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GpsFrontier 09-20-2011 12:54 AM

Greenhouse construction begins
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Well the Greenhouse construction has begun. One of my concerns with the Sub "T" system was weather I would actually be able to get 24 tubes in each side without them being to close. After getting the first system set up and in place, I wound up only using 15 tubes. That will decrease the amount of air volume I can effectively cool in that system. I think I'll be able to get a few more in the second system because there will be more room behind the barrel (side facing the dirt wall, but wont know for sure until I actually get it in place. Even if not there will be 360 feet of tubing in the ground between both systems. That's still well above the 300 feet recommended for the 200 square feet of greenhouse floor. Just not what I had hoped for of doubling the amount of recommended tubing in the ground.

Also, I had hoped to get both systems in the ground last weekend. But as usual with any construction project, things rarely go as planed. But we got one of them in the ground along with one of the nutrient reservoirs. I'm the big boned (fat/pregnant) guy with the beard, and the other guy is a buddy of mine that was helping me. My mom took the pictures of us while we were back-filling the hole.

I've reserved the excavator for next weekend as well, and my buddy will be back to help install the second Sub "T" system next weekend too. Even though I need to pay for the excavator for two weekends instead of just one, that luckily wont wind up killing my budget. The original budget had planed to be renting from another company, so I actually got it for about $130 less than what was planed in the budget. Also I had planed to have 2 helpers, and be paying $10 an hour, for a total of costing $320 in labor for two days. But wound up saving about $120 in labor. Then because I wont be able to use all the tubing, I'll be taking one or two rolls back, and thus getting me back about $55-$110 more. Next weekend I will only need one helper after the hole is dug, and I begin to back-fill it.

When filling the 275 gallon reservoir up, make sure the metal cage is in place around it before you fill it. Otherwise it will bulge out, and you will need to empty it to get the metal cage in place (just one of the things that didn't go as planed.

CrossOps 09-28-2011 08:41 PM

Is there any updates?

GpsFrontier 09-29-2011 04:04 AM

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Thanks for the interest CrossOps,
Yes, we got the second Sub "T" system in the ground last weekend, along with the other two nutrient reservoirs. Right now I'm in the process of leveling the backyard out again, as well as creating the boarders for the nutrient reservoirs (like in the 3D drawings). The lady looking down into the hole is my mom, she's checking out the mess I made (her recent favorite saying these days). I still didn't get all the 4 inch corrugated tubing in the second system I wanted, but I did get about 4 more tubes in it than the first one. I could have gotten one more in, but to do so I would have needed to cut it from a new 100 foot roll. Therefore I couldn't return it, costing me $55 to get just one more 12 foot long tube in the ground. So I decided it wasn't worth the money to do so. In total I have almost 400 feet of 4 inch tubing in the ground, witch isn't the 600 I was hoping for (doubling the recommended amount), but still almost 100 feet more than what's recommended for a greenhouse this size. As well as still capable of circulating 310 cfm at the recommended not more than 10 cfm per in-ground tube. So I'm still able to be well above the recommended circulation of the entire air volume of the greenhouse 5 times every hour (once every 12 minutes).

3000 cubic feet of air to circulate, 31 tubes in the ground.. At 10 cfm each that's 310 cfm the two systems can move underground and still work correctly. 3000 divided by 12 equals 250 cfm (that's the needed cfm to circulate 3000 cubic feet of air 5 times per hour). But actually I purposely inflated the cubic feet of air needed to be circulated to 3000. In actuality it will be more in the neighborhood of 2300 cubic feet of air in the greenhouse. Needing to move 191 cfm to circulate the entire air volume of the greenhouse 5 times per hour. Moving 310 cfm through the system will basically circulate the entire air volume of the greenhouse through the system (underground) about every 7-1/2 minutes (7.419). So even though I don't have two complete sub "T" systems in the ground/greenhouse, what I have been able to get in place should still be well more than sufficient.

If you look closely an the picture inside the barrel, you'll see there is some insulation (blue board Styrofoam insulation) at the separation between the bottom warm air inlet, and the upper cool air outlet that wasn't in the first system. Well it was supposed to be in that system before installation too. But I simply didn't have time for the silicone (and spray foam insulation) to cure before we installed the barrel. So I will be adding it later after I level the ground out, and while it's in the ground.

