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Author Topic: ED: I'm now *part* of this new Icelandic Biodome Project! Help me pick plants!  (Read 3463 times)

nullzero

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I think mites and other minor pests are going to find their way would be good to have a counter balance with beneficial insects.
Grow mainly fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

KarenRei

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Is this Dome project more for fruit species or highly vulnerable / endangered species?

Fruit species. But I'm pushing for more "exotic" fruit species rather than mundane, and she seems to be onboard with the idea.  The goal is to have a halo effect - making a neat, relaxing, interesting environment with things that you can't buy / see anywhere else, so that people will want to come to to shop / eat / work / spend time in.  You know, nobody believes that, say, cultivating coffee in greenhouses in Iceland will be cheaper than importing it from Central America.  But you get someone in for a cup of locally grown coffee and then they buy a $6 piece of cake to go with it....  Plus, where else exactly in Iceland is one going to get to try, say, rollinia, or marang, or any other exotic tropical fruit?  Having exotics at a market next to common goods is exactly the sort of thing to attract buyers (esp. high end ones), even if they'll only walk out of the market with some tomatoes and lettuce and such.  Also, Iceland is really big on health foods; most grocery stores have big health food / supplements aisles, where people will buy things made from acai powder, acerola powder, garcinia "cambogia" powder, etc. Where here they could get *actual* acai, acerola, garcinias, etc!  ;)  And have restaurants that incorporate that sort of stuff fresh, with it growing right next to the restaurant.  The marketing potential seems really obvious to me - I think Spor Sandinn (the company behind this) has really found a significant untapped market niche.  They want to eventually build a whole chain of these, first around Iceland, and then expanding to the other Nordics (and potentially other cold-climate areas).

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I think mites and other minor pests are going to find their way would be good to have a counter balance with beneficial insects.

Indeed!  I already brought that up once, but it'd be good to bring it up again. I don't do it at home, as it'd be pretty expensive versus how much floor space I have, and boom-bust cycles would probably kill them all off in short order.  But for such a big facility?  No question.  And definitely want it preventively, not responsively - periodic application of predators for the whole range of common greenhouse pests.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 09:39:57 AM by KarenRei »
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pineislander

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It is always best to not re-invent the wheel. have you looked into the best example of a large tropical garden in a far north zone greenhouse?
Kew gardens Palm House in London is probably a good example, but is 800 miles south!


Doing that might bring up some problems which have previously been limitations which will need solutions.

This looks like a multi-million dollar project, due diligence now will pay off.
At a minimum, you should go to Kew and get a consult.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 08:43:10 AM by pineislander »

KarenRei

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It is always best to not re-invent the wheel. have you looked into the best example of a large tropical garden in a far north zone greenhouse?
Kew gardens Palm House in London is probably a good example, but is 800 miles south!


Doing that might bring up some problems which have previously been limitations which will need solutions.

This looks like a multi-million dollar project, due diligence now will pay off.
At a minimum, you should go to Kew and get a consult.

Yes, that's another thing I'd been thinking about which I forgot to put on my list - albeit the two places I'd been thinking about were the Eden Project in Cornwall (doesn't get bigger than that, and they use an ETFE cushion roof) and the Butterfly Center in Houston (smaller greenhouse but still sizeable with indoor cultivation, and of course, butterflies; plus I have some family in the area). I was also thinking a trip to someone who cultivates a very wide variety of exotic tropical fruits might be in order (say, Fruitlovers?  ;)  ).  Could help out wherever I go and leave with a seed / plant purchase, in exchange for sampling and learning.  But I don't want to just take off on trips without talking to Hjrds first!  :)

It will indeed be a multi-million dollar project. But any large real-estate project is, of course, and construction is booming here. The investment case to make is that the extra premium earned for integrating money-earning floor space (markets, restaurants, coffee shops, conference areas, office space, etc) with a tropical greenhouse, plus the extra greenhouse-related revenue streams (food, other products, guided tours, etc) is worth the cost of going with a tropical greenhouse rather than more conventional real estate design.  I think they'll succeed with that argument, but only time will tell.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 09:46:52 AM by KarenRei »
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Mark in Texas

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Have you considered photoperiod or are you planning to control that with supplemental lighting?  Except for truly equatorial plant material most activity, blooming responses, etc. is controlled by the collection/depletion of phytochrome in plant tissues.

