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Thread: RainMaker!

  1. #17
    Not Growing Up! GrowinOld's Avatar
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    Thanks for the kind words all.
    Glad to share what I can.

    As for the few questions... in no particular order...
    The lights for the terrarium are 3 sets (pairs) of T-8 lights, 4' long. 2 sets sit on the outside & one is inside as part of the terrarium. I have mostly Neps & Sarrs in it, with a few Cephs, Dews & sometimes a Heli or couple orchids.
    For my shelving units, I have either one or two 4' - 2-lamp shop fixtures with T-8 bulbs, or a 4' / 4-lamp T-5 unit. (More about lighting later.)

    As for the pump I am using, I think in this instance I am using one I got from Harbor Freight:


    They usually carry a couple small ones on a regular basis, I think this was the larger of the two. Cost me about $13.99 or less with a coupon. I also have a number of small pond pumps I got on sale recently from Lowes. Cost about $3.50, & pump 50-90 gal or something like that.

    I have smaller pumps in the watering set-ups I have on my shelves & a larger one I am using in my terrarium.

    When designing & making one of these set-ups, you need to try things out & see how they work on a small, test/experimental basis & work things up step by step. It is not a process where you can simply pick out a specific pump, drill a bunch of holes, pop it in the bin you want, add some water & then plug it in & go! While it "can" be that easy at times, that is usually NOT the case!

    Too many tweaks & variables are involved! How big an area to water, how high above the reservoir water level will you be pumping the water, how big will be the diameter of the output holes, how many are you drilling, possibly how many pots will there be, how powerful a pump do you have, etc...etc...etc...? Too powerful a pump is not much better than one that's not powerful enough. You don't want this thing spraying the walls like a fire hose!

    The process starts with the variables you know you absolutely need/want to shoot for, like figuring out the size of the bin/terrarium you want to use. Pump sizes are variables that help you to achieve what you want, they are not absolute. You buy a pump sized to fit your needs. You don't necessarily go out and buy a terrarium or shelving unit to fit your pump!

    I began by measuring my shelves & terrarium. I then went out to find plastic bins that came as close to the size that would fit (Remember to take height into consideration also, as a higher one will block splahing/leakage, but will also limit your viewing & access to the plants, so you need to decide what is best for you).
    Then take some paper (or your computer) & layout the piping configuration you want to do, based on figuring out how many pots you can fit in to it. In the case of the basic "automatic-water'er" (with the tiny black tubes), I had to have one tube outlet for each pot.

    For the RainMaker, it was simply a matter of drilling holes about every inch along the large plastic tube, making sure the tubing ran over the near-middle of the pots, & that there was tubing running over all the pots. Otherwise some of the pots/plants wouldn't be rained on. The tweaking comes in when you do allow some of ther pots to barely have any "coverage" so those pots don't get as much water as the others. (Something I do when housing Cephs in the terrarium, as they seem to do well with less soaking then the Sarrs perhaps.)

    So these are the things that need to be checked & tested as you proceed.
    At some point you pick out a pump you think will work, test it out on a sample set-up to see how it does, along with how big the holes will need to be for the effect you want.
    I myself had already had a number of pumps on hand from previous ponds, watering & raining set-ups, etc. I also happened to pick up some pumps during the "end of season" clearance sale, & got few for near nothing! The ONLY way to shop for me!

    Anyway, after a bunch of testing & tweaking, I got it all to work. Even one or 2 less or extra "outlets" & the thing doesn't work as well as it should, so small things can throw it off! (That's how I know that too powerful a pump can soak the walls or drill out a plant in no time!)
    This is not really a "one size fits all" project. Not that I couldn't design one, but when working with readily available supplies (as is the situation for most of us) we have to do with what we have, and what we can get is often less than desirable.

    If anyone wants to try this type of set-up out for themselves, I would suggest starting out with either the "bucket-planter" plan I gave, or get a cheap table fountain pump & making up a small auto-water'er/RainMaker on a small basis. The rewards will be fantastic & open up the doors to bigger & greater things. What you will learn & understand from doing it cannot be measured.
    At this point I even hope to do a couple smaller set-ups myself! Perhaps some "one plant" units for specific plants that I think can make growing some difficult plants, easy! (For now that's one of my "next year" projects.) If nothing else, it would be a good way to grow a regular supply of Sphagnum for people. (In my terrarium, I give it a regular haircut 2 or 3 times a year, with more than enough pure, clean sphagnum to plant my plants in.

    As far as the rain's effects on dews, I do have a few dews in the RainMaker, in areas where there is a bit less rain then the rest. For most of the dews I have in the auto-waterer, which doesn't wash the dew off. The micro-tubing fills in from slightly below the growing media topped with sphagnum, so other than a little flooding on occasion, the leaves are not "showered".

