Automatic Window opener

Automatic window opener

Although I live in England the inside of the shed is still getting to hot.

Up until now I have been manually opening the windows on the shed to let a little air in.

Thats is just too much effort for a lazy gardener like myself.

Looking online I found what I needed.

The window opener is quite a simple device but works great, its a large hinge fitted with a piston filled with wax.

When the wax heats up the it expands and moves the piston which opens the window.

The version I have has a nut you can use to adjust the temperature at which it will start opening the window.

They are designed for glass greenhouses but with a little inginuety  I made it work on the shed.

The Build

First of all I needed to make a moveable frame for the windows with hinges.

I took the windows out along with all the wood that was holding them in place.

I then built a new frame making sure there were no gaps, then installed the hinges at the top of the frame  so that the windows can be opened and won’t let rainwater in if we have a summer shower.

You can clearly see I am not a carpenter by any means, I had to add a little wood to the Botton of the frame to add weight to help the window close.

Once I was happy that the window moved freely I Installed the window opener.

The opener itself can be set to start opening the window at a range of 15-30 degrees C,

I set mine to 25 degrees by tightening the nut when the inside if the shed was at 25 Degrees C, this means that if the temperature goes any higher the wax will expand and open the window.

The last thing I needed to do was protect the new frame by giving it a coat of fence stain.

Unfortunately once I had done the frame the rest of the shed looked like crap, so I gave that a coat too,  I think it looks great.

Watering System Update

Watering system update

Well, my original plan did not work as well as expected.

The plants water fine but the water storage container and water recycling system is a no go.

The issue I have been getting is that the water picks up so may particles from the soil, tiny bits of dirt, plant matter etc.

When it returns to the storage container it a little mirky, this was manageable until you take into account the grow lights.

The grow lights turned the clear plastic water container into a petri dish, I was actualy cultivating more Algae than I was chillis.

To rectify this  I had to get rid of the clear plastic container, and find a way to water the plants and get rid of any overflow.

I decided to use a plastic dustbin from a local hardware store as the water storage tank. they are cheap, black and come with a lid so the grow lights will not effect the water. It can also hold quite a lot  so I don’t need to refill it often.

I was already using some guttering to catch the overflow from the watering, so it was an easy task to get a gutter stop end outlet to add it on.

I just cut a hole in the floor of the shed just big enough for the stop end outlet to slot into.

Hopefully the watering system update changes will make the system a lot more user friendly and keep the Algae from invading the watering system.

A Big Mistake

A big mistake

I made a big mistake and managed to kill off 3 out of my 4 chilli plants by being a prat.

Everything was setup and working fine, they were growing ok,  if a little small.

I put the reduced growth down to a lack of sunlight inside the shed so purchased some better grow lights for the system.

What I had not taken into account was the hot wether we were about to get.

I installed the lights, set them up to run 12 hours a day and patted myself on the back for a job well done.

Two days later we had one of the hottest 2 weeks on record for May.

The new lights along with the sunlight made the shed too hot, the inside of the shed at one point reached 48C or 118F, way too hot for the chillis.

During this loverly warm spell, the watering system carried on doing its job of watering the chillis when the soil moisture dropped below 40%.

As anyone who calls themselves a gardener knows you don’t water plants when its hot.

In effect by not using forward thinking I had setup the perfect conditions to kill my plants, this was a big mistake.

Much better now

In order to correct my error, I fitted a larger 12V blower fan to pull in cool air from behind the shed.

I also lowered the grow light brightness so they were running cooler and updated the code so that the water pump will only come on when the light sensor is reading less than 5, in effect at night.

The sole survivor of my error is a Carolina Reaper plant a friend has named Rambo. He is doing very well now the system has been altered.

Rambo Now
Rambo (10/06/2020)

Seedlings

Seedlings

I planted a few seeds a couple of weeks ago and they seem to be progressing quite well. The seedlings are only tiny but its a start.

Bottom Left and top Left pots are Carolina Reaper, Bottom Right pot is Naga Scorpion, Top Right pot is Trinidad Scorpion Butch T.

I should have probably done a bit more research into planting from seed, I might have gotten a better yield.

Is early days yet and I’m hoping more seedlings will surface soon.

Seedlings Week 2
Seedlings Week 2

The Watering System

The Watering System

For the watering system I needed to obviously keep the soil moist and also not soak the floor of the shed,.

I decide on a water recycling system, this way what ever passed through the soil would return to the water storage container for use again.

hopefully meaning I would be able to fill up a container only now and again.

To achieve this watering system I need to lift the trays I was going to use off the floor.

I found some cheap blocks at a local hardware store and I also had a few house bricks hanging around.

I bought some guttering an end stop and a corner piece to complete the trough to send any lost water back to the water container.

The trough was slightly higher than the blocks so I had to add a few bits of wood cutoff I had hanging around to level things up.

I drilled some holes in the trays to line up with the trough below.

This way any water then passed through the soil would drain into the trough then return to the water storage container.

As the trays are black and will absorb heat I decided to cover them in multi layer insulation.

The water itself is supplied by a 12V pump in a container in the corner of the shed, I fitted a clear hose pipe to the pump so I can see the water flow and then fitted garden sprinklers in the hose pipe.

I also fitted a non return valve which should stop the bubbles forming in the tubes and the heads from spitting.