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If you want to remove the netting in the winter to improve light it might be an idea to have it on separate fixings to the bubble wrap. Maybe just using some hooks which the netting can easily be hooked onto and taken off quickly. Maybe three at the apex of the roof and 3 each side at eves level

I was actually thinking of something along those lines, elasticated hoops on the corners of sectional pieces, that could be folded back and hooked onto self tappers half screwed into the frame somewhere. But in the end, i decided to go with the fixed option for the first year to see how things go. It's not a huge job to adapt it if needs be.

 

Anyway, things have progressed a little bit further, it's just that i haven't uploaded the photos until now due to an internerd fault for the past week.

This is the shade netting i applied on top of the bubblewrapped areas. I don't know if this is going to turn out to be a good or bad thing, but i opted to shadenet straight over the two autovents, with a small hole to access the adjusters if needed. This was done to stop pesky flying sphagnum thieves, but i realise it's also going to stop insectivorous food getting in. The glazed panes of the vents had two layers of 25mm bubblewrap taped inside them seperately so the vent can still open free of any restrictions.

 

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At the other end i built the unit that will house all the water and electrical items. This was built from freebie OSB3 board donated by a neighbour who was moving home and having a clear out. The tops and sides of the unit were then covered in leftover rubber pond liner to protect the timber a bit more.

I've also started to run some 20mm electrical trunking down the righthand side which will feed the interior roof lighting and on/off switch by the door. I was thinking of getting a 4ft 36w IP65 flourescent, what do you folk think ? It would only be for working in there on Winter evenings for example.

 

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I also built two sets of staging from pressure treated timber also donated by our moving neighbour, and stained it to tidy it up a bit as it was a bit weathered. The "Nep Bench" down the right side of the photo is 12ft 6" long with no shelf, as the waterbutts will be housed underneath. I also tacked a double layer of leftover shadenetting to the top of the bench, to help stop anything too big falling from the pots and into the barrels, yet still letting humidity up. The other staging is 6ft in length with an additional shelf. As you can see, my other half has already started moving her plants in ! :laugh2:

 

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Next, the four 120ltr barrels were installed. They're each connected at the back, about 2 inches from the bottoms, to allow equal filling across the bench. Barrel #1 is fed from the gutter downpipe with an "emergency" top up option of mains water via an isolator tap, as our TDS is only forty-something last time i measured it. On barrel #2, i made a flashy water level guauge using two male threaded elbows, a bit of 12mm thick wall pipe, and an 8mm round foam fishing float. Probably pointless, but it saves on the old back from bending over trying to peer into the gap between barrel and staging top with a torch. Have i mentioned i'm lazy ? :laugh2: I meant to have taken a close up shot for anyone who might've been interested, but i clean forgot. I'll take a pic one day no doubt. Barrel #3 has a brass tap for filling watering cans and so on. The last barrel has a bottom mounted plastic tap for draining all four barrels when i need to clean them out or maintain them. Not really neccessary, but a tidier affair than overflowing barrel brims i think, was to fit a standard overflow pipe from the top of the barrel and let it drain into the water table below. All kinds of plants and veg seedlings have been moved in temporarily to benefit from the current mini heatwave.

 

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I've started logging daily inside/outside temps with humidity readings twice a day, just out of curiosity to see if all this effort really has been worth it. There's 480 litres of water in the barrels, with an estimated 200+ litres of water under foot, and 3 tons of soaking wet ballast. I'm impressed with the humidity results i've recorded so far, but as this is my first greenhouse, i have no way of knowing how much of a benefit, if any, all this work has been. I'll post my results towards the end of May and hopefully someone on here may be able to offer some comparison figures ?

Summer is almost upon us, so i think a IP65 consumer unit with RCD, with intake and outake window mount fans are next on the shopping list. If anyone has any fan recommendations, i'm all ears. I also need to wire in the solenoid and control gear for the misting system before summer kicks in too much.

