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greenhouse

Well the greenhouse is finally ready to be a greenhouse. It gets quite warm and roasty in there during the day. Only took a year or so to get it finished up with no outside help. The next step will be making the solar collector for the radiant floor heating. However, my Urban Greenhouse Controller is still in the works for the Renesas contest. It gets priority for a few days now.

Front view of the greenhouse.

Potting soil has been made from sifted compost, peat moss, vermiculite and a bit our homemade organic fertilizer blend. We’ve started a few seeds and the rest of the trays will be filled this week. This is only a start. We hope to have 3 tiers on each wall of seedlings. There will be plenty of tomato seedlings for sale and trade. This year we are planning on a lot of Cherokee Purple tomatoes. Sliced with Buratta, they can’t be beat.

The start…

The baby chickens have been outside a bit. Temperatures are still a bit cool to let them roam. They don’t seem to mind getting a little sun on a breezy day.

The new chickens, 1 month old.

We’ve also been working hard at making a math game. If we can hurry, we’ll make it an instructable and enter it into the microcontroller contest at Instructables.com. All of the hardware is solved. It’s on breadboard now with a custom printed circuit board in the works. It is powered by a ATMega328p (as a barebones arduino) and programmed with a Bus Pirate. The software is being tweaked and should be done in a few days.

Our Money Math Game

Yes, it’s a green greenhouse. The bell pepper green paint is really bright but looking great. The vent window frames are going on and then the paneling to finish it out.

Super Green

Greenhouse Specifications:

  • 8′ x 8′ x 8′ (peak of roof)
  • Wood structure, paint for sealant
  • Polycarbonate “Tufftex” panels with 90% light transmission
  • Decomposed granite floor (high silicon dioxide, to work as a thermal sink)
  • Passive radiant floor heating using solar collector (PEX tubing with 3/4″ foam-core, aluminum reflective barrier)
  • GWDeveloper Urban Greenhouse Controller
GWDeveloper Urban Greenhouse Controller on Renesas RX62N

Urban Greenhouse Controller

  • Plug-and-play operation using regional ET data
  • Configurable Sensor Array
    • Humidity
    • Temperature
    • Barometric pressure
    • Wind direction & speed
    • Daylight collected
    • pH & EC
    • Vent and door positions
    • Water flow rate
  • Hardware Control
    • Vents
    • Exhaust Fans
    • Misters
    • Irrigation
    • Aquaponics
  • User Input
    • Touchscreen display in greenhouse
    • Web accesible controls via wireless access point

My electronic specifications may be slightly changed due to the cost of sensors and linear servos. Most sensors will operate on the I2C bus while a few will have simple ADCs.  I will probably find a different method of opening and closing the vents as well.

Well, the greenhouse plans are pretty much ready for the permit. It’s been a busy spring and the greenhouse construction has been delayed a good bit. It will definitely need to be ready for fall. We plan to have early seedlings next year so we can keep improving our system.

It’s a basic wood construction. It will need some reinforcements to stay put in the winds we’ve had. The roof and walls will have clear, UV protected polycarbonate sheets. Cooling in the summer will be made possible with lots of ventilation and a water mist. Heating in the winter will be a combination of a passive solar radiant floor heating, forced convection solar heating as well as thermal mass inside the greenhouse.

Hopefully, the permit will be in hand by the end of next week so more construction can begin. The floor reflector, tubing and gravel will go in first. 4 yards of gravel will be moved from the driveway to the back yard. Anyone else want to grab a shovel and wheelbarrow?

I’ve managed to post a few videos of our aquaponic ecosystem. Everything has settled down, the water is crystal clear and the plants are flourishing. Technical details will be coming soon with drawings and notes.

The high pressure sodium grow lights were turned off for the video. They produced bad scan lines on the video. The veggies are currently under a 430 watt High Pressure Sodium lamp. If you are playing around with flourescent or led grow lights, that’s all you are doing. The plants need a high power light source and flourescents can not produce the same lumens in the proper light spectrum for strong growth.

Soon the eco system will be out back with a small lean-to roof for shade. The delicate lettuces are no match for the Texas sun.

Keep checking back for more updates on our aquaponics system.

We’re still rocking on the Funny Farm! The blog was put on hold for a while. It was becoming a chore to keep the pictures updated. We’ll continue to post pictures just not for a daily timelapse video.

Our growing space has doubled in the backyard and we’ve expanded into the front yard as well. A greenhouse is in the works and will hopefully be ready by May. We found a few designs we liked, but had to modify and design our own to get things just right.

In a few days, we’ll have some pictures to post of everything we already have growing. Be on the lookout for strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and tons of other stuff. There’s also a new aquaponic system operating in the garage. Running on goldfish, we’re growing arugula, beets and lettuce in the grow beds. Expect to see some videos of that soon.