I just finished my windowfarm about a week ago. I had already started an aquaquaponic system in march of this year at a buddy’s of mine. I moved out of my parents into an apartment in August and immediately moved and started my system and have been having a blast doing it. I stumbled upon WF videos on YouTube. And I’m sure you know what came after that.. I searched and searched for 1.5L bottles and couldn’t find a single one. I was bummed! But I remembered seeing somebody was successful with 1L evian water bottles. So I rushed out and got 10 for $10. I originally went with the hanging reservoir, but decided with my current work schedule I needed something more stable and self running. So I threw in a 5 gallon water jug as a fish tank. The plumbing is a little janky and would like it cleaned up for the road. But I got it running for now. The air pump is the 4 outlet petco air pump. All outlets start with a check valve. The first and second outlets goes to a T valve where it is met with water and the drip tube. I couldn’t run both columns with 1 air supply. The water line is a siphon that goes from the tank to a coil on the floor and back up to a Y vavle, then into each columns T valve. I don’t really get a good bubbling action. It is more of a bubble and slurp mixture. I also have flow rate valves on each air supply line and on each columns drip line, it helps balance things out but it’s still very unreliable, and I’m worried about clogging issues. I’m currently in the process of cycling this tank, using a water from my aquaponics system. Any advice will be taken into consideration. Sorry if these pictures are big and not in order. This isnt very mobile friendly. Thank you.
You are browsing the archive for Other Cool Urban Ag. Stuff.
I want to build a window farm, only, a three dimensional one. This would be called a vertical farm model. I want to know if you guys have any design ideas that you could share with me? It would be about 6 ft tall and 2 ft wide, with three 2 ft levels. Should I make reflectors to increase yield? I will definitely use hydroponics. I will probably use either beans (bush variety) or peppers. Maybe both. I will try to make it as air-tight as possible to keep the heat in this fall and winter. And I will not install any grow lights, thats cheating in my book. I’m not an architect or engineer, so I wouldn’t know what the best kind of design would we. If you’ve never heard of a vertical farm, then google it. It’s a really intriguing concept. My model would go in my backyard where there is a reasonably good amount of sunlight.
8:05 pm in Being a good member of this community, Completed Window Farms, Curriculum Proposals, Education, energy consumption, environmental impact, Featured Post, Getting Started, Help the project by testing this, International, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, Nutrients, Nutrition, Other Cool Urban Ag. Stuff, our mission, Outside Farms, Plants, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, pumps, questions, R&D-I-Y, Seeking Advice, Version 1.0 Reservoir System, Version 2.0 airlift system, Version 3.0 Modular Airlift Columns, Water flow by Michael Van Varenberg
The Flemish Windowfarm Project.
Hi Everyone, maybe it is best that i introduce myself before commencing with the project and my R&DIY.
I am a guy that is self-educated, i have no college degrees, but i now a lot about everything but not everything. Everyone in my family, including my father were engineers but my father died years ago and i don’t have contact with other members of the family. Everything i know about gardening i learned from both my grandfathers and the rest i learned through surfing the net and reading. I am not perfect, far from to be exact, but i am a team player. I am 36 years old an disabled so i have lots of time on my hands for researching and building my projects myself. In Aqua or Hydroponics my interests lie in different fields such as Windowfarming, Backyard Hydroponics using IBC containers and indoor growing.
I am allso an electronics guy so when my project’s hardware is running flawless i tend to automate it all through my favourite microprocessor, the arduino. Off course i have a network of people that are interested in the same things. I live in the Flemish part of Belgium so most of my growing outdoors stops in wintertime. Windowfarming is one of the projects i hope to build for indoor use.
A couple of months ago i started with the windowfarming project. I first researched and developed it all on paper. Since a month i am building from scratch with recycled materials, needless to say is i want my project to be as “green” as possible.
My setup is now two columns of four bottles with an old drink cooler as reservoir. I have a loop going in the container, water is drawn through a needle for inflating footballs. The only problem is when the airpump shuts off, air blows through the needle, but i’m tinkering with it as we speak…
I’m cleaning an old trashcan in wich i’m going to drill a hole in the bottom and then add air throug a T-joint in the tube, maybe the water pressure at the bottom of the container will simplify things and resolve the problem with the inflation needle wich i will not have to use in this configuration.
This adaption works like a charm. It has been working for the whole day now. Tomorrow i will hook up another two rows of four bottles…
I’m allso warming the water with an aquarium heater, i have a circulation pump to keep the nutrient solution mixed really well and an aeration pump for adding oxygen in the water. I allso plan to release co2 in the water.
