It’s easy to get a little greedy. Continuing to build and build. Now I have turned my two columns into four with the help of these instructions from @gaiatechnician (Brian White), I managed to use a pump with two outlets to provide four columns with water. I have used 6 T-connections and 4 air controls.
The pump is on a timer that is on every half hour between 09:00 and 22:00. The fluorescent lamp is running from 08:00 to 21:00. It was a bit difficult to balance the air flows, but now it seems to be fairly stable.
My system is generally quite unstable, probably because my water tank is so small (less than 1,5l) and the tubes have a tendency to float or move in the water tank.
Lettuce, paprika, pepers, tomato and basil. The paprika I got from a friend. All plants are grown from seeds.
You are browsing the archive for airlift.
Now I have finally got my windowfarm up and running.
I made the structure last year, sowed the seeds several months ago, and planted the tomato plants in the structure about one month ago. So far I have watered by hand, but today I managed to build the pumping system.
However, I have encountered some problems. The two biggest so far:
1. The system will not start up again when it has been switched off. I wanted to have it on a timer but every time it´s on standby I have to rearang the air needles to make it start. I will try to find a solution, but if you have an idea, please write a comment.
2. The air pump I am using is not the quietest. I have tried to put the pump in a box with towels to muffle the sound. But it still sounds too much. And I’m a little afraid that it will overheat in there. Maybe I´ll pick it apart and check what it is that makes the sound, or I´ll try to change the box or I´ll just buy a new pump. Some other suggestions?
Column to the left: Chili pepper, tomato, chilli pepper.
Column to the right: Chili pepper, basil, chili pepper.
Today I also started watering with a nutrient solution adapted for hydroponics. I hope it will make the plants a little stronger with time.
Since the windowfarm hangs in a window with little natural light I have put up an extra lamp. A fluorescent light fixture with a light that simulates daylight.
I have now built and planted tomatoes in my windowfarm with a 200 l reservoir. I hope this will be able to keep the plants happy for long warm periods unattended.
My farm consists of 8 hanging pots that are supplied with water from a t-joint airlift and three large boxes that get water through some pieces of yarn. The reservoir can hold more than 200 l of water and I have added some liquid nutrient in the water.
I am growing tomatoes in the hanging pots and in the boxes I have an ash, rosemary, maple, rowan and white clover.
So far, the plants seem to be fine. Some of the leaves on the tomato plants have some white patches. I might need to adjust the amount of nutrients in the water, but that is just a guess.
Hello windowfarmers. Here are some photos of our window farm and check out our video. If you have any questions check out my previous posts or leave a comment. Last night I harvested some basil right from the window and made pesto. Love it!
link to the video http://youtu.be/mT11bXaqhhc
and this is our spec on how our air pump lift works.
My plants are doing reasonably well, considering I haven’t really had any time to mainain them. Until this weekend, refilling the reservoirs is about the extent of the care my little windowfarm was getting. I’m up to three columns now – two done using plastic cups and greek yogurt containers, and one using Deer Park bottles and net cups. So far, I’m finding my version to be a little easier to maintain and slightly more attractive. Very slightly. There are a few more photos of individual plants over on my blog.
My upside-down Deer Park bottles were leaking a bit, and looked a bit worse for the wear, so I put together new reservoirs using soda bottles (which are thicker plastic), and added a nice coupling on the top for me to attach the water return lines. Previously I’d just shoved the water return lines through a hole I stabbed in the bottom of the inverted water bottle.
A few other people were having trouble preventing the air from bubbling back into the reservoir, so I made a diagram of my set-up and included a few numbers for reference. The full write-up can be seen on my primary blog, but the cliffs notes version is that I’ve got a 1 liter bottle, suspended about 6″ above the t-joint, connected by a 5 foot long piece of clear 1/4″ tubing which is coiled at the bottom of the container it all sits in.
I do still get air bubbling back when the pump first turns on, but it corrects itself in about a minute.
I’d like to share some pictures of the design and progress of our first ever windowfarm where we are growing peas, mini tomatoes and cayenne peppers So far, so good! More updates will follow as our plants grow.
As you will see, the basic set-up of the windowfarm includes; an airlift system using a pump, a nice green hose, a t-joint, two valves, a plastic white cereal container as a reservoir (3.5 litres capacity), 3 plastic white plant pots, two chains by which to suspend the pots from the curtain rail, plastic white tubing to allow the water & nutrients to drain down through each pot and some bbq skewers placed horizontally to keep the white tubing stable and to give the plants something to grab onto! Please feel to add your comments, feedbacks and tips!
Very special thanks goes to my boyfriend Dmitry for his engineering, design and building contributions. It is our windowfarm and I couldnt have done it without him .
