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11:47 am in Being a good member of this community, Completed Window Farms, Curriculum Proposals, Education, electronic components, energy consumption, environmental impact, Featured Post, Getting Started, Help the project by testing this, How-Tos, International, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, Nutrients, Plants, posts with pitcures!, Seeking Advice, Starting Seeds, Windowfarms Project News by Jeremy
It’s been almost a year since I lasted posted on here. Now I’m back with a little video update below. I bought a new air pump because my last one back siphoned due to the fact I didn’t have it elevated higher than my reservoir…oops! The new one has four air outlets, so I’m thinking of setting up a horizontal system on the other side of my window sill.
I’m open to any advice or comments! Here’s the video update link…
This is my first windowfarm. There are lots of things I need to improve so any recommendations and suggestions are more than welcome.
I used a football pump needle for the airlift and my farm is like 190 cm high.
Hope you like it!
10:50 pm in Being a good member of this community, Completed Window Farms, Getting Started, How-Tos, International, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, Nutrients, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, questions, Seeking Advice by Guglielmo Plain
This is a step by step process of how I built my window farm. It has only been running for a few days so I am not certain that all of the kinks have been cleared from the system but so far it seems to hold up. I took inspiration largely from Rama’s build http://our.windowfarms.org/2010/04/26/our-hydroponic-window-farm-experience/#comment-4112#comment-4112
I had to make some specific adjustments due to my specific needs and also I am based in Australia so some of the materials mentioned in the different instructions are not available here or are a bit different. I have currently started off with a 2 column set up however I believe my set up can easily be increased to any size. I fact once I test this one out for about a Month or so I will likely add a few more columns.
- 6mm (internal size) Vinyl tubing enough to go from the lowest point to the higest point of your set up with a bit to play with and multiplied by the number of columns you want to make, in my case 2
- 4mm internal 6mm external size (has to fit snuggly inside the above vinyl tubing. Air tubing I got around 5m and still have some left over for future use.
- Fairly thin chain around 6m (needs to be built so that you can undo and reassemble the links)
- 27L container in my case a white plastic rubbish bin
- Infinity AP-750 Air pump this has 2 speeds and 2 outlets. I think the one recommended by the site would be better but wasn’t able to find at the time, but have since found it so will use that next time.
- HPM D817 7 Day timer for setting the on off times of the pump
- Transparent plastic bottles in my case 10, with this build i suspect any container of that approximate size would work.
- masking tape
- white spray paint any colour would do I assume.
- Clay pellets
- Net cups to match the size of the bottles
- Flairform Green Dream 1 Hydroponic mixture from local hydroponics store
Glue Gun, Drill with 6mm and one larger drill bit to match the size of your chain, and sharp hobby knife kits or similar sharp tools.
Step 1. Take 1.5 L bottles of water in this case they are some random bottles I found in a discount store that cost me $1 each. drill 6mm holes in the bottom of the bottle and in the lid. Drill holes the appropriate size for the cain at the base about 2cm from the bottom of the bottle and again near the cap approximately 2.5cm from the ledge of the cap. Don’t drill holes near the cap for the bottom bottle of each column.
Step 2.Cut opening on both sides of the bottle both starting approximately 2 cm from the centre line of the bottle leaving 2 uncut parts approximately 4-5 cm thick on both sides.
Step 4. Cover bottom half the bottle in masking tape and paint the top half with spray paint, give it 2 coats.
Step 5. Once the bottles are dry string the chain through the holes of the top bottle and hanging from a pole while each of the other string through the bottom of the previous bottle into the base of the next bottle as show in the pictures.
Step 6. pass the vinyl tubing along the chain and tie it onto it using cable ties or thin wire.
Step 7. Follow Rama’s suggestion. Which is poke a ball pump tip into the vinyl tubing about 3-5 cm from the end and thread the thinner airline tubing into it up to the point where the ball pump tip is. Also attach about 3-5cm of airline tubing to the back of the ball pump tip. I had some problem with air bubbling out of the ball pump tip but i found if i had the back of the tip facing down in the water as show in Rama’s diagram it stopped bubbling.
Step 8. At the top of the set up thread some airline tubing into the Vinyl tubing and poke it into the top of first bottle all the way down to approximately where the mesh pot will sit.
Step 9. Unscrew the bottle caps which have a 6mm hole in the top of them cut pieces of airline tubing to run from the cap of the previous bottle to the mesh cup in the next bottle. Thread about 1/2cm of the airline tubing into the cap and use the glue gun to stick it in place (don’t cover the hole). The glue gun doesn’t hold it in place perfectly but so far I have not had much problem with them popping out or leaking. The last tube should be long enough to go back into the bottom container.