KarenRei

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As mentioned earlier, I'm advocating for LED supplementation in the winter... not enough to try to keep things fruiting heavily during the winter (that would be expensive), just enough to prevent excessive leaf drop and keep some minor fruit on the trees.  Around here the commercial greenhouses generally use extensive HPS lighting in the winter to keep things like tomatoes fruiting, but that's crazy expensive.  At 3800 square meters, if we were to use only 100W LED per square meter average over the course of the day, that'd still be an average of 380kW. I'm not sure what sort of rate on power such a big building would get, but if it's, say, $0,06/kWh, December's power bill would be ~$17k.  The lights themselves would be ~$100k if they were to only be delivering that power for a third of the day (aka, ~300W for 8 hours, 0W for 18 hours), less if it was divided out over a longer photoperiod. Off around midday of course when if you're lucky the sun may give you a couple hundred watts of super-low-angle filtered light.

But if she's fine with paying more, hey, you could match the summertime tropical sun on a cloudless day by averaging ~1100W of LED light per square meter over the course of the day  ;)  But at nearly $200k in power for December, probably over $1M per year....  I'd say "stick with mimicking the light from a place that's very cloudy for a couple months"  ;)  Heck, even most tropical rainforests only get 1/2 to 2/3rds the light of their latitude-equivalent deserts due to clouds.  We've got a long, bright summer to help make up for it.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2018, 08:45:08 AM by KarenRei »
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TriangleJohn

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I'm in zone 7 North Carolina and I have a hoop house that I seal up tight for winter and keep heated through the winter (thermostat set at 50 degrees but on really cold nights it can get down to 38 degrees). My collection of fruiting plants is mostly focused on species that can handle some chilling in the winter instead of the super tropicals. Though I have guava, papaya, strawberry guava, banana, pineapple, longan, miracle berry, suriname cherry, naranjilla/lulo and tamarillo plants fruiting the biggest impact comes from citrus. The flavor from my potted oranges, blood oranges and kumquats is far superior to store bought. When I give baskets of fruit away at Christmas it is the citrus that gets the most praise. Of course they are also in season at that time of year. One thing I have noticed with my plants, namely the solanaceous members, is that they get confused at this latitude. In the wild they grow in a region without seasonal day length changes (12 hours dark/12 hours light). My long summer days confuse them and I get irregular ripening or off season blooming and then fruit failure.

KarenRei

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I'm in zone 7 North Carolina and I have a hoop house that I seal up tight for winter and keep heated through the winter (thermostat set at 50 degrees but on really cold nights it can get down to 38 degrees). My collection of fruiting plants is mostly focused on species that can handle some chilling in the winter instead of the super tropicals. Though I have guava, papaya, strawberry guava, banana, pineapple, longan, miracle berry, suriname cherry, naranjilla/lulo and tamarillo plants fruiting the biggest impact comes from citrus. The flavor from my potted oranges, blood oranges and kumquats is far superior to store bought. When I give baskets of fruit away at Christmas it is the citrus that gets the most praise. Of course they are also in season at that time of year. One thing I have noticed with my plants, namely the solanaceous members, is that they get confused at this latitude. In the wild they grow in a region without seasonal day length changes (12 hours dark/12 hours light). My long summer days confuse them and I get irregular ripening or off season blooming and then fruit failure.

It'll be a constant temperature inside (has to be, for people), and light supplemented in the winter, so I wouldn't expect the solanaceae failures - but it's something to watch. I've grown cocona and naranjilla in my grow room, but I've found it hard to keep them alive even to the point of flowering, as spider mites seem to love them (esp. cocona... my naranjilla is still alive, although smaller than it should be).  So looking forward to the opportunity (crossing fingers!) to have a space large enough to justify the use of predatory mites.

What citrus do you recommend with lots of market appeal / interesting properties that can add some halo effect to other goods? My list is a bit short on the citrus front right now.  (I am also building up a list of all possible candidate plants via making a hybrid of the CoL, ITIS and PFAF databases, so that I can sort it based on properties - but nothing beats people's experience here  :)  )

Presentation with some of the initial investors later today.  Wish me luck.  :)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 03:34:26 AM by KarenRei »
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KarenRei

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Had the meeting today!  I'm going to need to start being circumspect in what I discuss here, as I don't want to disclose anything that I may be privy to that's not supposed to be public (and at this point in time, I'm not sure where that line is supposed to be drawn), so I'll try to keep the topic to plants.  But I'll just say that my excitement about this just continues to build!

I'm going to be working on the cultivation plan this weekend, and I'll probably be starting a number of new threads in the process to gather more info from your experiences.  In the beginning, it's all about getting *something* in their fast, while letting the longer term plan grow, with the fast plants either dying or being removed as the slower growers mature.  Importing whole trees is an option, where needed to accelerate things (although I obviously want to help keep the total costs down) - at least to the size extent that it is possible to import them.
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TriangleJohn

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As far as citrus goes - I like having my own lemons and limes because picking them fresh gives me better tasting food products made with them. It doesn't matter if it is something savory or something sweet, there is a noticeable difference when I use my home grown citrus. Meyer Lemons tend to produce a crop over a longer season and with your set up you might be able to get year-round production. I also get a lot of use out of a little potted Calamondin. The flavor is strong and sour but it is pretty much in fruit all year so I always have a citrus juice to squeeze over fish or berries or ice cream. The only draw back to citrus is the bug issues. Every sucking insect in the world likes citrus so keeping the bugs under control can be a challenge. Home grown blood oranges (I have 'Moro') taste better than store bought because I can pick them at peak flavor and all of the citrus have intense aroma when grown at home and picked fresh.

