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 Building a grow chamber...

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Lachy
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Lachy

Number of posts : 733
Location : Langwarrin
Registration date : 2008-04-05

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PostSubject: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySat Nov 08, 2008 11:47 pm

G'day guys...

I've been mulling over the possibility of building a grow chamber for providing artificial heat, light, and humidity for grafted plants, cultivating Pereskiopsis, etc. You see, I live south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula, and it's cool and shady here... not particularly optimal for growing a lot of species.

Therefore to overcome my cacti-unfriendly climate, I figure the best option is a growbox of some sort. Now, short of setting up an indoor grow room (which, let's be honest, looks just a bit dodgy to outsiders), I've come to the conclusion that my space needs are fairly modest. In fact, I reckon something the size of a large esky would be plenty big enough to allow me to germinate seeds, cultivate Pereskiopsis and graft as much as I would desire to.

So, therefore, what I plant to do is turn a large, cheap esky into a grow box, complete with fluoro lights and heating, all on a timer so that I can control day/night etc. I figure an esky is a good starting point for all this because it's 1) insulated; 2) portable; 3) easily adapted to my needs.

Has anyone else tried this? Am I onto a good idea? Am I risking burning my house down by sticking fluoro lights and a heat mat into an esky?
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KanJe
watchman
KanJe

Number of posts : 393
Location : Melbourne
Registration date : 2008-06-24

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 12:53 am

I guess anything will work if think the space will be enough. Hehe, if it is it might not be for long. Rolling Eyes
I try to focus on three factors with an artificial environment.
Temperature, humidity and light. In my opinion, if you have the right levels and variety of light with ventilation you should be fine.

Did you have any ideas for heating Lachy?
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https://s673.photobucket.com/albums/vv99/KanJe_Garden/
blowng
Calm and Collected
blowng

Number of posts : 256
Location : Mellville
Registration date : 2008-10-28

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 12:58 am

Whats wrong with natural light? or are you tring to keep away prying eyes? im planning on some sort of greenhouse homemade jobbie .just to keep out the chilly winds and add a bit of humidity ,some sort of dome shaped frame ,draped in plastic and shade cloth with the option to open and close parts as the weather changes. At least if i start now she should be ready for next winter as it rains alot here south of perth. I just got some pereskiopsis,does it require special treatment? i better put it under glass till i get some housing, hey that's an idea ,when i take cuttings of non cacti plants i stick them in a 20 litre bucket with a sheet of glass on top as a make shift glasshouse until they root ,in the shade of coarse. buckets and glass are cheap or you could just use gladwrap.
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Lachy
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Lachy

Number of posts : 733
Location : Langwarrin
Registration date : 2008-04-05

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 8:12 am

What's wrong with natural light... well, to be honest I live on the side of a hill that doesn't get much. Combine that with the fact that it always seems to be significantly colder here than the rest of Melbourne, and you'll understand why I seem to be the only person on the face of the earth who can't get Pereskiopsis to grow like a weed.

The truth is that, by and large, the weather here is simply too cold most of the year, except in summer when it's too hot and dry for Pereskiopsis to be happy. If I had the space I would simply erect (haha... he said "erect") a greenhouse. Unfortunately, I don't have the space and my employment dictates that I move around a bit. Therefore, with uncertain growing opportunities, a self-contained grow box seems like it might work. That way I can keep up the heat, light and humidity thorughout the year. I've got a spare heating panel here, so I should have no issues keeping the temperature up throughout a chilly winter.

And as for keeping out prying eyes... that's not a problem for me, as most of my long-suffering guests, neighbours and relatives have found out that I'm all too eager to show off the cacti.
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blowng
Calm and Collected
blowng

Number of posts : 256
Location : Mellville
Registration date : 2008-10-28

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 10:51 am

Mate i remember my first cacti came to me when i was in unsettled circumstances, and eventually i went overseas for 2 years or so, but instead of ditching my beloved green friends i found a quiet sunny spot in a state forest under a huge tree which kept em dry . when i got back they were still alive and 10 years later i still have them. people grow well ...er stuff in forests etc.. maybe if you could find some vacant land and hide them till things settle down. well i had no choice as my family werent around to help me and once bitten by the cactus bug the lack of 4 walls cant stop the obsession. have you got a roof?
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lewis
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Number of posts : 862
Location : Melbourne
Registration date : 2008-05-07

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 1:22 pm

blowng wrote:
Whats wrong with natural light? or are you tring to keep away prying eyes?
he's going to start stockpiling lophophora Wink Laughing
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blowng
Calm and Collected
blowng

Number of posts : 256
Location : Mellville
Registration date : 2008-10-28

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 3:13 pm

yeah i thought that as well,shame there seems to be some stigma associated there. couldnt he camoflage them amongst some geen rocks of similar size. lol , or maybe a climbing vine on some sort of frame would be the go for a disguise, would help shade em to ,but yeah he has shade issues.mmmmmmmmmm............ rendeer
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Lachy
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Lachy

Number of posts : 733
Location : Langwarrin
Registration date : 2008-04-05

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 7:41 pm

Heheheh... a couple of the comments here have me chuckling to myself.

