Since flowering plants need different nutrients, do most people have separate columns for each? For example - tomatoes, peas, snap beans, peppers in their own column, and lettuce, dill, cilantro, herbs, plants you don’t want flowering in another column? Thank you.
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My system is pretty much a ‘light-weight’ compared to so many of the amazing four, to six column set-ups I’ve seen here. But it’s a start. Tomatoes and Cilantro. Am transferring lettuce this weekend. And I’ve really appreciated the instructions, pix and examples I’ve seen here on this site. It feels so good to complete one column from finish to start. I’m looking forward to adding more columns as the summer goes on. Peace out all.
The lettuce seed package said they wouldn’t germinate in this warm weather.
Butter lettuce sprouts. My green onions and sugar snap beans are still hiding.
I’m a little surprised the green onions are taking so long.
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…
Hello fellow windowfarmers!
I finally completed my first single-string, 3 container attempt at a windowfarm, and it’s .. well, it’s very basic and Frankenstein-y, so I’ve taken to calling it my ‘ghetto farm’. I started with one set of components and am basically upgrading as I go along. It’s a T-joint airlift, because I wanted something fairly simple. (HA!) My duplex has a central furnace, not forced air, so the big picture window I can use in the spring/summer is in a room that is far too cold in the winter months – and of course, I get the bee in my bonnet to start this project in December… So, the first thing I needed to do was find a way to hang the windowfarm above the heater at a position where the plastic bottles/tubing won’t melt and the plants won’t cook, and then get a source of light. Due to my seasonal affective disorder, every bulb in my house is a 100w full spectrum, but I’ve found with plants in dirt, the ceiling bulbs are too far away, so I purchased a SunBlaze narrow footprint light for this purpose.
The plants right now are from the few packets of seeds I had available that weren’t flowers or root vegetables – spring lettuce mix and Alpine strawberries of the Mignonette variety. They were started in rockwool, in the net cups with hydroton, sitting in a water + fish nutrient bath with the light right above the container. See second picture below – you can see the container with the new baby plants in it on the shelf. The lettuce sprouted and is growing but not terribly well – hoping the new nutrients will help. The Alpine strawberries sprouted so fast you could almost see the growth minute by minute. Because I fail at math as well as physics, I started two more net cups of strawberries so will have to set up a second string of containers next. I think window farm strings are like potato crisps and cats – it’s not possible to have just one. I also found more last-season herb seeds at the hardware store, so I can try my hand at heirloom basil, peas and beans. We’ll see how that goes.
Modular wire cube shelving like these ($25)
Topfin Air 1000 air pump from PetSmart. It has two output nozzles, but I have one blocked off by a piece of tubing with a knot on the end. There’s no way to change the air pressure, and a new pump has been ordered and should be waiting for me when I get home tonight. (already had, but website lists for ~$10)
25′ of 1/4″ vinyl tubing from the hardware store (this does not fit standard aquarium equipment like t-joints. Will eventually be replaced.) ($2.50)
8′ of black pvc tubing from the petstore (I already had this, unused, from a Betta setup, wound up cutting it into 2″ pieces and using it as connectors because it fits perfectly inside the vinyl tubing. Website lists it as ~$5)
Metal T-joint ($1)
Discard A Stones – air filter stones, but I really wanted the plastic part. The white filter stone is not attached in the package. The picture lies. ($2)
3-1.5L Evian water bottles, because they’re the only kind that had any curvature in the center to hold the pots. ($1.25ea/$3.75 total)
3-3″ mesh pots. ($1ea/$3 total)
Rockwool cubes to start plants in. (Way more than I need – $10)
Hydroton (Way more than I need – $6)
Chrome duct tape (because more reflective surfaces for light = good thing, right?) ($1.50)
Velcro ties (aren’t long enough, going to be replaced with 12″ zip ties this week – they hold it but not as securely as I’d like.)
1.5gal Brita water dispenser like this one – mine is not electronic and I’ve taken the white plastic insert out of it completely, so it holds more than the “1.13″ gallons it claims. (already had – $25 if you had to buy one)
SunBlaze T5 21″ (need a longer one, will probably replace with 2-48″) ($25)
Zoo Med AquaSun 24 hour timer. ($15)
Started with Lilly Miller Alaska Fish Fertilizer, because it was the only ‘non burning’ fertilizer I could find locally. (I’ve ordered Botanicare CNS17, and Botanicare SeaPlex, which should hopefully arrive tonight. The Alaska stiiiiiinks.) ($10)
1-silicon potholder I bought at the dollar store, cut up into small squares and placed under the plastic connecters of the wire cube to prevent melting. (not pictured, it was added after the first set of pictures) ($1)
Total potential cost: $144.75 – I had many of the parts already, so didn’t pay that out of pocket for this setup but it is probably about that when I factor in the cost of the replacement parts I’ve ordered.
I have the cubes configured in a 2-wide, 3-tall setup. On top of the heater, it puts my top container at about 6′ from the floor. The air pump sits on the water reservoir, on a table to the left of the heater, about level with the bottom of the cubes.
