joliverpaul
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Small Greenhouse in Apartment Window... Need Advice!

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I just purchased a 3'X3'X6' greenhouse for indoors. It is made of what appears to be simple plastic sheating. I set it up in a tall window that faces south and gets sun most of the day. It is winter so thats about 8-10 hours a day. I'm planning on growing parsley, spinich, lettuce, radishes, and kale. I've been reading everything online about greenhouses but none of it is specific to something as small as mine! I was hoping someone out there had the same setup as me or could at least lend some basic advice. Particularly on air circulation, grow lights, heat sinks, will this thing work in general? Thanks a million!
-Jeremy

a0c8c
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All I know is, adding lights inside it will provide plenty of heat, if not too much for some plants. A small space like that is gonna heat up quickly, so you'll have to watch you plants to make sure they don't wilt in the heat.
Home Gardener from Austin, TX; by way of Iowa.

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Kisal
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I don't have a greenhouse like yours, but looks like a nice little setup. Is it sturdy? :)

When you have plants in it, you should open it daily to provide ventilation. It looks like there are straps -- velcro, perhaps -- to keep the plastic rolled up, at least on the front side. It's not necessary to open it if you're only starting seeds, but once your seeds have sprouted, the plants will need good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases.

Opening it will also allow excess heat to dissipate. You'll probably want to close it at night and open it in the morning, because the sunlight passing through the window glass and the plastic will heat up the interior pretty quickly.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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applestar
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Well, you don't actually get 8~10 hrs of sunlight, what you're getting is daylight + a few hours of real sunlight. Also, the blinds and other window treatments, as well as window screens, if you have one in that window, any dirt/grime on the inside/outside surface of the windows, as well as any kind of UV tinting in the window glass itself serves to diminish the intensity.

The upshot of all this is that you'll need supplemental lighting. Especially for your "greenhouse" you'll want lights that don't produce too much heat, so CFL bulbs or fluorescent tubes are your best bet. They won't burn the plants and allow you to position the lights as close as 1~2" -- the usual advice is to keep the lights at 2"~4" from the top of the plants. They also won't produce excess heat above that might melt the vinyl cover. You'll want a mixture of warm tubes and cool tubes or full spectrum sunlight tubes (more expensive) rigged so that they can be hung/adjusted at varying heights OR plan on using boxes etc. to raise your plants (I like using cardboard boxes wrapped in aluminum foil to reflect more light and protect the boxes from moisture.) Put your lights on a timer to stay on for 14~16 hrs.

Good air circulation is critical to prevent mold (especially under cover like yours) and for good sturdy growth. Some clever people have used PC cooling fans for air circulation. For myself, I'm considering getting a few pet crate fans in addition to the oscillating fan I usually use for my seed starting set up. Recently while I was holiday shopping, I got a couple of tiny solar cap visor fans to experiment with as well.

joliverpaul
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This is really exciting! Thank you all for your advice! I will most certainly wash my windows and take down the screen. one more question though, how do i know if the plants are getting good ventilation?

treeguy
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i have one about the same it works great for starting seeds but i have had problems with heat espicaly with lettuce cabbage and other non heat loving plants i also put a small fan to make the plants more sturdy i put lights on small chain so they can be moved up as the plants grow

a0c8c
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joliverpaul wrote:one more question though, how do i know if the plants are getting good ventilation?
You won't get mold, fungus or rot problems. Opening it daily for a 10 minutes is all you need to do to prevent this. A fan will definately help, especially if it brings in air.
Home Gardener from Austin, TX; by way of Iowa.

joliverpaul
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Now i need to by the soil! my planters are 6 inches deep with holes in the bottom. If I'm growing lettuce radishes and some herbs, whats the best soil to buy? Thanks to everyone for the big help!

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SP8
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joliverpaul wrote:whats the best soil to buy?
The most expensive you can afford (seed raising mix etc.).
I >>used to<< grow vegetables in containers on my balcony and this >>was<< my Blog:
VEGGIE-MIGHT

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If you do a search on soil and seed starting soil you can find some good recipes here
Home Gardener from Austin, TX; by way of Iowa.

joliverpaul
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I'm new to this idea of forums and it really blows my mind that you can basically ask any question no matter how specific and get quick educated answers. Thanks again for all your help! I'm looking at to light set ups for growing some lettuce, 6400k or 2700k CFL 125w bulbs?

