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Author Topic: greenhouse updates  (Read 894 times)

brian

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greenhouse updates
« on: May 25, 2019, 01:05:34 PM »
I forget where I left off when I last posted about my greenhouse, but I've been steadily working on it ever since.  I have thermostat controlled ventilation and heat, ceiling fans, and I've just recently added a drip irrigation system with a programmable timer.

# original construction planning & completion thread
http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=18512.msg231153#msg231153

# thread about soil & drainage
http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=25371.msg297026#msg297026

The trees I planted directly in the clay soil (no amendments) have been doing just fine.  I have two minneolas and two xie shans I bought at the same time, one of each went into the ground and the other remained in a rootmaker pot.  Growth has been about the same so far between the two different planting types.

Here's the floor plan:


And here is wall segment showing how I have seedlings growing using hanging containers I got from Ikea.  I can support a few hundred seedlings this way.



The first step was the take all the container plants out and level the floor as much as possible.  I had a delivery of topsoil and wood chips.  I levelled as best I could with a shovel, installed the irrigation piping, then put much on top of it. 



I can't seem to find the picture I took of the drip irrigation piping, but it is pex pipe mains with two 2gal/hr drippers per in-ground plant.  I put rings of pex around each in-ground tree to keep the water in place as during my initial testing it was running off outside the root zones.  Now it stays nicely in place.



Today I laid down white landscaping fabic over the mulch.  The intent is add even more light to the greenhouse, while having a flat continous surface allowing me to sweep up leaves and other debris.  I don't much like how it looks, but I am going to leave it for a while and see if it grows on me.  White rocks or gravel would look much nicer, but I don't like adding anything I can't easily remove that won't decompose. 


The first big problem I ran into... the "landscape fabric" doesn't let water through!  It is more like a woven plastic painter's tarp.  I might have to rip it out.  I'm going to go back and check soon and see if the pooled water has drained.

brian

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2019, 01:41:39 PM »
Nope, it didnt' drain at all.  What a waste.  It was expensive, too, and I ordered it last year so too late to return. 

Millet

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2019, 03:32:18 PM »
Brain, you can always punch some small drainage holes in it.  Thanks for the update.  Your threads are always interesting.

SeaWalnut

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2019, 03:58:37 PM »
Be carefull if you think to use white stones because they can rise the ph.Calcar and aragonite( crushed marble).

brian

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2019, 10:04:31 PM »
Millet, I thought about drain holes, but is it an issue that the material does not breath?  I know gravity will pull the drip irrigation water down, but wouldn't the mulch (and any roots) under the fabric stagnate and rot?  I could cut circles to expose ~3ft area around the in-ground tree trunks, but I'm not sure if leaving the remaining area without oxygen is a problem or not

tve

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2019, 01:21:06 AM »
What does the white cover do to your soil temperature? Might remain too cold?

Laaz

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2019, 07:09:13 AM »
Very nice setup. This is going to be cramped in there once those trees get to size...

brian

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2019, 09:20:42 AM »
Quote
What does the white cover do to your soil temperature? Might remain too cold?

Good question, I don't know yet.  I will have to take soil temp readings throughout the year and see (assuming I keep the white covering)

Quote
This is going to be cramped in there once those trees get to size...

Yes... I am thinking I will try some severe pruning methods and perhaps slowly replant everything onto FD rootstock, which I have a ton of seedlings for.   Also, the ceiling is about 14ft high in the center row, so I could let the center row trees get the largest and prune the side trees smaller.  Not sure.   "too much" is always a fun problem to have.

brian

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2019, 01:22:08 PM »
I poked a bunch of small holes anywhere water was pooling, and cut holes around the in-ground tree trunks.  I'm going to leave it this way for some time and see how it goes.

Soil temp was 75F @ 10am, and is now 80F @ 1pm.   I think this is fine.  I'll check again on a very hot day and again in the fall & winter.  According to http://calag.ucanr.edu/archive/?type=pdf&article=ca.v009n11p13 "the optimum temperature for citrus root growth is around 79F". and the soil will only get warmer as summer comes.  The only question is if I'm letting get too cool in winter.  I have my heaters set to 55F but I recall the soil stays warmer beacuse it is insulated and absorbs sun.

« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 01:37:09 PM by brian »

Laaz

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2019, 09:20:23 PM »

Mark in Texas

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2019, 08:32:06 AM »
Very nice setup. This is going to be cramped in there once those trees get to size...

Yes it will and the biggest mistake folks make.  Planting young trees close to each other and not thinking what it's gonna be like when they are 10' X 14' and having this driving desire to kiss all the purty ladies.   I bet in the last 6 months I've topped my (top worked) key lime tree 5 times, at least.  I top it, come back 2 months later and it's 10' again.

Brian, beautiful setup, thanks for sharing!  Now come the tweeks.  ;)  You can throw all those tables and the book stuff out the door from here on out.

I too have clay and the reason why I went with RootBuilder bottomless pots exclusively for mango, avocado, pitaya and citrus. I just lopped off a 5' top of one of 3 trunks on my Reed avocado for instance.  All my trees get is rainwater and Osmocote.  I mulch with pine needles, pine bark and the trees own leaves, whatever is handy.  The floor of my greenhouse is littered with all kinds of crap too - dead weeds, leaves, etc.



