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I have decided to start small with a hot box/germinator made of plywood and 2x2s on the bottom and back and corrugated translucent panels used for patio covers for the sloping front. If I make the back about four foot high it will work for all seedlings and can serve as a kitchen garden for lettuce, cilantro, green onions and herbs. I plan on using salvaged 2 liter soda bottles along the back wall to provide thermal mass to dampen temperature swings, have a bunch saved up and get another about every other day. (Someone in the household has a soda habit.)
I have a south facing shop wall along which I can place it and have dropped off an irrigation stub and control wire at that location. A small, programmable drip irrigation system is well under $100 and I can get power from the shop panel. I just don't want to have to open and close the vents by hand every morning and night, depending on temperature and wind. Seems like that shouldn't cost ten times the cost of the rest of the hot box. Perhaps I can use motorized dampers from the HVAC industry, or just a fractional HP gear motor, a shaft and some pulleys. Definitely open to suggestions.
"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
If you keep fish in your supply tank you get free symbiotic water cleaning and plant fertilization too.
With sufficient water you can even out day-night temperature swings to avoid heating and cooling. You can heat the water rather than the air in the greenhouse and thus reduce losses from the glazing (because you keep the roots warm but let the leaves cool down). watering the roots rather than top watering of course reduces fungal problems.
Then I have a simple wax piston type vent opener for super hot days.
This system has been running almost maintenance free for 5 years (the inlet occasionally gets roots in it).
Spending more on glazing insulation (adding an extra layer of plastic film on the inside, or using triple rather than double wall PC) is typically better value than spending more on the control system.
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