All Things Gardening forum: My Basement Grow Area - AKA the Plant Torture Chamber

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Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
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DavidLMO
Jan 11, 2016 3:29 PM CST
Elsewhere, @crittergarden and others have asked for pics of my Plant Torture Chamber (my DW's name) better known as my Basement Grow Area. Finally got around to taking some pics. The entire area is only about 200 + square feet, but quite intense. It fills the SW corner of my basement. I started growing down there in 12/13 and really got cranking 13/14 when I had over 2,000 seedlings. For several reasons, last year I did not start many - maybe a couple hundred seeds.

The first pic shows the South side. The 4 shelf unit (3' wide) on the left is not used at this point. It will be used as a rotation holding area and can hold up to 12 seventy two cell trays side to side (864 seedlings). On the right is a 5 shelf unit where I now have 2 trays of seeds going. I started planting shortly before Christmas and have germination of Luffa sponge and Dragon Fruit. I plant everything in Light Warrior seed starting media which is moistened with water/hydrogen peroxide solution.

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/603eb9

The second pic shows the West wall shelf where I have a 4 foot shelf - will hold 5 shelves - only have it set up for 4 now.
I have 1 tray of misc and a narrow tray of hardy cactus seed. On the bottom left are unrooted and rooted Plumeria cuttings from DrDawg. Bottom right are some of my 2 year old Bonsai trees. The second shelf has some Airplane plants I am growing for my Master Gardener's Spring Plant Sale.

The two large shelves have 8 fluorescents - a mix of T-12s and T-8s. On these two shelves I can place 16 - 72 cell trays (1,152 seedlings) slong wise or 24 - 72 cell trays (1,728 seedlings )side by side.

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/7277c0

The third pic shows my two 400 Watt Metal Halide lights. The big plants that I winter over here are growing under these two lights and they are also bright enough to project a good way.

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/0dd27a

The fourth pic shows 3 of my larger plants - NOID Brugmansia still blooming nearest on left. Back behind is a roseum Neriam Oleander. Back and to the right is a Brug Arborea (grown from seed) - also in bloom. The 2 Brugs have lost a lot of leaves from their torture, but have now been in bloom since September. Had I left em on the deck, they now would be dead, so I am syre they appreciate it.

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/e7021b

The 5th pic shows more of the torture chamber. Hard to see, but above the 5th shelf straight ahead (behind the humidifier - which runs 20 hours a day) is a basement window which provides natural light on the 5th shelf. Above that shelf is another 4 foot fluorescent fixture. (Right now I have 8 four foot fluorescents with four currently on.)

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/82ee50

The 6th pic is another view towards the SW corner from behind the tortured large tropicals.

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/fcb17a

The next pic shows my Watsonia in front of my Plumeria cuttings. I potted them up 11/25/15 (no water) and did not intend to water them til Early February. On 1/1/16, I noticed they were popping up so I moved them from my Garage Grow area (torture chamber 2) to my primary Torture area in the basement and watered them. I figured this was the best course of action.

To the right are some of my Bonsai trees - all of which I grow from seed. Most of these are Bauhinias (5 species) as well as a Karoo Boer Bean. Front left. It is going to make a great Bonsai. This Spring I will start fiddling with the roots and repotting into Bonsai training trays.

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/723b54

The next pic shows some more wintered over plants - mostly citrus (4 types - clementine, lime, orange, Meyer Lemon), some Mexican Petunias and a Gerber grown from seed in '14. Sorry for the bluriness. Taken from a junky phone camera.

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/ec05f7

This next pic shows a Luffa - my first seed to germinate. Planted 12/29/15. Behind it is a sad Luffa that I think dried out while I was at the Great Plains Growers Conference since Wednesday. My plants were certainly tortured. [sigh]

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/40a633

This next blurry image is some Dragon Fruit planted on 1/3/16. Eager little devils. [Thanks to @Pistil. ]

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/faab50

The final pic is the entire torture chamber from another angle.

Thumb of 2016-01-11/DavidLMO/4419bb

In the background of the pics you can see the reflective metalized film I installed. It IS doing its thing quite well. Wish I had had a light meter to measure before and after. Next Summer I plan to paint the floor semi gloss White.

In addition, I have a 4 shelf portable mini Greenhouse that I can hold 4 - 72 cell trays placed length wise or 8 trays side by side. This can hold 576 seedlings and I place it under the metal halides and rotate trays to under the fluorescents. All told with my current set up, I can start well North of 2,000 seeds.

And yeah - it is a nightmare when they really start growing. Smiling Hoping they don't have to til Mid April when I can move them to my pretend green house.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
[Last edited by DavidLMO - Jan 11, 2016 4:50 PM (+)]
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crittergarden
Jan 11, 2016 5:18 PM CST

Fantastic, David!

