Automatic / Manual Hoods ~ PVC Heavy Irrigation (5x5/25) ~ Collective Runoff (plumbing) ~ Sensors
Automatic / Manual Hoods ~ PVC Heavy Irrigation (5x5/25) ~ Collective Runoff (plumbing) ~ Sensors
I have an indoor/outdoor garden (by that, I mean it is an indoor grow - but in an outside building (stand alone structure).
The room contains 25 five gallon pots (in rows of 5x5). The room is 8x13 feet with a double angled roof about 9 feet tall at its peak (picture the roof on a traditional barn perhaps).
At the moment, the lights are held to the roof by adjustable wire (but it only allows about 12 inches of movement - Which is fine, because that is the amount of slack that exists in the HVAC ducting that connects through the three 1KW HPS hoods (with glass inserts). The ducting goes from the back of the structure, connects to the side of each hood (light), and than meets a fan pulling/pushing the air, which connect to a vent sending the air directly outside.
For watering - I use a small water pump, a 55 gallon bucket, and a wand (with a valve on it), watering each pot by hand (which also requires maneuvering through the room and sliding pots around to make a lane).
There are two fans in the room that keep the air flowing (stationary). One is in the back right corner sitting on top of the air conditioning unit (that is only used in emergency situation - It can be easily moved or removed - It is a "mobile stand up" unit). At the moment I have the AC exhaust leaving the room through the wall (a small 4 inch hole and hooted vent). The second fan is in the lower left hand side of the room. One is blowing air over the top growth and the one is blowing air to the bottom leaves (and providing air to the bottom side of older, larger fan leaves).
There is an air filter (carbon / about 32 inches tall) in the back left corner, sitting on a foamed stand (a bit more quite that way). It pulls air through a fan, which pushes the air through another ducting line, along the ceiling, and out the opposite wall (the line is also insulated, overall - It is very quite. However, it takes up space in that corner (it turns the back row, for now, into three, because the rest of the space is owned by the filter).
The variable speed controls for the inline fans are spread apart right now. Obviously, after I am able to remove all plants and do work on the space itself, I will move them both to the door. I would like that same location to be the location that a collection of possible sensors lives.
At the moment, I have to turn off the lights by hand than cover the rear vent (the one for the light hood ducting) with a towel - because I didn't consider a light matrix or anything like that when I installed it, and so lights leaks through to the hood and reflects into the room - Its not a straight line and its not that bad, but at the same time, its bad enough to make me paranoid and cover it to be sure.
There is only one entrance at the front, a hinged door the same height but maybe a few inches larger in width as your normal residential doorway.
The walls are covered in white (thick) reflective material (almost as one solid piece). That is screwed into (by hand, like a thousand of them!) insulation board (typical), which is held to the structure by large screws and washers (and those layers cover the ceiling and walls completely, accept for the front wall with the doorway, that is a thinner flexible material, which allowed me to do other things on that wall, like hooks, access to the a wall, etc).
The floor is covered by thick black visqueen like material to protect the wood. The edges between the walls and floors are lined with rubber "base board" that prevents water from going between the wall and floor, and protects the bottom few inches of lining / layers. I have drilled a hole through the floor and placed a drain cover in the back right corner (because the structure slightly tilts that way) and gravity is taking the water outside. I do not have an issue with this as the room dries up quickly and standing water does not remain (but I don't even want it on the floor - and I don't want the pots on the floor anymore).
At the moment, I am training plants one branch at a time with bamboo and it is quite time consuming, but does the job.
That is about it for now.
So here is what I am trying to achieve (not that I know what I'm doing, but I will list it with my thoughts on solution, and let you extract from that)
I would like to use white / reflective PVC pipes (plastic / or metal coated with white rubber - Which may make more sense considering that it would be capable if holding a much larger amount of weight) to build a frame up the corners and walls inside of the room. A mix between metal and plastic may be best (metal for the outside of the frame and the heavy lifting - but light plastic PVC for the watering and drainage)
From there, I am trying to figure out a few things. One, I would like to build a "basket" in the upper back corner for the filter and lift it out of the way (which would be good anyways, heat rises after all).
Second, I would like to attach a "lift" or "powered" system to the top of the frame, which will hang the lights, and be able to move them up and down (all the way to the floor for cleaning the tops easily, and all the way to ceiling if the plants get that tall). I would like (when turned on) to have this lift automatically governed. I would like a censor that can detect if something enters a set distance between the tops of the plants and the lights, and if something breaks that level, the lights automatically rise until the object is no longer triggering the sensor (kind of how an automatically stopping garage door works, only instead of stopping, it rises slowly a few inches and stops).
Third, I would like to use the piping to create a watering system to evenly deliver the 55 gallon nutrient mix to the 25 pots (doesn't really require that all 55 gallons are used of course, but you get the idea). I would like that to be in such a way that I connect the pump to the PVC, release the valve, and when I happy with the amount that has been delivered to the pots, I can simply shut the valve, disconnect the hose, and shut the door. I was thinking this may be done with two additional pips to the left and right of the lights (that have stoppers in the back of them) - With pipes running straight down to each pot, becoming the "center piece" (as opposed to using bamboo) that the plant is tied too at transplant (making sure that it grows straight, and not into its neighbor). At the bottom of this "center piece" I was picturing a series of small joints that create a near circle around the edge of the pot, splitting the water out to 4 or 5 smaller exits, so that the water doesn't come down too hard and splash, and so the pot is evenly watered (and so the pipe doesn't drill a hole in the soil, esp. straight down on the stem!)
