Preparing for winter.

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Preparing for winter.

Post  john jones on Wed Sep 10, 2014 10:09 pm

Last year was devastating to a lot of us. I lost 13 trees. There was no way I was prepared for 3 months of constant sub-freezing temps (below 5 degrees F) and frequent winds above 50 MPH.

On April 1, 2014, the temperature dropped 50 degrees F in less than 12 hours, and we had 60 mph winds all night. That's supposed to be the spring season in Iowa.

So I have been rebuilding my tree collection. I've gotten smaller trees for the most part. I've gotten different species. I have also built 3 miniature greenhouses with thermostats that turn-on at 35F and turn off at 37F. I've got radio-connected thermometers and hygrometers so I can watch things better.

I've also been working on a database program that will help me keep better track of the trees I have adopted.

That's what I've been doing. Any suggestions?




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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  JimLewis on Wed Sep 10, 2014 10:42 pm

Take a look at this:  http://www.rgbonsai.com/wintering.htm

I put that in the FAQ for one of the earlier versions of the IBC. For folks near you, Carl Rosner added the following:

Winter Care
by Carl Rosner
Zone 6/7 is a kind of an unusual problem for Bonsai growers; at least for me, since it really doesn't get too cold for most of the winter, but we sometimes receive an Arctic blast which tumbles the temperatures into the single digit numbers and it can last for several days and even a week or longer. Other times, we may experience 30 to 40 degree weather for weeks.
I do not have a yard; therefore, my protection is an unheated garage, which has never seen my automobile. On the concrete floor, I position cinder blocks to form a "U" with the bottom of the "U" as the garage door. It is a double block system so that I can place my trees on top of a layer of mulch held in place by the blocks. I can walk down the open end of the "U" shape to check the water needs of each tree.
I cover the soil and roughly build enough mulch to come up to the lowest branch. I use the Persiano pick and check the trees about once a week. Over the course of the winter, I may water three or four times. If the weather is extremely warm, I will open the garage door to give a little fresh air to the interior of the garage.
I do have a double fluorescent light, which I keep on for 18 hours; there are windows in the garage door for additional light. It is my opinion that the trees probably do not need the light, but if they were outdoors they would be receiving some light, so I lean on the side of caution, and give them light!
My tropical and sub tropical trees are brought in doors when the prediction for over night temperatures go below 60 degrees. If possible I carry them back outdoors, but in some case once I move them inside they stay indoors. The reason is simple, they are too heavy to lug back and forth.
My Green House (my nick named it my Tree House) is approximately 8 feet wide by 15 feet long. This was a wooden deck that was enclosed, with one sliding door and sliding windows on the other sides. The short side faces South and North and the long side faces due west. The East side butts up against our house and there is a door leading from our living room directly into the tree house. It is quite convenient to make trips to our kitchen for lukewarm water during the winter.
There are four 8 foot fluorescents hanging on chains running north and south and an additional four 4 foot fluorescents running east and west. All lights are on a timer and receive 18 hours of light. They cover a double five feet wide by five step display area. Think of walking up a set of five bleacher steps and when you reach the top you start down the other side.
The wooden deck is covered with indoor carpeting and insulated along the edges. I have two heaters plus a humidifier. One heater blows the hot air across the humidifier and normally keeps the tree house about 20 degrees above the outside temperature.
Obviously, I check the predictions daily and when the arctic blasts are predicted, I use my extra heater. There you have my set-ups for what its worth.
During the summer months, due to lack of room on my front deck, I am forced to keep some trees indoors. Others, I move out during the day and bring them in at night. This is due to the loss of five trees, which were stolen. I am on a corner property open to the public. After the theft, I had installed motion detector lights. Thievery stopped.

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  john jones on Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:56 pm

Thanks, Jim.


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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  Norma on Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:27 am

Hi John, Here in zone 4- St.Paul, MN ...I kept my bonsai at around 40 degrees and lost only one tree (which had been declining). My problem was with the late COLD spring and trees that were budding at their usual time but there was still knee-high snow with dipping temps at night!
I lost two more tree because of this!
Good luck this winter and let us know how your set-up works!