Step 10. Put the plants in the pots without any soil and hold them in with the clay pellets. Then put them in the bottles
Final Step. Hook everything up to the air pump plug the air pump into the timer which I set for 2 hours on 2 hours off during day light ours and off during the night. Fill the tank with water and add nutrients check the PH which according to the company making the fertiliser should be around 5-6.5.
Questions and issues.
Here are a few issues and questions I have.
How much on/off time should I have? I have set it to 2 hours on 2 hours off during day light hours but I have no idea if this is too much too little etc.
I have a strange gurgling sound in one of my columns and have no idea where it is coming from I can hear it somewhere near the top of the set up but have no idea what is causing it not sure if anyone has an answer for this. Kinda annoying too.
- Just answered my own question on that one. I found a small piece of dirt lodged in the entry point of one of my tubes. I.e. on the inside of one of the bottle caps.
How often will the nutrients have to be added and will the water have to be changed in my current position changing the water will be a major hassle.
Anyway hope this is useful to someone and hope to get some feedback on some of the issues I’m having or on how I could improve this set up.
3 Glass Bottles (or 3 similar plant holding vesicles)
From Home Depot
- 10 Foot Double Loop Chain ($5)
- 1 – 1/8″ Quick Link ($2.24)
- 2 – 1/8″ ‘S’ Hooks ($1.18 4 pack)
- 18 Gage Wire ($3)
- 5 Gallon Pot, with no holes in bottom ($10)
From SD Hydro
- 1 Eco 132 Submersible Pump ($11.79)
- 5 Foot- 3/8″ Poly Tubing ($1.30)
- 3″ – 1/4″ Poly Tubing ($0.13)
- 1 – 1/4″ Vari Flow Valve ($.50)
- 3 – 3″ Net Cups ($1.26)
- Growstones ($28, or since you only need about 3 cups of stones, ask your local hydro store for samples. Most of the time they will be more than willing to give you some from their store-use supply).
1. For the first step you will need your 10 foot chain, wire, wire cutters, and the bottles.
2. Fold the chain in the middle, so that there are two 5 foot lengths.
3. Cut a 2 1/2 foot piece of wire. Take one your bottles and have someone hold it at the desired height. Remember that you will have three bottles. Wrap the cut piece of wire around the neck of the bottle and through the chains (See picture to the right). Be sure to t I wrapped the wire around about 4 times, to make sure the bottle would be secure.
4. Next, cut 3 foot piece of wire. Wrap the wire around the top of the bottle in the same fashion as you did with the bottom (See picture below).
5. Repeat with the other two bottles, working down the chain. I left about 5 inches of space in between the bottles.
6. Now that all the bottles are attached to the chain, its time to start working on the pump. Gather the reservoir, the tubing, the pump and the valve for the next steps.
7. Attach the 1/4″ piece of tubing to the vari flow valve. This is going to be your drip system. Attach the drip system to one end of the 3/8″ tubing. Then, Attach the open end of the 3/8″ tubing to the submersible pump.
8. Fill up your reservoir with water. Attach submersible pump to side at highest possible point. The tubing should go up the back of the bottles. The end of the tubing should stop about two inches above the top bottle. You may need to work with the tubing a bit to make the drip system hang stay in place.
9. At this point, you can plug in your pump. Make sure the bottles are all lined up so water is dripping from the top bottle, through the bottom two, and into the reservoir. If this is all working well, it is time to add your plants!
10. Place a net cup in each of the bottles. Take your plants (we made cutting of plants we had in the store and rooted them in our EZ Clone) and place inside the net cups. Fill in the excess space with Growstone.
11. At this point, your system should be up and running. Let it run for a couple day before adding any nutrients or intense lighting, as the plants need time to recover from the transplanting process. After a couple days, you will need to add some hydroponic nutrients to your system to ensure your plants survive.
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
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.
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.
I created a simple silencer by connecting a section of 1/4″ ID tubing to the end of the feed tube.
Below are pictures of my first column now.
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.
Thanks for checking out my grow-op.
Please feel free to comment, I welcome your feedback, questions, and support.
6:17 pm in Completed Window Farms, Getting Started, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, R&D-I-Y, Seeking Advice, Uncategorized, Version 3.0 Modular Airlift Columns by Jaclyn
Hello Lovely Windowfarmers,
I started my window farm project back in the middle of October, and now that the flowers are blooming, I thought I should finally get my act together and share my experience.