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Cheers Corky :)   Wow, i can't believe we've had so many weeks of hot sunny weather, hence i've been outside working nonstop and therefore not taking any photos. So, time for an update ! At the sta

It's been almost one year since i updated this thread last, so here's a little update of what i've been up to over the quiet winter days...   My other half has given up her side of the greenhouse at

Thanks riveroalbert   Time for a Winter update..... The four under-bench 120 litre water butts have gone. There were two reasons for this, the first was that i felt they kept the greenhouse far to

The problem with barrels at floor level as you have found is that the tap has to be higher up the barrel to get a container under it, but then you are only able to use half the water. As you have gone to all this trouble maybe a small pump would not be too much of an expense.

Its a great setup by the way and Im sure you ill be living in there all summer

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Yeah, i tried screwing a short length of hose onto the tap to see whether the gravitational force would operate a small hand gun sprayer, but no chance ! Then i realised the downward pressure would only come from the one barrel the tap was connected to anyway. But no matter, as the barrels were only ever meant as heat and water storage for a bit extra humidity. We can still get watering cans under the tap, using just half the barrels down to tap level would still provide 240ltrs, as the barrels are connected along the bottom and it only takes a minute for the barrels to level off and equalize again. A pump maybe added as an optional extra at a later date once all the more important leccy stuff has been  bought  :laugh2: 

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Yeah, i tried screwing a short length of hose onto the tap to see whether the gravitational force would operate a small hand gun sprayer, but no chance ! Then i realised the downward pressure would only come from the one barrel the tap was connected to anyway.

 

Gravity can only be used if the water level is higher than the nozzle of the sprayer. In your situation the sprayer will work if the nozzle is at ground level but would gradually get weaker as it is raised. Then stop altogether when it reaches the same level as the surface of the water in the barrel. So could never be used to water anything on the shelving.

Your solution would be to add more gravitational potential energy to the water, in other words get yourself a watering can :)

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Well i knew that water wouldn't climb to a higher level without some kind of suction or mechanical pump, but the hose and spray head were left on the floor and there still wasn't enough pressure to put out more than a pathetic trickle. But this was just a curiosity exercise, and not a real reason for the tap on the barrels anyway. We've already got several 10 litre watering cans which we can easily fill from the tap if needed. If anything, i'm more likely to get a hydrofogger in time and connect it low to one of the barrels, so the tap was only ever added as an extra option when needed.

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Guest paul y

a company called ruck make the best extractors ive ever used. they come in temp controlled models, and fan speed controllers and humidistats etc can be fitted to control. greens horticulture can advise and sell what you need.

regards paul

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Hi,

My latest project calls for a managed water supply so I have the following:

- 12v (nominal) solar panel from Maplin.

- 12v gel battery (7AH I think?).

- timer circuit based on a 555 chip (I might rebuild with a 7555 at some stage).

- a 12 submersible pump.

If you want a simpler system just put a switch in place of the timer and you have a ready supply of water as high as you need it.

Cheers,

Steve

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm waiting on delivery of an IP65 consumer unit / RCD, so nothing much exciting happening in the greenhouse at the moment, except for a few minor jobs.

One thing i've decided to do is use a few sprigs of dead Twisted Willow as a climbing aid ready for when the plants are mature enough to start vining. I love the gnarly look of it. I've always had a dislike of bamboo sticks and plastic poles stuck in plant pots and tied to the plant with string or more plastic, so i'm hoping this will give a more natural looking display in a few years time.

 

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I've also started running the misting/watering pipe, hidden behind the electrical conduit with zip ties. You can just about make out the nozzles pointing down.

 

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Mounted the double switch by the door that will operate the flourescent lighting at night. The other switch will isolate the misting system if i need to go in there whilst it's on.

 

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Once the consumer unit turns up, next on the shopping list will be the hygrometer/humidistat to connect up to the solenoid valve so i can get the misters up and running.

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  • 2 months later...

Cheers Corky :)

 

Wow, i can't believe we've had so many weeks of hot sunny weather, hence i've been outside working nonstop and therefore not taking any photos. So, time for an update !

At the start of this thread i said that not only was this going to be my first ever greenhouse, but i'd be diving feet first into making it a (hopefully) ideal intermediate/highland nepenthes enviroment at the same time, with practically zero experience, googling and learning about each step as i decided what needed to be done next.. And so obviously it would be a big learning curve for me and also experimental, with mistakes made and lessons learnt along the way.

