Here is an update on my second Windowfarm setup. I planted basil, endive, sweet valentine lettuce, black cherry tomato, and jalapeno. It has been 4 months since I planted seeds.
I’ve made one modification since the initial setup. I was going to be out of town for several days, but my small reservoir cups needed to be refilled daily. So, I setup a gallon jug as the reservoir and siphoned the nutrients into my t-joint. In order to get the siphon started, I filled spit clean water into the line, then placed the filled line into the gallon reservoir, making sure that it was coiled and resting on the bottom. Yeah, pretty crude, but it worked! I didn’t need to refill for over a week.
The basil was great and made a delicious pesto. I had two plants in the same cup, and it took about three months to grow enough, almost too much. I did pinch off a few leaves here and there for the occasional dinner, and to help the plants grow larger. They had flowered when I wasn’t looking, so after three months I knew they were done.
I also planted two endive plants in one cup. After about a month, I took one out, and the remaining endive grew much better on its own.
The sweet valentine lettuce also did well. In the morning my window gets direct sunlight, but the lettuce did not like the heat. Eventually, I placed the lettuce on the top of the column and let down the blinds to reduce the amount of sunlight. I harvested 4 or 5 salads worth of greens, adding endive as needed.
The jalapeno grew well, but a lot of flowers bloomed while I was out of town. I think they need to be pollinated, because I didn’t get many chiles out of them (those that I did pollinate grew chiles). It is a nice and tall plant, almost 2 feet, but only three chiles so far.
By far the largest plant, and most difficult, is the black cherry tomato. Right now, the tomato and the jalapeno share a column (basil was on top). As it grew, I trimmed lower branches to put more energy into upper branches and flowers. Most of the plant is at the top of my window, where the light is not as good. I think tomato needs a trellis to grow into. I probably could have just grown this one plant in my whole window.
The tomato leaves near the top are very dark and curly at the edges (you can see this at the top of my lettuce photo), but the lower leaves are a flat and a good color of green. The flowers near these bad branches didn’t get far. I don’t think it is water (water runs sunrise to sunset), but perhaps the low sunlight at the top? I did get a few clusters of tomatoes from the flowers that survived.
EDIT: June 18, 2012, Tomato roots.
As noted in the comments, I think the problem with the tomatoes is the root system. It might not have been large enough for the plant. I had to take the tomato plant out and I discovered the the green cup had been filled with roots, and that some of the roots appeared to be rotting.
I think the solution is a larger net cup (with more clay pellets) for this kind of plant. That will allow for a larger root network to grow around the pellets, rather than the dense root network that grew into the bottom of the green cup in my system.