You'll also notice the top of the reservoirs are covered, that's to keep dust and dirt from getting into the reservoir (but it still gets in there). In pictures of the first Sub "T" system and first reservoir you can see that I cut the top of the water storage tanks, then used the part I cut out to make a lid. I will show more about how I did that, and the materials I used to create the lip when I take a few more pictures. I also have a couple more alterations I need to do to the lids first as well, and I will show how I made the borders around the reservoirs at that time as well.

The shirtless guy in the hole helping me back fill it is my buddy. He will be 65 in a couple of months, but he can out work anybody I know. Even at his age he can out work guys 30 years younger. I would be willing to bet you don't know anybody that has hand mixed well over 50-60 bags of cement (one or two bags at a time) in a wheelbarrow to build a retaining wall in his backyard (all in one day). Simply because it would have cost about $120 to rent a cement mixer to do it, and didn't feel like spending money to do something he can do without spending it. That was less than two years ago. I got burned out mixing just 2 bags of cement to install the post for our mailbox about a year ago. Can you guess who I plan to hire to help me mix the cement for the 8 posts needed for my moms fence I get to build after the greenhouse is done?

Freshwater 09-29-2011 10:31 AM

Wow, GPS...

I take vacation for 10 days, get back and find you have done a little remodeling! I knew you planned the new cooling system for the greenhouse, but somehow didn't realize how entailed it was going to be. Can't wait to see and hear how it works out once the greenhouse is installed!


GpsFrontier 10-08-2011 05:54 AM

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OK I finally got pictures taken of the progress. Some of the pictures were taken about a week ago, but the latest ones (easy to tell which) were taken just today. But after about a week of shoveling dirt, rock and sand, as well as raking it all out fairly level I was finally able to get going on building the greenhouse structure.

First to elaborate on the lids for the nutrient reservoirs. The small twist off top wasn't going to be adequate for maintenance. So I simply cut a larger opening with my trusty rotary tool. I created a flexible lip using vinyl baseboard. Though I forget what the actually call it, but it is the vinyl baseboard typically used in commercial buildings. It comes in either 4 foot pieces or rolls of 20 feet. It is 4 inches wide so I cut into two 2 inch wide strips. Then just bolted it to the reservoir to create a one inch lip all the way around. Then I added two 1x1 composite decking pieces for added support. I still have some handles to add to it, but haven't gotten around to that yet.

There are 12 tubes coming out of the ground. That is 2-1/2 inch electrical conduit. I cut 6 of them out of each 10 foot long tube. Their 19 inches long each, and 10 inches deep in the ground. I used a small level to make sure they are plum vertically, and a string line to make sure they are lined up correctly. They are spaced 4 feet apart on center on the long side, and 10 feet apart on the short side.

The 2 inch electrical tubing will slide snugly right down into the 2-1/2 inch tubing in the ground. They will then be bolted together. Then a baseboard will go all the way around the greenhouse, and that will be attached to the electrical conduit with 3 inch decking screws. I got a real good deal on the wood for the baseboard today. I was going to use something else, but Home Depot had plenty of 2x6 pressure treated wood in there "cull" bin. And at $0.51 cents for each 4 foot length piece, I'm now able to do the entire baseboard around the greenhouse in 2x6 pressure treated wood for less than $15 total. The 8 foot 2x6 pressure treated wood goes for $8.97, and the 10 foot goes for $10.97. I literally saved over $50 by luck.

The two poles sticking up are about 1 foot taller than their going to be I think, so they will likely be a little shorter. Leaning up ageist the retaining wall is the upper "A" frame that will go on top of the vertical poles. If my calculations are correct, the greenhouse will wind up being about 13-1/2 to 14 feet tall at the top apex. I don't have a later that tall that I will need to attach the horizontal framing with, as well as the 6 mil plastic covering. So I will build a ladder/platform out of some of the other "cull" wood (I don't know why they call it that) to be able to reach it.

