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I want to make an ultrahighland chamber, and have some questions.


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Sup, peeps. I was drooling over N. villosa pics today, and since I had planned on not doing CP's in college (due to space) it dawned on me that N. villosa really wouldn't outgrow a small freezer for a long time, and since it's something I've always wanted to do, I'm seriously going to do it once I get settled in college.

I was thinking of using a small chest freezer, then my mother recommended an electric cooler or a wine cooler. I found this one and it seems like it would get down to 40 degrees every night, for the same price as a small chest freezer, but it's quiet, and since it would be on 8 hours a night (sleeping time) that would be a definite plus. It's only 10 gallons, but it'll take a long time for N. villosa to outgrow that, and certainly by the time I'm out of college (and have more space for a larger freezer), right? The wine coolers I found online looked very sexy, but didn't really get as cold as I'd like. I think the lowest I saw was like 46. I'd ideally like to get down to 40 degrees every single night.

The cooler looks a LOT easier to modify that a fridge. I could cut holes in the lid for the cords, and easily cut out a rectangle, silicone glass over it from beneath, and easily place a 20 inch PC fixture holding one 96 watt PC over it. I wouldn't even have to remove the lid. Well, I'm ASSUMING the lid is plastic. I don't actually know. I'm assuming "UV inhibitors" are additives to plastic making it suitable for outdoor use.

I'm not going to college until this fall, and I won't do anything until I'm settled in and in the routine of college life, but I am going to do this without a doubt. Probably within the next 12 months. What do you guys think of this cooler? Should I buy a real freezer instead? Don't real freezers like drip water from condensation on the coils and/or leak? I just had a thought. Could the PC light melt the plastic lid?

If I buy everything new, It shouldn't cost more than 450 excluding shipping on the cooler unless I can find it locally, two thermostats, a fan, and the lighting. I can save a bundle finding a used chest freezer for like 50 -75 bucks but all of the cutting metal and removing the lid seems like a big hassle and a failure waiting to happen. On the other hand, I could probably get more space than 40 quarts with a real freezer (but would I need more? ) But would it be noisy? I could probably fit 2-3 N. villosa in there, N. lamii and maybe something else since they grow so ungodly slow. Would N. aristolochioides work, is it 40 too cold? It may grow too fast anyway. I'm really expecting N. villosa to only be about 4 or 5 inches after 5 years or so.

Oh, here's the cooler I had in mind. http://www.igloo-store.com/product_detail.asp?T1=IGL+COOL+CHILL+40+BL&HDR=thermotravel

Well, I appreciate any input! I'm definitely going to do my research (not that there's too much to read) before I do anything. I've got plenty of time.
You'd be surprised that you can have quite a few of the more low maintenance plants in college.

I'm living with two guys in a really small room-there's like 3.5 feet between the bunk beds, but I have 10 pots on my bookshelf lit by 2 cfls

It's worked out well for me so far.
I'm sure I could, but this is something I've been meaning to do anyway and was planning on doing it after college, but there's no real reason to wait. I was going to not do CP's while I'm at college because I don't have a nice big basement with cool, and can't use my metal halide, and have little space, but this will have perfect temperatures, won't take up space, and I don't need a metal halide for a few small plants that'll take ages to grow to a size worth posting pictures of. The low maintenance plants aren't challenging, so where's the fun in that? I really don't have an interest in growing a bunch of plants on a bookshelf under compact fluorescents. I've been growing CP's since I was a child (in kindergarten, I brought Carnivorous Plants of the World for "story time" when it was my turn to bring a book. Not kidding, and I've still got that old book lol) ; I'm ready to grow something I thought unobtainable back then, and I'm going to provide a real setup, not just buy the plants, wing it, and hope for the best (as that usually ends with a dead plant).

I hope I meet Jeff Shafer's idea of fanatical :) I'd be most pleased if he'd see this and chime in (although his website seems to have disappeared...) I'm reading his article now, and if the difference between 37 degrees, and 40, is important, I guess I'll have to go with a real freezer. It would give me more space for less/the same amount of money.
I will be following this closely. Josh and I had a discussion a while back about UHL chambers. The great thing about the cooler in your link is that you can take it with you in the car with no problems! I really would like to do something like this but will have a much tighter budget. I may try and modify a bar fridge since the college students always leave them around at the end of the year.

