d.3 stands for D’Artagnon’s third system . . . in case people went looking for an “official” set of d.3 plans on the site.
Anyhoo . . .
Looking through the site and through the plans I felt I wanted another option for my containers other than plastic and another growth medium other than those provided. So, taking the basic theory I struck out with my shoelaces untied and the wind in my face.
First the bottles; I used 12 oz soda bottles for a mini herb garden. I found a cool method of slicing the bottoms of the bottles off that was clean and painless. I will post the extended directions in another post. So, bottoms off, edges smoothed then I added my medium.
Rockwool doesn’t breakdown and they are a onetime use product. Once the roots have taken over, then what? Where does that go? The pebbles and expanded clay can be reused often, but that seems a lot of maintenance and they come with plastic baskets. A while ago I saw a news segment about a man who went in to the doctor because he thought he might have lung cancer and through some tests found he had inhaled a pea, which started to sprout in his lung.
Creepy, but it gave me a great idea; luffah as a growth medium.
The early version of my system proved that the luffah stayed moist and allowed oxygen to flow through the root system. Best of all, it breaks down slowly. Not too fast so it supports the root system but it can be thrown into my compost and returned in an earth friendly way. Also, luffah easier to manage if soaked briefly in water.
The reservoir bottle is a salvaged wine bottle sealed with aquarium grade silicon in the neck. I inserted the pump needle directly into the silicon air tube and that tube sits next to a purge valve for easy drainage. I found a simpler check valve at PetSmart and inserted it further down the line for easier access.
The bottles are strung together using a bracelet knot. Well, really it’s a bunch of square knots tied over the bottles. Tension keeps things stable.
In the earlier version of the system having the airlift tube on the outside proved messy, so I had the tube running up inside the bottles. After having to do some maintenance and fret over root invasion I returned it to the outside. The white tube is 1/4 inch (outside dimension) pex tube and the smaller is a 1/4 inch (outside dimension) ac tube.
A side note on the airlift system: If the water level is too low in your reservoir then the air won’t lift enough water. I kept the level about 1.5 inches from the top edge and I chose a long bottle for this specific purpose. Right now it’s a single column system so I only need a single pump.
Next is to transplant my sprouts and actually get food for the system. That’s going to be an exciting learning curve. Eventually I want to see if I can get a piece of bamboo for my airlift tube and be free from the plastic. Here’s hoping.
Let me know what you think and feel free to ask questions. Happy tinkering!