Yesterday my Grandad had this great idea - get me a terrium, or more factually - make one. So we went down to Mitre 10 (local hardware store in NZ) and what do you know, they were advertising grow racks (or mini-greenhouses, as they called them), and Grandad was like, 'lets get one of those instead!'
They came in 3 tier and 4 tier, 3 tier was 60.00$NZ, but for only 12.00$ more, you could get 4 tier, so Grandad bought me a 4 tier mini greenhouse grow rack! It's an 'early christmas present' so shhhhhhhh...... don't tell santa!
Anyway, I have permission to set it up with some lights, so long as it doesn't skyrocket the power bill, and anything else I need, under similar recommendations. I'm happy to pay for the power the lights etc. will use, but Grandad won't hear of it... he's determined to pay for it for me, I'm lucky, I know, so, I must limit the electricity I use so I don't make my poor grandparents, well any poorer
Right now, the grow rack is in my bedroom. The top shelf gets light from a South (equivalent to North facing) so it may need more light. It is close to a socket, and I have access to those multi-adaptor thingy's which allow you to plug in lots of things at one time, using one socket. I have one 24 hour timer, but I'm not sure how to use it. I may have access to one flourescent plant grow light, which is suited specifically for raising seedlings plants, if this is suitable.
So here is what I want to do:
*Devote the top shelf of my Grow Rack to raising lowland Nepenthes from seed.
*Devote the bottom shelf of my grow rack to highlanders
*Use the middle shelves for, well, all the in between plants like butterworts, and raising seedlings from seed.
I want to use approximately 250W maximum.
The temperature is quite cool where the rack is, so my first priority will be getting the top to the right temperature for lowlands. This is why I chose to put them on the top, so that any heat rises, and so any heating systems do not interfere with the coolness at the bottom for the highlands. Right now the temperature is 15 degrees celcius during the day, down to 10 degrees during the night. With the investment of bubble wrap on the bottom of the shelf with a black polar fleece covering over the top, and a single 100W incandescent light bulb running for an hour, I was able to heat it up to 23 degrees celcius, but this dropped back down to the 15 degrees again within 2 hours. It would not heat past 23 degrees.
So I will need to invest in some sort of heating. It will need to be cheap heating, because it'll need to be on a lot, and it will need to be small space heating. It will also need to be safe around the plastic of the greenhouse covering. Ideas?
Next issue will be lighting:
I was planning to put a 40W flourescent light above each shelf, however, this will be hard with the top shelf, because it has nothing to hang a light off. For this shelf, the lighting would be the light from the 'North facing window' with the addition of a hanging 20W fluorescent light bulb.
Last of all will be circulation: I will need to invest in some sort of cheap circulation to prevent the air going stagnant. Maybe a very small fan at the bottom?
Anyway, with the 20W flourescent at the top, and the three 40W's, that's 60W power. That leaves around 200W power left for circulation and for heating the lowland. (Actually 190, but I think I can go over by 10W!)
So, any ideas to help?
I've been doing some research. I've read some suggestions for heating terrariums - have a reservoir of water in the bottom of the tank and use an aquarium heater. With the top shelf I would not've thought this possible for a grow rack, but I did some research, and have heard of some people using 25W aquarium heaters in 10 litres of water (2.5 gallons) and was wondering, if I found a 10L glass container, filled it with water and put a 25W aquarium heater in it, would this work for heating? It would also raise humidity wouldn't it, and if it worked it would cost less than a light bulb. But would it work?