I'll see if I can dig up some of the links Josh shared with me. I would definately start now if I were you, since you'll be four years of slow growth ahead.

wow! yeah ! I know what you mean about it being a fantastic plant.. But the only concern it comes down to is the money involved. Hey! If you do have 500$ + to spare and throw away...then yeah sure! go for it. It is indeed a very beautiful plant....the true crown jewel of the nepenthes world. However, it again comes down to remember how picky this plant is. Its waaay harder than any rajah, talangensis or so on. It hates changes...it hates anything apart from its tiny tiny idea growth window. This will be easy to achieve with that cooler, thermostat and a lot of money + years of patience. I am personally waiting for me to make me a good nepenthes highland setup myself before that and that is around a year + to go. Chest freezers BTW do make some noise. Its something you need to get used to. SO it again depends on your room mates as well. My personal suggestion: FOr first yr....do something more simple.... have a couple of neps in a small setup....and from second yr and so on...either live in an offcampus house with your own room or a single room in res...and then you will have more freedom to try this out. Thats just my opinion. First yr in university is a big transition phase.

BTW....do keep us posted. As the others....I am one of those who drools looking at the villosa as well. ;)
The way I see it, I could spend 500 bucks on this, or spend it on booze, music, and video games. Those will entertain me for a while, but this will only get better as time goes on, and it's something I've been thinking about and really want to do. I'm going to be able to pay for this myself because my parents are paying for my education (I'd glad I'm privileged enough to have rents who consider it their responsibility to pay, although I HAVE offered to pay them back and they refuse) and it's not like it's a HUGE amount. A little saving and I'll be there in no time. Faster if I get a job (I hope to be hired soon if my application was impressive enough!), and eventually plenty of booze, music, and video games after my initial investment in this :)

As far as a transition phase into college.... I mean it's really not a big deal as far as maintenance. Yeah it'll be a big deal to set up, but I've only got to do that once. It'll be on a timer and won't do anything except sit there. All I'll really have to do is water, drain the excess water when it needs it, and change the bulb when it needs replacing. If anything that's less maintenance and more simple than having faster growing plants that need pruning and repotting and fertilizing more often. Yes, it's not N. ventricosa, but if I supply it with ideal conditions, and start out buying several (since they arrive so small, they have a high mortality rate. I'm expecting to lose a few because of this), I really don't see how I can't succeed. It's not like I'm a newbie buying his first plant, and it's not like I plan on being cheap and hoping for the best; I do have experience in Nepenthes horticulture. Actually, I'd venture say if you give any of the members here with a basic understanding of Nepenthes husbandry a setup like this, they'd be pretty successful (given the high mortality rate of the small plants available, of course). Do I have a lot of experience with highland Nepenthes? No, not at all considering the coolest my basement terrarium can get in Georgia summers in 70 degrees at night, but that's not exactly my fault :) It's hard to argue with ideal conditions when growing anything.

I am a little worried about the noise (which is why I'm very partial to the thermoelectric cooler, but if three degrees is that important I'll have to accommodate it. Or find one that can cool a few extra degrees), but it can't be too bad. Dorm fridges don't make much noise.
Ooh lol! tell that to my fridge. I got used to it...but it sounds like a gurgling machine in my room when the fridge is running.

Well...u do have a point and you seem to have thought it out pretty well...so go for it dude. Students like me on the other hand already owe the govt like 30k + for my 4 yrs of uni education. Its only going to be going more as I plan to continue studying further with higher degrees...so I for now myself can't afford a dedicated cooler...its just out of question and even consideration and not reasonable in my opinion to do for a single plant. I rather prefer to spend money make a top class highland setup, get species like hamata, dubia, lowii, rajah (more) :p, jacquelineae etc and so on.

One warning though......your UH chamber won't have villosa alone. I am pretty sure that you will soon fill it up with tons of other neps. lol! trust me...its hard as hell to not buy more plants.lol!

BTW....just a personal taste thing...I don't see anything special in the lamii as it looks like a hard to grow mirablis to me. :p If I were you...I would try getting like a hamata, rajah or lowii to go with the villosa. ;)
I was hoping to fit two or three N. villosa, N. lamii (if I can find it) and something else that will survive those cold temperatures and stay small. I was hoping N. aristolochioides if it can take the cold. Five or six small plants total. Naturally more if I can fit them, but I'm aiming for five or six. My real reason for this was for N. villosa, the other plants will just be the icing on the cake.

I don't see anything remarkable about N. lamii either. It DOES favor N. mirabilis. It's boring, but if I'm going to have a freezer it makes sense that I'd try to find one to put in it.

That was my same thinking, Xvart. I'd really like to get a four year head start.
well....yeah! 2-3 villosas is fine....but for variety and too keep the wait interesting...go for like a hamata or a lowii. They will be faster and will keep you happy while the villosa chugs along slower than a mountain. ;) BTW.....Those plants should be able to take those temps...would they??
  • #10
villosa, lamii, Doorman's top 1...those are just a few. if there were no space issues i would have suggested inermis haha.