Fourth, instead of using bamboo to train everything, I would like to use a net instead. Two actually. I figured I could use the existing frame (add bars a few feet below the maximum height from the lights for the first net. The second net needs to be 50% lower and will act to train the plants and provide the ability to start "shaping" them before they reach that height. I figured this would be attached the same way.
Fifth, the pots will be hand built and perm. They will be cleaned between use. I figured I would construct them from something suitable and the correct size (from plastic - thicker - or whatever - 5 gallon pots)- The "center piece" that comes down to flow water to the buckets, will be channeled down through the pot (so picture that center piece coming down, splitting off into the different "heads" - but the center piece will have a lower 5th that no longer contains water) - That piece will be bolted (or whatever) to the bottom of the 5 gallon bucket. Under the bucket, will be a slightly wider, shorter bucket / platter / dish / funnel which will lead water (by just a slight angle / let gravity do it) down through five PVC pipes that all end in the back right corner, and drain out (no more watering the floor!) - This will deal with the pots touching the floor as well, as each one of these will be bolted to the floor, making everything one "support" structure (and providing proper pressure to prevent the plants from "pushing" the netting around)
Sixth, I would like to know how (and as cheaply as possible) I would go about automating systems. My lights are on timers but the rest of it is still done by hand. I would like to know how to use a sensor that detects lights to turn the inline fan for the hoods off and on. I would like a sensor that reacts to temperature and turns the air conditioning if the room gets to hot (oh there is also a portable heater I bring in and out of the room, which I have decided I do not trust for safety, and plan to replace with something else) - And if the room gets too cold it turns the heat on until it is sufficiently warm. I also plan, if I can fit it in (I don't think it would need to be very big for this size of a room) a humidifier to control the humidity in the room (which I assume I can just leave on an automatic setting for the most part but) I would like to be able to, if I can, tell it to raise or lower humidity depending on whether or not the lights are on.
Seventh, I was thinking I could have a separate system with very small pipes (uses a very, very small volume of water) that I can put on a timer, that is connected to a reservoir and can provide a timed (through spray nozzles) foliar treatment (with whatever I put in the "tank" at the time). This system could be used for foliar feeding, cleaning, treatments for different issues, and so on. I don't have too many questions about this because instructions for such a thing are readily available online, but suggestions are welcome (for sure). A friend of mine told me I could attach small chemical pumps and even schedule which is used when and not have to deal with it personally. Not sure if I want to get THAT fancy though :)
Eighth, I think I would like to get rid of the two larger fans in favor of smaller fascinating fans throughout the room. Is there a way to connect them all to one sensor that depending on co2 readings in the air they change speeds? Anything fancy like that?
So, if you can picture it in your mind, that is my idea to "rebuild" my room. My goal is to slowly overtime continue to construct the room until its pretty awesome. I figure once I move to a new location - I will be able to take that knowledge with me in order to construct something even better in the future. Eventually, I would like to have a space for my plants that has more breathing room to work in. I would like (eventually) to have a room that can grow year round using both the sun and HPS bulbs with risers, movers, shades, green house material, blah blah blah... For now this is what I have.
I really enjoy it. I never thought that I would enjoy gardening and learning about plants. Being able to grow nearly anything I want to grow year round has become a great hobby for me and a great learning experience. I live in a pretty crumby environment - If I had not learned about indoor gardens I never would have been able to grow the variety of plants I have been able to enjoy. I was thinking about seeing what it would be like to grow different kinds of cactus in their (I loved cactus plants when I was a kid and my mother constantly got me new ones to check out and grow in my window).
Just a question - Besides peppers (which was cool - I used long planters that time instead of individual pots and man... I turned the filter off for a day messing around and it was pretty spicy!) - What plants have you guys tried growing in that environment? I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions about cool plants I may have never heard of. I like things that bloom in a unique way (or make a good center piece for the wife or friends). I like things that can be used for their oils and smells as well. Lately I have been looking at growing fresh herbs and salad material - But for now I am growing small trees and shrubs (things that live together - grow together. But I wish I had a little bit bigger space and could separate them so I could grow things at the same time that would not grow in the same environment in isolated sections). Come to think of it, I had better make sure the way I attach these pots is easily removed later - And that the watering system splits away from the "center pieces" higher up, so that I can remove them and reconfigure later to use flower beds and stuff like that easier (or if a plant would rather be rained on and foliar fed on a timer instead of 'drenched' quickly).
Well... That is my long post looking for advice. I have no idea where to start or who to talk to. I am an inventive person but I am not good with certain things. I am hoping someone can walk me through things a bit and be pretty specific. Telling me, for example, rule of thumb to go by, will not help me much unless its so simple your dog could understand it, because I just don't think in equations. I am not lame - Just a bit "other brained"
Let me know what specific information you would need to know about the dimensions of the room, that sort of thing, and I will reply ASAP with the information you are requesting.