As for the box frame around the in-ground reservoirs, most of that was made from the "cull" wood I bought a couple weeks ago. But at that time they only had 2x4 pieces of the pressure treated wood. I had to cut 2 of the 2x4's I bought for the greenhouse framing to finish making all 3 boxes. I built them above ground (I forgot to take a picture of that), then just used a large rubber mallet to pound the 4 stakes (in each corner) into the ground. I used a level as I was going to make sure they were straight and level. Then we just back-filled the dirt in around the boxes.

CrossOps 10-08-2011 07:32 AM

Very nice update. What type of greenhouse, what shape and materials? How soon before you can test water or nutrient temp in the sunken reservoir?

GpsFrontier 10-09-2011 01:57 AM

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What type of greenhouse, what shape and materials?
The greenhouse itself is basically modeled after the design here: Horticultural Engineering - Rutgers University. I cant directly link to the exact page, so when you click on the link, scroll down just under the picture on that page and click on "2003-2007 High Tunnel Project." Then scroll down to the bottom of that page and click on "Pictures of High Tunnel Construction and Preparation," there are a total of 60 pictures of it's construction. That's the basic design but with a few small changes. I attached a drawing I made of what the framing of mine is planed to look like.

Mine will differ in the exact size, as well as doorway placement. Also I'm using 2 inch electrical conduit instead of the 2 inch metal fence post tubing. I may or may not have the sides roll up and down later, but either way it wont be done by a motor. I can easily roll it up and down myself. I was going to go a less expensive rout, but because the sub "T" system is smaller than intended (yet still 25% larger than recommended) I decided to go with a UV poly plastic like these UVA : Hydroponic Supplies and Greenhouse Equipment for the Professional Grower, by CropKing Inc.. It will cost me about $100 more to do it in the UAV plastic film rather than the regular 6 mil roll poly plastic sheeting. But the UAV film should lessen solar gain with it's UV rating, thus in the long run I think it would be worth the extra money.


How soon before you can test water or nutrient temp in the sunken reservoir?
It won't be until next summer that I can really tell exactly how well the in ground reservoirs are doing at keeping the nutrient solution cool. The average daytime temp now is in the 80's, and our summer time temps get into the 120's. So any testing now would give inadequate results. However our daytime temps were in the 100's when we were installing them, and I tested the water temp then in the first reservoir (the other two are a foot deeper). The results I got from that test was very encouraging. Keep in mind that the ground was fairly dry because we just dug a big hole, and that when I took the temp readings the reservoir was still about 80% exposed to direct sunlight all day when the daytime temps were about 105 degrees. The temp reading I got at 5 pm was 90 degrees, at 11 pm the temp was 82 degrees.

The ground temp varies somewhat from region to region, but is typically in the range of 65-75 degrees all year long once you get about 3 feet deep. Once I have everything in place, including the insulated reservoir covers painted with the reflective roof coating, as well as lined with weather striping, and the drip hose around the reservoirs set on a timer to keep the ground around them moist (necessary to wick away heat), I expect to see the reservoir temps in the low 70's all summer long.

GpsFrontier 10-12-2011 04:13 AM

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Just thought I would post the latest pictures (well I took them two days ago). I have the baseboards installed, and the "A" frame tops put together. I placed the "A" frame tops in the ground tubes to stretch them out, then I put a screw in both sides of each connecting joint to make sure they wont work their way loose later. The wood piles are of the "cull" wood I get for $0.51 cents a board, their usually about 4 feet long, and the pile of 2x6 pressure treated wood is what's left over after I completed the greenhouse baseboards.

For the baseboards, I just cut one foot long pieces and beveled the edges to make connecting boards to connect all the 4 foot long pieces together. Then screwed the baseboards into the ground tubes (and ends together) with 3 inch decking screws. Of coarse I would need to back out the screws from the ground tubes in order to insert the poles later, but easy enough to do (actually it's already done and will be in the next update pictures).

