Great photos! What sort of flash(es) are you using for these?
Great photos! What sort of flash(es) are you using for these?
I don't have any external flashes and the onboard one produces harsh shadows, so I don't use flashes at all.
I built a 2'x2'x2' light box out of PVC and white fabric and light that with a couple of those "eco" bulbs in cheapo clamp lamps. I should get a picture of the setup at some point...
Sweet stuff Kyle, what will be going in there?
VERY nice set-up you are making!
Me thinks you saw my auto-watering/Rainmaker design and post!
It is something I first designed years ago, and it grew from there. Over that time I have found it to be a real boost to my ability to grow a ton of plants easily. I know you are going to love it!
Yours is looking sweet! Nice Job!
It is good to see someone who is good with tools and making things! That can be so important when wanting to make our growing set-ups a real work of art & science!
Remember to fit in a "grill/shelf" in there to keep the plants out of standing water. (I assume you already knew this, but some newer people don't understand the whole design/function of it I am sure, and I didn't want to lose them entirely or have them drown their plants rushing to try this.) Also from watching the video I would suggest to watch your water pressure, as you don't want the output water to wash everything out of the pots! Speaking of which, if you PM me, I can give you a few tips or thoughts concerning that. (I don't think I covered every detail when I did the post.)
I had some tweaking to do with one of my "Rainmaker" types, and found ways to avoid some of the "messy" problems that can occur.
Otherwise you are looking good! In fact, it seems you will be having much envy from a lot of the growers here on TF.
Congratulations on your nice work & commitment to the hobby, as well as wanting to give your plants the best environment you can create!
I look forward to seeing it complete with plants growing all over the place!
Seeing as you are doing a large set-up, be sure to read the TF post:
Local news/police telling people to look for signs of 'grow operations'
It is of actual interest and concern for many of us who are growing a lot of plants, and having people mistake them for other more "nefarious" sort of things. (It is not just about that, but also about people possibly interested in stealing our CP's!)
PS: Looks like you found one of the same pumps I used. (I got mine on sale when they were getting rid of their pond supplies for dirt cheap!
On some, I noticed they have changed their supplier or packaging recently, so I am hoping they aren't going to be made cheaper, as they were real nice pumps for a nice low price. I may perhaps try to get a few extra's just in case, but then everything seems to be going that way.
@Drew: I'm thinking Neps and orchidioides right now, but who knows down the line!
@GrowinOld: Thanks a bunch and, yes, I did see your rainmaker thread and I absolutely loved it. I was initially planning on totally copying it, in fact, but I thought of something that kind of scared me, so I went with the typical auto-watering one-tube-to-a-pot concept. What scared me is that I will be keeping orchidioides in there, perhaps even mostly or entirely orchidioides as my collection of them grows. The thought of a big drop of water hitting a flower just right and snapping a stalk scared me, lol. I don't know how well-founded that fear is, but it was there nonetheless, so I decided not to chance it. I think I will one day do an actual mist system if I can locate a cheap high-pressure pump for it.
In regards to the pressure, it's actually kind of interesting and, if I do say so myself, fairly ingenious, lol. When I got the whole shebang done with all the holes drilled and the tubes put in and I turned it on, I noticed the last few hoses weren't starting up. No water was coming out. Not enough pressure in the pipes, I guess, even though it's a 500gph pump. So I thought to myself, "Well, how I can increase pressure in the pipes? Decrease the output at each hose, of course!" I thought for a moment about trying drip nozzles that you'd use in drip irrigation systems, but that was short-lived. I don't know a lot about plumbing or irrigation or anything like that, but I imagine for those drip nozzles to even work, you need to have pretty high pressure behind them. And I assume if they would work at all at low pressures, it'd be a very, very slow drip, which would necessitate me running the pump for a long time to get enough water to the pots. Two things about that: 1) it's a waste of electricity to run the pump that long and more importantly 2) I don't want the media to be wet that long. Moist is good, wet is not. I would be afraid of running into rot issues having the pots be wet for potentially hours at a time, even if it was just due to a very slow drip. So, the gears started turning. How could I reduce output at each hose? I could shove something in the end of each hose... then it hit me. I cut up a few zip-ties into about 1.5" sections, bent them in half, and shoved them into the end of each hose. The result, of course, was reduced output at each hose, which in turn increased pressure in the pipes and forced all the hoses to consistently start up within seconds of turning the pump on. Voila!
