In an attempt to bring a little bit of sanity to my concrete world, I’ve built a small Windowfarm in my Manhattan apartment. For the last 11 years I’ve been working summers in Santa Fe, NM, where I’ve discovered the wonders of Green Chile. Why not try to grow Green Chiles in NYC?!
After pouring over the online forums and DIY instructions, I decided that I wanted a sturdier, more convertible and potentially mobile structure. Instead of using bead chain, I decided to use a 72″ adjustable shower rod (Home Depot SKU #576840) as an upright structure. Then I used (5) Electrical Ground Clamps (Home Depot SKU #621708) to clamp onto the Shower Rod. A 1/4″ 20 bolt then connected the clamp to a 3″ Split Ring Pipe Hangar. (Home Depot SKU #375141) This Coupler holds each bottle in place. Just for fun, I added some insulation Foam Tape to the insides of each coupler to ensure a snug fit and ensure I don’t scratch off the paint.
The final product is stout and can be adjusted to fit a variety of windows without drilling any holes or adding any mounting hardware. I really like that I can pull the bottom bottle without disturbing anything else in the system. It’s all very sturdy.
All plumbing was purchased at Canal Plastics and Canal Rubber here in NYC. I brought a baby hacksaw blade with me to cut the 6′ plastic tube in half after I bought it. There’s no way I was going to be ‘that guy’ with a 6′ tube on the subway…I might have been ‘that guy’ smuggling a “weapon” onto a train though…
I’m using a simple Botanicare Pure Blend Compost Solution and Ph balancing with a bit of baking soda. I started with seeds from Santa Fe and simply placed one in a grow cube, placed it inside a styrofoam egg carton and watered with nutrient solution. As soon as the sprouts had 3-4 leaves, the grow cubes were transferred to the net pots with Hydroton in the Windowfarm. The feed tube is simply zip tied to the Pipe Hangars. I made a 90º elbow at the top by heating some of the tube with a lighter and bending it around a bottle. This delivers the drip directly onto the Grow Cube and prevents splashing from the top bottle. I think it might help with noise too – no need for a silencer at all.
Each net pot has its own daylight 5500K CFL in a homemade reflector adapted from an idea by Windowfarm user @Owen
I drilled a 1″ hole on the bottom of the can, removed the mouth end of the can and split it open. Then, I cut back about 1″ on each side of the split. A few splays 1″ down from the top of the can were cut and bent down to create a hood. Metal foil tape keeps the hood tidy and sharp edges covered. I really like the result – They get warm, but not alarmingly hot. Perhaps the plants like the extra heat in the winter? The new setup has them mounted below each net pot opening, so there’s a possibility for some splashing if the drip gets eager, but I’m not too worried about any electrical shorts. When the plants get bigger, I might need to re-route some cables.
I’m irrigating for 15 minutes every 3 hours and lighting for 1 hour every other hour for 12 hours. The Windowfarm is, afterall, in our bedroom window…
(1) Curtain Rod
(5) 1″ Ground Clamp
(5) 3″ Split Ring Pipe Hangar
(4) 16.9 oz Beer Can. Any Beer will do – I actually chose Pilsner Urquell because the cans have a matte finish to them – I thought the spray paint might adhere better, and the only other option in the store was Coors Light…so the choice was clear.
(4) Medium Screw Base Phenolic Hanging Lamp Socket – I bought mine at Home Depot, but they are apparently “not carried online” ~$2.50 each
(1) Digital Timer for Air Pump – More flexibilty with a digital timer.
(1) Analog Timer for Lights.
All in all, the project was pricey because of the extra hardware – about $120 total
Stuff for the future?:
integrate with Arduino – Automate the system by incorporating moisture sensor, Ph sensor and light sensor to activate irrigation and lights.
I can’t wait to eat Green Chile again…
Here’s the post to a recent update: