Sunday, October 19, 2008

Basement preparations

The weather turned cooler this Friday, with a steady Fall breeze. The forecast for this next week's nighttime lows will be in the lower 40's and upper 30's.

This weekend's project was to clean up the basement growing area and make some pallets. I used some old wood we harvested from the attic insulation project for the pallets, following the design from I bought some cinder blocks to support the pallets. The pallets will help raise the plants higher to the lights. I also have some SunLift suspension system hangers (not yet installed) that should allow me to lower the lights closer to the plants, if necessary.

The electrician is scheduled to come at the end of the month to install the new circuits for the lights and lightmovers. I expect that the orchids won't need to be moved inside until Nov. 1 anyways. But, with the cooler weather, I'll be taking it one day at a time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lights in the Basement

It's getting that time again. The Summer is gone, and we're progressing through Autumn. Soon, the orchids outdoors will need to be moved into the basement to over-Winter.

I have two, 250 Watt SunSystem II lights to maintain the orchids for several months in the basement. Last year, they were static. But presently, I'm in the process of installing mover system, using LightRail 3.5. Once all the equipment arrived, it only took a few hours to screw things together. I've asked a local electrician to install dedicated wires to run the lights and lightmover motors, and user/equipment-friendly outlets that will allow for the lights to move up and down the 6-foot track without becoming unplugged.

With the new light meter, I can now get a better measurement of exposure under these conditions. While I don't expect to fully mimic the sun's intensity, I do expect that I can improve the indoor culture conditions.

As a first exercise, I took some light readings around the backyard shade frame, this last Saturday. It was mid-day, around 1pm, and sunny. The light meter read around 90,000 lux on top of the shadeframe, and around 50,000 lux underneath the shadecloth (advertised as 40% shade). I got too busy with other chores to take measurements once the shadeframe was shaded by the trees...

NCOS Annual Show/Sale

Well, we've just finished with our annual Fall Show/Sale at the Arboretum. It was reasonably well attended over the three days, but the sales were down due to the present economy.

I witnessed one big exception today while staffing the cash register. One person spent $685 on orchids, and then went back in to buy another $150 of orchids!

Below are some pics of a few of the orchid exhibits set up by either vendors or regional orchid societies. I'll admit that few of the plants are in focus. My digital camera is having issues, and is need of replacement. However, I was taking the pictures more for reasons to document exhibition style. Some displays were overcrowded or poorly designed for other reasons. I liked some ideas in these pictures.