Mark in Texas

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2019, 08:40:17 AM »
Brian have you seen this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZghkt5m1uY

Guy is doing an amazing job. Lucky he has some geothermal heat and has tapped into it.  His bottom winter temp is 28F.  My heater setpoint is 34F.  All my citrus, "tender" avocados, most pineapples and one mango made it thru 18F when a heater failed.  Outside ambient temp was 13F.  Here's the citrus after that disaster in Jan. 2018.  I did about 60 grafts to top work these trees into all kinds of citrus varieties.  They are green, lush, and full of fruit.



Laaz

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2019, 08:49:05 AM »
I'm surprised you don't have them in the ground.

brian

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2019, 10:30:36 AM »
Thanks for the video, Laaz.  Funny to see him pulling up the same Acurite phone app I use.  I have thought about this type of greenhouse, and if it were not for township codes and resale value, I would have considered building a greenhouse like this inside the hill that spans my entire back yard.  It would be much more energy efficient as I could use a lot of water storage in the rear and rely on the insulation of the ground

alternate plan:



Also, I wonder if you just put LED lights in an insulated warehouse?   Might work just fine.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2019, 10:34:41 AM by brian »

brian

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2019, 10:40:55 AM »
I want to plant directly into the dirt so I can reclaim the 16 of height that the rootmaker containers consume.  Interior space is expensive!
« Last Edit: May 27, 2019, 10:43:13 AM by brian »

Mark in Texas

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2019, 11:04:42 AM »
I'm surprised you don't have them in the ground.

They are.  Clay is like concrete when dry, muck when wet. The raised beds/pots are bottomless.  RootBuilder gives me an edge that in ground growers can't compete with.  Here's a Meyer "pot" that I was about to expand by adding panels in 2014.  There are thick roots at the bottom rooting in.   FD rootstock.



« Last Edit: May 27, 2019, 11:07:00 AM by Mark in Texas »

Millet

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2019, 01:33:15 PM »
Mark I'm in Colorado, and I set my thermometer minimum temp at 55-F.

Mark in Texas

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2019, 10:57:53 AM »
Mark I'm in Colorado, and I set my thermometer minimum temp at 55-F.

You also have 2-3 kick ass heaters and deep pockets.  ;D

Based on the recommendation from Nexus sales I went with a full length, 4' horizontal guillotine wall vent.  It's leaky.  Am trying to revert to rack and pinion just can't find anyone to do the install.

spaugh

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2019, 03:31:18 PM »
Mark I'm in Colorado, and I set my thermometer minimum temp at 55-F.

What do you grow that needs to stay above 55? 
Brad Spaugh

brian

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2019, 06:47:18 PM »
I have a bunch of random tropical seedlings, plus tomatoes, peppers, jackfruit, guava, mango.  I think Millet has said hes growing pineapples.

I have piped natural gas heat that is really cheap so its not terribly expensive to set 55F min and I am hoping it helps winter tree growth
« Last Edit: May 28, 2019, 06:49:49 PM by brian »

Millet

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2019, 10:42:24 PM »
Spaugh, my green house heaters (2) are also hooked up with an a industrial Lab.  They pay for the entire heating bill.  I pay nothing.  As Brian wrote, keeping the greenhouse at a minimum 55-F heating during the winter, the trees grow almost year around.

Mark in Texas

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2019, 09:54:50 AM »
Spaugh, my green house heaters (2) are also hooked up with an a industrial Lab.  They pay for the entire heating bill.  I pay nothing.  As Brian wrote, keeping the greenhouse at a minimum 55-F heating during the winter, the trees grow almost year around.

Many don't know it but citrus is photoperiod regulated, meaning its vegetative and flowering responses are dictated by the photoperiod. 

Not having to pay for heat is a real bonus.  I don't blame you one bit for going with a 55F low, I would too.

My pineapples look like crap coming out of winter but then green up and put on new foliage come spring.  They really don't like temps below 45F and if I water them more than once or twice per winter the roots rot.

Millet

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2019, 11:04:18 AM »
Mark, many growers light their trees to attain a longer day period. During the winter, lighting a citrus tree until 9 or 10 O'clock in the evening, and maintain a 80-F soil temperature results in 5 flushes per year.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2019, 09:45:19 PM by Millet »

Mark in Texas

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2019, 11:25:04 AM »
Mark that why many growers light their trees to attain a longer day period. During the winter, lighting a citrus tree until 9 or 10 O'clock in the evening, and maintain a 80-F soil temperature results in 5 flushes per year.

I can believe it.  I guess if you're going commercial it makes sense.  For a home grower more than one or two flushes sounds a bit anal.  Depends on the variety too.  My key lime and a few others will set flush after flush until winter.  I think I still have some Meyers in the crisper from March which is late harvest for us.

Our citrus from the valley is excellent so rather than taking up valuable real estate I'll buy valley fruit.  I took out my Rio Red grapefruit tree.  No offense but I have never had any citrus from Florida or California that can compete in flavor, texture, juiciness and taste to Texas grown fruit.  Sounds silly but it must be the Rio Grande Valley terroir that produces such excellent fruit.  We're still eating Texas grapefruit now.  It's sold in those big net bags at local grocery stores.

80F?  How do you get those kind of soil temps?  Heat your watering supply?

brian

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Re: greenhouse updates
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2019, 03:45:46 PM »
EDIT - just realized you were asking Millet, sorry

My greenhouse soil is warm from retained solar heat.  I certainly don't heat the water.  The foundation is insulated all the way around with 2in foam board, to about 2ft below grade.

Even in winter soil is pretty warm.  I forget the temp but I was pleasantly suprised.  Warmer than the air for sure at night.

« Last Edit: May 30, 2019, 03:50:33 PM by brian »

 

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