After several weeks of research, construction and tinkering, my new window farm is finally up and running and almost full of plants! I created a very modified v2.0 window farm that includes 2 columns, replaces the needle airlift with a submerged t-valve airlift and has a much more aesthetic design.
I couldn’t have put it all together without studying the plans of others on this site and borrowing ideas from everyone. Thank you to everyone who contributes their ideas and results. Very special thank you to Ken, where I found the idea to create a two-column farm by hanging pots on either side of a single post, as well as details on splitting the water flow at the top of the system. Also to Mikko, who provided aesthetic inspiration (although his is much prettier than mine). And especially to Melissa, who provides extreme detail on how to build a submerged t-valve airlift – I could not have figured that out without her post.
|Decorative Foundation Container||Decorative trash can or other container that will hold the reservoir and is sturdy enough to support the plants||$30|
|Garden Stake||5’-6’ Tall||$2|
|Zip Ties||Releasable 8” Ties||$3|
|4” Planters||8 total ($1 each)||$8|
|Wood Screws||8 total||$2.50|
|White Spray Paint||Rustoleum Universal Spray Primer / Paint – White||$7|
|Black Spray Paint||Rustoleum Universal Spray Primer / Paint – Black||$7|
|Air Pump||Tetra Whisper 20 Pump||$20|
|Air Control Valve||Included with Pump||$0|
|Flexible Air Line Tubing (Clear)||10’||$7 (for 25’)|
|Silicone Air Line Tubing (Black)||3’||$7 (for 25’)|
|3/8” OD, ¼” ID Rigid Tubing||6’||$3 (for 25’)|
|Reservoir||1+ Gallon Food Storage Container||$10|
|Duct Tape – White||$5|
|Silicon Sealant||For sealing any leaks or gaps in the system||$4|
|3.75” Net Cups||8 total||$4|
|Hydroton Clay Pellets||10L Bag||$12|
|PH Test Kit||$5|
|PH Up and/or Down||$7|
To build the structure:
- Prepare the pots: Drill a ¼” hole in the bottom center of each pot, then seal up any additional holes and cracks with silicone sealant. Also drill a small hole in the side of each pot so that it can later be attached to the garden stake using the wood screws.
- Paint: Give the pots a coat of black spray paint to fully block out light, then paint the pots and garden stake white. My pots are plastic, and the Rustoleum Universal Primer spray paint adhered perfectly to the plastic.
- Assemble the structure: Attach the pots to the garden stake using wood screws, then secure the garden stake to the foundation. To do this, drill several small holes in the foundation container, on either side of the garden stake, then use zip ties to secure the garden stake to the foundation.
To assemble the airlift:
- Create a water intake coil: Cut a 5’ length of clear flexible air line tubing, coiling it so that it is small enough to fit inside the reservoir. Secure it with zip ties to hold it in place. Attach one end of this coil to the t-valve. (I started with 3’, but later had to move up to 5’ to prevent air from bubbling back into the reservoir).
- Create an air intake line: With the remaining flexible air line tubing, attach one end to the air pump and the other to the t-valve. In between, make two cuts in the line, inserting the control valve into one and the check valve into the other.
- Connect the airlift line: Attach the rigid tubing to the remaining side of the t-valve.
- Seat the t-valve assembly in the reservoir: Place the reservoir inside the foundation container. Then place the entire water intake coil and t-valve assembly in the reservoir. Be sure the water intake coil and t-valve are seated on the bottom of the reservoir (when water is added, they may try to float to the top). I use a glass weight to keep them seated. Others have had luck adjusting the coil so that the tension against the sides of the reservoir keeps it seated.
- Secure the airlift: Secure the rigid tubing to the back of the garden stake using white duct tape. Completely cover the tube so that light is blocked and algae doesn’t form within the tubing. Trim the rigid tubing so that it is even with the top of the garden stake.
- Split the water flow at the top: Attach the second t-valve to the top of the rigid tubing. Cut even lengths of the Black Silicone Air Line Tubing (4”-6” depending on the height of the first pot). Attach these tubes to either side of the t-valve, running the tubing into the first pots.
- Return the water from the lowest pots: Cut two lengths of silicone tubing to run from the lowest pots back to the reservoir (8”-12” depending on the height of your lowest pots). Push one end of the silicone tubing into the hole on the bottom of each pot. They should fit snugly enough that no additional sealant is needed to secure them. Allow the other end of the tube rest inside the reservoir.
**Note: The remaining silicone tubing will fit snugly into the ¼” holes in the bottom of each pot. This can be used to guide water directly to the base of each plant, if desired. This is helpful in reducing splash, so I just insert a tube here and there as needed.
Before adding plants, I ran the system for several days with just water to identify any leaks and water flow issues. I patched any leaks that appeared with the silicone sealant.
Also, I intended to construct a lid for the foundation, but found a small, dark towel lying around that worked perfectly for keeping light out of the reservoir. I meant it to be a temporary solution, but it’s so simple, I think I’ll just leave it the way it is.
The system has actually been up and running for about a month, but I’ve just gotten most of my seedlings transplanted. Currently, I have broccoli, spinach, bell peppers, basil, oregano, chives and cilantro.