I recorded that preview above with the pump set at 500gph. The output at each hose is a little extreme at that setting, but after I recorded the video I turned the pump down to 300gph and it's not so bad. I also intend to have only chunkier media in this tank (no peat or sand); things like LFS, wood chips, chunky perlite... that sort of stuff. So I'm not too worried about it blowing media out of the pots, but I do wonder if, even at the reduced flow, it will create little tunnels through the media. Even if it does, I can't imagine that having any real negative impacts on the plants. If it does turn out to be an issue, though, I've had a couple ideas. I might just take a wider hose (1/2" maybe; the irrigation hose I'm using to deliver the water is standard 1/4"), cut it into like 1" segments, plug one end, and shove that into the media, plugged side down. Put the black irrigation tubing into that and it'll just fill it up and flow out into the pot; no high pressure to blast media around. One other thought I had was to simply drill tiny holes in the pipe such that water would spray out the PVC pipes and hit the wall, flowing down the glass and away from any pots. That would, of course, reduce pressure in the system and at each output and it can be fine-tuned depending how many holes I drill. A nice side effect could be that it might add some extra humidity, all the water flowing down the glass. But I'm totally open to other suggestions that you may have! You obviously have far more experience than I with this type of thing.
Finally, I already do have an egg-crate false bottom cut out to fit. I also lined it with fiberglass screen to keep bits from falling through and plugging up the pump. The reason for that is that I intend to put live sphagnum on the false bottom, between pots, and allow that to grow there and fill in the gaps. Sphagnum propagation + it's pretty! XD So the screen is to keep that stuff from falling in.
Once the thing is done (I haven't been able to work on it at all today... yet. ;p ), I will record another video, in which I'll explain things. That clip was literally just to show what I'd accomplished so far. And I'm really liking the results so far! I already have two auto-watering setups (the "cobra cooler bog" and the minibog), and if I have my way, I will someday figure out how to pull off auto-watering the entire greenhouse! Haha, you're right, it is great not to have to worry about it. Fill a reservoir once a month and be done with it. More time to enjoy the plants and take pictures of them.
About that other thread: I did read it, and I think it's sad that we have to grow our own, totally legal plants in secrecy. That's fine, though, I can deal with that. The GH is wrapped up in reflective bubble wrap, so no real amount of light escapes. And it's in a basement, so you'd essentially have to be looking to notice there was any pattern to the light that does escape. Even so, I'm not too worried about the police busting my door down, not in this town. I do worry about people breaking in, though. So I'm going to buy those metal grates that go over window wells. Try getting through that, punk. ;p
EDIT: Forgot I was supposed to PM you that! D'oh!
This thread is more text heavy.
Formerly known as WaterKirby.
Indeed the effects of misting are wonderful in most aspects. I have done a few set-ups with them in the past, however inexpensive high-pressure pumps haven't lasted much over a year for me, and I have had occasional issues with algae & such plugging the misting heads at times, however I did eventually get that part solved.
I currently have a nice large high-pressure pump sitting on my workbench (somewhere!) waiting for me to get around to experimenting with misting again, however with the simple RainMaker set-up currently working as well as the auto-waterer using standard tubes, it has fallen to the "back burner" as far as important projects are concerned. Actually I am not sure that my going back to the "misting" type set-ups is needed at this point, or even worth the added effort & expense.
