Monday 14 March 2011

I pimped the propagator

I discovered last week that Green Horticulture had sent me a 125watt CFL instead of a 250watt CFL. To their credit, I rang them up and the dispatched another 125watt immediately free of charge. So that’s well done for customer service (+1) but not so well done for disabling right click (-1) on their site.

I’ve got my (increasingly not so little) plants in the Vitopod and is a great piece of kit, but it has no air flow. I thought I’d solve this and make room for my extra CFL at the same time.

Hanging The Lights

This rig is the same on both ends and is suspended from an overhead rack that I built into my greenhouse staging. The rig was built using left over wood that I have lying around.

Hanging the lights

Using nothing more than twine I lashed the light fitting to the rig. Since taking the picture I’ve added wire to the lashing as the twine was stretching.

Light is lashed on


Originally I stripped two fans from an old pc, chopped the connectors off and taped each to a 9V battery. This lasted for about 14 hours and then died. My backup plan was to take an old 12V DC converter that I had lying around, chop the end off and wire the fans to the converter. It worked a treat, but it doesn’t move much air. I think I’ll try ebay for a 240v axial fan or pillage an old server to see if I can find one. I suspect a 240v will do the trick. For now however this is fine.



I had already bought a load of reflective sheeting and I wasn’t using it to it’s full ability. Even when I was running a single CFL I was letting a lot of light escape. Using galvanised wire I made three omega shapes and using the bottoms to connect onto a length of cane. I then fitted this over the top of the propagator.

The cage

I then cut a nice length of reflective sheeting and hemmed in a length of cane using parcel tape, this was to give Mean Ol’ Mr Gravity something to pull on to make a nice shaped reflector.


As you can see from an external shot, the shape of the reflector is near perfect and for the cost of the reflective sheeting I’m very happy with it

External Shot


My mission was to pimp the propagator without spending any extra money at all, which I have done. It’s amazing with what you can put together using just cane and twine, and for me, old electrical things that I’ve got lying around. I do think I’ll cave in and get a couple of 240v axial fans because airflow is super important.

If you’ve never been to an allotment you should go and look around. Things that are cobbled together from old doors and bits of metal are far more common than shiny new things and this is part of the charm of gardening. There’s a lot of lessons that designers & developers can take from places like allotments, which is one of the reasons I love gardening. Mix that with tech and the cloud and you can get up to all sorts of monkey business!

Finally, here’s some chilli porn

Inside the vitopod