10:47 pm in Being a good member of this community, Curriculum Proposals, energy consumption, environmental impact, Getting Started, Help the project by testing this, How-Tos, International, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, Other Cool Urban Ag. Stuff, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, pumps, questions, R&D-I-Y, Recruiting, Water flow by ryan kelley
3:24 pm in Completed Window Farms, Education, environmental impact, Getting Started, Help the project by testing this, How-Tos, International, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, Nutrients, Nutrition, Other Cool Urban Ag. Stuff, Plants, questions, R&D-I-Y, Seeking Advice, Starting Seeds, Uncategorized, Version 3.0 Modular Airlift Columns, Water flow by A.Redere
Hello, I discovered this website through TED, where I watched a talk by Britta Riley about window farming. As soon as I heard that window farmers have been able to grow strawberries that fruited for 9 months under low-light conditions, I was hooked. I am eager to get started on creating my own window farm.
I looked at the instructions for window farms 3.0, here, briefly. My first questions regard the use of plastic water bottles.
I did a quick search on the internet and found that plastic water bottles are typically made of Polyethylene terephthalate, commonly referred to as PETE or PET. Then, remembering hearing that plastic water bottles should not be reused, I did another quick search on what compounds are released when water is stored in plastic bottles for “too long” and what accelerates the rate of release of such compounds. The main thing I found was that dioxins are released by plastic water bottles, and doixins have been found to cause breast cancer in women, but I’m sure dioxins do not just affect women. I did another quick search on plant up-take of dioxins, and found that there is substantial literature regarding this issue as a health concern for humans. Not knowing the chemical structure of dioxins or their properties, I do not know what kinds of chemicals can be used to either chemically alter the dioxins into a safe form or to “sop up” the dioxins so plant up-take is reduced or eliminated.
My questions, then, are:
Is it safe to have plants growing in PETE bottles, with water constantly running through the bottles, extracting dioxins?
Does the design account for dioxin release? If so, how, and by what chemical/physical mechanism?
Is there a safer plastic to use than PETE, or another composition overall, for example glass?
Please do not hesitate to answer any of these questions (especially the last one) with something technically challenging (for example, using glass bottles would be difficult because cutting the glass would present a challenge). I will consider technical limitations at a later time.
3:14 pm in Completed Window Farms, Getting Started, made from scratch (without a kit), Nutrients, Nutrition, Other Cool Urban Ag. Stuff, Plants, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, pumps, R&D-I-Y, Starting Seeds, Water flow by Neal Nesbitt
So my prototype window farm is up and running. It has two separate water lines: one straight, three plant column that has transplanted mint of different types on the right, and one three-two staggered chain with red cabbage started in the system from seed. I’m using this prototype chain to do a dry run on the nutrient solution I’ll be using for my later systems. Mint is a relatively hardy plant that can live in partial shade, plus it makes great tea. ^_^ The red cabbage is to make a pH indicator, and to see how leafy plants do.
The system is set up off of one 2watt 3.2L/min air pump that cost me about $8 US, with a one gal (~4L) reservoir for each line. The only thing right now that bothers me is that I can only run one water line at a time. The path of least resistance seems to dictate that only one line will have air bubbling through it, and the other will stay stagnant when they’re both hooked up to the same pressure source. I’m sure this can be fixed with something small and simple, I just can’t seem to think of anything yet besides using a separate pressure source. =/ Check valves are expensive too! I only need one, other than that I’ve gotten away with CHEAP t-valves (One for each water/air mix, one for a bleed line on each, plus one for the air hose split) and on-off valves (One for each air line and bleed line). They cost less than 50 cents a piece.
The top left line is the lift, the line to the right of it is coming from the reservoir, leading into the coil, and ends at the mix point in the bottom t. The valve at the bottom is air pressure, and the valve resting in the coil is the bleed line to correct flow problems and take water samples.
The line itself can be a bit more expensive depending on what type you get. Vinyl is the cheapest, but I use clear 1/4 in (~6.5 mm) f-pvc line even though it may grow algae because I can spot clogs and see the color of the liquid as it goes from plant to plant. The coil is to stop it from bubbling back into the reservoir. It’s 10 ft long and wrapped around the lift line for organization; that gives time to see the backflow and correct the system, and also provides a sizable resistance to direct the lift. I think the biggest thing if you’re going to use a coil for your resistance is to make sure it’s longer than the lift line is. Imagine if you lay the tubing out on the ground, it would make a big “Y” or “T” with the air pressure coming from the bottom. If there’s water in both lines and one end is longer than the other, which one is the air going to go to? This seems to all be about least resistance.
I ran water through the system for a few days before putting anything in it to clear the system out and make sure it worked, and then again for two days after the plants had been started to hydrate them and see how long it took to run a gallon through. The reservoirs are not connected directly to the drain either. I have a separate “waste” containers for each line that I pour periodically back into their respective reservoir. This way I can dose the actual volume of liquid I’m putting through the system rather than having to base it on time. I can also see how much the plants absorb this way, and check nutrient differences.