Also as you can see in the pictures I have made the covers for all 3 in-ground nutrient reservoir. Because of the odd shape (5 feet 2 inches by 4 feet 4 inches), I had to do some creative cutting, as well as piecing together at the seams. I basically used one (4x8) sheet of OSB and cut it into a 5 foot long piece by 2 feet 4 inches. Then cut the short side into two 2 foot sections (half of 4 feet). I used the left over piece from the 5 foot long side to screw it all together. But before I did, I used an entire tube of liquid nails between the sheets of OSB. I'll take pictures of the underside (where it's all seamed together) tomorrow. Then I screwed two pieces of the 4 foot 2x4's to it along the middle of the long side for added strength, I expect to do a lot of walking on these lids. I don't plan to add the two inch thick Styrofoam insulation to the underside of these lids until next spring, in preparation for the summer heat.

With any luck I'll have the greenhouse framing mostly done in a few days, as well as started building the hydroponic system/support structure by this weekend.

CrossOps 10-12-2011 08:09 PM

Ok, this is looking great. So the in-ground reservoirs are within (inside) the actual greenhouse and not external to it right? Or am I not seeing it correctly?

GpsFrontier 10-13-2011 06:50 AM

No, the three 275 gallon nutrient reservoirs are outside the footprint of the greenhouse. They are the two square boxes behind the greenhouse, and between the greenhouse and retaining wall (opposite side of the doorway). The third one is the square box between the greenhouse and tree. The two round blue containers inside the greenhouse footprint is the two above ground sections to the subterranean heating and cooling system (tops of 55 gallon drums). If you look at the pictures above you can see all the black corrugated tubes connected to the 55 gallon drums (where the air flows through to cool it). Here is the link to the thread I started about the: subterranean heating and cooling system I told you about, click on the two links in my first post of that thread, and that goes into detail about how and why the system works, as well as the building recommendations I keep referring to.

GpsFrontier 10-14-2011 11:19 PM

OK, I ordered the greenhouse covering/glazing today. This is exactly what I ordered: 4 Year Greenhouse Film - Plastic Greenhouse Film | Greenhouse Megastore

I ordered the 24x55 foot roll. I wanted it to be a little bit wider than the greenhouse so I wouldn't need to deal with seaming up gaps at the ends and edges. Including shipping, it came out to about $194.

CrossOps 10-15-2011 06:52 AM

That's the thick plastic they drape and wrap around greenhouses right? How long does that stuff last?

EDIT: *facepalm* just saw the title... The answer to my question was in your post.

GpsFrontier 10-15-2011 11:49 PM

They come in different ratings, it all depends on the UV rating. They range form no UV inhibitors at all, to a 4 year poly. They rate them by the amount of UV inhibitor in the plastic. The UV inhibitors resist degrading the plastic. I would need to check, but I think the highest rating is like a 6 year, but I'm not sure. The higher the rating, the more expensive the plastic is, and the 4 year is the most common and widely used for greenhouses (even commercial greenhouses).

I could have used the clear 6 mil construction poly (with no UV inhibitors in it). In fact that was my original plan, the 20x100 foot roll of the construction poly costs $94 at Lowe's. That would have been enough to cover the greenhouse twice. And I planed to replace it (with the second half of the same roll) at the 6 month mark. After that I expected to replace it at about the one year mark with a good UV rated poly film I bought with the profits I got from the sold products. But because the sub "T" system/s are smaller than my original plan (even though they are larger than the recommended for a 200 square foot greenhouse), I wanted the UV inhibitors in the plastic to help lower solar gain (heat from solar radiation) during summer. So I splurged.

If I were to use the corrugated sheets of poly for the greenhouse glazing, it would cost me about $2,500+ just for the glazing, then I would still need to build the greenhouse framing (that probably would have run another $1,000 to $1,500). But going the rout I am, by the time all is said and done the greenhouse (greenhouse structure only) will run me about $800 to build. That's less than it cost to build and install the sub "T" system. The Sub "T" system cost me about $1000 to install, including equipment rental and labor costs (I pay $10 an hour for labor help).

GpsFrontier 10-20-2011 12:08 AM

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OK I've been very busy, but thought I would post another update. I have to many pictures for one post so I'm breaking it up into two posts. As I mentioned I took pictures of the under sides of the reservoir covers to show how I seemed the pieces together. All three pieces are overlapped by the piece of OSB running down the center. The overlapping piece of OSB is screwed in from both sides, as well as has a whole tube of liquid nails between the sheets of OSB. The 2x4's going down both sides adds support for walking on top of these covers. I only painted the outside edges of the covers on the bottoms with the roof coating because I will eventually have a layer of 2 inch thick Styrofoam glued to the underside, and the foamboard adhesive needs at least one side to be a porous surface for it to cure correctly. I will also eventually have weather stripping around the edges as well.

