Underground grow room realistic?

ipomeatricolor420(S.Iraq)May 26, 2005

Hi, I'm in Iraq and some guy I was posted in a tower with told me this story about a friend of his having an old train car basically buried in his back yard with the whole inner surface lined with mirrors and a few stepping stones to walk on and a one foot by one foot window in the top to supply all the light necessary. Also, he said that since it was underground, the temperature was comfortable in the summer and frost safe in the winter.Does anyone have any experience with this? Is he full of it?, I mean would the window really supply enough light with the mirrors and wouldn't you need some ventilation to let in carbon dioxide and avoid mold problems. This garden was supposedly designed originally to be his nuclear self sufficient bunker thing or something and once he saw how well his illicit species did and he didn't get nuked, he turned over completely to that. I'd like to have a year round vegetable garden without all the headaches of a greenhouse but this sounds like a fairytale to me. What do ya'll think?

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jimster(z7a MA)

Fairytale. A foot square window will not provide enough light for a large grow room. No amount of mirrors will increase the light after it enters.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 2:31PM
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jkirk3279(Z5 SW MI)

It's called a pit greenhouse.

And NO, a single square foot window would NOT work.

Although the Japanese have systems in place that concentrate daylight, run it through fiber optic cable, and then direct it three stories down for natural lighting. THAT would work. Expensive though.

Cover the whole top with greenhouse poly or film and yes, you've got a beautiful greenhouse.

Mirrors wouldn't really be necessary. Glossy white paint on the walls would help bounce the light around.

Although, if you've got free glass lying around, why not?

And you're right about ventilation.

Pit greenhouses, the regular non-railroad car type, often use clever tricks.

Like having a buried walkway three feet deeper than the plants. The cold air in Winter falls down into the walkway away from the plants.

And being buried, the earth acts as an insulator and heat source. It's warmer six feet down than snow and ice, after all.

But no matter what type of greenhouse you use, it needs good air exchange. The rule is four times an hour.

Exchange the air every fifteen minutes or the CO2 levels drop and the plants starve.

Now, if you had some real cash, you could build an underground bunker with artificial lighting, CO2 enrichment, drip watering, the works.

But think for a minute. You'd need to make friends with a cop. Take him down to the greenhouse. Show him your lettuce, your tomatoes. Tell him to drop by anytime. Take him tomatoes.

So when some jackass DA that's running for re-election decides you MUST be growing MJ or making Meth decides to bust down the door, you'll have at least one character witness.

A neighbor of mine was minding his own business, literally, when this Winter cops burst through the door looking for a chop-shop.

He does custom paint jobs. His mother ran for public office last year and shook up the local crooks-in-office.

So, he gets raided. And he's honest. No chop-shop. No stolen cars. Lots of paint, of course.

But the cops claim they found a silencer ! Hmmm. Did they ?

(Last year, a local place called Rainbow Farm was raided on drug charges. Guy held out, got shot down like a dog.

No bean-bag guns. No teargas. Bullets.)

He's in jail. Three to four years.

His business sits there empty.

And you want to know the kicker? It wasn't in the news. I actually only found out a month or two later !

No news coverage ? The fastest trial in the history of America ?

The facts are that the man's in jail.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 4:57PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

I'm sencing some pent up anger. I dont think the SW MI DA is going to be much of a bother to someone in iraq.

Yes mirrors will help but no 1 foot window wont be enough (also walking on mirrors in socks would be better than steping stones, easier to deal with), maybe he meant he had a one foot window with a fan in it and some massive HPS and MH's going, I'll also lay odds that he was growing something in it that payed for the lighting bills (although the high bills would draw police attention) Sounds like a fun project, goodluck.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 11:15PM
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bobcat(z5 OH)

If you had electricity, maybe you could use those flourex bulbs. Supposedly (key word here) they can grow coral in fish tanks like halides. But with the wattage of flourescents. That's the claim they make on Ebay anyhow. CO2 tank on low could help with the gas- but then you'd have to be darn careful with that. Maybe a big tank that's full of fish and heavily aerated. Hmm, that could make your ferts too. Thanks for your service, by the way! Be safe.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 11:46PM
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lynne_melb(z9b Melb FL)

Hi, I don't know anything in particular about this, but it doesn't sound like it would work.

