Friday, September 2, 2011

Beam me up Scottie

My first thought after seeing the above photo was that it looked like the transporter on the Starship Enterprise. In actuality, it is a grow tent that I intend to use to grow warm season vegetables in the basement this winter. Ava, my assistant, is hooked on garlic dill pickles, and finding pickling cucumbers in December could pose a problem, so I am going to try to grow them.

Late last winter, while my wife and I were visiting a new hydroponic store that opened in Albany, we saw some very nice sweet peppers growing in one of these. It seemed to make sense that if I placed one in the basement, where the average temperature during the winter is in the sixties, the tent would retain the heat generated by a small light and raise the temperature sufficiently to grow a warm season vegetable variety.

We were told that the price of the tent was $189, and my wife wanted to buy one on the spot. I deferred, as I was in the process of opening the greenhouse so it would be several months before I could use it. During the interim, I did some online shopping in June, and I found the same exact tent on Ebay for $79, delivered.

Ava and I finally got around to putting it together this week and I am really impressed by the quality of the tent. The supports and rails are of powder coated steel, the tent itself is a very heavy material with hefty zippers, and it has plenty of openings for power and nutrient lines. The design itself is well thought out in terms of providing for exhaust and ventilation. Overall, I am really pleased and looking forward to using this piece of equipment.

Initially, I intend to use a 90 watt Tri-Band generation 3 LED as a light source, and I am thinking of a simple AutoPot setup. Additionally, I have installed an inline fan rated a 65 cfm for air exchange. The exhaust, which can be seen at the very top right of the enclosure, will exhaust from the top and fresh air will be drawn in through the vent openings on the bottom. As I gain experience using the tent I am hoping that I can control the internal temperature by automatically cycling the exhaust fan.

Although it is still too early to activate the system, we have a test in progress to monitor the temperature and humidity in the grow tent. Ava has delegated the monitoring to her Little Green Sprout doll, who can be seen in the photo staring at the thermometer.

When the photo was taken the temperature was 77 degrees and the humidity was 67%, which are really ideal conditions for growing cucumbers.

In any event, this should be an interesting project.

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