Monday, May 26, 2008

It is time...

This was a busy weekend. Among my chores was the task of moving the plants living under the 1000W lamp in the basement to the screened in porch. This means I get to turn off that energy hog for the summer. Yay!

Actually, what you see in the photo isn't everything that lives there in the winter, since some of it was already brought upstairs. What I have living there includes cattleyas, assorted passifloras, aloes, strelitzias, a couple dutchman's pipe species, and a few odd caudex species and ferns. And the big fellow on the right there is a Zantedeschia 'Hercules' seedling, which is just about to bloom for the first time. Its a wide variety, isn't it? I actually would like to downsize the cattleya variety, since I'm not going to be breeding them and I'd like to grow more passifloras.

I was fortunate enough to get my first lamp as a hand-me-down, complete with a track. It has been very useful in allowing me to overwinter things I wouldn't otherwise have space for. This winter the original bulb blew itself and the safety glass lens to bits. (photo at right) Let this be a lesson to all of ya's. Replace your bulb within a reasonable time of its estimated life span. Not only does it put out fewer lumens while sucking more power when its old, if you really push it it will just short out and blow up. There was glass everywhere. I'm still finding it in pots.

When this happened I thought about replacing the lamp with an array of compact fluorescent lamps in hopes of being more energy efficient with my compulsive hobby. But after looking into the available goods, their specs and prices, I found that it would cost something like $900 to get all the bulbs and fixtures needed, and would NOT use any less electricity than my HID lamp. (Feel free to double check this for yourself in case I went wrong somewhere.) Oh well. New bulb + reflector and lens (used with existing track and ballast) only cost ~$200.

Anyway, those plants, plus some others that live upstairs in the winter, are outside for the summer. Some will be staying on the porch, some will be going out on the patio once they get used to the new environment. I still have lots and lots of stuff inside though. Perhaps I'll tell you about them sometime. :)


fluffnflowers said...

Have you considered LED arrays? I've got a few that my guy made for me that I've been testing out on mine. If you were to buy them new, the cost would be insane, but making them isn't so bad.

*reminds self to go swap out bulbs*

SapphireChild said...

I have, actually, but as you say the cost is prohibitive and they aren't always easy to get. I think sometime in the future I'd like to switch to those. They have so many advantages in terms of energy consumption and life span. It more or less became the easy option to just continue with the current setup.

swamprad said...

You are very lucky to have a basement! It was nice to get a peak at your plants -- that zantedeschia looks huge! I'm converting my living room into a plant room, but since we're not talking about the basement or the attic, I want to make it as aesthetically pleasing as I can. I'm thinking of having a wooden arbor made, and extending an HID light on a track from the top, with a table of plants underneath. If it turns out like I hope, I might have as many as 3 or 4 of these in my large living room. The arbor (like what you might see in a garden with a rose or wisteria climbing over it) would look better than just a plain utilitarian light stand, I think. I am trying to figure out if HID metal halide, HID sodium, or the new high powered T5 fluorescents are the best choice for plants that need higher light levels, such as cattleyas and the like. I'm going to continue my paphs under fluorescent lights.