Basically, the situation is this: Last year I had a number of plants flowering, the product of which were apparently viable seeds. I know this, because I had initially had excellent germination. However, I was unable to maintain adequate temperatures and lighting to ensure good growth, and as a consequence lost almost 100% of my seedlings. This included Parodias, Rebutias, Mamms and a number of Echinopsis hybrids. Those that survived went all spindly and were eventually culled.

Furthermore, I also bought a varietyr of seeds, including Myrtillocactus, Ariocarpus, Aztekium, Cereus, and a number of others... my germination rate was pretty much 0%, and those that did germinate grew very spindly and eventually were culled. Basically, as far as I can see the problem was inadequate heat and light that did my poor seedlings in, as sterilization of the soil medium was performed and no signs of the dreaded fungus gnats were present. So, I figure that if I can keep the heat and light up, I can grow from seed the year round.

Now, stop making me out to be some sort of nefarious commercial-scale Loph cultivator.... Laughing
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blowng
Calm and Collected
blowng

Number of posts : 256
Location : Mellville
Registration date : 2008-10-28

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 8:06 pm

my sincerest apologies champ.
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Lachy
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Lachy

Number of posts : 733
Location : Langwarrin
Registration date : 2008-04-05

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 8:34 pm

Hey, no need for apologies... just tryin' to explain myself, is all.

Now, back to the topic at hand... Is what I'm contemplating a good idea, or is this just a shortcut to a housefire due to pumping too much electricity into an esky?
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lewis
avid contributor & moderator


Number of posts : 862
Location : Melbourne
Registration date : 2008-05-07

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 9:05 pm

Lachy wrote:

Now, stop making me out to be some sort of nefarious commercial-scale Loph cultivator.... Laughing
Laughing Laughing oh sorry dude...now back to the topic of how to make a large scale elaborate hydroponics system with which to cultivate your 'pereskiopsis'. Wink
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Lachy
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Lachy

Number of posts : 733
Location : Langwarrin
Registration date : 2008-04-05

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Nov 09, 2008 9:12 pm

Oh god, what have I started here. *sinks face into his hands*

I'm just trying to build a propagator, dammit! Laughing
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lewis
avid contributor & moderator


Number of posts : 862
Location : Melbourne
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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyMon Nov 10, 2008 8:10 pm

^Laughing
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Lachy
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Lachy

Number of posts : 733
Location : Langwarrin
Registration date : 2008-04-05

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyMon Nov 10, 2008 11:27 pm

See, now I *know* you're just trying to wind me up... Laughing

My current experiment is growing the peres in pots, housed in a transparent plastic drum, partially shaded so there is an increase in temperature but without the burning intensity of direct sunlight. If that works, well it's a starting point. I'd just like to be able to grow from seed successfully. The thought of having herds of little baby cacti growing away happily is a very enticing one, I must admit.
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lewis
avid contributor & moderator


Number of posts : 862
Location : Melbourne
Registration date : 2008-05-07

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyTue Nov 11, 2008 12:39 pm

i found the best way to grow pereskiopsis was in this er propagator:
http://www.cactiguide.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9412
they grew several centimetres a week. take them out of there and guess what.. they didn't grow like weeds.. even in a greenhouse.
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Charlie



Number of posts : 118
Location : 20k S of Coffs Hbr NSW
Registration date : 2008-09-14

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyTue Nov 11, 2008 11:27 pm

Well i have actually tried this .. the esky thing that is.

I got an old esky and mounted lights in the lid. Instead of fluoro tubes i used those fluorescent, energy saving type bulbs that you can stick in a regular light socket. These are good because theyre small (i easily fitted 4 into the lid), and as i recall theyre more efficient than ordinary fluoro tubes (in terms of lumens /watt). I used 4 x 20w for starters. Name brands such as philips seem brighter than el cheapo ones for the same wattages. I used 20w philips ones - the tube is a tight spiral so theyre small, and they're bright.

To actually fix the lights to the lid i bought 4 light sockets ..the ones that just mount onto to something flat and are held on with a couple of screws. I think theyre called batten mounted light sockets or something like that. Wiring them up is pretty straightforward. I just drilled a hole for the power lead and that was it.

When the lid was closed practically no light came out of it and it looked just like an old esky. The problem was that not much heat could escape either and it got really quite hot from the bulbs in there. I tried with fewer, weaker bulbs etc but when the lid was closed it still got too hot. Leaving the lid propped open fixed the heat problem but then of course theres light everywhere and high humidity is lost.