A few days ago I noticed some problems with my setup: when the pump would turn on sometimes the airflow would go back down through the source tube and start bubbling up the reservoir rather than lifting water up the lift tube. I could fix it by releasing the air pressure in the lines and letting the water re-prime itself.
Over the weekend I didn’t have much time to work with it, but thankfully every time I peeked into my office things seemed to be moving smoothly.
Today when I sat down to do some work, I heard the pump click on and once again the bubbling sound of air coming into the reservoir. I was perplexed as to why it only seemed to fail when I was around.
I didn’t have time to debug / re-prime the system at that moment, so I just ignored it for a few minutes. Then to my great surprise, it suddenly fixed itself and started delivering water to my plants again.
My theory is that sometimes, after the pump shuts off, water runs back down the lift tube and sits stationary at a height above the t-joint. When the system first turns on, the pressure from this thin, tall water column is too much for the air pump so the air starts to backflow into the reservoir. In a few minutes, the water stuck in the lift tube flows back down below the t-joint, and which point air starts flowing up again. The system resets itself and everything works.
Since I use black hose for my lift tube I can’t quite see what’s going on, but I’m curious if anyone else has run into similar problems.
Update, March 3rd: Added some pictures and descriptions.
When I got this floor standing flower pot reservoir, I started off with a needle airlift. The needle turned out to be really unreliable and the result was also noisier than a T-airlift. Fortunately I found a “tap” that can be attached to any reservoir with a non-curved surface. It’s a tap made by AutoPot. I just drilled a hole in the side of the reservoir and attached the tap to the side of it. Careful when drilling. You’ll need a special tool or a huge drill bit to make a hole this big (25mm). The tap can take a 16mm hose if you stretch the hose a little, so I needed an adapter to 6mm. Fortunately, a local chili equipment store had an adapter for 16mm to 6mm hose with an additional filter in it.
My initial column had just a tiny reservoir. It was way too small and a bit ugly as well. Another setback was that I originally used aluminum pipes in the plumbing, and found out that aluminum (not healthy) might end up in the plants. Thanks for pointing that out, readers. What I’ve learned from this is that if you’re planning to make your own window farm and don’t want to use recycled bottles, prepare to spend the price of a factory made windowfarm. Of course, you might end up with something better that way
Here’s the final part list for those who aren’t familiar with my previous posts.
(total cost ~100 euros)
- 4 Plastic orchid pots. These are made of Polypropylene, which is (afaik) safe to use with food. The pots also have an inward dent in the bottom, so they will never drain completely. I don’t know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Be careful when drilling plastic. I managed to break one pot by using too much pressure. (2 euros/pot at Bauhaus)
- 1 Large floor flower pot. This is the same brand as the orchid pots so the color matches perfectly. The water volume is 10 liters, and the reservoir is in the bottom of this outer pot. (25 e at Bauhaus)
- 1 Inner pot. The inner pot is 22 cm tall, so below it lies my actual reservoir. (15e at Bauhaus)
- 1 meters of plastic pipe for the dripping, 8 mm diameter.
- Two meters of aluminum strip. Mine is about 12mm wide and 2mm thick. I wouldn’t go any thinner than 2mm, since the rigidity of the column would likely suffer. (4 euros/meter at Bauhaus)
- M3 Nuts, washers and screws (or bolts) for attaching the pots to the aluminum strip. (Less than 1e total)
- Sera Air 275R Plus air pump with adjustable air flow and two outlets. Came with two non-return valves. (28 euros at a local aquarium store)
- 6mm “colorless” hose for the air. (2 euros / meter at a local aquarium store)
- 6mm black hose for the water. Colorless hose gathers algae. (2 euros / meter at a local chili store)
- A Y-joint for the 6mm hose. Came with the pump.
- A check valve. Came with the pump.
- A tap from AutoPot.
- A 6mm adapter for the tap
- 4 legs, 16cm tall (Ikea, 16e)
- Some birch wood I had lying around. Free of charge.
So far I’ve planted some cherry tomato, 2 kinds of chilies, coriander, parsley, basil and strawberry. The tomato is growing like crazy. Tomato was germinated three weeks ago and the plants are already 15cm tall. Then I threw in another basil plant I got from a grocery store.
Nutrients & pH
I was recommended nutrients called Flora Mato and Flora Micro by GHE. I don’t know much about nutrients, so I just got both and I’m adding both every time I add water. I’m aiming at an EC number of 1.60mS/cm.
The tap water around here is pretty alkaline with a pH of around 8. I got some pH down powder and a pH tester. Before I add water I first add nutrients and then make sure the pH gets down to about 6. Only after that I pour it in the reservoir.
d.3 stands for D’Artagnon’s third system . . . in case people went looking for an “official” set of d.3 plans on the site.