But on to what you wrote, in the beginning I also did worry a little about the "falling water" issues you mentioned, however found that by positioning the pot well or slightly moving/adjusting it (watching as the water falls) in the first place, to avoid direct contact with dripping water on sensitive areas, solved the problem altogether. Even the Dews I have in the system are doing well under it, but then I do keep an eye on them just in case. Most plants seem to grow out under the dripping/raining water in a way so that they avoid the possibly damaging stream. I can't say they are smart or do it by choice, but once I set the plants & system up, I haven't encountered any problems after that. (But it is prudent to be sure to watch where you place the plants in the beginning, and to carefully check them with the water running, to avoid any water forcefully coming down right on a sensitive area of a plant.) Even when using the auto-watering system with the tubes, the water can forcefully uproot a plant in a short time if it isn't positioned well (or if the pump/flow is strong).
Your solution of zip-ties into the end of each hose was certainly inventive! DO be sure to watch to make sure they don't work their way out over time, but otherwise it seems a viable and inventive/creative solution.
I have taken a lighter/flame/soldering iron to melt the ends of the tubing down a bit at times, but whether it works well seems dependent on the type of plastic the tubing is made of. (Like most things it is a trial & error sort of development.) When positioning tubes becomes a problem, I have also used irrigation stakes I got from the hydroponics store, which poke into the media/pot & hold the tube in a good position.
Your ideas & solutions show good sense and inventiveness in how to solve things. Something nice to see here!
Some other thoughts on what you wrote/mentioned...
For my smaller set-ups I generally use lower rated/smaller pumps than what you apparently have. I believe they are rated at around 2.9' or 4.6' head, about 190 to 264 gph, and run at less than 30 watts. They pump out the water relatively slowly, but which I have found makes using a normal digital timer (that has increments in minutes) an effective way to control them. (See below*.)
One of the advantages to the RainMaker system is that you can use oversized holes, so pressure isn't an issue. High volume helps, but a lot of pressure isn't necessary at all.
By keeping the height of the tubing a bit low (no need to have the tubes run a foot above the plants, although for some of my Neps and Sarrs I do...!), then water dripping from the tubes likely won't do any damage even if it does hit in a sensitive spot. (Disclaimer: Use your own judgment here, as your experience/results may vary!)
I have a good draining media that I top with a bit of "cut/minced up live sphagnum. In s short time it grows and sprouts up, turning into a live blanket very quickly and then helps to protect the media & plant roots from the falling water.
Also, *the slower pumping water takes slightly less than a minute to fill the cup/pot (the space from the level of the planting media to the brim), so using a common digital timer that has one minute increments works perfectly in both the automatic-waterer (with the tubes) and the RainMaker set-ups. (When I tried a faster/higher volume pump, it overflowed the pots in that time, and did also greatly stir up pieces of media.)
In time even with a slower pump (or even when watering by hand) the water can begin to flush media particles thru the pot. (You can see the results of this in any nursery at the end of the growing season, after months of watering the plants, where the roots are all showing and the media is half flushed from the pot!)
To avoid this however, I use great care preparing the pots, often using some landscape fabric (or other things) for a lower layer in my drainage media in each pot. And like your use of fiberglass, I also use it as a coverage over the "shelf" to prevent particles from draining right into the water reservoir below. (And indeed I do get a growth of sphagnum moss growing on it, even though I don't plant it there!)
Since you are growing many orchids and other things in addition to CP's, I don't see why you couldn't just adjust the timer (or just the flow) to the orchids so that they get watered less frequently (or just with less water) as that should keep any issues with possible rot 'at bay'. I have done this with some of my plants and have had no problems at all. It is no different than you watering the plants yourself, and you only need to figure out what schedule you need to set to water them (automatically). Indeed conditions may change in the house, whereby heat or air conditioning may make adjustments to your watering schedule necessary at times. But beyond that there should be no worry about rotting. In fact you can always do a set-up using 2 smaller pumps with 2 separate tubing runs, all in one "bin/tank", so that half of it gets watered more often than the other half.
