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  #1  
Old 05-26-2022, 01:37 PM
Leisesturm Leisesturm is offline
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Greetings: The title pretty much sums it up. I have a unit in a 5plex row (not in an HOA) that has a tiny balcony off the front bedroom. I am determined to make this space work as an orchidarium.

It's only two feet deep, from the patio style doors access, to the balcony rail. It is 11' wide, and 8' tall. All sides and the roof are enclosed, so the front opening is the only thing I would have to cover in greenhouse plastic (8 mil thick).

I suppose I need ventilation? At the bottom is the only place I can see cutting vents. What size? How much of that precious humid air should I allow to vent out of it per hour? It's less than 180 cubic feet volume. I will have a fan or two moving air around inside the space. Do I need one specifically to pull air in or out of the enclosure itself?

The balcony faces due east but it is heavily shaded by a pretty large Sweet Gum tree. It had no leaves when we moved in but it is leafing out now. I think Phals would be happy but not much else without supplemental light. I am very familiar with under lights growing but have never tried to integrate sunlight with artificial light.

I see no outlets for power, but there are two recessed light bulbs in the ceiling. They don't work but I am assuming they are simply burned out. I might be able to get 120V A/C from those light sockets. I can't snake power through from inside because the patio doors must close fully. Even the tiniest crack lets too much noise through for my wife to sleep.

Has anyone done anything like this? Is this a terrible idea? Open to any and all suggestions. Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 05-26-2022, 01:48 PM
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Personally, I would do a pressure-treated wood frame with rigid plastic (multiwall polycarbonate), rather than film. Better insulation, won't tear, lasts longer, diffuses the light.

You could install an "automatic" solar vent using one of the wax motor devices.

How will you get water out there for humidity, if not irrigation?
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  #3  
Old 05-26-2022, 03:56 PM
Leisesturm Leisesturm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray View Post
Personally, I would do a pressure-treated wood frame with rigid plastic (multiwall polycarbonate), rather than film. Better insulation, won't tear, lasts longer, diffuses the light.
That sounds like a project for next Spring. Does the polycarbonate come wide enough (11') and tall enough (8') so I wouldn't have a visible seam in the 'window'? I would also need to hire a handyman ($$??) to install it. As it is I am NOT looking forward to being on a 6' stepladder with only a staplegun and roll of plastic film to break the fall if I lose my balance 40' up.

Could the vent be at the bottom, because of its weight? I am trying to get a feeling for just how much venting would be needed. Especially in winter. I want to conserve as much energy as possible and vent out the least amount of warm air as possible without risking things getting stagnant and unhealthy.


Quote:
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How will you get water out there for humidity, if not irrigation?
I was hoping humidity would happen as a byproduct of lots of plants being a small space. I thought too much humidity would be my problem, not too little.

There is a hose bib down near the front door. I could probably fit some kind of dual head ('Y') attachment to it and run a section of hose up to the balcony. I can probably do that discreetly enough but one reason the clear film has appeal is that it might not be too obvious to the casual glance? The polycarbonate would really call attention, unless it is available completely clear?
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Old 05-26-2022, 07:42 PM
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Poly film won't be adequate in your winters. Heating cost would be high. If you want to use this through the winter you need 2- or better 3- wall rigid polycarbonate glazing in some kind of frame, and no air leaks.

Yes, with enough plants humidity will stay high. A bucket of water with a mesh lid to prevent mosquitos will help, plus you can use it for watering.

Allowing water to drain but preserving heat will be the issue. I suggest you have plants drain into trays thence buckets, which you remove by hand. Use Search to look up how katrina and WaterWitchin arranged their indoor plant shelves with boot trays to catch water.
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Old 05-27-2022, 01:41 AM
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I can't speak for the specific product, since it was my brother that bought them, but lightbulb socket adapters exist. If the recessed lighting is a standard bulb socket you can turn it into an outlet and avoid routing extension cords to the space.
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Old 05-27-2022, 10:57 AM
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I think that's an excellent idea! And easily buildable. Poly comes in many lengths, but there's not a width sold that's 11'. You would have to have at least a faux decorative wood or plastic trim over the seams to stabilize the panels.

I don't know what your winters are like, but if you go with a clear plastic I'd buy marine gauge vinyl sheeting in maybe a 30 gauge minimum.
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Old 05-27-2022, 12:00 PM
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I would advise floor-to-ceiling glass windows, as is done on my orchid balcony. Good sound isolation, good insolation.
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Old 05-31-2022, 03:11 AM
Leisesturm Leisesturm is offline
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Thanks very much everyone. I have decided to fall back to a Plan B and I ordered a small 9' x 4' lean-to GSO (Greenhouse Shaped Object) to summer the 'kids in while I think some more about the balcony. The 'backyard' is exactly 10'x5' so the toy greenhouse will have to go directly against the back wall of the house. A Conservatory! I've always wanted one of those ...

I really would like the balcony front 'glass' to be as clear as possible because, at least for now, I don't want my unit to look too different from the other four. The back of the house gets West sun so will be hotter. Last summer I did not have orchids. Temperatures hit 116F for a few days. I can see that the Rhododendron bush out front was not amused by the experience.

Is there anyone here who has experience with those kinds of temperatures? What did you do to pull your orchids through? I don't have any evidence that this summer will be another one for the record books but just in case ...
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Old 05-31-2022, 03:15 AM
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I get 116 F / 46.7C days every summer. The only orchid I leave out is Eulophia petersii. The others can't take that without a lot of damage.

Of course, when it's that hot here, nights are usually in the 85-90 F / 30-32C range. If you have cooler nights some of your Cattleyas with C. purpurata ancestry and some Cymbidiums might survive those day temperatures. I spray down the foliage often on hot days, before it gets so hot I bring them in.
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