Anyhoo . . .
Looking through the site and through the plans I felt I wanted another option for my containers other than plastic and another growth medium other than those provided. So, taking the basic theory I struck out with my shoelaces untied and the wind in my face.
First the bottles; I used 12 oz soda bottles for a mini herb garden. I found a cool method of slicing the bottoms of the bottles off that was clean and painless. I will post the extended directions in another post. So, bottoms off, edges smoothed then I added my medium.
Rockwool doesn’t breakdown and they are a onetime use product. Once the roots have taken over, then what? Where does that go? The pebbles and expanded clay can be reused often, but that seems a lot of maintenance and they come with plastic baskets. A while ago I saw a news segment about a man who went in to the doctor because he thought he might have lung cancer and through some tests found he had inhaled a pea, which started to sprout in his lung.
Creepy, but it gave me a great idea; luffah as a growth medium.
The early version of my system proved that the luffah stayed moist and allowed oxygen to flow through the root system. Best of all, it breaks down slowly. Not too fast so it supports the root system but it can be thrown into my compost and returned in an earth friendly way. Also, luffah easier to manage if soaked briefly in water.
The reservoir bottle is a salvaged wine bottle sealed with aquarium grade silicon in the neck. I inserted the pump needle directly into the silicon air tube and that tube sits next to a purge valve for easy drainage. I found a simpler check valve at PetSmart and inserted it further down the line for easier access.
The bottles are strung together using a bracelet knot. Well, really it’s a bunch of square knots tied over the bottles. Tension keeps things stable.
In the earlier version of the system having the airlift tube on the outside proved messy, so I had the tube running up inside the bottles. After having to do some maintenance and fret over root invasion I returned it to the outside. The white tube is 1/4 inch (outside dimension) pex tube and the smaller is a 1/4 inch (outside dimension) ac tube.
A side note on the airlift system: If the water level is too low in your reservoir then the air won’t lift enough water. I kept the level about 1.5 inches from the top edge and I chose a long bottle for this specific purpose. Right now it’s a single column system so I only need a single pump.
Next is to transplant my sprouts and actually get food for the system. That’s going to be an exciting learning curve. Eventually I want to see if I can get a piece of bamboo for my airlift tube and be free from the plastic. Here’s hoping.
Let me know what you think and feel free to ask questions. Happy tinkering!
1:10 pm in Getting Started, Help the project by testing this, How-Tos, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, Projects in Process, pumps, Uncategorized, Water flow by Phillip A Faugno
Just as I; I am sure many of you have had problems getting your setup up an running reliably.
I have done some testing with various types of tubing, pump settings, reservoir setups etc.
I attempted a type of pump set up called a “geyser hybrid” which is in my opinion a waterlift with a little more complexity.
Next I attempted the setup with the needles.This works but I am worried about the jury rigged connection at the needle juncture and it proved to be no more effective than replacing the needle with a “T” connector.
It seems to me the point of the needle”no pun intended” is to insert the air further up into the column of water and to reduce the chance that the air may back up and bubble into the reservoir.
As stated in some other articles and online at sites like U tube.Th more head pressure the better the result.Air has a springy quality and when you have sufficient head pressure you can sometimes see air backing up into the inlet tube but it slows and returns the the junction and feeds the output line.
I used a two liter bottle with a fitting in the lid and the bottom cut off.a short section of head(feed)tube.about a foot worth.
A “T” junction. and a discharge tube to the height of about 6 feet.All tubing is semi rigid.i think this works better as some energy can be lost to flexing.My “T” junction I may add was a 1/4 outside dia fitting with a short length of tubing attached to feed and discharge sides to enlarge it to the size of my rigid tubing.the air line is just the standard size purchased at pet stores.
I placed my reservoir at a height of about 18 inches above the floor.or that is with my water starting surface level at 18 inches above ground.This gives a head of 18 inches but I find I don’t need that full head space.It just works better.I may be able to eliminate this with a larger reservoir say maybe a 5 gallon bucket with a fitting in the bottom. In my tests putting the tubing into the reservoir like a dip tube is troublesome and unreliable.
In my future setup I am going to attempt to use compression fittings that snap on and off with ease and fit on the outside of the tubing to make use of the full diameter of the inside of the tubing.and since I am planning on using a larger reservoir I may fit a charcoal filter to keep water from stagnating.
I may add that I am planning on using this to water my orchids and I am concerned about stagnation.
More later….please feel free to give me your input and experiences.
Bye for now.
I am wondering now if a larger reservoir may eliminate the need for more head tube.