GpsFrontier 10-20-2011 01:09 AM

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Second update post.....

These pictures were taken over the last week, and the latest ones were taken this afternoon.

I had hoped to have more done by this time, but due to my helpers being busy, as well as the fact I decided it would be easier to paint the wood framing with the white roof coating before installing the greenhouse and hydroponic system support framing. I guess I got set back about three days, but it will save me time as well as problems later by painting the wood prior to installation. I also finally just got a new bulb for my 500 watt halogen work light yesterday, so now I can still work when it gets dark.

It also took me almost two days to build that large wooden later/platform for me to stand on. Mostly because the first design was getting to heavy, but still wasn't sturdy enough. So I took it all completely apart, and redesigned it. I needed to build it because I don't have a free standing later tall enough, and don't want to spend the money to rent or buy one. Including all the wood and screws, It only cost me about $25 to build the platform/later, and when I'm done I can still reuse the wood and screws that didn't get striped. I needed to be able to get that high to screw the horizontal 1x2's to the top apex.

You can see all the wood framing I've been painting (with two coats of the roof coating). I wanted everything painted to reflect as much light back to the plants as I can get. Then finally yesterday and today I was able to get started attaching it to the greenhouse structure. Some of the vertical 2x4's are pressure treated, and some aren't. The ones that aren't, I cut and attached a piece of pressure treated wood (leftover from the baseboard framing) to the bottoms. That way the wood touching the ground is pressure treated. You can see where I already attached it to them in at least one of the pictures (the ones laying on the sawhorses).

I don't know if you can see it in the pictures. But when installing the vertical tubes I wanted them the same height. But because the ground isn't exactly level, and the ground tubes are at slightly different heights. I measured and cut each corner tube to about 8 feet 2 inches. Then I ran a string line down the sides (along the top) to measure and cut the rest to. I simply attached the string line to the polls with rubber bands. Then I just measured how much I needed to cut from them one by one.

Another side note: originally I planed to use propane heaters during winter because electric heaters use so much electricity. But while looking for something else, I ran across a electric infrared heater (like this one) that only uses 550 watts, and still puts out as much as 1800 BTU's. That would be reasonable because we don't get cold enough to need more heating than that, and running 550 watts for 15 continues hours would only cost me $0.77 cents a day (about $23 a month). The electric infrared heater would be easy to hook up to a thermostat or timer for better temp control. So I will probably go the route of the infrared heater.

CrossOps 10-20-2011 10:13 PM

Nice tip on the heater, I need to look into that also.

GpsFrontier 10-22-2011 07:08 AM

Yes, just pay attention to the product/heater recommendations. The one I posted a link to won't be usable in my greenhouse. It states:

"Note: Heaters must be a minimum 3" from ceiling, 24" from a vertical surface and a minimum 6 feet from the floor."

3 feet from the ceiling works, and 6 feet from the floor works, but there wont be anywhere within that range I wont have something vertical within 2 feet of that. I will only have 3 feet between sides, and that would leave no more than 18 inches. But I plan to look for some smaller units that can be placed closer to things, then being smaller, use 2 of them.

I'm happy with the progress in the past two days. Though I have used up all the wood I had painted. So tomorrow morning/early afternoon I need to paint more in order to get it ready to use.

GpsFrontier 10-24-2011 03:11 AM

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Well progress is rolling along now. I took all these pictures between yesterday and the day before. I also bought the 3 pumps I will need. The two large ones pump up to 18 feet head height, and are rated at a 505 GPH at 13 feet. They cost $100 each. The smaller one is for the bottom level of the hydroponic system. It has a head height of 14 feet, and is rated at 375 GPH at 7 feet. I will need to check once I open them, but I expect that they don't have filters. So I expect to need to create a simple filter for each of them.