I get a lot of use out of guavas, both normal pink fleshed type (I have 'Ruby Supreme') and Strawberry guava but some people don't care for the flavor and the seeds are a pain to deal with. Guavas also attract scale insect like crazy so you have to spray or somehow stay on top of them or they go downhill. I hand pick them off of my big tree so it can be done but you have to be dedicated.

I seem to be the only person that likes papaya (I grow 'Waimanalo' and 'Red Lady' and though easy to grow (keep them dry in the winter) the fruit takes a long time to ripen.

If you could get the Cocona to perform better you could have a nice flavored fruit to play with. Maybe increase the air flow around them and spray with soapy water to keep the mites in check. I like them because you can either start them from seeds or cuttings and get fruit by the end of the year either way. I start mine indoors and then plant them in the ground in May and by October I have more than enough fruit to eat. Cooked with a splash of lemon juice and a cup of sugar they cook down to a mush that tastes like mango mixed with tangerine to me.

Though Roselle is more like a large herb plant, it would provide all sorts of stuff for you to sell. The leaves are great sour accents to Asian food when cooked and the calyx makes some of the best jelly or fruit drink out there - like cranberry with a zing. Very easy to grow but seasonal crop, but then they are also very easy to dry and store. People are always surprised by the flavor.

I would think that some sort of smoothie bar where you sold drinks blended from fruits and herbs you grew on site would work. You could simply freeze the fruit in season and blend it when you needed it.

Daintree

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Karen, this is SO exciting! Any idea when we will be able to come visit the completed dome and see the fruits of your labors???

Carolyn

KarenRei

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Karen, this is SO exciting! Any idea when we will be able to come visit the completed dome and see the fruits of your labors???

Carolyn

Hopefully in a couple years!  :)
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KarenRei

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Yeay!  It's been a tough road and took a lot longer than expected, but Hjrds pulled it off - the Biodome got final approval from the planning committee!  Plenty more still to do before there's even the possibility of starting construction, but wow, what a Christmas gift!!!

Can you imagine this thing full of exotic fruit plants, with 24/7 sun in the summer and nearly a megawatt of supplemental lighting in the winter? Mixed in with terraces and restaurants and cafs and workplaces and spa services etc etc etc?  :)



Best. Christmas Present. Ever.  If it wasn't for that whole pesky "food and shelter cost money" thing I'd volunteer to work there for free, lol  ;)
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 02:34:57 PM by KarenRei »
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Triloba Tracker

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Wow, that's really cool. Happy for you - Merry Christmas! LOL

Stupid question - don't even tropical plants need some "night?"

KarenRei

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For growing? Generally no. Most plants love 24/7 light (although not all).

For flowering / fruiting?  Some plants rely on lighting clues, yes - there are both long-day plants (need long days to bloom), short-day plants (need long nights to bloom), and day-neutral plants (don't care).  :)  And of the short-day plants, some of them can have flowering induced in other ways.  We're also looking at the possibility of having retractable blackout screens for the windows (actually, not for that reason, but just the opposite - to reduce light pollution in the winter).  But really, seasonality is the whole point.  We want the place to be a new experience every month, every year, as different plants go in and out of season, some new plants reach maturity, some become too old and are removed and replaced (or simply prove unpopular or unadaptable to our climate), etc.  We'll be inducing artificial seasons by adjusting the watering levels and humidity to mimic natural cycles in their native habitats.

As of our last discussions, we want to have the main dome be a Mediterranean climate with a small desert area. The second largest dome would be ultratropical. There's also going to be a smaller "farm lab" for a variety of uses, including raising new plants, quarantine, experimental agriculture, and educational purposes (we want to have lots of things that are both fun and educational for children on the site - both for families and for school trips).

Oh man, the fun is really going to start when it comes time to picking specifically what plant goes where and sourcing them.  :)  I spent months building up my database to get ready for the day that that process starts!  And then when they start arriving, it'll be like Christmas every day.

(talking to self) "Come on, Karen, keep your excitement in check... there's still no guarantees..."
« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 05:39:56 PM by KarenRei »
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roblack

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This is a really cool project. Thank you for sharing with us. Will be exciting see it come to fruition and then to grow to maturity. Will be following.