First mistake, i kind of severely underestimated the average daily light levels in the Northwest of England, and so the shade netting from the front of the greenhouse and the double doors, plus the sunny side of the roof, has been removed to lift the gloom. And then a few weeks later, this bloody heatwave hits and we have to walk round with sunglasses on to avoid the glare ! So really, the shade netting could do with going back on the doors and roof as long as this sun keeps shining. I need to come up with some kind of velcro system so the shade netting can easily be removed or replaced on the doors when the weather gets silly. Plus it was a neater job around the edges when it was covering the messy cuts i made to the bubble wrap underneath. All this because i realised the greenhouse is facing south east not south. No signs of any plants suffering heat stroke yet, so maybe the extra shade netting was overkill in the first place.

Second mistake, siting a greenhouse under the next door neighbour's sycamore tree is a very very bad idea if you intend running guttering to harvest rainwater during spring and early summer. The sheer amount of dead flower heads that fall from this tree resembles a locust plague of biblical proportions. The water in the four barrels was bright yellow, caused terrible floating scum, stunk like hell, and made the water useless at over 260 TDS. And on top of that, i had the equivalent of 100% shade netting on the roof. Then the guttering got packed solid and overflowed so i decided it all had to come off. Well, i didn't know it was a sycamore tree when i started the ground clearance, it was February i think and i wasn't paying much attention to the surrounding trees. And a matter of weeks after i removed the guttering, the neighbours hack 50% of the branches off the sycamore, which not only means far less flowerheads next Spring, but also more incoming light ! We're planning now to use the guttering on our 12x10 shiplap timber shed and hook a further water butt up to it for general garden watering, it was expensive and can't be allowed to go to waste.

Anyway, i'll talk you through some update photos.....

 

I've fitted two Vortice Vario 150AR fans in the greenhouse, controlled by a thermostat. When the orchid autovents open at around 25c, the two fans come on too. It was hard work trying to purchase a branded affordable fan in the UK that also offered good moisture protection plus could be hardwired in reverse. And it HAD to be no bigger than 6 inch (9 inch casing diameter) to fit in the glazing above the double doors. I actually had a good bargain, and found too of these fans on fleabay, brand new with instructions but unboxed, by two different sellers, a matter of weeks apart. I think i saved between £150 and £200. So the first two photos show the exhaust fan, mounted as high as possible for maximum heat extraction.

 

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And here's the intake fan, which comes on at the same time as the exhaust fan. I decided to mount it low in the back corner of the greenhouse, as this is by far the coolest outside part of the greenhouse as it's in permanent shade all day. The concrete fence panels in close proximity also help keep the air surprisingly cool and damp here. The only problem i've found, is during heavy rain, the fan gets very dirty on the outside from rain splashback off the pavers. The angle of this splashback just happens to go straight up through the downward angled vents of the fan, allowing dirty muddy water to build up on the inside of the fan. It's actually quite clean inside after two months use, and not as bad a sounding problem as i make out, but i see a potential build up happening and i'd like to make things as maintenance free as possible. I just need to devise some kind of open cover for the front, maybe cut a 2ft square of 4mm polycarb and screw the bottom two corners onto the side face of the concrete block, bending it slightly and screwing the top two corners into the uprights of the greenhouse. This will create a gap of about 3 inches in front of the fan, and the sides will be open of course. What do you think ? It's the simplest solution i can think of that would do the trick i reckon. And it will be out of sight anyway.

 

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I've also fitted a 4ft IP65 T8 housing. I opted for a 4100k daylight 20w LED tube instead of the old traditional 36w fluorescent tube, for the obvious savings on electricity, plus the better quality light. Installing a LED tube in a standard T8 housing involves snipping wires and bypassing the ballast as it's no longer needed and the circuit wiring to the LED is different anyway. A simple job and not as scary as i first thought. The starter (if fitted) also needs to be removed. I purchased a Ledlam tube which has a 140 degrees projected angle of light, some cheaper LED's may only have an angle of 120 degrees, i've learnt.