  • #11
They will be faster and will keep you happy while the villosa chugs along slower than a mountain. ;)

Wasn't that the point? Slow plants that will not outgrow the container until you can afford a full sized setup?

  • #12
well! If you get like a 2 inch hamata....it will NOT OVER GROW A CHAMBER in 2 yrs +. Besides those are the size of plants available. Its not a bical for heavens sake. :p lol!

Doorman's top!! ooh yeah! thats a heck of a plant as well. Definite choice IMO. ;)
  • #13
be sure to get #1 though. cause #2 is very uninteresting and more intermediate growing. muluensis is another small, slow, cold loving plant. beautiful color too :)

  • #15
I'm not an expert but I will go for the cooler!

its more quiet, lightweight, is made on plastic so you can make as many holes as you need and then use polyurethane foam and epoxi to seal the cables and hoses on place and be sure the chamber stays insulated.

And as xvart say, you should start on the proyect now, that will give you time to start measuring and cuting holes, fixing cables and runing the sistem to see that works fine and detect any posible problem that can come across... maybe even after the chamber is complete and running set the nepenthes that you will grow in so they aclimate to the new "home" before you go to the college (if you use the cooler you can travel with your chamber running) on that way you will be sure they are doing good there and concentrate on the college.
  • #16
I got a couple two foot fixtures if ya need em Clint. Dont know if there the size you want or not.
  • #17
the ultimate freezer chamber would be one of those big commercial ice freezers. where you take out the bags of ice :)

  • #18
Considered getting a 5 amp power supply that is 12 volts DC then doing a peltier maybe in a cooler ?
Just thinking....
  • #19
I looked at that cooler again. It says it gets 39 degrees below the temperature outside the cooler, so really all I have to do is keep the room temperature no higher than 76 degrees, and that's pretty hot so I'd do that for my own comfort anyway. Is my thinking on this correct?

Someone mentioned that hot lights would heat it up fast during the day, but if I got a Third thermostat (another 55 bucks hehe) That wouldn't really be a problem if I set it to come on if the temps get above 65. I mean I hope that won't happen but if it does, it does. I am worried about the light melting the plastic lid.

I'm not going to start on it right away; I've got to save up first. I don't want to buy a part here and there, I want to go ahead and get everything at once. I'm in no hurry. I didn't decide I'd do this until yesterday (although I had been planning to do it well into the future) so I've got about 50 bucks currently lmao. Thanks for the offer on the lights, Jayson, but a 96 watt PC fixture that's just 20 inches long seems like a perfect fit for a cooler that's only 21.75 inches long. Unless you've got PC lighting, and want to trade it for plants, of course hehe.

TrippleX is quite right, I was going to do this so I could be growing these slow plants in the meantime and get a head start. Eventually they will outgrow this setup, and by that time I should (hopefully) have quite a bit of space for a large chest freezer. Something like 25 cubic feet unless I can find a larger one. If they ever outgrow that in my lifetime (I hope not), I'm not sure what I'll do. I guess I'll have to buy a walk-in freezer for ten grand, and by that time I'll be a rich doctor and can afford it if my lifelong dream goes according to plan! What else COULD you do for a large N. villosa? Cut it? After all those years? Ahahahahahahahahahaha. Not I, monsieur.

JM, what you just described is what I'm doing, except the peltier-cooled cooler is prefabricated and it has multiple peltier units.

Nepfreak, I read that yesterday; I just with it had pictures :(
  • #20
I know a friend who was thinking about experimenting with some peltier units in his grow area. However, I think he realised that the efficiency seems really uncertain and decreases greatly in magnitude as one moves away from the unit.....so the temp drop overall won't be too great due to the humid mass of warm air sitting with the plants in the cabinet shaped region of the enclousure.

For assured Villosa growing techniques: Used by the legendary Dr. Jeff Safer, Jeremiah Harris, that cooler is the right way to go.

And LOL! JLP?? u kidding me dude? No way the heat from that PC lighting will melt the plastic. Lol! Ok! Listen to this. In my setup.....the plastic sheet of my enclousure TOUCHES the CFL lights in the desk lamps and this one gets insanely HOT. I almost feel that it melts the plastic as I try to move the plastic apart....but NO! the plastic is fine.

Now you will be using like a sheet of plexiglass or very very clear plastic that is like atleast an inch or so thick?? No way lighting even if RESTING on top can melt that. Yeah! if you want to add a HPS to the mix...then maybe. :p lol!