Radoslav

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You can go for inspiration to Germany.
"The enormous dome was originally built as an airship hangar for the German company CargoLifter AG. The steel barrel-bowl construction was made to measure for the production and operation of heavy lift airship, and is optimized for volume and aerodynamic form. Built by a subsidiary of Siemens, SIAT, the building's giant dimensions posed an architectural challenge. The roof's surface measures 70,000 m and is able to withstand the significant mass of rain and snow that falls on it. The heating system is able to maintain constant temperatures in the over 5 million m of air. The building was constructed using almost 14,000 tons of steel...
the air temperature is 25C and humidity a pleasant 40 - 60%, perfect conditions for plants from all over the world. There is also under-floor heating in the Lagoon and the Tropical Sea area, so visitors do not get cold feet.
The 7,000 m of water in the Tropical Sea (28C) and Lagoon (32C) are cleaned using the latest ozone filter technology. This makes the water quality equivalent to that of drinking water. The pools themselves are constructed of stainless steel for optimum hygiene. The water has a maximum depth of 1.35 metres."

Tropical Islands project near Berlin.
https://www.tropical-islands.de/en/









« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 02:51:57 AM by Radoslav »

KarenRei

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Yeay, they were really lucky - that CargoLifter structure is amazing!
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KarenRei

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Hi all!  So, the project is really starting to get a lot of public attention here locally, and there's a lot going on!  :)   One thing I'm working on at the moment is "concept layouts", which we can use for cost estimation (final plant layouts won't occur until the architectural design is final). Here's one of them (just the canopy layer, not including lower layers), and for a mature dome (not how it'd initially be populated, which would be predominantly very-fast-growing plants and vines):



Here's a rough lateral cross section of the dome (this is just one of three domes, the mid-sized one; this one is for tropicals / ultratropicals):



The question I have is... what do you think about the sizes and spacings of the areas I've allocated for the canopy species in this concept layout? Are there any good spots that can be trimmed back (I'd like to "push back" plants from the south side to allocate more "full sun" area for smaller species).  Anything that needs to be bigger? The goal is "just big enough to be reasonably productive relative to how much space they take up". The smaller we can keep things, the more diversity we can have.  But there's no point, of course, keeping something so small that it can hardly produce anything.

I'll reiterate that this is just a concept layout, and there's a number of things that fall into the "unlikely" category - for just a random example, L. zabucayo would need to be purchased as a tree (not seeds) because it takes a decade to start producing, and would likely need to have at least one graft to be fertile... so "not likely".  On the other hand, the budget on this project is the sort of thing one can only dream of, so....  :)  It'll be interesting to see what we ultimately can accomplish - but there obviously will be long lists of alternatives for every plant.  At this point, though?  Just "concept layouts".

Random comments:

 * Midwinter illumination in this dome would be about 400kW of (predominantly) LEDs, and emulate a ~12h day, incl. sunrise / sunset.
 * Most of the year, the sun takes rather low angles.  Even in midsummer, it doesn't go fully overhead.  On the other hand, in midsummer the sun even comes from the north; it circles around you.  But basically, south-side and central canopy species can be considered "full sun", while north-side canopy species should be considered "half sun".  Left side is also half sun, right side around 3/4ths sun.
 * Temperatures and humidities can vary by location; in laying this out, the right-hand side was treated as more humid than the left (perhaps 85% or so). There will be misting events and day/night cycles.
 * The center is largely (but not entirely) a water feature.
 * Plants grow directly into the ground, although it'll be amended as desired. Aeration pipes may be used in the ground to increase root oxygen levels.
 * Plants will be pruned. Care is being given in design to canopy accessibility.
 * Plants were selected from my list of "(potentially) very tall, humidity-loving plants"
 * M. flexuosa is there twice because even in ideal situation you can't get fruit from just one. Excepting E. oleracea, the other palms are just there for sap (incl. M. sagu), although they variously offer other uses.
 * F. religiosa is the only one not intended for food purposes; we want a meditation area. If it's ultimately selected, we'll try to (where possible) get ahold of A) one descended directly from the original Bodhi Tree, and/or B) one that we can acquire at a rather large starting size (several meters tall). Since F. religiosa doesn't produce, it's okay to let it get overgrown by other plants once it reaches a size "of significance".  We'll be doing the "let its roots dry out for part of the day" trick to encourage aerial root growth.
 * Plant goals in general are varied, including taste, health, appearance, scent, utility, unusual experiences, etc etc.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: Today at 02:44:21 AM by KarenRei »
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NateTheGreat

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Karen, the new photos do not show up for me. This is very exciting, I'm glad you have this opportunity; you seem to be born for it.

KarenRei

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Hmm, they show up for me.... let's see... trying one more time with Google Photos; otherwise I'll try a different site  :)
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