I can't afford to ramp up all at once, but I sure do look forward to the time when I can do THAT in my basement!
I want to grow greens and some other food stuff down there as well as winter over my not-so-hardy deck perennials.
And I am certain I'll be starting perennials from seed down there, too.

Meanwhile, I found this just today and it looks interesting:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbFWrZCVFgI
I'd just do the PVC ones, but at least 2 rows, high as I can reach.
In the basement, under lights, for winter greens.



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Name: Catherine
NW Illinois (Zone 5a)
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jerseyridgearts
Jan 11, 2016 5:48 PM CST
wow.....I am surprised that you don't set off some kind of alarms - impressive. Now I want to know about your greenhouse!
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Jan 11, 2016 6:43 PM CST
Very nice David! I sometimes think it would be so nice to have a basement ... but we're only @ 13 - 14 feet above sea level. Green Grin!
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
central Illinois
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jmorth
Jan 11, 2016 7:17 PM CST
I've a basement set-up that is conductive to my botanical tastes; it is no where near the caliber of David's setup. I've but one metal halide and an 8 bank fluorescent array. Mine is mostly used to overwinter tropical-like plants, keep other tenders (coleus and such) safe for spring propagation, and have an area useable as a staging table for forced bulbs (which sometimes approaches 200).

My hat tips to David, I can't even imagine tending 2000 plus seedlings, and that's in addition to all your other projects. Your energy consumption must translate into a rather hefty bill.

It may be your dedication and zeal top the scale!
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Jan 11, 2016 9:57 PM CST
crittergarden said:
Fantastic, David!

I can't afford to ramp up all at once, but I sure do look forward to the time when I can do THAT in my basement!


Thanks uuhh Critter. The video was interesting but I know nothing of aquaponics :-)

Good luck. Start small and add on. That is what I did. And I use existing or cheap things when I can. E.G. I use fairly inexpensive shop type light fixtures and then spend some $ on better tubes. Sure - one can spend 40, 50 or 200 $ on a fancy fluorescent fixture that has a super high quality ballast on comes on in nano seconds. I spend no more than 20 $ max.

Good luck.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Jan 11, 2016 10:06 PM CST
jerseyridgearts said:wow.....I am surprised that you don't set off some kind of alarms - impressive. Now I want to know about your greenhouse!


Sometimes I am alarmed by my electric bills. Rolling on the floor laughing

My "pretend" GH is a super cheap thing I got 2 years ago. The structure is 3/4 " metal pipe and covered with 4 mil plastic. About 7' w x 9' d x 7' High. Unheated of course. Smiling I cut some of it myself to provide ventilation. From about Mother's Day - late September I leve the door open except during storms.

I used it this past year from late March into December. I move stuff from my basement as soon as I can and I usually start more seed in it from April - July or so. During the horrendously hot months of July & August, I cover it with a shade by using a blue plastic tarp. Works for me. Green Grin!
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Jan 11, 2016 10:10 PM CST
plantladylin said:Very nice David! I sometimes think it would be so nice to have a basement ... but we're only @ 13 - 14 feet above sea level. Green Grin!


I understand Lin. When I lived in Massachusetts, I was ~ 10 minutes away from the Atlantic and maybe 30 ' above Sea level. When we had horrendous rains (e.g. NorEasters), I always got water in my basement and had to run 2 sump pumps to pump it out.

Would wake up startled that something did not sound right (no alarms on the pumps). OMG - one of the pumps was not cycling. Go down to the pond that was my basement.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Jan 11, 2016 10:12 PM CST
[quote="jmorth"]I've a basement set-up that is conductive to my botanical tastes; it is no where near the caliber of David's setup. I've but one metal halide and an 8 bank fluorescent array. /quote]

Thanks Jmorth. Sounds like you have quite a system yourself. And I have followed some of your posts on your bulb forcing. Quite impressive! I tip my hat to you.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Surprisingly GREEN Pittsburgh (Zone 6a)
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crittergarden
Jan 12, 2016 6:51 AM CST
plantladylin said:Very nice David! I sometimes think it would be so nice to have a basement ... but we're only @ 13 - 14 feet above sea level. Green Grin!


Hilarious!
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Jan 12, 2016 7:29 AM CST
Great set-up, David.

We don't typically have any basements here. Our water table is too high.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Jan 12, 2016 9:35 AM CST
jerseyridgearts said: Now I want to know about your greenhouse!