    Concerning "how often does it run", currently I have them set for 2 or 3 times a day for one minute of raining/watering. In that time it nearly floods every pot. As far as too much water, like anything we grow, we have to modify our growing media to accomodate our conditions & habits...
    I use a good airy mixture that drains well, with lots of good drainage holes in the bottoms of the pots. (Likewise when I grow in dryer conditions, I use a mixture with more "water retentive" qualities, to hold on to the water better.) Experience teaches us how to modify our plant's growing media, as we do with modifying the other growing/environmental conditions.
    I hope people can be patient & open enough to learn that, as there are so many things we can do to help our plants & give them ideal growing conditions, if only we take the time to learn from both our experiences & from our plants.

    I will monitor the plants for a time & adjust accordingly if necessary. (Doesn't everyone do this sort of thing?) If the plants begin to brown, I will increase it as the showering takes the place of high humidity, especially the ones on my shelves. This is all about understanding what your plants are telling/showing you in response to what you are doing to their environmental conditions. This is NOT about simple answers to simple questions! There is so much more to growing then that! These are living things we are dealing with, not some inaminate objects that are only here to satisfy our wants & desires.
    Your plants will tell you what they need. To simply follow what someone else is doing without watching your plants response is not a good way to grow or learn to grow. Your plants will tell you everything you need, if you are patient & open enough to learn what they are telling you. (Indeed, for that, having someone else help you to understand what they are saying is somewhat possible & sometimes a good thing.) But beyond a little guidance, your plants & your experiences with them are by far your best teacher! For it is thru this interaction that your real relationship with your plants takes hold & by it their richest rewards are to be revealed & shared with you. It is a shame most people are in too much of a hurry to ever even bother, as they miss out on the most important part of growing plants.

    But enough on that, lets move on to the question about lighting...
    The lights I have on them currently colors up nearly every Nep, Sarr, Ceph & most other plants I have in the set-up. (My Cephs went from green to a dark maroon very quickly when I put them into the set-up.) For dews I would likely move the lamps closer or use more lights, however the 4 T-5's are plenty for everything I have currently.
    If you are not getting the color you want, then it may be the lighting, but things like most Neps & other things don't seem to require as much as some other plants. (My large terrarium holds mosly Neps, Cephs & a few orchids & couple dews, so the lighting needs are not as much as many people's.) Before offering advice for someone to increase lighting, it is important to know what you are growing/wanting to grow. (Keep in mind, heat will need to be contended with if you increase the lighting too far, and this is all about a balance of conditions. *See below.) If you have a terrarium, then having the lights outside of it will keep most of the heat outside, and fans can deal with some of that also.

    For myself, I try to grow different plants in different set-ups. (In our greenhouse & outdoors I grow nearly everything together however.) For my dews, I have the lights very close to the plants. For Sarrs they are further away, oweing to the fact that they grow tall to begin with. Same with the Neps, which I have found do better with higher humidity or RainMaker type watering to produce the biggest pitchers, so hence the lighting is further away also. In some cases I can tell the 4-lamp T-5 light is a little sub-standard, bit for many of the Neps I have it seems to color them up well & they do just fine.

    I do hope to increase the lighting at some point in my one terrarium, but this is also the set-up I want to re-do anyway, so it will be my next project down the line. I think if I add a couple 4' T-8 shop lights it should be enough to do the trick. Otherwise I will see about adding another T-5 fixture.
    I do notice a big increase in heat produced from going to the T-5's, so I hesitate to go that route right away. In fact it seems to me that the newer T-8 fixtures seem to run a lot cooler than the old (magnetic type ballast) shop-light fixtures & the light output is not bad at all.

    While the T-5's are indeed bright, they do create a lot of heat. And it is all about balance, reaching the "ideal" for every environmental factor, & raising the lowest environmental aspects, not about over-kill on any one of them.

    In other words, we have environmental factors, like temperature, humidity, light, water, air, etc. We need to improve the weakest link, as the plants growth/thriving is dependant & held back based on the weakest one (the one factor we are furthest away from ideal on). If we have the right amount of light, but not enough water or humidity, the plant won't thrive to its fullest potential. Now if we go ahead & shine more light on it, that won't make up for the lack of water or too low of humidity (or wrong temps, etc.).
    We have to determine what factors we are furthest away from "ideal" on, and correct that. THAT is what will help the plants grow to their fullest potential.
    Indeed, most people do not give their plants near enough lighting, but do keep in mind that you also don't want to throw off any other factor that might be pretty good currently. (Like the example I keep referring to, of extra lights throwing off the temps, which can sometimes affect the plants as badly as lack of lighting!

