My Manhattan Windowfarm – Update

2:41 pm in Completed Window Farms, Getting Started, Materials and Resources, Nutrients, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, Seeking Advice by Dave

I’m not to sure what the protocol or etiquette is for posting an update is so here’s to hoping I’m not making any huge mistakes…

My Original post can be found here:

http://our.windowfarms.org/2011/01/07/my-manhattan-windowfarm/

I’ve changed a few things to my little Hatch Green Chile Windowfarm and thought I’d share some results.

December 18, 2010 

The Farm is just humming along.  I’ve made a few changes to the lighting system – first installation had the lamps against the window, shining into the room.  Too bright all the time…Second installation had them mounted vertically near the lip of the plant opening, connected to the Split Ring Pipe Hangar.  The bottom plants were crowding the light and they shone directly into our eyes in bed.  Too bright at 6am…Finally, I’ve mounted the lamps on the opposite side of the shower rod.  They shine quite a bit on the bottles now, but I think the plants get more light this way total – Sun from one side, CFL from the other.  I no longer have to worry about anything splashing on the lamps…and I’ve FINALLY had a warm day to spray paint everything.  Much classier now.

We have 7 chiles growing right now!  The largest one is about 1 1/2″ long.

February 17, 2011 

The top plant was getting crowded by the window frame.  The whole structure was just too tall.  To remedy this height problem, I replaced the 1.5L water reservoir with a 1L water bottle.  The result is a slightly smaller reservoir but I’ve gained 3″ for the top plant.  He’s now kneeling to catch some sunlight, but has a lot more new growth.  I’m glad it’s all painted now, but I sort of miss the color of the cans…Maybe we’ll create some fabric cozies like user @kydc http://our.windowfarms.org/2011/02/02/super-pretty-root-covers-dakar/

I was having some pH balancing issues just as the chiles started blooming.  A day after a new batch of nutrient had been changed out, the plants were showing signs of nutrient burn and the pH was around 7 or 8.  I solved the problem by using the hydroponic pH Control Kit rather than baking soda and vinegar.  MUCH more consistent and reliable.  I highly recommend the $17 investment.

Finally, I’ve been using Botanicare Pure Blend Organic nutrient since I planted the seeds.  As soon as flowers started growing, I added Botanicare CNS17 Bloom formula to the mix.  I might be crazy, but I’m pretty sure there’s significant growth literally overnight.  I’m pretty giddy about all of this.  We wake up each morning and see how the kids are doing…New flowers are popping up almost every day.  In order to polinate the flowers, I gently swab the inside of a flower on one plant with a small paintbrush then immediately repeat on a flower of another plant.

The next step is to figure out how to transport our kids.  I’m going back to Santa Fe, NM for the summer.  The Chiles will be going Home…

Does anyone have any great suggestions for driving them 2200 miles?  I’m thinking about putting the original screw caps back on and placing each bottle in a partitioned cardboard box.  I can water/mist occasionally as I travel.  A few days on the road shouldn’t be too hard on them, right?  It will be difficult to negotiate space with all my stuff and the dog…
I’ve also started a GrowBottle.  I took a brown wine bottle from recycling and scored a line around the perimeter about halfway down.  Alternate hot and cold water along the cut and it breaks perfectly.  Invert the neck, stuff in a wool wick, add hydroton and seeds – and I’m growing some Chives!  I can post some pics if you’d like, but it’s not much to see yet…

I think I’ll evaluate things in Santa Fe, but I’ve been thinking a lot about an Arduino/microcontroller setup.  I think it’d be fun, if nothing else, to monitor the system.  Know when the pump is on, know when the lights are on, and log the pH, TDS of the solution.  Sensors can send all of this info to a Pachube feed VERY easily.