & build stuff: A Fast Terrarium SBS

    Got up today and there's a ton of whirling blowing falling snow so heading off to a book store in a county far, far away was outta the question. I have plenty to read anyway, including a book I somehow ordered two of off amazon last week which both arrived today! So it better be good! lol!

    Anyway, I did strike out across the highway to home depot and picked up some materials for today's little project, which is a 4 ft x 2ft "fast and dirty" terrarium. It won't win any awards for prettiness but they work (I've built these quickies before). I'm using it for this years outdoor plant seedlings and as a cutting chamber. So here's the lowdown:

    4 ft x 2 ft "greenhouse" terrarium
    Four 1" x 2" x 8 ft planks cut down to:
    4x 4 ft sections
    8x 2 ft sections
    1 x 1/2" screws
    4 mil plastic painters drop cloth
    heavy duty stapler
    drill, drill bit and screw driving bit
    Optional: Plexiglass for the top (normal 4 ft tubular fluorescent shop lites can be laid across the plastic wrap if you don't wanna buy a sheet of plexi)
    Sticky back Velcro to seal the "door" I don't show attaching it cos I thought I had some six feet of it but I found that I only have one of the two halves needed.

    So, let's get on with the building:

    Here's the parts all laid out (those toes are still attached BTW!)


    One of the 4 x 2 sides just build a frame

    Close up of how the frame is joined


    Make two!


    Using the left over 2 ft lengths attach the frames together so you wind up with a big old cube


    I'm going to make the top with a sheet a plexiglass but I want the bottom sealed so cut and fit a piece of 4 mil plastic sheeting (sold as painters "drop cloth")



    The stapler from your desk won't cut it this is the minimum of the heavy duty one you need


    Fasten the bottom down and trim off the excess.
    It's best to begin by stapling IN THE MIDDLE not at one end or the other or you'll end up being off kilter


    Cut a real big sheet, staple along one of the long sides (starting in the middle as before) and wrap the box like you wrap a present this wood frame is very light so this is easy to do. DO NOT staple as you wrap, just staple the one edge and then wrap, checking to be sure you have even excess on all ends.


    Pull tightly and staple the loose end where you stapled that first edge. Then you can back track and staple the plastic tight to the frame once you're sure it all fits together



    Here I've affixed the plexiglass top with four screws. You can just use the drop cloth as the top if you're using normal output flourescents (they don't get hot enough to melt it) but it does block some light so I spent the extra $7 for an 18" x 24" sheet. As you can see I had to cover the last 6" with plastic to seal the top but I didn't wanna buy a 24 x 48 sheet and have to cut it down


    Here's my Hydrofarm brand 125 watt ginormous twisty compact flourescent light. They sent me a warm white model when I requested cool white... eh. The light color does look better in person than in the pic but someday I'll get a 6500K one. Thanks also to Mystic Orchids for not putting the box the light comes in into another box. They just stuck an address label on the retail picture box that says HYDROFARM GROWLIGHT! "GROW FLOWERS AND HERBS RIGHT IN YOUR HOME!" Yeah, my mailman knows I'm a plant nut and never lets a box of plants on his truck in the winter (he just knocks and tells me to go to the sorting facility and get my box) but the UPS kid gave me plenty of funny looks as signed for it...


    Here's a peek inside, the light color is better in this pic too. Just a few ratty looking Sage cuttings in there settling in after their January shipping adventure right now but I'll be starting my Daturas and whatever else in here for the summer. Plastic storage bins make nifty "floor risers", I always use egg crate (lighting grid) for my floors so I can "flush" water all my plants. And it allows the bottom of the pots to breathe which I think is important.



    Hopefully someone will find this a useful project.

  2. #2
    herenorthere's Avatar
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    Something you might want to look for at HD is clear vinyl, which they sell by the roll in the weatherization section, until they run out of it. Then you have to wait until next year. It's windowglass clear and stays pretty clear for years, at least it has in some of my windows. It costs a bit more than dropcloth plastic, but you'd get a better view inside your fast & dirty (but clear) terrarium. I don't think I'd lay lights across it, but I don't know for sure that it'd be a problem.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    Two flies one pitcher. Minus the crap eating. obregon562's Avatar
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    thanks man! im thinking of making a pretty large indoor growchamber and will probably use your idea as a starting point. Bruce is right, that stuff rocks!
    "It's easy to rip on cops, when you aren't the one needing saving"

    My Growlist

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    swords's Avatar
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    Is that stuff you guys are talking about thick? 4 millimeters or better? The stuff I'm thinking of that my grandmother puts on her bay window is real thin, like saran wrap but maybe I'm not thinking of the correct product?

    This will do for now since it's only a utilitarian setup to get seedlings & cuttings ready, generally not much to look at at that stage anyway. If I build a new permanent grow chamber I'll probably do as I did for my old highland nep chamber. Build the box frame with sturdier wood and cover that with waterproof fiberglass tub surround wall board sheets cut to size and not use plastic sheeting for a permanent installation. Adding a large window or sliding panel for access and viewing. With solid sides you can cut holes for fans, humidifiers and such in the fiberglass walls, which is quite nice!

    I've been working on a design for a grow chamber / large terrarium but my most pressing concern is where to put it. The Swords memorial library and archive of the last 20 years of the underground heavy metal music industry is all still here... lol!

  5. #5
    herenorthere's Avatar
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    It's much, much thicker than saran wrap and and almost certainly thicker than what you've been using. But nowhere near 4 mm. Do you mean 4 mil? It won't replace plexiglass, but it's much better than plastic dropcloth. It comes on a 3 ft roll (I think) and it isn't that flimsy plastic that people put over a window and then tighten with a hair dryer.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    swords's Avatar
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    Ah, I think I know what you're talking about now - do they cut it to size for you off a giant roll? If that's the same stuff, they also sell that at the craft shops (for some reason) it comes in varying thickness. I had a 4 ft, 3 shelf "Mini-Greenhouse" a few years ago from Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts Etc. that had a heavy clear vinyl, zippered cover made from that (or similar stuff). That was nice stuff, I've forgotten about that.

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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    No; it's sold on individual rolls (3 ft long, I think) and my local HD keeps it with weatherstripping and other such stuff as winter approaches. They run out of it within a couple months and don't restock it until the next fall.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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