    Keep in mind also, what you find best for one plant may not be best for all of them. Again, that is why I do most my dews separate from many other plants. Same for most my Neps. I do try to put plants with similar needs together, and those with dissimilar needs in different set-ups. Here also, one size does not fit very well.

    I currently have 3 or 4 large/medium terrariums. 2 are currently in use. The smaller one is in the photos, and my larger one is not shown. It was one I built about 19 years ago, and began at about 4' x 6' x about 30" high. I cut it down to fit on a set of file drawers I have,
    and is currently about 2' x 6' x 30" high. I have a different set-up in it (High Pressure mist/spray), but may try to change or improve that one too at some point coming up.

    Oh yea, as far as what kind of moss I found growing all over the place... I haven't allowed it to grow out much, and may just do that next time. Some of it looks like very tiny sphagnum moss starting, and it could be. I just haven't bothered with it, but as I say, perhaps I will at some point.


    And Butch, how did you manage to find a pic of my Dad?!
    Last time I saw him, he was in the opening scene of 2001 Space Odyssey tossing stuff around!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=mI3s5fA7Zhk

    Actually it was very kind of you! (Hilarious, but kind!) And thanks very much for the over the top compliment. I don't know that it was deserved, but it is much appreciated.
    You do always seem to find pictures & videos that are just right for the situation!

    Thanks again all. I do hope this can help some, and perhaps inspire even more creativity & inventiveness to ultimately help everyone grow CP's better then ever imagined!

    Paul

    And lastly, I do still use the "tray method" here & there. There are some places I can't fit a watering system into, and I also use "trays" of sorts outdoors, where the rain waters them & the tray holds just the right amount for a time, or in my greenhouse where I haven't done an auto-watering/RainMaking system...yet! So indeed I still have to water manually outdoors during drought & in the greenhouse (& remaining shelf space) for now.
    While I used to use trays all over, I have found this method a lot less work, especially indoors where the water would otherwise evaporate very quickly. Overall the plants seem to be doing better for me. Especially some of the ones I used to have difficulty with. Bottom line is that it is a lot less work & I now have time to grow even more plants!
    (Otherwise I still have to be watering all the plants, on top or via the trays.)

    But this is only my experience, and like everything, one size doesn't fit all. What I find works best for me may not work best for everyone else, and I would never claim it could. I do however think that it is an option that some people may want to consider, especially if they are good with creating things & building things. This really isn't difficult for someone with a fair amount of ingenuity, and should not be overlooked.
    Indeed it is a lot more complicated than a tray with water, and is likely over kill for something that could be done a lot more simply. (Less complicated means less that can go wrong, I have learned that!) However for me, I have not had many plants (most my Neps in particular)do this good back when I was doing things the old way that I used to. Part could be when I would on occasion, forget or be too busy to water properly, which would then set my plants back a bit. But I know for a fact that the improvement in humidity (that I couldn't seem to correct easily or in other ways) & its affect on the plants has be quite noticable.

    Just sharing what works for me......
    Last edited by GrowinOld; 12-16-2011 at 08:33 AM.
    Experience is the best teacher. At least it used to be.
    But then, common sense isn't so common anymore, is it.


    http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=113866

  2. #18
    mobile's Avatar
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    My comment about the tray method was somewhat lighthearted and I indeed use automated systems myself. I have used ebb & flow (fill & drain), drip and DWC on CPs. Your setup is very nice and certainly something that I would consider building myself, should I have the skill and time. Some CPs are not particularly suited to the tray method either. I am somewhat bemused at times though when I read how growers shun the tray method and are careful to not get the crown wet, when they are growing bog plants that are adept to sitting in wet soil and getting rained on.

  3. #19
    Lover of Mountains nightsky's Avatar
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    Great idea. Looks like it works fantastically. And everything's so lush..

  4. #20
    Rocketcaver's Avatar
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    That's amazing Paul! One of these days Deb and I need to make the long drive up there for a visit.

  5. #21
    I've got a magic window! elgecko's Avatar
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    Missed this post before.

    Love it. Give me lots of ideas.

    Great looking setup.


    My Grow List Updated 8/24/17

  6. #22
    mass's Avatar
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    ingenious. You've got skills sir..

  7. #23
    Mr. veitchii mikefallen13's Avatar
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    Very cool!
    Good Growing!
    -Mike Fallen

    My Growlist/wishlist: http://highlandtropicals.blogspot.co...-growlist.html

  8. #24
    Rocketcaver's Avatar
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    I see the water recirculates. Do you find it necessary to change the water often? Or at all?

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