 

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Next is a general view of the inside front of the greenhouse. You can see where the shade netting has been removed from the front panels, doors, and right upper roof panels. This has let in much more light during our more common gloomy days. Unfortunately, the ugly rough cutting i did of the bubble wrapping is now exposed on the doors. You'll also notice that the right side of the greenhouse still homes some of my partners plants and flower/veg seedlings and i'm perfectly happy with that while the space is unused, as long as her plants are happy with the high humidity needed for my conditions. The long term plan is for this to be a nephouse only with plants climbing both sides, and so i think i will need to shade net that side of the greenhouse exactly the same, from floor up to the top of the lower roof panels, leaving the upper panels unshaded (as i did a few weeks back) and remove the shade netting from the currently covered upper roof panels of the current side, opening up the entire roof space instead for light. If you understand what i mean. I'm not sure the light coming in then through the roof panels alone will be enough during the darkest depths of winter, but then again, the sun is way too low on the horizon for our garden at that time of year. That's the plan anyway, what do you reckon ?

 

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This is the other end where all the exciting (but very expensive) stuff is going on. Hence it's slow going.

The IP65 consumer unit is in and live, but not everything you see mounted on the back board is connected up yet, where other items are still needed. Some things are running on temporary timers from the extension reel plugged in the house, like the temporary indoor 1.8kw heater that helped get the chilly greenhouse day temps of 16c up to around 19 or 20c back in April / early May. It's an eco model kinda fan with a mini thermostat that slips it into economy mode to top the temperature up slightly when needed. Or something. This heater is on a timer to stop it operating over night. Don't panic, it's well sheltered under the potting bench from the misting system and the 12 inch Hydor Typhoon does a great job from keeping any wetness away from everything on the back board, even the IP rated stuff. Bugger, could have saved a fortune there lol ! This fan is intended for 24 hour air circulation run through a timer with alternating 15 minute on/off operations constantly over 24 hours.This is my starting experiment point anyway. However, the fan is currently running constantly 24 hours plugged directly into the extension reel while i await purchasing another expensive IP timer that won't get wet. Oh well, better safe than sorry, eh? The potting bench can get a little bit wet in places, but that has been covered with a sheet of stainless steel donated by a metal fabricator mate i've acquired since moving up here.

 

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And here's a close up of the automation gadgetry so far, fused spurs everywhere ! (my sparky mate, also recently acquired, likes to play on the safe side. To my expense lol).

The solenoid that operates the misting system is controlled by a very expensive waterproof timer, that operates............ just one 15 minute cycle in a 24 hour period, currently at 9pm at night. The price of dedicated automation. Originally, i envisioned this timer having many cycles a day, helping cool during the day and raising humidity. Then the cost would have been justified. But once the solenoid was made live and i seen how much of a soaking my neps got from my cheap misting nozzles (as warned to me by Dave Evans many weeks back, which can potentially be very bad for rot). I paniced at first, but then read about the watering/fertiliser methods of the guy over at nepenthesaroundthehouse.com and how his nepenthes increased in leaf growth and pitcher size when he reduced watering to a single drenching with a hosepipe each evening (sorry i don't know your name, if anyone can let me know, please do). Since i adopted this guys system, i too have also noticed an increase in leaf and pitcher size. But that could also be partly down to me giving them all their first caffeine fix adminstered a month or so ago, plus the gradually improving conditions as controllers get added.

Below the misting timer and solenoid is the cooling thermostat that controls the exhaust and intake fans. It has a 5 metre sensor probe which i've run into the trunking, through the black conduit top right, and it breaks out half way along the greenhouse, quite low to where the nepenthes are sitting. Under the cooling thermostat is where the heating thermostat will go once purchased. I've opted to go with Simply Control again and purchase their Tropical Thermostat, a dual box affair featuring a thermostat and a seperate timer, which controls the 10c night time temperate drop at night. Nice bit of kit, but again very expensive (for me, currently). And then a very expensive heater needs to be bought before winter sets in. It's a race against time on a low income, but i hope it's going to be so worth it in the end :smile:

 

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Whilst the greenhouse can't progress as fast as i'd like due to cashflow limitations, it does give me plenty of time inbetween update phases to get work done on the garden, and in roughly six months, it's gone from this......

