Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Aero Garden Update #1

The Aerogarden has been doing well so far. Here are the current totals of what we have harvested.
  • 7.99 g Basil
  • 0.91 g Mint
  • 0.81 g Thyme
  • 0.44 g Oregano
  • 3.80 g Dill
Totaling 13.95 g

We've used over 10.21 KWH of electricity. This is measured using a KillaWatt meter purchased from NewEgg.com.

The basil really grew fast and we've actually had to prune it back three times now in order to let everything else catch up to it. At this point the basil and dill seem to be doing the best. The mint has really started to take grow now. Looking under the hood it has a pretty significant root system. The oregano is probably the slowest growing of the bunch. Maybe everything will start growing better now that it has all been pruned back a little bit.

One improvement that I would really like to make to the system is to put a little fan somewhere to help them grow stronger. I think that this would also help some of the lower vegetation to get some more light and promote stronger healthier plants.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Life is full of change.

Unfortunately if you have been following the different greehouses that I have built they have been put on hold until I have a place that has room for building a new one since I left my old one at my old house. I've taken a new teaching position in Alaska and am currently renting an am unable to build a green house.

After much debate I finally purchased an AeroGarden Elite 6. It was at Costco and the price seamed reasonable since it was the same as the online price without shipping or tax. I figured that it would be a good stepping stone into either AeroGardens or the world of hydroponics. I also purchased a "Kill a Watt" by P3 from NewEgg.com. I'm using this in my classroom to do a study to see how economical they are. We will be keeping an eye on all of the expenses involved.

We started the AeroGarden last week and exactly one week after it was planted everything in the herb kit has sprouted except for the chives. The first basil seed sprouted in only two days. The dill is comming along a little more slowely but it really shot up over the weekend.

It will be interesting to see how it does through the long winter nights here, espesially since I planted it before the longest night.

More later about the cost analysis.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spinach Pail

The spinach is doing well and still producing. I would estimate that I have picked enough spinach to fill a 5 gallon bucket so far (not compress). It is interesting that the initial leaves are very tender and melt in your mouth, while the later leaves are little tougher, It still cooks up really nice though and the flavor is amazing. Tonight we had spinach that was ever so lightly steamed.

As you can see from the images below the size of the spinach leaves was amazing.

My hand in front of the spinach leaf.

My hand behind the spinach leaf.

Garlic Temptation

Since all of the fresh garlic in the house is gone and there is a garlic plant growing in the greenhouse since last fall. It is mighty tempting to harvest it but according to "Garlic Central" below I need wait until the leaves are half brown. And then once picked let it dry for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Garden Goodness

The first few leaves of the spinach plants where harvested today. The spinach plants are looking quite nice. It is interesting that only two of the lettuce seeds sprouted. This exactly opposite of what happened last year. I had only two spinach and lots of lettuce. The greenhouse seems to be working well since I didn't harvest my lettuce last year until a few weeks from how if I remember right.

Looking at the temperatures records for the last couple of days the temperature inside the greenhouse ranged from a low of 31 to a high of 90 while the outside temperature ranged from 21 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This is an improvement over the last fall when the minimum temperature difference was only 5 degrees, no it is up to 10. Now I need to worry about seeing if we can keep it from getting to hot since summer is on it's way.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

New Life

I planted spinach and lettuce on the Tuesday before last. I don't see any of the lettuce yet but the spinach is coming along nicely. There are quite a few as you can see from the picture below. The other picture is the basil that I hope to move into the greenhouse when it stops getting so cold at night.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Double Glazing

This past weekend I finally figured out how to put a second layer of glazing on my greenhouse. The spacing between the layers is about 1 inch but some of the separation isn't that consistent. Looking at the temperature data for the last 24 hours the difference between the inside and outside was at least 2 degrees Fahrenheit and at most about 20 with a maximum inside temperature of 70 and a minimum outside temperature of 30. The only other solar features that could affect the temperature inside was a 30 gallon green garbage can full of water. Hopefully tomorrow I will be turning the air circulation back on if I finish getting the ground tilled.

Here's how I put the double glazing on.
I nailed 3 - 1 3/4 thick boards along the length of the green house. One at the peak, front top edge and front near the ground. In each of these I drilled holes for a 1 inch pipe to set in. This is outside of the existing plastic. I created a pipe framing that covered the existing plastic, this will keep the layers separated. The pipe in the ceiling has a T in the middle of it to help give it a little bit of rigidity. Next I measured the plastic and rolled it out and cut it to length. Folding the plastic back on it's self so that it could easily be laid on top of the greenhouse and stretched out. After stretching it over the back I placed a few staples in it and then stretched it down the front edge. Coming to the back again I added a few more staples in the existing board that secures the plastic. Next I place a strip of wood so that it would secure the plastic to the board near the ground on the front for the greenhouse. After securing this I moved to the back and did the same and secured the plastic to the top board that also holds the pipes in place. Next I carefully worked the ends of the greenhouse so that the plastic was spaced away from the existing plastic. I believe that currently this is the weak link in my design. I'll have to come up with a better way to keep the two layers separated, but until then this should work. Hopefully I'll get some pictures posted soon of exactly how I did this. Until then let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Lots of pictures

I was finally able to get out and get some pictures of "Greenhouse #2" before I put the second layer of glazing on.

In the photo above the white piece of plywood leaning against the end is not part of the design, it just happens to be there. Behind the plywood is the plywood that is nailed to the wall.
The photo on the left is a view of the other end, this wall is facing due east.
The photo on the right is a closeup of the corner. I tried to round it with a router and chisel as much as possible to help relieve the pressure so that the plastic is less likely to rip.

As you can see from these photos, one piece of plastic stretches from the front wall all the way over and part way down the back wall. The small white square in the upper left corner is where a vent will be installed. I was able to find some 20' wide plastic at Home Depot. I made it long enough, about (8'+16'+8'=) so that it could stretch down and cover the end walls. The left end wall was also remove and covered separately and reinstalled. The same could be done for the front wall if necessary but it would then be hard to secure the plastic to the front wall.

Three quarter inch PVC pipe was used as the support members for the roof. They connect into the front wall with plumbers tape and are secured into some 1 1/8" holes that were drilled in the top of the wall.
As you can see from the photos on the left there were two different ways that I experimented with for securing the pipe to the all.

Each of the PVC pipes are secured to a brace about half way up the roof line and that brace is attached to the back wall with another diagonal brace. Another one should be applied that goes the other direction but this one does a surprisingly good job by itself. The photo at the left shows how the pipe is attached to the main brace. You can also see from this photo that the walls are insulated with white foam.
The brace is attached on top of the pipe so that the metal tape doesn't chaff the plastic.

Each of the walls are connected to each other with two bolts and t-nuts. Thus by removing 8 bolts the whole thing can come apart and be moved. I've moved each of the walls except for the back wall. It is probably getting a bit heavy since it is 16 feet long. Also the back wall has rebar that goes through the bottom of the wall to help keep it from going on a walk like the first one did.

Well that is enough rambling for now. I hope that the pictures help you better understand what I have accomplished so far.