Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My own private greenhouse effect

Quite off topic for this blog so far, but here goes... I live in Victoria, the southern most state of mainland Australia. The weather gets quite cold (by Australian standards) in the winter. I like to grow my own vegetables - strictly hobby stuff, the family could live for more than a couple of days on what I grow, but it's good fun.

Most years though, I wind up planting seeds around August, just prior to the southern hemisphere Spring, and in our cold Victorian winter they struggle along okay, by the time I get them in the ground, I don't get much of a yield, in particular capsicums, a fruit I love, and have had very little success growing.

So this year, I decided to get started earlier - but winters are just so cold down here, that no seeds will ever germinate this time of year. So I decided that a little shelter was required. I got the idea from the planter boxes you see in more hardware shops, but being a cheap-skate, I thought I'd make my own. So I hacked together a few old pieces of chip board into a kind of half box shape - then thought, "if I can cover the rest with some clear plastic, the sun will still get in, but the budding, would be seedlings will be protected from wind, rain, frost etc.

Great idea, I tried some old clear plastic I have lying around, but it just didn't cut it. So I splashed out and spent 15 bucks on some more heavy duty plastic from a hardware store close by, and with the help of some velcro tabs, managed to come up with the creation you see below - a planter box, covered with clear plastic, I can open to water any time I like.

We had a couple of quite cool - 12 degrees celcius, but quite sunny days here. I noticed quite a bit of condensation forming very quickly in the box, and decided to grab a thermometer we had lying around at work. To my surprise, after just half a day in the sun - 12 degrees outside mind you, the temperature inside the box, was tipping 40 degrees!! (Celcius). I was amazed, and pleasantly surprised. I left a small container of water in there, and after just a few hours, the water was really warm to touch.

I shouldn't be surprised I guess, but how good is this?!? Anyway the seeds went in just two days ago, and I'm expected nice early germination, meaning I can get the capsicum seedlings transplanted nice and early, and hope to be eating juicy, home grown capsicums, tomates and zucchinis, all summer.