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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Orchidarium shelf, self made (DIY).

Orchidarium shelf DIY built up on a simple shelf, with a DIY energy saving lamp and a DIY fogger
Orchidarium shelf, self made (DIY)
(pictures of 24 October 2012)

Orchidarium shelf DIY, at the beginning of the building up
Orchidarium shelf  DIY, the beginning
(pictures of 27 March 2012)
As always, space is tight and instead plants ... are never enough! After mounting the mini orchidarium I noticed that in my kitchen there was a lot of unused space, of course it was a bit high, and not really practical, but doable. Top of the refrigerator then there was just a nice space. So I recruited a volunteer. (!) At first I just wanted a simple shelf to better accommodate some poor Phalaenopsis in intensive care, in that corner does not come a lot of light, the window is two and a half meters far, a lamp was requested. I recycled an IKEA lamp built up with an energy saving light bulb 'Philips Tornado 23W 6500K cool daylight' for 12 hours a day with a timer-clock. The plants I settled ​​there were all a bit battered because saved in various garden shops for a few euro, after some time I started to think about how to provide them with a good air humidity ...

Brassed bracket for sliding plexiglass wall of the Orchidarium shelf
Orchidarium shelf DIY
Brassed bracket for sliding
plexiglass wall of the

In a moment of inspiration I thought of the L-brackets, brass plated and then anti rust, to support transparent walls, of course plexiglass!
Was not possible to find a sheet of plexiglass that fits perfectly with the total height of the shelf, so I had to make do with a lower one. Then the biggest challenge was to invent a way to support two transparent walls that could not be supported by the top shelf. In the end the solution I have adopted is a lightweight and very simple wooden structure attached to the wall with other L-brackets, the sheet of plexiglass that acts as orchidarium lid also lays on the same wooden chopsticks, separating the humid inside from the upper side where is the self built energy saving lamp . To keep the humidity inside and simultaneously save the house wall from mold I lined the interior walls with a plastic packaging sheet which is very thin but however insulates from moisture and also a bit from the cold of the outside.

Detail of the bracket that supports the structure and the plexiglass wall of the Orchidarium shelf
Orchidarium shelf DIY
Detail of the bracket  that supports the structure
and the plexiglass wall of the

Obviously the space on the shelf was not so much so I added a nice plastic mesh for hanging pots and mounted orchids! Have not yet managed to find a box the right size to use as a base, so I put some common plastic saucers filled with expanded clay to keep the shelf surface as dry as possible, but I never pour water in the pots inside,I water them on the kitchen sink.
Since the air here has a relative humidity around 30%, then very low, even with all the plexiglass inside the orchidarium I could not keep the humidity value above 50%, so I bought a decorative ultrasonic nebulizer with colorful LED lights, one of those that can be used as a table centerpiece! At the beginning I just put in a plastic bowl resting inside the orchidarium but it occupied a lot of space, I had to check the water level every day (it doesn't work if there's too much or too less water!) and then when it was turned on it sprayed water everywhere, then one night I thought about how to put it outside the orchidarium and maybe add a bottle for automatic water refill. So I built a humidifier DIY! The fogger turn on automatically using a timer for 30 minutes every morning, just before the turning on of the lights, and then again for 15 minutes around noon.
Thanks to this useful change the moisture inside the orchidarium shelf varies from 65 to 100%, joy of orchids that live there.
The plants in the ICU were relocated on the top shelf above the door, with a lamp of luck, they are very warm so close to the ceiling and not being locked into the case than the spread of diseases or fungi or others is less easy.

Top orchidarium shelf with recovering Phalaenopsis
Orchidarium shelf DIY, top shelf
Phalaenopsis orchids hospitalized

At the end, the shelf orchidarium that began as an hospital is becoming a real orchidarium with Phalaenopsis and other orchids species, the first orchid that showed a flowering was the Tolumnia triquetra, mounted on cork.
In recent days I have moved some of the mounted orchids in a new mini orchid tank that before was a small aquarium, so there is more space for a new arrivals!

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