Norma

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  john jones on Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:23 pm

Norma wrote:Hi John,    Here in zone 4- St.Paul, MN ...I kept my bonsai at around 40 degrees and lost only one tree (which had been declining).  My problem was with the late COLD spring and trees that were budding at their usual time but there was still knee-high snow with dipping temps at night!
I lost two more tree because of this!
Good luck this winter and  let us know how your set-up works!

Norma

Hi Norma,

A 35-37 degree F thermostat was the closest I could find to 40 degrees F, that didn't also go down to 20 degrees F. I will let you know how it works out.

John

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  Colin Lewis on Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:11 am

I think you guys are keeping your trees too warm now, especially if they bud out so early.  The ideal temperature for arboreal species is between 32 and 34 degrees F. Provided they are below 36 degrees, they need no light whatsoever, so they can be stored in total darkness. This has been the practice for decades with the collection at the Arnold Arboretum.

For several years I used a simple box constructed with those 2" thick styrofoam insulation sheets, 8' x 2'. Inside was a thermostat (Farmtek) set to kick on at 31 and off at 33 (four degrees was the minimum spread). This switched on a 110 volt computer fan (Radio Shack) which blew across a 20 watt incandescent bulb inside an old coffee can with rectangles cut out to allow air flow.  In Maine!  Never lost a thing and once set up, very economic to run.

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  JudyB on Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:38 am

I use this thermostat, very accurate, and nice temp range.  I use mine to run heat mats under the pots, (in my cold greenhouse) just gives the roots a bit of protection in the coldest weather. Has a soil probe...

thermostat 30- 110F - shure-stat
http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/controls.shtml

I use this one for controlling air temps, it has dual sides, so one side runs a small heater (I have an oscillating fan that comes on with it, mounted in front of the heater)  The other side kicks on when it gets above my set temp of 35 to run an auto venting system, to pull in the cold outside air.  

http://www.amazon.com/Green-Air-CT-HT-2-Independent-Thermostat/dp/B004JKFRG4#

You will probably have more trouble keeping things cold enough if you get warm spells. Don't want the trees to wake up early!

My goal is to only keep the temp right around freezing. The addition of the heat mats for me allows me to keep the air colder and still protect the trees from harm during sub-0 stretches.

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  kevin stoeveken on Tue Sep 16, 2014 6:35 pm

judy - what part (or zone) are you in oHIo ?

i have 2 8' heating mats sitting in my cart on ebay waiting for a reply to the seller on a question, before i pull the trigger on them... i was also looking at some thermostats to connect them to... does the shure-stat allow you to set it for on-off between only a few degrees (i.e. 32-35) ?

and colin - can you clarify what you meant by below 36 not needing any light... does that include conifers ?
(although i had a vague idea what "arboreal species" means, i googled it and it was no further help as it just means "of or pertaining to trees)

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  john jones on Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:58 pm

Thanks for the advice.

Are you the same Colin Lewis whose book adorns my book case?

If I can find a thermostat that goes on at 31 and off at 33, I will get a couple. The closest I can find is on at 35 and off at 37. One side of the greenhouses rolls up, and I can always choose to turn off the under-pot heating pads. One thing is sure: If I have another winter like last winter, I've got to have some way to keep them from getting too cold and to protect them from the 60 mph winds.

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  Colin Lewis on Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:29 pm

I guess that must be me.

This is the deluxe model:
http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/ProductDisplay?catalogId=15052&storeId=10001&langId=-1&division=FarmTek&productId=60398

And this is the economy model:
http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/ProductDisplay?catalogId=15052&storeId=10001&langId=-1&division=FarmTek&productId=60389

As with most things, you get what you pay for.

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  JudyB on Wed Sep 17, 2014 1:51 am

I'm just south east of Columbus zone 5b. But it's very rural here, with rolling hills, and we get some big winds.