I've added resting blocks to all of the vertical support structure framing wood that the horizontal framing rests on. That will just aid in support of all the weight of the water when the systems are flooded. Each level will likely be over 2000 pounds when flooded (6000 pounds for all 3 levels). They aren't pretty, but functional. I could have cut them all to the same size (etc.), but I wanted to use the scrap wood I needed to cut earlier for it (most of it won't really be seen much when finished anyway).

Also note how I did the top "A" frame at the end. I've added some more wood to it for attaching the plastic to, but don't have a picture of that at this time. I will do both ends the same way, but I need to build a temporary later/platform that will be attached to the greenhouse support structure on the other side before I can do that (the one that's built wont fit between the greenhouse, and retaining wall).

Not sure if I mentioned this before or not, but all of the vertical supports are attached to the electrical conduit tubing with 3 inch decking screws at the top, middle, and bottom. I took a picture if one of the screws and you can see that it goes through the wood into the conduit tubing. I always pre-drill the holes through the wood and tubing using a drill bit that's a little smaller than the screws. That way I they are easy to screw in, and wont split any of the wood. There wood deck screws and not self tapping, so they wont screw through the electrical conduit without a pre-drilled hole anyway. But as long as you don't use a drill bit that's to big, they screw into the electrical conduit nicely, and are extremely tight with no chance of them working their way loose.

I also took better pictures of where I attached pieces of pressure treated wood to the foot of the regular 2x4's. That way it's only pressure treated wood that touches the ground. The guy in the pictures is a friend from across the street that has helped me work on the greenhouse, he just happened to stop by that day to see how the progress was going.

I have the outside horizontal support framing for the top level up, and I am working on the inner support framing. If things go as planed, I will have most of that up by tomorrow night. Then I'll be going to get more of the 'cull" wood Tuesday morning. Then I'll need to paint it Tuesday afternoon. And hopefully I will have the rest of the hydro system support structure finished and started on making the hydroponic system by Wednesday.

CrossOps 10-30-2011 10:40 PM

Post updates :P

GpsFrontier 10-31-2011 12:12 AM

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OK, I now have another update ready to post.
Even though I'm happy with the progress at this point, and how it's coming along together, I could be farther along if I wasn't going through the "cull" wood faster than they stock it. I didn't get much done two days this week for that very reason. Friday I decided to buy some of the more expensive 2x4's just so I had some wood to work with. I now only need 4 more pieces of the cull wood to finish the hydroponic system support structure, and it probably wont be restocked until Tuesday. In total I need about 90 more pieces of the cull wood to finish both the support structure and the hydroponic system.

But I am still making progress. All the areas of the support structure that are covered with the OSB board are finished. The only sections left are the ends between the long rows. On one side I have 2 of the 3 sections finished, the other side I still need all 3 sections. They are easy to do, I just needed one piece of the cull wood for a cross beam for each of those sections to finish it. I took some pictures of the center sections with the OSB removed from there so you can see how I did the support structure underneath.

I also took pictures of the top A frame end section where I finished adding the wood strips to. The wood strips will be what the edges of the greenhouse covering will be attached to on the top ends. The sections of OSB are the bottoms of the hydroponic system, and will rest in place on the support structure (right were they are). But right now I'm just cutting them to the right size, and making sure they fit in place on the support structure correctly before I complete each section. Once I have all the sections cut to size, and in place to ensure a good fit, I'll take them out (and mark each one so it goes back in the same place). Then laminate the 6 ml plastic to the tops of the OSB, and paint the bottoms with the white reflective roof coating. Then I'll create the sides of the hydro system using 2x4's that are laminated with the 6 mil plastic as well.

I also ordered seeds a couple days ago,
Sweet Basil (common) Seeds - Ocimum basillicum (one pound)
Dark Opal Basil Seeds (one ounce)
Lemon Basil Seeds - Ocimum basillicum citriodorum (one ounce)
Dill, "Bouquet" Seeds - Anethum graveolens (one ounce)
Chives Seeds (common) (one ounce)
Catnip Seeds (one ounce, plan to market it to the pet supply stores)

I also ordered some lemongrass seeds from another company. I wanted to order some tarragon, and oregano but they are much more expensive and will get them later when I have money coming in. I forgot to order sage, and probably will later this week. I added a drawing of the completed hydroponic system for anyone not familiar with how it's supposed to look when completed.

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