Easily the most cumbersome part of the entire project was the 2 weekends spent gathering materials. Here is a cost breakdown of what I spent and where for anyone looking to price out getting started in Canada:
- Bead Chain and connections - $45
- Paint – $6
- Power Bar Timer – $22
- Clear 3/8″ ID, 1/2″ OD Tubing – $9
- Clear 1/2″ ID Tubing – $5
- Hanging Hooks x 8 – $5
- Hole Saw – $9
- Air Pump – $27
- Air line tubing – $7
- Check valves x 4 – $12
- Growing medium cubes x 100- $20
- Growing baskets x 16 – $10
- Clay Pellets- $13
- Maxikap Liquid Fertilizer- $9
- Seeds- $25
- 36″ Growing Light x2- $80
- 24″ Growing Light- $40
The total cost of the system without the lights ended up being about $224 dollars, and with the extra lights needed in the dark Canadian winter the total cost came to $344.
The construction of the system was relatively problem free until I was attempting to get the airlift system to work. I had originally purchased inflation needles to create the air pressure needed to lift the water, but the system was refusing to cooperate. I ended up fashioning my own system of tubes to create the pressure differential necessary:
The end result that works perfect in the system is 7cm of air line tubing (OD 3/8″) inserted into the largest size of tubing (ID 1/2″), which creates enough pressure inside the reservior bottle to lift the water 4 bottles high.
Once construction was finished I ended up with this:
I started off the system with Sungold tomatoes, Chocoalte cherry tomatoes, summer squash, kale, strawberry, bell pepper, cilanto, beans, and basil all from seeds except the strawberry which was a clipping saved out of the garden at the end of the season. The kale, cilantro and basil kicked the bucket quite early, since I believe I put them in the system a little young, and they did not enjoy being dripped on. The summer squash and a bean also suffered a fatality. They seemed to simply lose the will to live, after I cleaned the window with vinegar and lemon juice. The plants were caught in the crossfire. These failures were replaced with green beans, cayenne pepper, spagetti squash, yellow pear tomatoes and snow peas.
There are a couple of alterations I want to make to the system. The most urgent of which is how I am going to support a spagetti squash if any of my pollenated blossoms decide to fruit. Also, I want to change out my tubing system for a t-lift air system with black tubing so there is no need to clean the tubes of algae, and the reserviors will also require less frequent filling. As well I am searching for a different medium than water bottles to build the system out of, perhaps along the lines of a mechanics oil funnel, if I can find the right size.
Heres hoping to see the fruit of my labour soon! There are sungold tomato, spagetti squash, green bean, chocolate cherry tomato, and cayenne pepper blossoms currently, so its a race to ripeness!
Happy Farming Everyone! (I would love to hear any feedback you have)
I started with a one column window farm (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpEhkX2PeBA&feature=youtu.be) and quickly moved on to a second column. All went well. Sometimes the water would splash out the top container and spray on to my window/surrounding area. I fixed it with saran wrap.I used socks to cover the roots. I thought it looked great, and it was a great idea by another window farmer. However, I discovered that some water was leaking out of the bottles and the socks were absorbing it. It made my resevoir of water empty quicker and the socks started to mold. Taking the window garden apart to remove the socks was kind of a pain.
I grew basil, dill, parsley, tomatoes, and swiss chard. I was quite surprised to see tomatoes grow since I don’t have direct sunlight. I only had about 4 grow (grape tomatoes) but it was still nice. Overall I don’t think the plants did as well as they could have, as I had the timer go off about every 2-4 hours except at night, when it didn’t go off at all (my bedroom is right beside the contraction and the pump wakes me up). The parsely took a very long time to grow and it seemed quite dry. Also, after the first harvest the dill died (it got super tall tho!). The basil did exceptionally well. I ate a lot of it. After a while I became kind of paranoid about the use of plastic bottles. I really want to try using wine bottles, so I’ve disassembled everything and am going to start over.
Lastly, when I went to make my second column the guy at the hardware store informed me that I was using tubing not recommended for ice makes. The tubing leaches a chemical that is not safe to drink. Yikes! So I bought black landscaping tubing he said was safe. It’s quite rigid and harder to manipulate.
Overall, I find this a lot of fun and really enjoy logging on to see what everyone else is doing with their gardens. There are some great designs!!!!
All of my seedlings have been moved to my window farm! The herbs are still super tiny, but growing quickly. The peas and beans are by far the biggest plants and are growing beautifully.
So far I have had only a few minor hiccups with this setup. Occasionally the air needle will get clogged and doesn’t really do anything but blow bubbles until I clean it out. But other then that, everything works great!
I can’t wait for these little plants to grow big and strong so I can start cooking with them Now you guys probably want to see some pictures…
Thanks for checking out my Window Farm! Happy urban-farming!!