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Thread: Looking to build a DIY grow rack/greenhouse. Lots of questions.

  1. #1
    Sarracenia freak Brie's Avatar
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    Looking to build a DIY grow rack/greenhouse. Lots of questions.

    Alright.. *rubbing hands together* where to begin. lol.

    I've been doing research for the past couple weeks on what I want to do, or what I NEED to do.

    My goal is to grow a bit of everything, including Lowland Neps, Cephs and Helis. I've asked around, done a TON of reading, and i'm still confused as to their requirements. It seems there is no straight forward answer to my question, do they(Lowlanders, Cephs and Helis) NEED a terrarium/greenhouse to be grown successfully? I hear yes, and no. Some people have luck just growing them under lights with no climate control, and other people have them in fancy-schmancy growrooms and greenhouses.

    I live in a small apartment with my (partially)understanding husband. lol. I don't have a ton of room to work with, and my husband is ever conscious about the amount of electricity i'm using or space i'm taking up(be it out on the patio or in our spare bedroom. lol). So a large 4ft terrarium or grow shelf is out of the question.

    SO... I've kind of decided on either buying a cheap, premade 3 or 4 shelf, 2ft wide greenhouse, OR buying a set of storage shelving and build my own sort of covered greenhouse type set up.

    What I had been thinking of, is using vinyl shower curtain material, and hot glue together panels on the inside of each shelf space, and create a fold up door for the front. Probably cut a couple of small square holes on each side and glue in some window screen for ventilation, then cover back, top and sides with Mylar.

    If I DID go with a pre-made green house, Like this one, Would these work? I'd still cover the back and sides with mylar on the outside, and would probably still need to cut holes for ventilation.. But they seem rather cheap and flimsy, and hard to install lights in.

    And then there's the issue of lighting... I've looked at a variety of lighting options..

    I'd like to go with either Compact Florescent, or HO T5s.

    I found these, which seem pretty nice. I like the fact that they daisy chain, so I can run two or 3 for each shelf, hooked together and just one cord, and they have internal ballasts..

    Or, for just ease of usage, I found a pretty decently priced 4 bulb fixture for only $75.

    What do yall would think would be better for most plants, 2 24w bulbs, or 4? Each shelf would probably be 12" apart from eachother, and given the height of the plant itself and how low the light hangs, they'd prolly be 6-8" away from the bulb.

    I also liked this style of CF grow light, with a single 125w bulb, but would this be too bright or give enough coverage? If using this one, I could probably lower the shelves, making a maybe 20-24" high area instead of 12". It says it covers a 3ft by 3ft area, and the shelves of whatever I choose(shelving racks of greenhouse) would be roughly 2ft x 1.5ft. But just wanted to know if anyone has experience using these and could throw me some advice.

    Alrighty well, thats all for now. Any advice yall could toss my way would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    UnstuckinTime's Avatar
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    I am not sure about building what you are describing, my growing operation is a 29 gallon fish tank with a bunch of 2' lights ontop.

    But to answer your first question about growing requirements, that I can do!!

    Lowlander nepenthes like two things: Heat and humidity!! In order to obtain both things, a lot of growers find it easier to use a terrarium or a greenhouse.

    Highlander things (The heliamphora and arguably the Cephalotus as well) like lots of bright light, humidity, and cool temperatures (I get nervous if my highland set up gets above 80F)

    Unless you are going to use lots of insulation, you may have trouble putting the two climates into one grow shelf, or otherwise making everyone happy. But hell, I have a N. gracilis, a weedly lowland nepenthes, growing and pitchering happily in my highland terrarium, so there are exceptions to that rule! (Though, growing heliamphora in lowland conditions almost always ends in heart break...)

    Hope this helps clear up some of your questions,
    CJ
    "The plants you grow, end up growing you."


    My Grow List:
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  3. #3
    rattler's Avatar
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    the reason you see all kinds of ifo on what will take what is cause everyones conditions are a bit different from everyone elses.....some ppl have higher household humidity than others......some are chicken and dont like to experiment with their plants....

    i tend to grow plants pretty hard, ive got the conditions i can provide with little effort required by me and the plants i get either adapt or dont......others will baby their plants but other than for fresh out of tissue culture or just cause i want to experiment i dont.....

    other than the grow out tank for the TC plants, almost everything i have grows in open trays in here:
    cervid serial killer
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    Sarracenia freak Brie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnstuckinTime View Post
    I am not sure about building what you are describing, my growing operation is a 29 gallon fish tank with a bunch of 2' lights ontop.

    But to answer your first question about growing requirements, that I can do!!