Here is a link to the heat mats I use, they are really good. Also a link to the type of humidifiers I use. I put them on timers to come on for short periods of time to keep the air from getting super dry.

humidifier - crane cool mist
http://www.amazon.com/Crane-Gallon-C...3140482&sr=8-1

small heat mat (super durable, but expensive, that's why I didn't get this for my larger ones..)
http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/p...t-mats-seeding

large heat mats - redi-heat
http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/su...ation;pg106148


The shure-stat has a temp you can set that it comes on at. Once it gets above that temp it automatically shuts off. So basically I set it for 34 and it takes care of itself. Don't know why you need a range of a couple degrees?

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  coh on Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:35 am

I have several over-wintering areas, including a roughly 8x8' framed shelter that is inside my barn. I draped the thing with 2 layers of plastic sheeting, and use one of the Ranco theromostats (this one, I think: http://www.amazon.com/RANCO-ETC-111000-Digital-Temperature-Control/dp/B0015NV5BE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410985427&sr=8-1&keywords=ranco+digital+thermostat) to control a small electric heater. I set it to come on at about 27 or 28 F and turn off at about 30-31. This approach is modeled after the wintering method used by Bill Valavanis...except he has a whole garage devoted to his trees and he uses kerosene heaters (I think, not 100% sure about that). I did not lose any trees to the cold during this past winter, but several club members had severe losses, especially with black pines.

I have another smaller framed shelter inside my garage (attached but uninsulated). I use a heat mat to keep that area in the mid 20s. Other trees are simply stored in the garage (ponderosa pine, spruce, larch) and can get down to around 20 F. So far so good. But we don't get anywhere near the severe cold that places like Minnesota get...

Finally...I have remote reading thermometers in each area, so that I can monitor the temperatures from the house. In case a thermostat or heater fails...


Last edited by coh on Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:24 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:31 pm

thats alot of good info for us in the fr-fr-frozen north...

it looks like i will get these heat mats as they look pretty economical for what i need
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Heat-Sprout-Seedling-Heat-Mat-Sprouting-Propagation-Germination-4-Sizes-/231013932987?ssPageName=ADME:X:eRTM:US:1123

i can get 11" x 8' mat for 53 bucks a piece...

i will then look into thermostat options (want one w/ plug rather than hard-wired)

judy - the reason i was looking for one with a range is that ever since diving head first into this endeavor a couplafew years ago, i have made some foolish purchases (and done some foolish things), so i wanted to make sure i get the right thing this time around Wink

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  john jones on Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:14 pm

JudyB wrote:I'm just south east of Columbus zone 5b.  But it's very rural here, with rolling hills, and we get some big winds.  

Here is a link to the heat mats I use, they are really good.  Also a link to the type of humidifiers I use.  I put them on timers to come on for short periods of time to keep the air from getting super dry.

humidifier - crane cool mist
http://www.amazon.com/Crane-Gallon-C...3140482&sr=8-1

small heat mat (super durable, but expensive, that's why I didn't get this for my larger ones..)
http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/p...t-mats-seeding

large heat mats - redi-heat
http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/su...ation;pg106148

[...]

None of those links work for me. :^(

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  kevin stoeveken on Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:21 pm

if its heat mats you need, check out the ebay link i posted...

theres also some more economical thermostat options out there...
waiting on replies from sellers on a couple of 'em...

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  JudyB on Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:56 pm

john jones wrote:

None of those links work for me.  :^(

Hey sorry about that, I just pasted in old links I've been using for awhile now, guess they're too old.  Here is a good one for the large heat mats.

http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/supplies/ProductDisplay?catalogId=14052&storeId=10001&langId=-1&division=GrowersSupply&productId=600926

and the small one

http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/product/commercial-propagating-mat/s

and the humidifiers

http://www.amazon.com/Crane-Ultrasonic-Humidifier-Gallon-output/dp/B0046A6WJI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411077258&sr=8-1&keywords=crane+humidifier

Important to get a good thermostat!  and if you do heat mats, don't buy cheapo ones that won't be durable, as you'll be dragging heavy pots around on them.
I also have remote thermometers to monitor what is going on out there.

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  john jones on Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:54 pm

Thank you!

Best regards.