Your message caught my eye because the Chicago Tribune had an article about Biosphere 2 today - something where all of the experts tried something on an elaborate scale. If you want to read the entire article, you can register for free at the chicago tribune site - www.chicagotribune.com.

I've never been bothered by advertising from them.

Please take care and thanks for helping to defend us. My nephew will be over there soon.

From Chicago Tribune July 5, 2005 ORACLE, Ariz. -- As for-sale listings go, this one is a real fixer-upper--a 10-bedroom, 5 1/2-bath glass house situated in Arizona's Sonoran Desert.

The landscaping is lush, but it's a bit overgrown. (Truth be told, it's a real jungle.) There's a million-gallon pool, but the water is more than slightly brackish. The utility bills are a bear--about $1 million a year. And the place is infested with five species of cockroaches and overrun with voracious ants.

But if you're looking for a one-of-a-kind property set amid nearly 1,300 acres of cactus and tumbleweeds with spectacular mountain views, then the 137,000-square-foot Biosphere 2 just might be for you.

This outsize glass terrarium, you may recall, was the place where eight scientists locked themselves inside in 1991 and lived for two years in hermetically sealed isolation, seeking to discover whether humans could replicate the ecology of Biosphere 1--Earth--inside a bubble, grow all their own food and survive without any help from the outside world.

Built to last for 100 years, Biosphere 2 was billed at the time as a bold scientific experiment and a test bed for the kind of self-sufficient human space colony that would be needed on a mission to Mars.

But when the oxygen ran low and food grew scarce, it turned out the seal wasn't so hermetic after all: extra air was secretly pumped in from outside, and the scientists started eating seeds they had stored for an emergency.

Then the "Biospherians" themselves fell to feuding, splitting into two rival tribes whose members, to this day, do not speak to each other.

What started out as high science ended up more like an episode of "Survivor," only without the million-dollar prize. The project was derided in the media as a stunt and the science dismissed as junk.

The last researchers to use the facility, from New York's Columbia University, pulled out two years ago, leaving the vast complex empty except for millions of insects, a few hundred fish and the handful of tourists who make the 40-minute drive up from Tucson each day to pay $19.95 to wander through the humid interior."

Edward Bass, the Ft. Worth oil billionaire who built Biosphere 2 at a cost of $150 million, has put the place up for sale. No asking price has been revealed, but the real estate agents who are marketing the facility tout its potential as a "spa and wellness center," a "corporate campus" or a "high-security compound."

Ocean, rain forest

With its artificial ocean (including wave machine), simulated rain forest and soaring glass-covered atriums, Biosphere 2 resembles a cross between the Shedd Aquarium's Oceanarium exhibit, a Hyatt hotel lobby and a very large Rainforest Cafe.

There's a high-tech kitchen, a vast greenhouse, 10 private mini-apartments, and elaborate systems for recycling Biosphere 2's water and air. Viewed from a distance, the structure's interconnected white geodesic domes look like a spaceship Buckminster Fuller might have built.

And that's just the Biosphere 2 structure itself. Surrounding it are more than 70 other buildings, including several dozen dormitory rooms, a hotel and conference center, and many service and storage buildings.

However you describe the property, don't call it a white elephant, Biosphere 2's boosters insist.

"It's an exceptional opportunity," said Jerry Hawkins, one of the commercial real estate agents at CB Richard Ellis in Tucson who snagged what he readily concedes is an unusual listing. "It's taken me 50 visits just to understand it. The first time through, I was totally confused, like, `What is this?' Now I see the possibilities."

The biggest possibility might well be the land on which the unusual buildings sit: Metropolitan Tucson is rapidly spreading northeast, lapping at Biosphere 2's glass doors.

A sprawling new retirement community now neighbors the facility to the south, and developers would love to snag the Biosphere 2 property for residential use.

"There's no question there's value in the land," said Paul Lindsey, a commercial real estate broker with Coldwell Banker in Tucson who is not affiliated with the Biosphere 2 listing. "The thing that makes it problematic is all the other structures."

But Hawkins said Bass--whose representatives declined requests for interviews--does not want to see his beloved science project turned into the world's biggest tear-down. Some kind of continued research use, even if it's combined with a spa or golf club, is the desired outcome, Hawkins said.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 11:19PM
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