 

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to this......

 

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So that's basically everything covered that's happened since i updated last back in mid May. Your thoughts and comments on the nephouse are always welcome. Thanks for reading.

Edited by Welshy
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Thanks Ada, yeah the garden is taking shape slowly, at least it's a bit tidier than it used to be ! I've also built a bog garden just to the left of the DIY trellis archway as you look at the photo, with a load of sarras, dionaea, and drosera. I've still got lots of stuff left over that Ian Salter gave me, so a second bog garden will need to be located somewhere else in time ! :)

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Thanks for taking the time for such a detailed write up.This has been a great thread and i have enjoyed watching your progress .And as Ada says your hard work is paying off ,good on ya.(if i rembember correctly neps around the house is joel)

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  • 1 month later...

I've now got the Tropical Thermostat and heater wired in just in time for Winter, so it's all finished at long last with regards to the automation electrics and stuff.

 

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So time for a bit of a recap...

 

Watering :  The original plan was for a misting system worked off a humidistat set at 70% but it was decided that during hot summer days it would be coming on a heck of a lot and saturating the plants and putting them at risk of damping off or rotting altogether. Instead i opted for a string of cheap plastic misting nozzles on flexible 5mm irrigation pipe which runs on off a 24hr timer controlling a solenoid valve and provides just one 15 minute soaking in the evening when the sun has gone down. Even though the nozzles provide quite a satisfactory fine mist that you could walk around in, it still manages to soak the plant pots through until they drip, even with just the one 15 minute blast. During the recent hot weather, the daytime humidity still managed to float between 50 and 60% thanks to the water table in the floor and the four 120 ltr water butts under the plants doing their little bit, but not quite hitting the 70% daytime minimum i would have liked. Well i did say at the beginning of this thread that it was all experimental, for me at least. So i think i'll be investing in a HR15 hydrofogger and humidistat next spring to supplement the water mass. A lot of money to pay for just a 10% increase in humidity, so i'm thinking of taking the barrels out next year to free up more space for an undershelf which can hold more plants, seed trays, and sphagnum. And then the hydrofogger will have to earn it's keep full time. But the current 'misting system' is doing a grand job of watering the plants when i'm not at home for days at a time, so that is definately staying in place.

 

Cooling : A thermostat set to 28c operates two 9 inch Vortex Vario bathroom type window fans when the temperatures get too hot, one fan mounted high above the front doors wired to extract the heat, with a second fan in the lowest coolest corner of the greenhouse wired as an intake. The standard autovents that came with the greenhouse were opening way too early at about 15c, so they were taken out and replaced with orchid wax versions that start opening around 25c.

 

Air Circulation :  At the moment, i have a 12 inch Hydor Typhoon which is running 24/7 despite being wired through a timer. As i found it nigh on impossible to buy an oscillating IP65 rated wall fan in the UK under 16 or 18 inches, i had to settle for the rigid Hydor. Because this blows the air right down the centre of the greenhouse, bounces off the doors, and comes back up the sides, the air hasn't quite got the legs(?) to reach into the corners either side of the potting bench. Some plants in this corner did show early signs of black sooty mold due to lack of air circulation, but were moved and treated and no harm done. So the plan is to buy a second identical fan and timer for the opposite end of the greenhouse, and then running them at alternating 15 minute on/off segments so only one fan is ever on at one time. This should cure any 'calm areas' and provide better circulation. Despite the current sheltered spots, the one Hydor seems to be distributing the air enough to register pretty equal temperature and humidity readings at either end of the greenhouse, it's not quite enough airflow for the plants which are a bit more sheltered.

 

Heating : My favourite bit of kit is the Tropical Thermostat, very pricey but great. It's basically a thermostat and timer wired together. You set your desired day temperature on the thermostat (i have it at 24c) and the 'day period' on the timer by setting the pins (on mine, currently 8am to 8pm). The remaining timer pins are your 'night period' (8pm to 8am in my case) in which the thermostat automatically provides a night temperature (0 to 10c adjustable on the pcb board) below whatever your daytime setting is, therefore my night time temps should average 12-14c in winter. The heater by the way is 3kw.