OK. Here is a picture of my "pretend" Greenhouse. I can get 18 + trays in it which equates to 576 seedlings. I use it for hardening things off. During the Summer months I usually start tropical seeds in there. During Fall, I start some cool season veggies. In late Fall, I have used it to protect some of my smaller tender plants from frost.

To the left of it, I have a nursery area where I start winter cuttings and for outdoor winter seeding. It is also used for the seedlings that like more shade.

Thumb of 2016-01-12/DavidLMO/f31abd

Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Jan 12, 2016 10:24 AM CST
I wanted to show you the REAL Torture Chamber - my garage plant area. Big Grin

Thumb of 2016-01-12/DavidLMO/1491e8

I built the light system you see there. Here is a bit closer - sorry - so bright it is hard to see.

Thumb of 2016-01-12/DavidLMO/cb36d4

One day while driving something caught my eye. So I pulled over. Cool - a piece of furnace exhaust pipe. Hey - I can use that some time. nodding So I checked the internet and there are a bunch of Youtube vids showing how to make this style light. A trip to Ace hardware and Home Depot and I was off to the races.

The light has 8 CFLS as follows:

100 Watt eq. at 23 watts
1,600 lumens
6.500 K light - pretty cool range

These use 184 watt hours, so it takes 5.4 hours to use a Killowatt hour. Our electricity is ~ 10 cents per KWH. I run the lights ~ 12 hours a day, so it costs me 22 cents a day. Not too bad for something giving me the equivalent of 800 Watts - equal to my two metal halide lights in the basement.

Since my goal here is not to GROW plants, but to keep them alive - it is doing a pretty good job. The plants have been in there for nearly 3 months.

There IS a story that goes along with that purple stool - if anyone is interested, just ask. :-)
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
[Last edited by DavidLMO - Jan 12, 2016 10:26 AM (+)]
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Name: Mary
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Azgarden
Jan 12, 2016 11:45 AM CST
Wow! I tip my hat to you. Quite impressive David. Thanks for posting your pictures. Where are your plumeria seedlings? Would like to see them. As of this morning 15 of my seeds have sprouted. Very excited. You are certainly dedicated. Lot of work involved. We have no basement Sighing! and I am always thinking ..... where could I put more lights and heat mats.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Jan 12, 2016 1:23 PM CST
David, tell us the "story".

You may have already posted an answer to this question. With your love of plants (and growing so much from seed), are you going to build a "real" greenhouse any time soon? Without my greenhouses I would truly not be able to grow a tenth of what I do.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
central Illinois
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jmorth
Jan 12, 2016 2:15 PM CST
Indeed, just amazing...I bow down to the master (picked phrase up in another forum).
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
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crittergarden
Jan 12, 2016 2:58 PM CST
DavidLMO said:
There IS a story that goes along with that purple stool - if anyone is interested, just ask. :-)


Yes David, you tease, DO tell!

SHOW ME YOUR CRITTERS! I have a critter page over at Cubits. http://cubits.org/crittergarden/thread/view/73275/
Surprisingly GREEN Pittsburgh (Zone 6a)
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Dog Lover Birds Plant and/or Seed Trader Bulbs Echinacea Irises
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crittergarden
Jan 12, 2016 3:00 PM CST
And @Azgarden - why did the kitty need a shave? Lovey dubby

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Name: Kabby
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Kabby
Jan 12, 2016 4:02 PM CST
Now David. Buffalo Bill's house from Silence of the Lambs is for sale, and the price has even been reduced. I can see you down there in the torture chamber with helpless little seedlings.
That is some kind of a set up you have, my I tip my hat to you. Bravo!
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Jan 12, 2016 6:34 PM CST
@drdawg & @crittergarden

The Purple stool in the Garage.

When I first met my wife she was in San Francisco and I was in Boston. Heh. Long range romance. We had 4 official dates before she asked me to marry her. Actually, we were lying on a mountain near Yoshemite and she said "You know, if you would ask me to marry you, I would accept". Heh. She was a knock out and in passing she mentioned how sad she was to not make it to SuperBowl 2. Huh? Why not...

You see my wife was a Raiderette - the original name for the Oakland Raiders cheerleaders. Now back in the old days - before players make more money in 5 minutes than many of us make in 5 years, team budgets were limited!!

Seriously. So anyway, she didn't get to go to SuperBowl 2 cause she could not afford it. Over and above a minimal, trivial compense, the cheer leaders got nothing extra and no expenses. Want to go to an out of town game? Fine - If she paid!

But the team DID provide the Stools for the cheerleaders to sit on. That Purple stool goes back to those days. Too bad we did not take better care of it over the years. Likely worth a fortune these days in pristine shape.

So there you have it.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976

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