Hi there, a few weeks ago I made a post talking about the window garden I was going to build and a mod I had conceptualised that I thought might be of interest to the community. Well I’m a little further on now and have a video of what I have achieved so far. Take a look and see what you make of it. Any comments gratefully received
In response to a comment to this post I and putting in a diagram I drew a week ago to explain the concept and will try to answer the other questions below
I know it isn’t all that descriptive but that’s the best I have for now. The idea is very simple, the loops must be fairly smooth curves, the bottom as low as possible, the top a mm or 2 below the level of your growing media. The other end goes through the same lids you would use in a dripper system but it obviously needs to be sealed in water tight. Incidentally, the lower this end of the tube reaches, the faster it’s bottle will drain.
Chuck asked me about the top bottle, yeah, in this system the top bottle needs to fill before the chain reaction of draining down the chain (“Drain reaction”, that’s what I’m gonna call it!) will start. A faster pump might work but I chose to stick with an airlift because I have heard that water pumps tend to fail with nutes put through them and because it’s obviously freaking awesome! 2 options:
1: Leave the top tank empty; Yes it seems like a waste of space but I have 1 more bottle in my window than if I used a drip system that required lots of air around a net cup so I have made up the vertical space in a 3″ high window and the bottles are thinner to so I should be able to put an extra column in as well. Obviously if you have a bigger window the reduced size of the bottles will mean that you will get more grow sites per column v the drip system even with the top tank empty and don’t forget, the whole reason for doing this in the 1st place is that ebb & flow should be more effective meaning you’ll also get faster and bigger yields from the plants.
2: Put plants in the top tank; The top tank will spend almost all it’s time flooded with nutrients so putting plants in it might drown the roots. There are, however, some plants that like having their feet wet, Mint is one of them and that’s what I am going to try in there. Mint is very fast growing too so should be happy enough with all the extra nutes. I also hear that marsh mallow (yes, the plant that those awesome little squidgy things were made out of before they were just sugar and gelatine) grows well in “waterlogged soil” which I guess this will be the hydro equivalent of.
Here is one very important point to consider and one that I would like your collaboration on. I have 4mm ID tubing for my siphon tubes and sometimes the water bubbles in the tubes after the drain cycle stay in there and cause an airlock that slows down the initiation of the next flood. It’s not the biggest issue but I do think that with wider diametre tubing it would be neutralized. Care to test that? At the other end of the spectrum is that if the tube were too big the water may just trickle down the other side when it reached the top of the loop rather than creating a siphon, especially when the level is being raised slowly. I have tried it manually with 3/4″ ID tubing and it worked fine with me pouring in water by hand as slowly as I could but the effect of the pump may be different. Please let me know if you have successes or problems with this and what your tube diameter is.
Last point is again from one of Chucks comments, The ends of the loops that stay in the top bottle don’t need to be in any particular place for the siphon to work but naturally the lower the better. I have considered fixing a bottle cap to the end of the tube as an anchor but I think I’m going to count on the weight of the gravel to hold it down. I have worried about something clogging the pipe. I saw a post showing roots going right down a tube. I’m gonna leave it and hope for the best but if others are concerned you could consider putting a small aquarium airstone on the end of the tube…
Off to bed now, hope this has been helpful. Thanks again and I hope to hear back from ya’ll soon.
- EDIT -
Oh, I forgot to say, my Diagram above shows a couple of other things you might not recognize. The bottom bottles are the reservoirs, the middle one is a biofilter.
the idea of the bio filter is to allow me to use water from my fish tank to feed my plants. Here’s another vid showing the filter:
So the idea is that the bacteria grow on the strands in the inner bottle and then when a column’s reservoir starts to drop in water level (because the water is being sucked up to the top of the column), a tube running from it to the outer biofilter bottle sucks newly nitrated water from the biofilter (see diagram) to replace it. the Bio filter is then topped up by the 2nd reservoir bottle which is fed by the returning water from the column. FYI, the reason for having an inner and outer bottle in the reservoir is that some water is obviously going to be drunk up by the plants, that is the point in all this after all, when that happens the reservoirs will start to loose overall water volume. the inner bottle ensures the bacteria never end up high and dry, have a more stable concentration of ammonia to play with and also the nutrients get released from the filter more gradually. the same biofilter and also be used to run multiple columns as in this pic:
In theory I should be able to take the water from the return reservoir and put it back into the fish tank too, reducing my water bill for these too little ecosystems I’m supporting as well as potentially eliminating my need to buy fertilizer! Early days yet, the logic is based on a few aquaponics systems I have come across, anyone interested in aquaponics should check out this guy’s video:
It goes into really good detail and talks you through everything. (also where my idea of using a siphon for draining a grow bed came from) This vid is just a trailer, I wouldn’t think that illegal downloading is something that should be talked about here but in answer to your questions: Yes you can, no I won’t tell you where but on an unrelated note, warez-bb.org is a hell of a site.
Happy hunting, once again, any comments gratefully received