2014 Archived Messages

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January 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31 February 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-28
March 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31 April 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-30
May 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31 June 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-30
July 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31 August 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31
September 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-30 October 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31
November 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-30 December 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31

January 1—7

From: Geoff Hobson
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Backup heating system
Date: Wed, 01 Jan 2014 12:00

When I had a greenhouse way back, I had electric at first until I got the
first bill. Then I bought a propane heater but I found that it caused buds
to abort even with vents open. I had the heater converted to mains gas
during the summer and had mains installed to the greenhouse. I did not
notice the difference on my gas bill and the buds were fine. The heater
worked on a pilot and pietzo ignition. One night the pilot went out and we
had a severe frost. The inevitable happened.
If I had a greenhouse I would do the same again as we are unlikely to lose a
gas supply, and it is normally reliable.

On 31 Dec 2013 Richard Baxter wrote re: Backup heating system

Happy and fulfilling New Year to everyone.
The wires seem very quiet at the moment so I guess it is the "off season" for orchids, even though we all struggle through the colder months.
You will have seen my earlier mail about power cuts, and as a subscript to that I would be very interested to learn about how others cover power outages or other heating/mechanical failures. Both my greenhouses have electric heating under normal circumstances.
I have a propane set-up for my intermediate greenhouse as backup which I can switch in very quickly, and have my (37 year old) paraffin greenhouse heater for my cool greenhouse. Having had to use paraffin a couple of weeks ago I set about topping up the tank ready for the next time and realised the serious scarcity of paraffin locally − gone are the days when one could take a 5 gallon container to the local garage for a fill. The stuff these days is sold in 4ltr plastic containers and even then I have to go to a neighbouring town to pay B & Q £6.98 per 4ltr (marginally cheaper on Wednesdays with my OAP card!) . Paraffin heater technology still relies on wicks and does not seem to have moved forward. Checking modern day models they sill burn about 4Ltrs per 24 hours − ouch at to-days prices.
Paraffin being a form of kerosene I have researched the possibility of just topping up from my domestic oil tank, but Aladdin tell me that viscosity differences would cause black smoke, burnt wicks and toxic fumes........not good.

So it looks like additional propane unless I can find some practical and economical alternative. Even that would need a new heater, pipes, changeover valve, tanks etc.. This is only for emergency outages with occasional use but the cost against losing my plants might be justified. I suppose we get 2 − 3 outages per winter.........so much for the joys of country living.

My problem cannot be unique so before making any decision I thought that some of the Wise Men on this forum might be able to share experience of viable or innovative alternatives.
Grateful for any input.


To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Backup heating system
Date: Wed, 01 Jan 2014 18:25

Richard i have a stand by generator cost £180 , but then again depends how
long power cut is i have never run it on a full gallon yet but think its
worth the effort and expense


From: Geoff
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: My solution to the problem, and other matters...
Date: Thu, 02 Jan 2014 16:00

I think that propane has to be the stand-by ; nothing else can do the
job so easily. Also the exhaust fumes from any combustion system are not
good inside a greenhouse, but propane seems better than other
alternatives in this respect if only because modern appliances burn

I had a week's loss of power when I lived in Worcs', 30 years
ago,due to the wrong kind of snow bringing down the poles which brought
electricity over the fields. The road to town ( Evesham) was blocked
with drifts burying cars too. My heating was mains gas, but I needed
electricity for the controls . I had a generator for emergencies, − but
that burnt petrol at the rate of gallons a day, apart from deafening
half the village. So I had a couple of high output gas fires running
from a propane cylinder. But with such a long stoppage, I urgently
needed a refill of propane, but managed to get a friendly farmer to take
me across the fields in his JCB bringing back the new cylinder in the
bucket. A total experience I would rather avoid repeating.

A really well insulated and constructed greenhouse is part of the answer
to the problem ; my triple-walled polycarb' − roofed pit house with a
floor 5 feet below ground level ( where the soil temperature would
always be say 10 degrees C.) in the Cotswolds would keep temperatures
in the house above 10 C for most of the winter, with no added heat at
all . Currently I have some boiler problems − I spent almost UKP300 on
the repairs after my extinction event a month or so ago, but it conked
out again over Xmas ( failures in Orchid houses only ever occur at bank
holidays, when tradesmen just don't want to come out at all, not even
answer their 93emergency number94 mobiles , I find.). But in a mild
winter here near the south coast, with the usual bubble-wrap on the
outside of the glass over the length ( but not ends) I have kept 10 or
11 degrees C as the minimum since before Xmas, with no heating. Next
week, with minus 3 forecast as the night temperature,it will be
different , and if necessary I shall use my electric fan heaters which
are now my stand-by − although I still live in a village, it is
sufficiently near to a town to enjoy many of the advantages such as
mains service extending below ground . But I managed to get a new
thermostat today and installed it, and the system is running again ,
although the Drayton 91stat seems to have its own temperature scale !
Setting the stat to 15 resulted in the house being 20, and so on. Still,
that is a simple problem − just set the stat to a false reading.

I now have a few cymbidiums in flower − all purchases in the last month,
and one or two spikes emerging on some of the plants which survived my
disaster − a paph species which had 7 leads with buds, has been repotted
to enable the damaged burnt growths to be cut off, and the remaining
four flowers look good.,

The disaster led to a reassessment ; I need to grow the survivors
especially well if they are going to be worth anything in my remaining
years since my age has started with an 8 for several years now ; and
after digging out some old images , I realise how far my culture had
fallen ; new year resolution, to change my methods, go back to the ways
which worked best in the past ( grow paphs they way I did when they
became a National Coll. in the 80s , grow oncidiums the way I did in
hydroculture in the 90s, grow Vandas in flood and drain and find some
way of stopping them floating away.

So the big rebuild and re-arrangement is under way. Wish me luck !

With best wishes to all readers, for a happy and uneventful 2014 .



From: Geoff Hobson
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] My solution to the problem, and other matters...
Date: Thu, 02 Jan 2014 18:30

The heater I had was the forerunner of the Hot Box. It did not need
electricity. When I had it rumming propane it was not good, but on mains gas
it was excellent. I could not smell it al all, and the flowers were fine. It
kept the temperature up to 15C quite easily, and was cheap to run compared
with propane.
I was having trouble with it before it failed, and was waiting for the risk
of frost to go before getting it serviced, but did not quite make it.


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