The nutrients I’m trying out consist of a liquid dirt I’ve called “compost tea.” It’s made by bubbling air in a filter containing preferably de-chlorinated water, a couple big scoops of dirt from my worm farm, a few cups of a concentrate made from boiling seaweed water down to a dark liquid (though the boiling may have killed the reason I added the kelp in the first place), and then something sweet (un-sulfured molasses or honey) to promote growth, but in principle I think you could adapt this process for brewing all kinds of “liquid dirt.”
I’ve gone this route because I can make it from my kitchen scraps without spending a dime, and I’ve heard and read ridiculous praise about it everywhere I turn. My particular setup for the “tea” used a 5 gal (~20L) bucket, the same kind of air pump I use for the window farm with a bubble stone, and a filter sack for paint. Cost me ~$20 US for the setup, and although the worm farm may take a bit of work, you could probably just use well fertilized dirt and be fine. The filter is used to take out the solids after the mix gets frothy.
This seems to be able to make enough for a whole bucket of really saturated stuff off of one week’s worth of kitchen scraps and worm digestion. I dilute this down a bit, and try to bubble air through it every few days to keep things alive. I’ve forgotten recently, and I’m worried what I’ve done =/ Keep it covered as well or else it’ll grow algea from the light.
Now this does involve having a running worm farm, and that has turned into a bit of an adventure. I have a large corner just outside the kitchen for my composting setup, but let me tell you what, I have loads of healthy dirt thanks to it. =)
I’ve been planting things in the used dirt mixed with some vermiculite and pearlite, and it seems to make things grow pretty well. The sun in Houston is really hard to fight though, so I have some indoors and some outdoors to see what can tolerate the different conditions.
I think I need to pay more attention to the nutrients in the dirt I use for the tea, but so far so good, and no sticking, or any signs of clogging at all. I do have some transplant shock going on though. The mint on the top is citrus, the second in line is the sweet mint, and the last one is a chocolate mint.
The citrus mint has had the worst of it. One of it’s runners won’t stay in the soil, so I’m losing over half of it. There are some parts of it that are looking hardy again though.
The sweet mint has developed small dark spots around almost all of the leaves, but other than that it looks fine. I have no idea what they are. We’ll see what happens, might snoop around the net a bit.
The chocolate mint on the other hand is healthy as a mule. Going strong with no visible issues so far. I think the upper plants may be acting as filters for it. Maybe that means I need to dilute the solution some more.
They all seem to be turning toward the window now and stiffening up again at least. The cabbage has sprouted and is reaching for the light too.
I water the plants 2-3 times a day, where I cycle half a reservoir or so, which is about half a gallon/2 liters. It takes about an hour to cycle that much water. Once after I wake up, once at midday, and once before I crash at night.
I’ll post a how-to for the whole thing once the next system is up and running. I’m designing a “column-farm” where the plants grow around a central freestanding column. It’s going to be cheap and easy, the column is built out of three 1x4s using hand tools, and the rest is basically a four column streamlined version of this.
Here’s a playlist on some nutrient stuff in the meantime:
More to come =)
Hello window farmers!.
We are actively seeking someone who can lead a comprehensive half day window farming workshop as part of a International urban agriculture summit taking place mid August in Toronto.
please get in touch at email@example.com
It has been a month since I last posted. In this post, I’ll basically show how my windowfarm is progressing. Currently, I have eight (8) columns supporting forty-four plant cups. I have provision for another four(4) columns that can support twenty-four (24) plant cups.
- Italian Oregano
- String beans
- Hot chili
- Bok Choi (Taiwan Pechay)
We are trying to help spread the word about a documentary film called “Plant This Movie” that is currently in the works about urban agriculture. The filmmaker, Karney Hatch, has traveled all over the world to record stories about the urban ag movement.
He stopped by Windowfarms while he was in NYC to talk to Britta and so he could see a working windowfarm in action. The raw footage he features in his Kickstarter video, is truly inspirational. Windowfarms aside, this video offers a moving glimpse into important stories from China, Africa, Cuba and more.
There are only 4 days left of this Kickstarter campaign, so we encourage everyone to watch the video and consider supporting the campaign!
An interesting interview with the filmmaker also just came out in Grist: http://grist.org/urban-agriculture/faraway-farms-chronicling-urban-agriculture-around-the-world/
Destiny from Windowfarms
We wanted to help spread the word about an interesting new Kickstarter project by one of our local NYC Windowfarms community members.
The Eight Extraordinary Greens project is seeking funding for a participatory exhibition at Mixed Greens gallery in NYC (May 3 – June 2, 2012) which will support urban agriculture and explore, through interactions with gallery visitors, the value placed on food and society.
Watch the video here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/298414837/eight-extraordinary-greens
Destiny + The Windowfarms Team