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Welcome to our forum. "Two head are better than one" and we have many heads here. :wink: I really like it that on this forum, no annoying advertisements interrupt my trains of thought or block my view, and posts by people who have nothing more/better to contribute than to put others down or toss in negative comments just to stir the pot and get a rise out of good folks are discouraged and meticulously cleaned up. My level of appreciation has gone up quite a bit since becoming a moderator as I had no idea of the variety and volume of unwanted activity a forum could be inundated with. :roll:

I don't have an answer to your latest question, but I'm sure one of the other "heads" will. 8)

joliverpaul
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Thanks for all your help! I'm getting things up and running with my soil purchase today. Seeds should be here tomorrow!

Thanks again!

Bl Blue
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Curt here Curt_grow from GW I am using 4 foot shop lights With 32 watt 4100k ge tubes on 13 hours a day no window and lettuce grows great. You could get by with 27 watt of cfls per square ft. turn plants 90 degrees daily. You need the fan way more than you need the plastic cover the fan will strengthen the plants. I would not even grow them with out one. It don't need to be very big and don't blow it directly on them just make the leaves move with a slight breeze.Before I moved my garden into the kitchen due to cold weather in my south porch window I ran the lights and fan on timer from 12 p.m.-12 a.m.it worked great. Word of advice 4 foot tube will not burn leaves 27 w cfb will. btw could not get you at address on here :)
Lets all try to be a little greener

MysticGardener67
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Excellent job guys!

But you forgot one detail. Since this is an inside greenhouse, there will be issues with low humidity, especially if the greenhouse is located next to a vent. I think it would be beneficial if the OP would place shallow pans of peagravel on the racks and place her plants on the gravel. water the pans until the water is just below the gravel.
Extra side benefit.. when the greenhouse flaps are ope, the pans of water will help hunidify the house.

Myself, I don't think that the plastic covering is really neccessary and may even be a detriment ot proper air circulation and excessive humidity. the plants will be in a nice climate controlled enviroment with good light. they all do fine in temps we like. and the cover would just get in the way of installing supplemental lighting. Don't toss out the cover, should keep it to use when it comes time to move it all outside.

joliverpaul
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Hmmm. humidity is between 50 and 60 percent. The thing is i keep my house between 45F and 55F. I'm hoping to get a small heater to help the seeds germinate and then some grow lights when the lettuce starts coming up. Does this change your recommendation on the water pan or taking the cover off?
Thanks for your help!

MysticGardener67
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Well, yes

a bit. Ummm the thing with plants is that they can do well in cooler than ideal air temps so long as you can keep the roots happily warm.

Seedling heat mats would be the way to go. Like these.

https://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/prod1;ft1_lawn_garden-ft1_seed_germination_planting;pg103644.html

Disclaimer.. this link is to show an example. I am not actually endorsing this company.

Yeah, on second thought, keeping the cover on will help maintain a nice 60-70 percent humidity. I would still use a pebble tray, on the lowest rack or on the floor.

Would be a good idea to lay hands on both a thermometer and a hygrometer to help watch the temp and humidity. Air circulation will be vital as well. A small (3-4 inch) electric clamp fan will suffice. Use imagination. Dollar discount stores can be your best friends when working on such a small scale.

joliverpaul
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What about a very small electric heater at the bottom of the GH and then still have a fan at the top?

MysticGardener67
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Oh I suppose you can do that if you are going cheap cheap

and I am all for cheap cheap in gadening. free is even better ;) BUT (there is always a but and, yes, they often smell) like all short term solutions, they cost a ton down the road

Most of the little 'desk heaters' aren't meant for the constant use and moisture exposure of even the smallest greenhouse setup.

They will do untill you can save up for seedmat heaters. Expect to buy a new heater every season.

I would advise ceramic element heaters, they seem to be more durable in my experince than the heaters with nichrome or quartz elements.

joliverpaul
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alright, so i just got a more accurate hydrometer. It says 85% and its night time with no sun! this means its probably going to be like 95 or 100 during a sunny day!

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