    Lowlander nepenthes like two things: Heat and humidity!! In order to obtain both things, a lot of growers find it easier to use a terrarium or a greenhouse.

    Highlander things (The heliamphora and arguably the Cephalotus as well) like lots of bright light, humidity, and cool temperatures (I get nervous if my highland set up gets above 80F)

    Unless you are going to use lots of insulation, you may have trouble putting the two climates into one grow shelf, or otherwise making everyone happy. But hell, I have a N. gracilis, a weedly lowland nepenthes, growing and pitchering happily in my highland terrarium, so there are exceptions to that rule! (Though, growing heliamphora in lowland conditions almost always ends in heart break...)

    Hope this helps clear up some of your questions,
    CJ
    Thanks for the reply.

    I had planned on using something like this:


    So yes, I could theoretically build two seperate chambers, with styrofoam in the middle, and the cooler climate plants on the bottom, and warm on top.

    I found someone else who did something similar, but I wanted to make something a bit more enclosed, basically like a single chamber little greenhouse for each shelf.

    I'm also considering on having the lights OUTSIDE the chamber, shining down through the clear vinyl, in order to cut down on heat. Does anyone think that'd work out ok?

    ---------- Post added at 05:28 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:23 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by rattler View Post
    the reason you see all kinds of ifo on what will take what is cause everyones conditions are a bit different from everyone elses.....some ppl have higher household humidity than others......some are chicken and dont like to experiment with their plants....

    i tend to grow plants pretty hard, ive got the conditions i can provide with little effort required by me and the plants i get either adapt or dont......others will baby their plants but other than for fresh out of tissue culture or just cause i want to experiment i dont.....

    other than the grow out tank for the TC plants, almost everything i have grows in open trays in here:
    I figured that much.

    I'm kind of the same way with plants(i've so far mostly grown sarracenia, flytraps and cobra plants, outdoors here in the PNW and they do great), but since I want to move into the more delicate, expensive plants, I want to do it right the first time around and not lose hundreds of dollars worth of plants. lol.

    Your little grow room is awesome, but out of the question for me. I need to make just a couple shelf chambers, or a single 2ft wide zip up green house.

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    rattler's Avatar
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    those are good shelves, they are what i went to after some cheaper ones collapsed.....

    as to the different "climates".....my conditions are on the cool end of intermediate in my basement and have few troubles with most species.....ive got atleast one lowlander growing happily beside a plant that is most definitely a highlander.....if you shoot for cool most warmer loving plants will adjust, there are always exceptions......much easier to get a lowlander to adjust to highland conditions than to adjust a highlander to lowland conditions.....
    cervid serial killer
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    I didn't get stimulated but he kept his promise on change, that's about all I got left!
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  6. #6
    An orchid fancier with a CP problem chibae's Avatar
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    A little late to the party as usual but I'll throw in my cent and a half here.
    I use the metal shelves you showed. On them though I have a mixture of tanks (aquariums) and open areas with deep water collection trays. My lights are suspeneded from the underside of the shelf above. The more delicate HL are in a tank, the more hardy intermeadites are on the shelves. I use eggcrate in the bottom of the trays to keep the plants out of the water.
    I use plexiglass covers for the tanks with the corners cut out and run tubing from an aquarium air pum into the tanks for circulation.
    I've thought of hanging plastic over the open areas for more humidity but so far I haven't needed to. One suggestion though, decide what you are putting on each shelf before putting the it together so you can adjust the shelf height ahead of time. Lesson learned from me.
    It's a tough life being a Sarracenia farmer
    My Grow List http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=123776

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    Sarracenia freak Brie's Avatar
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    Thanks Chibae... After some thought, I think I am going to do what you do, and just have a tank for the more sensitive tropicals... Its just alot easier then what I had planned on doing. Maybe i'll do it further on down the road when I have more plants that warrant the extra work. lol. I'll just go with like a 20gal tank for now..

  8. #8
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Absolutely don't buy one of those Juliana mini-greenhouses. They're awful and will last four years tops, if you're lucky. Beyond which, using decent lights with them is a real challenge. And anyways, in our parts you really don't need a terrarium to make a large number of CPs work; check my threads to see.
    The wire racks are the way to go; they're modular, versatile and super-sturdy. I'm pretty proud of what I've done with mine - you should come check out my setup down in Oly sometime. I have lots of pictures to post of it too, I'll try to get those up tomorrow... today I'm pooped and a little sunburned after a hard day of NASC duties. (Meaning getting free plants and eating cheeseburgers. :P )
    ~Joe
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    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
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    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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