 

I've also mounted a double waterproof socket on the main backboard and a waterproof single socket/timer at the opposite end by the doors. Just so they're there if ever needed, i.e. boiling a kettle ! That's about everything i think as far as the electrickery goes.

 

The ballast floor in the greenhouse was proving to be a bit uncomfortable on the feet when standing on it for long periods, so i decided to use some of the reclaimed timber and decking boards a neighbour had given us and install a floor. And it looks tidier. To maximize my planting areas, i'm going to build a 'raised bed' in the centre of the floor, which will also have a waist high shelf for more pots. Both bed and shelf will only be wide enough for a single row of pots, 12 inches wide at most i would imagine. This just means my partner Jacky can hold onto her side of the greenhouse for a bit longer before i evict her and her plants forever ! :laugh2:

 

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Now that the greenhouse is practically finished, it'll soon be time to introduce you to my plants, although at the moment, most are still too small to photograph properly. So it will probably be the new year. Until then, i'll keep you updated with the raised bed idea and any other tweaks and alterations i make.

Edited by Welshy
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Heh heh, good idea Steve, but i don't think there'd be much room for a camp bed once i've installed the space maximizing centre console (which i've used my phenomenal photoshop skills to illustrate for you) :laugh2:

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Hopefully that'll give you a better idea of what i was waffling on about doing with the centre of the sexy floor. Three-high decking board sides to the raised bed, two branches going up and fixed to the apex for additional roof support, and of course to mount the shelf to. That should give me room for an extra 20 pots and a few hanging baskets i reckon :chiffa:

Edited by Welshy
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Thanks Hud :smile:

 

Last night was the first time i've actually been able to 'prove' the tropical thermostat night time drop feature, as up till now, natural summer night time temps haven't dropped below 14c for weeks, so the heater hasn't been coming on at night. However, the garden min/max thermometer this morning said it dropped to 3c last night, so i nervously opened the greenhouse expecting to see some suffering neps, but the min/max in there read 11c. Sorted ! :good2:

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The nearest i have to an emergency system, is an alarm on my mobile that goes off 5 minutes before the misting system comes on so i don't get caught out :laugh2:

Seriously though, it would be nice wouldn't it ? Some kind of Solar setup and a bank of leisure batteries. I started a motorhome project 3 years ago, converting a 30 year old 7.5t horsebox into a campervan. I put two 120 watt panels on the roof (max 15a output total) and a bank of four 100a leisure batteries. Works a treat and allows us to stay away as long as we want during the summer, charge status indicator has never dropped below 80% when we've been using it, and it's always back to 100% by the following morning.

However, i think a 3kw greenhouse heater is a totally different kettle of fish, don't you ! :laugh2:

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  • 1 month later...

Bench 1 is now full of plants, so i thought i'd share some photos of how i've arranged my baskets before the sphagnum covers them out of sight. I decided to 'landscape' the baskets to give the slightly more natural look of an embankment. They're just sitting on various thicknesses of broken paving slabs left over from building the crazy paved seating area in the garden. There's 50+ plants crammed on that one bench alone in a combination of 23cm and 19cm baskets, so it's probably going to get very overcrowded and a look like a tangled mess in a few years, but i'll enjoy it until then and worry about it when the time comes. There's actually room for another 3 baskets, but i've nowhere to put my rooted cuttings that occupy the space at the moment.

 

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I've now totally run out of space to take any more plants on for the time being. I'm happy to let my other half hold on to her side of the greenhouse until the very last minute, so i'll get on to building that centre console in the diagram a few posts previous to give me planting space ready for next Spring. I've also still got to make the 'splash guard' for the outside of the lower intake fan, i've bought a small sheet of 4mm polycarb ready to do it, it's just the weather's been too cold and wet. Luverly and warm inside though, i think i'll need to try and squeeze in an armchair. :laugh1:

Edited by Welshy
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