I also grow a few orchids and other plants in with my CP's, and they all seem to do well together in these systems. The plants are no more flooded than with normal watering by hand, and while the wonderful cloud of mist looks amazingly like a mountain-high clouded tropical rainforest, I have had terrific results with the RainMaker system, and a lot less problems than I did when doing the misting systems.
The rain wets the leaves which adds to the humidity as well as giving the plants the moist leaves they seem to want. At the same time, it cycles thru a dry period which allows for the plants to recover from the moist conditions & saturated air, preventing the rot/fungus & overly wet environment that leads to them. When it does rain, it also moves the air about enough to circulate it well and avoid the stale environment, even without using fans.
IME, the foggy/cloudy environment of misting looks great and seems healthy for the plants, but I have had better luck with the raining environment, as it seems the cycle of wet & dry (well, "dryer") give the plants more of what they experience in nature... or at least what they appreciate more in this artificial environ.
Some plants do seem better for the auto-watering system with the tubes, as they don't appreciate having water on their leaves. (Indeed, one size doesn't fit all!) Another benefit to that system is that it pumps water right to the media/roots, so evaporation is kept to a minimum, thus making refilling the system an even rarer occurrence!
As with everything, what works best for one person may not be best for everyone, so above all I would suggest continuing to experiment and watch what your plants tell you as to what they like.
Your idea of adding holes to the tubing seems like a good idea too, and something I have done also. I can only say that it sometimes works a little different than expected, but the main thing is that adjustments of various kinds can be made to tweak the system, which makes it very versatile for a variety of sizes and set-ups.
As you have noticed also, the whole automated situation takes a lot of the daily work out of it! If nothing else, that alone is worth doing it for. I also have not yet done my greenhouse with a complete self/auto-watering system. I need to increase my water gathering system first, so it will be a while before I get it done. Also, as I still often change my greenhouse set-up and the types of plants that are in it, I have not yet settled down to any one set-up that would accommodate every change I make. But it is an idea I do hope to someday make a reality.
Again Kyle, you are doing a great job and creating a grow area that will be the envy of many here! Good Luck & keep upthe good work!
PS: I realize I have made this even more "text-heavy", however at some point when someone actually wants to make one of these themselves, I believe they will appreciate all these words!
Last edited by GrowinOld; 01-08-2012 at 04:52 PM.
Sorry, I should have been more specific. I intend to eventually have a collection of Utricularia, section orchidioides, haha. I don't have any orchids, though I do want to eventually pick one up and give them a go. About the rot, I'm not worried about it at all with the setup I have now. I was saying that I was thinking about going with drip nozzles for a drip irrigation system, but that that might necessitate very long watering times (maybe hours at a time, I have no idea with such a low pressure system). It was having actual water dripping through all the pots for potentially hours at a time that had me worried about rot, so I abandoned that idea. And, yeah, I intend to keep an eye on all the zip-tie plugs in the hoses. They were an obnoxiously tight fit (beat my thumb up pretty good to get them all shoved in there, lol), and the pressure still isn't very high. So, hopefully, they don't get worked out of there over time, but I will be watching them.
Also, rest assured this won't be the only tank in there. I'll definitely be doing a tank with your RainMaker style setup, perhaps just for Neps. But I looooove the idea of an artificial rain in there. I already spend too much time just standing around in the GH, though, hahaha. I don't need another thing to keep me captivated in there, but I guess I sure don't mind! I also love the idea of using landscaping fabric. That should keep even really fine stuff from getting into the reservoir. If I notice a problem with the media I'm using, I will most certainly be swapping the fiberglass screen for landscape fabric.
I adore tinkering with things and trying to think of ways to solve the various problems that arise during my many "projects," so I have nothing against tweaking this thing until it's just perfect for me!
Thanks for all the input and advice!