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Thread: First Grow Chamber

  1. #9
    Peat's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
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    Thanks guys, Im going to look into some other forms of lighting and dink around with what I have as well.

    Paul, I like the ideas of covering the wood with something, it will be a lot of extra work but totally worth it. The lights can actually fit inside, they are on a ledge at the top of the chamber. I will definitely rig up some shelving or lower the lights as I am aware of the distance requirements. And yes there are many ways to do things, and yes it is so much fun : ) Thanks a lot for the advice. This may be me trying to find an easy way out, but are there any wood finishes I could apply without having to take the whole unit apart? Just curious because I really dont want warping involved (super headaches!!!)

  2. #10
    Not Growing Up! GrowinOld's Avatar
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    Sorry it took so long to get back to you....
    You want to put the varnish on after its assembled so it seeps into the cracks and seals them. I would suggest applying 2 or 3 thin coats. Except I would use enough varnish (well wet and pool it) where the cracks and joints are so the varnish seeps in and eventually (after 2+ coats) seals them.
    Thinning down (with mineral spirits) the first coat (only) will allow the varnish to actually soak into the wood better, making the wood itself more waterproof (well...more water resistant actually). Its not necessary if you are doing 2 or 3 good coats anyway, but I usually do a quick, thinned down first coat, and then at least 2 un-thinned coats, and the results are great, easy to do (tho time consuming) and long lasting. (Just don't allow too much "pooling" of water in the terrarium, as its not totally water "proof"!)
    (If you thin down the first coat of varnish, it will take longer to dry, so give it the time it needs and you will be rewarded in the end... it is worth being patient on this step.)

    I would suggest varnishing where the glass sides and wood meet, as this will help seal things. And again, using thinned down varnish helps the varnish to seep in better.

    On the glass-door tracks, be sure there is enough space/tolerance big enough to allow for the thickness of the varnish as the doors need to slide freely.
    If you don't have much "extra space/play" in the door tracks, thin the varnish a little for all your coats and sand lightly between coats as the varnish tends to lift the wood fibers, and you should have decent results.
    Oh yea, since you ask, I use either marine "spar varnish", Minwax Indoor/Outdoor Helmsman Spar Urethane, or sometimes Shellac. I try to get what is readily available, and always get Outdoor use products, as you are exposing it to an Outdoor environment. (Shellac is waterproof, but has its own set of problems with its use, and can be affected by simple glass cleaner.)

    The extra heat from lowering the lights into the unit may be beneficial to certain "heat loving" plants, it allows the lights to get closer to the plants and maximize exposure, and also allows you to seal off the top of the terrarium better and keep the humidity in.

    Again, good luck,
    Experience is the best teacher. At least it used to be.
    But then, common sense isn't so common anymore, is it.

  3. #11
    Peat's Avatar
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    Whelp, here is the college move-in update on my grow chamber : )

    Took your advise growinold and decided to bite the bullet and put a few coats of polyurethane on the entire chamber. The wood should be free of warp for many plants to come.

    I upgraded to 8 t8 bulbs. I installed a 4 bulb t8 fixture at the top and tilted 2 other 2 bulb t8 fixtures in the corners. I raised my plants closer to the lights and added some 40watts to the bottom so I can still grow some succulents and tropicals.

    The fogger was a big hastle and didnt seem to work for my chamber due to the chamber's size i think. I instead purchased a warm-air humidifier from target for the same price and it has worked wonders! I can keep my tank at 85% humidity all day and all night by simply turning on the humidifier for 20 minutes or so a day (with some tinkering here and there as well of course : )

    I finally have a home for all of my neps, they should be acclimated within a couple months hopefully, some are already responding very nicely to the humidity and temps. The temp drops at night are easily achieved by the central air in my apartment, it goes down to about 65 at night(still working out some bugs with keeping temps low at night).

    The lights do however make for some hot and stagnant air so I rigged up a couple computer fans to a motherboard/power source positioned at the back of the chamber.

    There is still a lot of tinkering and growing left to be done! I welcome any comments and I hope the updates give some ideas to growers in the future.

    Grow chamber with a large wandering jew, pineapple, baby stagfern, and various nifty things on top. Below you can see the two levels inside the glass.

    Growchamber, you can see the humidifier and my thermostat (neps are on at the top) (and dont judge my humidity percentage the doors were open! haha) edit: eek i need to clean that glass!

    As much of the lighting as I could get:

    Just a few pics of my neps, cant wait till a few months from now.

    And a bonus pic of my chamber on the otherside of the room. My roommate is growing peppers and I have some orchids/various housed in the top chamber.

    Of course questions are welcome as well.

    Thanks a Lot Everybody,

  4. #12
    Halt's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    Southern Caalli.
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    Just hope your roommates dont use your growchamber to grow something bad:/

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