Okay, so I haven't built it yet, but that will be accomplished over the following week. So my first few picture posts will probably be build posts. I WANT to do a fancy schmancy timelapse of the build, but we all know how that goes. Once ya get building, it's hard to remember the camera. Blah. But anyway, reason I post this now is because I'd like input from y'all. Any ideas you have regarding the entire thing are welcome, and I'll be specifically asking for advice in a few areas. The build is just days away! This will probably get fairly wordy. Just a heads up. XD If you manage to make it all the way through it, I extend both my congratulations and my thanks. XD
Oh, and this thread will turn into my new picture thread once the greenhouse is built. So if you want nothing to do with the following novel, at least stay tuned for those in the future!
Here's the plan, though:
Going to be 12ft. x 7ft. There is going to be a 4' walkway down the middle of the greenhouse. I was initially planning on 3', but felt like that might get a little cramped. Both the 12ft. sides are going to be comprised of 2 racks that are magically made into 3 racks via an ingenious idea from Butch wherein you take two racks, place them 4 feet apart, and alternate every other shelf from the two racks as a bridge between them. Get it? You don't get as many shelves per rack, but you get an extra rack. It took me a few moments to envision, but once I did, I knew I wanted to use the idea. So, thanks, Butch, for the idea! Your DIY wizardry is much appreciated. XD
Moving on... Once both the 12ft. walls are assembled, the whole shebang is going to be wrapped in that nice mylar-coated bubble wrap. Except for the door, of course, but I'm yet to figure out how to make that work. Here's one of the places I'm open to suggestions. ;p I kind of just figured I'd make it out of the bubble wrap and put a magnetic strip on it so that it seals when closed but is easily opened. Seems sort of flimsy, though. I don't know. Ideas? But anyway, I was initially planning on wrapping it in that mylar-coated styrofoam, but man that stuff is expensive, especially when you're looking at over 300 square feet of it. So then I was planning on using the plain white styrofoam, which is also fairly reflective simply by its white nature, but then I got to thinking. The seed starting trays I use are 22" while the racks themselves are only 18" deep. The rigid nature of styrofoam would necessitate having the trays stick out into the middle of the greenhouse and, more importantly, away from the coverage of the lights by 4". Right now, I just put them sort of in the middle; hanging 2" over the back and 2" over the front. Everything still gets enough light. With styrofoam, again, I couldn't do that. So I thought the more flexible bubble wrap would be a little more (or much more) forgiving.
I'm going to be using 6" ducting with an inline duct fan to pull cold air in from outside during the winter, which can also be attached to my portable AC unit during the summer. That, as well as the 5g bucket humidifier I made (but will be redoing), will be controlled via a hygrotherm. The AC won't be controlled by that, as swords pointed out to me the hygrotherm can't handle that kind of start-up draw, but that's fine; the AC should only have to be used maybe 4 months out of the year during a warm year, and even then only sparingly since it's in a basement. I'm planning on setting the hygrotherm to around 85% humidity unless someone here would advise something else. The temperature... well, that gets a little tricksy. I want it to be colder during the winter than the summer, so the setting will have to be changed through the year to reflect that. But, that's easy.
(The following has been solved quite easily, LOL.) The tricky part comes in trying to accomplish a night-time temperature drop. What I'm thinking will work well is actually throwing TWO duct fans into the line; one on the hygrotherm, the other on a timer. The hygrotherm will maintain the warmer, daytime temp while the timer will kick in, say, once every hour at night to bring the temp 10-15 degrees below whatever the hygrotherm is set at. My only concern is that having another fan in the line that ISN'T running will severely hamper the ability of the one that IS running to actually move a sufficient amount of air. I don't THINK it'll be that big a deal, but I guess I'll find out. UNLESS (here's another one of those places I'm open to suggestions. ;p ) someone has another, genius idea.