So next i mounted a small computer fan in a hole i made in the side of the esky and drilled a few small holes in the lid. This way (when the lid was shut) the fan blows air out the side while sucking in new cooler air thru the holes in the lid. I could have had it the other way with the fan blowing in cool air, but i had cuttings in there and i didnt want a draft on them. However with small plants the fans blowing air in and it then goes out the top.

To maintain humidity i put wet sand in the bottom.

It works well for cuttings and small plants. One or two 15 - 20w bulbs seems adequate but i guess it depnds on what youre trying to achieve. Plants grow really well in there and can go a dark green. Ive never tried it with cacti but i think i will.

So it works but overheating can be an issue. There are prob a variety of other ways of gettig around that apart from a fan though i reckon. Maybe a piece of glass etc over the top instead of the lid, with the lights outside.

Oh yeah the other thing is that it can get crowded in there. Bigger the better for the esky i think.
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Hellonasty
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Hellonasty

Number of posts : 1824
Location : NSW
Registration date : 2008-04-04

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyWed Nov 26, 2008 1:58 pm

Hey charlie,

This will work but only with small seedlings. The problem is there is no air circulation and this will cause all sorts of fungal problems. Your better off using metal shelving from bunnings (its cheap) and attaching a fluro to the top of each shelf. I have been used this for a while and it works pretty well.
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Gracie
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Number of posts : 158
Location : Bendigo Victoria . Zone 6
Registration date : 2008-05-02

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyWed Nov 26, 2008 9:41 pm

maybe I can rent out space in my propagator ! cactus on agistment . chuckle chuckle
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http://www.kilomuncher.com
Lachy
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Lachy

Number of posts : 733
Location : Langwarrin
Registration date : 2008-04-05

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyThu Dec 04, 2008 3:07 pm

Well at this stage I'm holding off on wiring up an esky... frankly, whilst the idea probably has merit, I think it's a bit much effort. In the meantime, I've improvised a humidity tent over my Pereskiopsis cuttings outdoors and it seems the improved heat, light and humidity is doing the trick.
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Lachy
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Lachy

Number of posts : 733
Location : Langwarrin
Registration date : 2008-04-05

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyThu Feb 12, 2009 9:05 pm

As an update to this whole mess... it seems the humidity tent (also known as a clear plastic bucket with a plastic bag on top) has done the trick. My Pereskiopsis is now growing like a weed. Yay! Laughing
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lewis
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Number of posts : 862
Location : Melbourne
Registration date : 2008-05-07

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptySun Feb 15, 2009 7:54 pm

hey Lachy thats my current 'humidity chamber' too!

i found that without a greenhouse or propagator pereskiopsis doesn't seem to grow overly super fast here, for me anyway.
I think it likes high humidity not the dry air we have here. (our low humidity is incidently better for alot of the more sensitive mexicans etc).
Heat, plenty of water and heaps of fertilizer of course help to produce a faster peresk growth rate too. they like semi-shade positions during the warmer months too (that, or like most things they just can't stand up to direct scorching southern summer sun!)
As an experiment I'm going to grow a peres in pure vermiculite with added slow release ferts and then liquid feed and water the living daylights out of it and see what happens. anyone grow pereskiopsis in an elaborate hydroponic setup? like substitute the tomatoes for pereskiopsis grafts... i have wondered about this before.
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Lachy
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Lachy

Number of posts : 733
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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyThu Feb 19, 2009 9:55 pm

lewis wrote:
As an experiment I'm going to grow a peres in pure
vermiculite with added slow release ferts and then liquid feed and
water the living daylights out of it and see what happens. anyone grow
pereskiopsis in an elaborate hydroponic setup? like substitute the
tomatoes for pereskiopsis grafts... i have wondered about this
before.

Well, I reckon you could definitely try growing peres hydroponically. I've got 20cm plants growing in ordinary potting mix, getting watered twice daily and the things are growing like triffids. They can certainly tolerate far more water than any other species of cactus that I have ever seen.

I'm not so sure pure vermiculite is the best hydroponic medium though - I reckon rockwool or even expanded clay granules might work better. Don't ask me why... this is just a gut feeling.
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Darren
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Darren

Number of posts : 352
Location : adelaide but moving to monbulk
Registration date : 2009-09-07

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyMon Oct 26, 2009 7:20 pm

i have been thinking of buying an old second hand bain marie and covering the elements with sand... this way i get the lights the heater and the glass chamber!!! what do you think? surely we can pick these things up cheap somewhere Building a grow chamber... Icon_cheers
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shortly



Number of posts : 127
Location : SEQ
Registration date : 2008-06-28

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PostSubject: Re: Building a grow chamber...   Building a grow chamber... EmptyWed Oct 28, 2009 8:38 pm

I think you would have cooked cactus darren. The thermostat will need to be replaced since the lowest setting will toast your seedlings.
Keep an eye on Grays online auctions
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