You are browsing the archive for drip rate control.

Temporary covers for reservoirs and trials with slow drip system

10:11 pm in energy consumption, made from scratch (without a kit), posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, questions, Seeking Advice by Louise from Quebec

Thanks for your suggestions and comments, everybody. I hastily made my reservoirs darker, but will have to address the issue more thoroughly in a near future. I used thick cardboard to make a niche for my upper reservoir and poster cardboard to cap the bottom one. Look at the photos.  Wouldn’t it be wise to cover the tubing as well, inside a sleeve of black fabric, for instance ?

I’m still looking into a sustainable pumpless system. I figure that I can live with the chore of climbing up once every three days to refill my upper reservoir. But I’d like to refine the design. And I thought about capillarity, this capacity of a spongy material to sip water up to a higher level. Still juggling with the idea. I have the habit to leave my plants at school with a very simple but very effective capillarity system to water them during Christmas vacations. By the way, I enrolled my younger daughter in this thinking process.

Meanwhile, I continued my experiments with the slow drip, utilizing the 600mL container, since I like the idea of suspending it directly above the plants. I doubled a simple string of unknown (synthetic) material, made a knot to tie its two ends together and squeezed the fold up into the silicone tubing. To my surprise, this slowed the flow  very significantly. (In my first attempt, using the enteral tubing with the slow drip system built in, the bottle was empty after 3 hours.) This last system lasted 84 hours (3 days and a half) during which it needed no intervention from my part.

But I think I might have been too successful in slowing the whole thing. I’m afraid the plants wouldn’t receive enough water.  So, I thought of coupling two 600mL bottles side by side, and join the two strings together to double the volume of water, which I’ll try out no later than tonight.

Which brings me to my question : does any of you out there can tell me approximately how much water you need to put through your system over a period of 24 hours to sustain your plants’ needs ? What would be your estimate ? And did I understand correctly when I read that people put their air pump on a timer to make it work only 15 minutes at a time ?

Last thing : Somebody gave me 2 swivel curtain rods, a few years ago, which I kept intending to use them for another project. I stumbled on them by chance while looking for something else. And I think they are just perfect for what I have in mind. I want to be able to get the whole window farm to get out of the way when I want to access my window. These rods move just like window shutters and their tubing is square, so we think that they would be strong enough to sustain the weight. I’m posting a photo and will certainly try them. Only need to figure out a way to stabilize the different columns of bottles at the bottom, possibly by tying them to a wooden rod suspended underneath the last row of bottles.

by jayt

Question regarding reservoir width/location

8:51 am in Getting Started, Materials and Resources, Projects in Process, questions, Seeking Advice by jayt

Hello.  I’m about to begin my window farm, but I had a quick question.  In the Reservoir System instructions , the minimum width for the reservoir is 47″.  Is there any reason that it must be that long?  If I only wanted three columns (instead of four in the diagram), could my reservoir be ~36″?  Also, is there a functional reason for the lower reservoir to be suspended instead of resting on the floor?  Thanks in advance for the advice.

by britta

Eyebeam Windowgallery Prototype Reservoir System

9:09 pm in Completed Window Farms, Plants by britta

windowfarm-galleryThis was our first attempt at a system using sewer pipes as reservoirs. With this particular prototype, we got to a more workable reservoir with the sewer pipes, we found we could use the top reservoir to suspend the bottles (then realized this makes cleaning difficult), and realized that lawn irrigation drip emmitter buttons do not work well. 

We had been having two issues with my tupperware reservoir system: 

1) The brass fittings that connected the tupperware container to the tubes were very difficult to attach to the soft plastic of the tupperware container. When the plastic would bend, we developed little leaks. 

2) We had been controlling the drip rate by progressively tightening clamps onto the tubes that fed each column, but we did not really have a fine enough degree of control. 

We made the switch to these PVC pipes, which are often used in traditional home-built  hydroponics systems. While there are plenty of things we don’t like about PVC, it is a cheap and easily accessible material with plenty of ready-made plumbing fittings, so it spares the beginner some headaches. 

We installed drip emmitter buttons (black and yellow pieces on the underside of the top reservoir, as seen above ) but found that they clogged frequently, not being designed to deal with the particulate matter in liquid nutrients. We have since replaced the drip emmitters with two-way aquarium air control valves, which you can pick up at your local pet shop. They are not perfect either. You do need to watch your system and occasionally clear the valves when one of your columns stops dripping. 

Luckily, the plants bounce back pretty quickly after you start the nutrient flowing again. 

Finally, we realized that after about a month and a half, there was a lot of gunk clogging up the top reservoir and that we needed to clean it way more often– like every two weeks. It became apparent that suspending the columns from the top reservoir was not a good idea because then you have to take apart the whole system to clean the top tube. You will see that in the current how-to, we recommend hanging the columns separately.

In this system, we merely hung the CFL lights by their cords flat against the window and plants grew out toward them.