Some other deets: The basement is finished, and it had
carpet at one point, but we had that torn out and the concrete foundation painted with an epoxy. So the floor is water-proof. I also went around the entire basement and caulked the gap between the painted foundation and the baseboards, sealing the moisture-intolerant drywall away from any spills or leaks that may occur in or around the greenhouse. So, depending on the size of the spill/leak, the basement may turn into a very shallow pool (this would obviously require a HUGE problem...), but the walls should theoretically stay pretty safe (on second thought, it could never get very deep... water would simply make its way to the utility room, where it would drain away through the drain that I assume exists in all basement utility rooms...). The painted floor is great for protecting it from spills and the humidity inside the greenhouse, but it's also very slick when wet. So, I'm going to put SOMETHING down inside the greenhouse. I'm torn between that green astro-turf stuff and indoor/outdoor carpet. Here's the reason I'm torn: suppose a spill occurs inside the greenhouse. The astro-turf stuff is apparently all plastic, so it wouldn't get wet, per se. But that also means the water should simply seep down underneath it and pretty much stagnate. Just sit there. Which, to me, is begging for mold. The indoor/outdoor carpet is some kind of fabric-y stuff (it says it's 100% OV BFC Olefin, which I've never heard of). This stuff might actually wick water away from the floor and up into the fibers of the carpet where it stands a slightly better chance of evaporating. Then again, the already high humidity of the greenhouse would also severely hinder its ability to evaporate. So, yet again, I look for input regarding this. Astro turf or indoor/outdoor carpet, and why?
Mmmmm, what else...
I'm going to try and keep the bulk of all the electrical stuff (aside from the lights, obviously) outside the greenhouse and, thus, away from the high humidity and condensation that will likely occur within. That includes the timers and as many of the power strips as possible. Those that are inside the greenhouse, I will be sure to have a "drip loop" to protect them from drips caused by condensation. And speaking of lights, I will be using the generic 2-bulb T8 fixtures from Lowes and HomeDepot that I am already using: 2 fixtures to a shelf. But I also spotted a new fixture HomeDepot has, which is a single fixture with 6 T8 bulbs that I think will fit in the rack. That would be awesome and if I can get one and it works out, I'll be getting at least one. Additionally, for my birthday in March, I think I'm going to ask for an 8-bulb T5HO fixture like the SunBlaze for the plants that like a LOT of light and, potentially, a little sun burn, hehe.
Oh, here's another thing. I'm going to be setting up a tank for the plants that are really picky and/or I'm too lazy to water frequently enough to keep them happy. But here's the thing: I have a 40g terrarium that specifically says not to fill with water and a 55g aquarium to choose from. I really, really
want to use the 40g because it more efficiently utilizes the space on a rack's shelf. It won't be holding more than, say, 4" of water, just enough to put a pump in that will auto water the plants within. I, personally, don't think that's unsafe, but what do y'all think? Also, as I said, I am going to have this tank on an auto watering system; I've yet to choose what type, though. I really loved GrowinOld's "RainMaker", but the size of the drops worries me when considering the tank will be housing orchidioides. The thought of a big drop hitting a flower just right and breaking the stalk horrifies me, lol. I'd love to do a MistKing system, and probably will eventually, but that's too expensive to do right now with everything else that's costing money with this undertaking. So I sort of thought of a compromise. I'm thinking I'll just have the pump push water directly into each pot through that drip irrigation tubing, which will happen, oh, I don't know... 2 or 3 times a week. Of course, the pots will sit on a false bottom to keep them out of standing water. Additionally, I plan on having a separate humidifier just for this tank that kicks on once or twice a day for around 15 minutes to gently "soak" everything in the tank. I'm not planning on having a lid on the tank since it's going to be in the climate-controlled greenhouse as it is, so air stagnation shouldn't be a problem. But, this whole project is totally open for debate; any better ideas out there?
Aaaand, I think that's it for now. And, you were warned, it got wordy. XD
But I really appreciate any input from you all.