Now we are getting really close to completing the build part of this project – finally!! This week most of the big stuff came from Dartfrog in the UK, lights, rain system and a bunch of other assorted goodies. So, it was a really heavy week, but this is the home stretch. Good thing too, I think dear husband is starting to burn out a little bit on this project. He has been a great help on this build, I really would have had a difficult time pulling this off without his help. Thanks dear! First out, finishing the cool air installation we started last week. We made the intake to the outside look a little nicer with the help of some white duct tape, is it anything it cannot do? Ehm… The design of this terrarium is working out for me in more ways than I had originally expected. The small plexi pieces on the sides of the vivarium ,originally providing air holes for the snake, provided the perfect entry opportunity for my ventilation holes. I drilled a hole for the fogger and one for the cool air. Then I installed a cool air vent with a gravity controlled hatch that will limit the cool air flow when the fan is not running. It also made it easy to attach the flexible tubing to the side of the vivarium. A hole cut in the EpiWeb will allow for the cool air, as well as fog to enter. More on the fog at a later time. Next, installing the drain and fans. I had bought a drain plug from Dartfrog, but I did not like the design so I installed another one I got from Bauhaus. Again, the vivarium design played into my scheme… Having a plexi (or whatever the plastic material is) floor made the drain installation a breeze. I drilled a hole in the vivarium floor to drop in the drain, then made another larger hole in the slightly larger particle board placed on top of the TV bench to support the vivarium. The whole assembly was siliconed in place. Next I installed four 80 mm computer fans in the aluminium L brackets installed to mount the rain system, two blowing up towards the ceiling, and two blowing downward. These will ensure good air circulation inside the vivarium even when the cool air intake is switched off. I will work on dialing these in as we go – [...]
Alright… finally a third report on the vivarium project. It is still a lot left to be done, I am still waiting for all the supplies from UK for one, but it is actually starting to feel like I am making some headway… This is what I have been up to the past two weeks. For starters dear husband and I spent about 3 hours (!) walking the aisles of Bauhaus (just like Home Depot, right down to the orange shelves – but German…) shopping for supplies for all the loose ends. I think we did quite well. I wanted to install a floor inside the viv. that would not only raise the pots off the ground so they would not stand in water, but also would let water through and allow for better drainage. So I got some modular plastic flooring tiles used for patios and decks. They were pretty easy to assemble just by cutting to size with a hack saw and then locking the pieces together. I cut them just long enough so they would rest on the front and back aluminium frame, leaving a couple of centimeter airspace underneath. I used plastic plant saucers as center supports for extra stability. I will install a drain too, but that is coming from the UK… Next, the cool air intake installation. We spent a long time in the bathroom supply aisle weighing our options. There are some really complicated contraptions out there, and they are nice and quiet, but also very expensive. So, we settled for a fairly simple model, that runs fairly quiet (at 33 dB) and wasn’t too expensive. Luckily I have one of those really old school vents in the orchid room. Basically just a square hole in the wall with a hatch you open by pulling a string. This vent was the perfect candidate for my cool air intake fan. We just removed the hatch and put the fan up in its place. Some plastic flex tubing will bring the cool air to the viv. at the other side of the room. Once the tubing went on the fan also ran even more quietly. To give me something to mount the lights to, and to hide some of the equipment dear husband helped me build a wood frame for the top. Simple light weight construction, some L brackets to make the box and a few more attached along the sides so [...]
They may say that one who is waiting for something good can never wait too long… but I am starting to feel the time crunch now… I have a lot of plants coming from Peru in a few weeks and I am nowhere near ready for them. I have ordered a lot of gear for the new cool vivarium, but two weeks have passed and only about half has arrived. The viv. has been standing like an empty gaping hole for weeks…! Ok, so I am known for my patience… he he… I actually did make some headway this week. First of all I really wanted to seal the bottom of the vivarium so it would not leak once I crank up the incoming rain system. First I tried using a hot glue gun since everyone kept telling me silicone won’t not stick to plastic or aluminum. Well, I have news for you… neither will hot glue!! It sticks to just about everything – except aluminum. I knew regular silicone probably would not stick either. So I got the meanest, strongest silicone glue I could find. Superfix. It said it would stick to anything, so far it looks like it might have worked. Ok, I know it won’t win any beauty contests, but as long as it holds water I am happy. I also picked up the new glass for the top. I decided to have it split it into two pieces since trying to handle a 65x175cm large piece of glass really would be a pain – specially hauling it home on the tram. Luckily mom came into town and I could borrow her car for an hour. Two huge packages did arrive from Dusk in Stockholm in time for the weekend, mainly loaded with the EpiWeb I am planning to cover the insides with. I had really hoped I could have finished mounting all the EpiWeb (including applying the moss mixture) this weekend. But I did not get all the pieces I needed, so I did as much as I could. That included hand-sawing the huge panels into to the correct sizes with a hacksaw blade – I’ve got several blisters to show for it, but it did turn out great. I’ve heard of some people using silicone to attach the wall material inside their viv’s, but I wanted to install mine so I can take them back down again if I need to. So, dear husband [...]
Finally there is a new large terrarium standing in the orchid room. Empty as of yet, but full of promise. This is truly a Valentine’s Day gift right up my alley, much better than roses! I will convert this terrarium into a cool vivarium and create my own little orchid cloud forest in there. Well, perhaps “little” is an inappropriate description since it measures 175 cm wide, 160 cm high and 65 cm deep. A significant space in other words, and I plan to fill it with (mostly) Pleurothallids! I found it used online after many months of searching. There are usually many terrariums for sale, but it has been hard to find one this large. So, yesterday dear husband and I drove a couple of hours south with a large trailer in tow to pick it up. The terrarium is a few years old, but is in very nice shape. The guy I bought this from has had large boas in it, and he obviously he took good care of it. While cleaning it up I found a sticker on the aluminium frame with the name of the glass company who made it, so it is a professional build. The build is a light weight aluminium frame with 4 mm glass both on the sides and for the sliding doors on the front. A really smart solution for this build is the double walled polycarbonate used for the back wall. It is the same plastic often used for greenhouses instead of glass. It makes the terrarium much lighter and less fragile. I will still have to get a new cover for it since the guy had a wooden ceiling before. I had checked the price of building a brand new one, but it’s really, really expensive. To find one this nice used is a great deal. Especially since it will cost a lot more to actually outfit. I am now researching the equipment for it… rain systems, foggers, a fan system to draw cool air in from the outside, hygro/temp thermostat, good light fixture for the Dulux 80W CFL’s I want… This is going to be a long, but really fun project.
This lovely little orchid is blooming right now, and I must admit that that it is a pretty powerful sight. Aerangis mooreana is a small warm grower from Madagascar and the Comoros Islands where it grows at elevations of sea level up to 600 meters. I grow mine in the warm vivarium mounted on a clay pipe filled with water, and it seems quite happy with the arrangement. I bought it from Karge at a show in Sweden back in April and this is the first time it is blooming for me. Each of the 25 delicate flowers come with a long spur indicative of the moth pollinated African species. The flowers seem perfectly snow white until you hold them up to the light, then you see that they are actually lightly peach colored. It is faintly fragrant at night, although I cannot quite place the scent. Perhaps a little bit of Jasmine or Lilly of the Valley? It is really hard to say, but at least it smells nice. I have a bulbophyllum orchid in bud right now with a fragrance from quite the opposite side of the scent spectrum… but more on that one later.