What can you tell me (and show me) about the Boomer Bloomer™?
Besides the fact that the cost of produce is going up, and probably will continue to do so as a result of gas prices, the economy, and climate change, the Boomer Bloomer is meant to serve the needs of aging baby boomers with bad backs or bad knees, and for persons confined to a wheelchair; people who simply can’t (or don’t want to) get down on their hands and knees to enjoy gardening. It’s far easier to garden while seated or standing up.
The Boomer Bloomer™ is a seasonally heated, insulated, height adjustable garden with a bilaterally vented, removable greenhouse canopy. Each of its nine layers serves a distinct purpose for insulation, rapid drainage, protection from sharp tools, heating and water control, nutrient supply, and so forth. The 4 foot by 8 foot growing space can be sectioned off into 32 square foot measures to maximize the most efficient use of space based on root spread, yield, and coverage by foliage to limit need for weeding. The stand upon which the Boomer Bloomer sits can be suited to the proper user-friendly height desired by the gardener.
The canopy is hinged on both sides. The “loose pin” hinges allow the canopy to be raised from either side so as to minimize the distance one has to reach. Simply pulling the pins on one side makes it hinge on the other side. The hinge pins are attached by wires so they can’t be lost. From either side, the maximum reach is only 24 inches. Generally speaking, the average comfortable sideways reach for an adult seated in a wheelchair is 26 inches, plenty of room to reach the centermost part of the garden from either side.
A continuous full-perimeter strip of EPDM foam insulation around the base of the canopy guarantees a complete seal. This ensures that heat stays inside and the only air that gets in is what you allow in or out through the adjustable, bilaterally positioned vents.
The canopy material (for outdoor use) is a UV inhibited, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) laminate sandwiched over polyester scrim. The material is designed for greenhouses to disperse light, which make plants grow bushy. Hail simply bounces off. Snow simply slides off. Frost is of no concern. The cover material carries several patents and can be expected to last 5-8 years depending upon the geographical location.
The bilateral, high-point position of the “Arrowhead vents™” in the canopy allow for adjustable flow-through ventilation as a means to control temperature. The vents have screens sewn in to limit access by insects or other critters that might wish to enter. By pulling the Velcro tab at the top and securing it to the strip below allows for more or less ventilation as needed. The Velcro tabs at the top are looped large to allow persons with arthritis to operate the vents easily.
The slope and design of the exterior-use Boomer Bloomer canopy are very important. The slope allows for maximum light penetration as it is designed to lay perpendicular to the angle of sunlight at the 45th parallel in March. This takes in a wide range of latitudes on either side of the 45th parallel where a Boomer Bloomer would be most effective.
Note: The very first Boomer Bloomer prototype (shown in the photo above) is still in use right now, five years later. The results have been exactly the same every year. Improvements since this was made are many.
The canopy frame is designed for the least amount of structural shading and weight for a double wall canopy. After the last frost day the canopy can be removed entirely if so desired, or re-secured quickly and easily with the loose pin hinges to protect from hail if predicted.
The reason for the double wall canopy on external use Boomer Bloomers is to provide a dead air space so that the leaf tips will have less risk of freezing when touching the sides or front of the cover in below freezing temperatures, and hold in the heat longer.
Soil heating cables maintain the temperature of the soil automatically by means of a sensor and thermostat controller. The controller can control up to four Boomer Bloomers without meeting capacity limits. The soil heating cables operate by electricity and use 5 watts per lineal foot at maximum draw. The cost to operate, at Marquette, MI city rates, is about 2.6 cents per hour. The soil heating cables are used less and less as days get warmer in the spring until such time that they can be unplugged until fall when frost again becomes a factor. Boomer Bloomers have consistently proved to grow on average for 9-1/2 months in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (the 49th parallel) using nothing more than natural light. It’s likely that the Boomer Bloomers would be even more cost effective at the 40th parallel. The point of feasibility to start or end gardening for the season is determined by the user based on location and cost. Indoor gardeners may need the heat for germinating purposes only.
The growing medium is a mixture of high grade commercial top soil, potting soil mix, perlite, and compost. The total weight of all the soil, sand, gravel, and water combined is 1406 lbs.
Since watering from the top can cause soil compaction, watering is accomplished simply by pouring water into the side mounted trough. The water gets dispensed evenly in a layer under the soil to be absorbed up through the soil by capillary action. This action is similar to putting a sponge into a shallow dish of water. This method keeps the growing medium light, loose, and airy, yet moist. Light, loose, and airy makes it far easier for roots to deeply penetrate the spaces between the soil particles.
To make a Boomer Bloomer long lasting, the shell is lined and sealed to prevent moisture from coming in contact with any of the wood framing members. All of the wood grain is sealed with a high quality, water based primer and antifungal top coat of paint before constructing. No chemically treated lumber is used in the Boomer Bloomer.
The digital thermometer recommended registers the time of day, outside and inside temperatures, as well as the highest and lowest temperature range both inside the canopy and outside (commonly available, (<$10). The temperature values can be cleared periodically. Tracking such temperatures is useful to determine proper ventilation in a given zone. Use a long moisture meter probe to measure soil wetness at any level (<$6). Any meat thermometer can be used to measure the heat of the soil at the depth of the sensor and can be adjusted for heat with the thermostat controller.
The “Square Foot Gardening” method proposed by author, Mel Bartholomew, is recommended for the Boomer Bloomer because the closer proximity of plants allows for less light between plants. This method allows for maximum use of space and stifles weeds by intent.
A “Boomer Bloomer User Instruction Manual” guides the gardener as to proper care and maintenance as well as suggestions as to what to plant where.
The primary reason for designing the Boomer Bloomer™, the Yoopertopia GreenhouseTM, and the Yoopertopia Growing SystemTM, is to create self-employment as a means to support local economies by the manufacturing and selling of products that can make money by the sale and/or use of the product. People anywhere can be trained to make whatever component part of the Yoopertopia Growing System TM that they feel they have the capability to do in their own homes. Properly connected within a community, I believe that anyone can enjoy the profit from manufacturing and selling value perpetuating products locally.
Targeted for testing are residents of a nursing home or assisted living community. The cost of a 32 square foot Boomer Bloomer Garden Greenhouse is $1800.
Here is a Boomer Bloomer in action on the popular Upper Peninsula of Michigan television Show Discovering.
Simply click here on Yoopertopia Greenhouse to see the Boomer Bloomer in action at times of year not normal for growing a garden in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.