New Windowfarm and Airlift solution

1:35 pm in Completed Window Farms, Getting Started, How-Tos, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, pumps, R&D-I-Y, Version 2.0 airlift system, Water flow by Nick

Starting from Scratch-ish

A few days ago I started building my first window farm.  Bottle plant holders are the only recycled part of this system – everything else I was able to gather from a local commercial center.

I generally followed the instructions to create a Version 2.0 Windowfarm.  It is a fairly simple process that filled me with new ideas for my next column.

Below is the windowfarm after the first afternoon.

Bottle tower and Reservoir-base

Airlift Issues

I ran into a problem with the airlift, which I understand is common so I’m posting my solution. The airpump was blowing bubbles back into the reservoir.  I had seen different recommendations on the airlift (t-joint, needle, each with variations) so I tested different models with no success, proving the airlift design wasn’t to blame.  Additionally, I found that I got the best results using the t-joint setup.

I began thinking of other potential causes… I had bought the recommended Petco air pump but without the adjustable dial, so maybe I was feeding too much air pressure into the system… I tested different air pressures by squeezing the hose and running the pump, all eventually bubbled back into the reservoir.

Solution

I was able to resolve the issue by attaching 1-way valves to both the air and water lines feeding into the airlift.  The non-adjustable pump works fine.

Additionally, the t-valve is positioned ~1.5 feet below the bottom of the reservoir to create pressure and feed water down the tubing.  Below is a picture of the exchange.

Water & Air exchange at the t-valve

It works quite well now.  After the initial gush of water, it pumps out ~2ml every 2-3 seconds, which seems enough by sight.

 

A Work in Progress

Finding solutions and innovations while building my window farm was one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of this project – always spurring on new ideas for my next column.

Currently, I am using the petco pump w/o knob to feed 4 planters.  I would suggest changing the recommendation for the pump type to be less specific..

I created a tube-in-cap drain for each planter by drilling a hole in the center of each cap using scissors.  Wrap the end of a 2-3 inch section of tubing in plumbers tape and twist it snug into the cap hole (the cap drains best when the tubing is nearly flush with the inside of the cap).  I then secured the outside cap/tube joint with duck tape and screwed it onto the bottom of the planter.

 

Cap-tube drain

I created a simple silencer by connecting a section of 1/4″ ID tubing to the end of the feed tube.

 Simple Silencer

Below are pictures of my first column now.

 

 

 Crash course column

After I completed the column, I grabbed some small plants I found at the park and unrooted a small vine that has been growing as a potted plant through fall and winter in the same window as the windowfarm now sits.  I know the vine grows in the micro-local limate of the windowsill already and anything in the dog park has to be pretty hardy.  I’m treating this column as a crash course of windowfarming to learn the basics and work out the kinks before I move on to something more serious.

 

Note on Syphons

 

I did not cut a hole in the bottom of my reservoir, instead opting to maintain the bottle structure and use a syphon to feed the water to the air-water exchange and up to the plants.  As I am sure ya’ll have experienced how unwieldy the tubing can be, which creates complications for maintaining water suction necessary for a syphon.  To solve this, I used a small binder clip and two screws to create an anchor for the tubing.  First I clipped the clip on to the end of the tubing going into the reservoir, then I placed a screw into each wire “butterfly wing” of the clip, and dropped them into the water.

Below is a picture of my raised anchor in the reservoir.

Syphon Anchor

Thanks for checking out my grow-op.

 

Please feel free to comment, I welcome your feedback, questions, and support.