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Thread: Polytunnel/Hoop house Automatic watering

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    Brolloks's Avatar
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    Polytunnel/Hoop house Automatic watering

    Hi Everyone,

    I have been given the opportunity to have a Polytunnel built in a family members yard as mine is way to small for a setup like this.
    The tunnel will measure in at: 4 meter width and 8 meter length. I might divide it into two segments, one for none-carnivorous plants and one for carnivorous plant.

    My plan is to setup some kind of automatic watering system for the Carni's maybe a tray system that floods water into the tray and lets it drain out again. I have seen some great designs on the forum but was wondering if any of you has had experience with Polytunnels and automatic watering of Carnivores in them.

    I will be growing Tropical/sub-tropical Drosera, VFT, Sarr's, and a few Nep's (which I will have to water with a different method).

    The reason for the automatic watering is that I won't be able to visit the tunnel everyday, but I need to ensure that the Carnivores have got sufficient water. The section for the normal plants will get managed by someone else but they won't be managing the Carnivores unfortunately.

    I am really excited about the tunnel as it means that I can expand my collection! Which I can't seem to get enough of.

    Thanks!

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    farmertom's Avatar
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    HI, just wondering what species of neps you'd like to grow in the tunnel? They're usually meant to warm up and get fruit crops like tomatoes and peppers popping as early and late in the season as possible- I'd worry about cooking most neps, though I have next no no lowland experience. I do have a lot of high tunnel experience with food crops though- theyre usually a season extension technique, and not so much a typical year-round greenhouse set up. That being said, tunnels and greenhouses are kinda two points on the same spectrum, so you can design yours to be more of a greenhouse if you want. Most of the plastics they sell for tunnels are made to resist UV degradation, but they all wear out eventually- some one season, some ten. Just a thought on the time frame.

    I had a small A-frame tunnel for a season here in the east bay (hot dry summers with cool nights, chilly wet winters) a few years back and it kept sarracenias, some easy drosera, and a few Mexican pinguiculas well. Tall pots seemed to help the sarracenias, and it let me keep the water level in the trays high, so less frequent watering (nothing automatic). The issue I found was with dialing in the heat/humidity/air circulation ratios. High tunnels are often open on the ends- their functions are to trap uv's and ground heat for better temperature buffering, manage humidity, and still allow good air flow for crops prone to bacterial infections, damping off, and blossom end rot on fruits. Even with a small, open-ended design, temps could get too high in the daytime- and even with trays and a ground-soak, the necessary venting would drop the humidity into that special sweet spot where plants can bake. I think the aspect of the tunnel can do a lot- an A-frame situated so the walls face directly east/west might warm up nicely in the morning but get too hot in the afternoon- also we have a prevailing cool northwestern wind here, so that would blow my humidity right out the end. I had much better success in my more typical greenhouse. Factors might be ground-treatment, height, materials, etc.

    All this being said, I once took a month long hiking trip in late summer and left my garden in the care of visiting friends. They managed to kill every plant in the tunnel, except one p. Moranensis, who was doing surprisingly well in a dry pot. I think I still have that one

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    Brolloks's Avatar
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    Hi Farmertom,

    Thanks for the input.

    The Neps will be mostly Lowland and some intermediate. The main reason I want to go the polytunnel route is because there is another grower in my area who has got two of these tunnels in her yard and her Carnivorous are really looking great. She has got Pings, Drosera, Sarr, Neps, VFT, and even Cephalotus growing in those tunnels.

    I will have the same individual build my tunnels that she used. This individual apparently also grows Carnivorous plants in his own tunnels that he has built. I am confident that he will be able to set me up with a great tunnel for growing Carni's.

    I am still not 100% sure how I will setup the watering in this tunnel though, and maybe I can add some plastic rain gutters to the tunnel to collect rain water as well.
    Last edited by Brolloks; 03-14-2016 at 11:48 PM.

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    farmertom's Avatar
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    Cool, sounds like you've got a good thing going. I've found in general that a lot of cp's that people suggest be grown off the tray method actually do well with trays if they're in general low humidity/high heat conditions, so maybe experiment with using trays anywhere you can to cut down on automatic watering infrastructure. Maybe even sink a few lined bogs once the tunnels up

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    Brolloks's Avatar
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    Hi Farmertom,

    The individual that is helping me set-up the tunnel showed me how he waters his plants and I think I will do a similar set-up.
    Basically what he has got is large trays the full length of his tunnels and at the end of the trays he has got a drain hole which the water drains into and gets pumped back into the tray at the other end, kind of like an ebb and flow system I think. This basically creates a constant flow of water and apparently aerates the water as well.

    Shouldn't be to difficult to create. Will just have to play around with it and see what works best with the plants I want to add.
    Will experiment with Drosera first, as they are the main plants I want to focus on for now.
    Last edited by Brolloks; 03-22-2016 at 04:55 AM.

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