John Jones

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  john jones on Sat Sep 20, 2014 10:23 pm

JudyB wrote:
john jones wrote:

None of those links work for me.  :^(

Hey sorry about that, I just pasted in old links I've been using for awhile now, guess they're too old.  Here is a good one for the large heat mats.

http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/supplies/ProductDisplay?catalogId=14052&storeId=10001&langId=-1&division=GrowersSupply&productId=600926

and the small one

http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/product/commercial-propagating-mat/s

and the humidifiers

http://www.amazon.com/Crane-Ultrasonic-Humidifier-Gallon-output/dp/B0046A6WJI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411077258&sr=8-1&keywords=crane+humidifier

Important to get a good thermostat!  and if you do heat mats, don't buy cheapo ones that won't be durable, as you'll be dragging heavy pots around on them.
I also have remote thermometers to monitor what is going on out there.

I've got the toughest heating pads I can find. I covered them with something called Lab Mat which will help keep the shelves clean.

The layout is like this: One wire shelf (one-inch square) in the mini-greenhouse with a layer of Lab Mat. Place the heating mat on top of that, and add another wire shelf, and another layer of Lab Mat.

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  JudyB on Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:26 pm

Can you post a link to your lab mat? I can't seem to find anything but thick foam type of things when I google it. Just curious, when you layer all that on top of the heat mat, do you find that you get good heat transference to the pot? I find the more contact the pot has with the mat, the better it does.

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  kevin stoeveken on Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:41 pm

judy - sounds like the heat mat sits on top of the lab mat, but i was gonna ask the same question about a link...

and i was also concerned about the transfer of warmth between the mat and the pot of there is a drip tray under the pot, but i guess if the thermostatic sensor works off air temp i should be ok... yes ?

i rcvd my mats today and they seem thin... but i did clearly state what they were to be used for and they have a 1 year guarantee from a reputable seller, so at least i will have an entire winter to see...

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  JudyB on Sun Sep 21, 2014 4:21 pm

Actually a drip tray will spread the heat just fine, it transfers heat well. What I am wondering is how John's heat gets to the pot, sounds like he's got wire shelf, heat mat, lab mat, wire shelf, lab mat then pot on top?

With my thermostat, there is a soil probe. That is how you can keep your roots at a certain temp different from your air temp. If you are not getting good transference to the roots, your mat will be working harder (and costing you more to run.).

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  john jones on Sun Sep 21, 2014 5:39 pm

JudyB wrote:Can you post a link to your lab mat?  I can't seem to find anything but thick foam type of things when I google it.  Just curious, when you layer all that on top of the heat mat, do you find that you get good heat transference to the pot?  I find the more contact the pot has with the mat, the better it does.

I guess that was unfair of me.  Lab-Mat is something I buy from Fisher Scientific.  I'm not sure it's available to the public.   I'm looking for a link.

It's basically thin corrugated plastic on one side, and paper on the other.  It's moisture resistant, thin and absorbent.  It's also easily cut to size.

Edit: Disposable  Labmat is an absorbent liner like a paper towel with plastic on one side.   It's available from Scienceware (R) Bel-Art Products in Pequannock, NJ 07440. Catalog  number 24675-0000.

I don't have a web site.  Sorry.

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Sep 22, 2014 6:36 pm

yes, that was unfair of you  Wink

2 second search:

http://www.belart.com/shop/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=24675-0000&x=21&y=8

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  john jones on Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:50 pm

That's the stuff. Your Google-fu is strong.

Anyway, LabMat is disposable, and helps protect the heating pads from the wire shelf below, and from the heavy pots above.

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Re: Preparing for winter.

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:05 pm

john jones wrote:That's the stuff.  Your Google-fu is strong.

Anyway,  LabMat is disposable, and helps protect the heating pads from the wire shelf below, and from the heavy pots above.    

huh... i never even considered the possibility of creating "pinch points" on the heat mat between the wire of the shelf and the weight of the pot, possibly severing the heat strip over the course of time...

hopefully wide flat drip pans will alleviate or spread out some of that pressure... maybe a heavy piece of canvas or cordura between the wire shelf and the heat mat would help...

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Re: Preparing for winter.

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