I cut the front hole in all three Evian bottles before I cut the hole in the bottom for the cap to fit in – don’t do this. It makes the plastic much harder to work with. I wound up cutting the top container opening too high, resulting in water spitting out the front from the air lift. This was fixed by putting a cheap plastic sandwich baggie over the top and tucking the ends into the hydroton, which works as a splash guard. I’ll probably end up replacing this bottle and using it as the middle or bottom container when we set up the second string. Drilling into the caps was super easy and I accomplished that with a pen knife. The bottom container’s cap was fit with the clear vinyl tubing, which was originally attached to the black aquarium tubing and set in the bucket, but now it’s all just the clear vinyl and feeds back into the top of the water dispenser.
Bottom half of bottles were wrapped with chrome duct tape, mostly because oooh shiny but also because I thought having more reflective surfaces would be a good thing, since I’ll be using grow lights this winter.
Stacked them and velcroed to the center line of the cube unit. Found out that the velcro wasn’t nearly long enough, so there’s two per unit for top and bottom with nothing supporting the middle container but pressure of the other two containers and gravity. This will be rectified as soon as my long zip ties arrive. It’s stable, but not as stable as I’d like.
The vinyl tubing was run and leak tested and boy, howdy, did it leak. It’s just slightly too big for all of the aquarium fittings, so I scrounged up my old black airline tubing and imped it all together, which made it watertight. I wanted the clear tubing so I could see any problems with water pressure when starting out, so I could correct it before replacing with the black tubing.
The original reservoir had the bottom tube running into a 2gal bucket sitting on the floor. This worked for about 2 hours and then lost pressure to the point where the water only made it halfway up the tubing. Because I fail at physics and apparently didn’t grasp that the water supply should have, y’know, pressure.
After much more reading on here, I was intrigued by Lincoln Jones’ post detailing his use of a water dispenser. We went to the store and purchased a 1.5gal container of water with a dispenser spigot, took it home, and aquarium-caulked tubing into the spigot. Failure – it kept leaking, no matter how much caulk was globbed into it. There was no way to thread the tubing through the dispenser, and the second time it dumped water all over my floor, I was hard pressed to not take it outside and see how far I could drop kick it.
Then I recalled that I had an old Brita dispenser sitting on top of the kitchen pantry. The white plastic insert lifted right out, leaving me with a clear dispenser much like the one in Lincoln’s picture. The top of the spigot also unscrewed, joy of joys.
Took one of the plastic bits from the Discard A Stone set, and cut one prong off it. Using aquarium caulk, I glued it into a 8″ piece of vinyl tubing. When it dried, I dropped it into the spigot, and then screwed the spigot top back on to see if it fit. It did. I now had a spigot I could turn on and off. Unscrewed the top of the spigot, put more aquarium caulk down the spigot, let it dry, checked the seal to make sure it was water tight – and it was, yay for that. Screwed the spigot top back on a final time, and then filled it with water to check that the seal was still water tight – and it was. We were in business.
Used a piece of the black aquarium hose to connect the 8″ from the dispenser to the water supply hose of the airlift, which is about 7′ of hose coiled on the floor. The air pump is sitting on top of the water dispenser to ensure it was higher than the water supply. This works, but is obviously not the most ideal setup. Due to the electrical outlet and lack of extension cord, it’s my only option at the moment.
Turned the spigot on and let water run down into the water supply side of the hose. Then turned on the air pump. I was very glad I had a drip shield on the top container, because the pressure sent the bubbles of water spitting out at force. It is, in fact, giving my plants too much water. I’ve purchased a new pump with adjustable air flow (should be waiting for me when I get home today), and purchased a timer.
The problem with the timer is, when the water starts up again, it bubbles back into the reservoir. We’re going to try a longer length of tubing on the floor because I suspect the airlift is less high than the water supply hose at this point. So for now, the timer isn’t being used. The light is still in its horizontal placement over the baby plants, but the plan is to buy longer SunBlazes and put them vertically on either side of the containers, held to the wire cubes with zip ties. The nice thing about the SunBlazes is that they come with a connector to daisy chain, so they only require one electrical outlet. I have absolutely no information about water pH or nutrient content or anything at this point – this was the ‘can I get it running?’ stage. The next stage is ‘can I keep the plants alive in it?’
Even with the high water output – it works. Of course, in the process, I’ve replaced a bunch of parts and already started enough plants that I have to start a second string of containers. So there will be an update to this post shortly, which will contain better pictures of the reservoir setup. Below are the camera pictures I took of the very first setup, which as mentioned only worked for about 2 hours.
But part of the fun of DIY is tinkering, right? Right.
Image of the top planter with its baggie splash hood
First two planters, containing lettuce, with the baby plant tray and light behind on the left. Light is not on. It is about 1.5″ wide. There’s no velcro on the middle planter because I ran out of velcro ties. Zip ties arriving (hopefully) tonight.
This was the first reservoir attempt, which failed utterly. The airline tubing wouldn’t stay in the bottom, even when I had it wound through a tupperware container full of rocks and a jar candle sitting on it. It was also not set up to put any water pressure into the tubing. This has since been fixed. It worked for about 2 hours and then lost pressure completely. We’ve redone the reservoir entirely – this is just a picture so you can all cringe at my completely horrible first attempt. I fail at physics.
7:26 am in Being a good member of this community, Completed Window Farms, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, Plants, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process by Arelys Fernandez
Here is my Windowfarm 4 weeks later after transfering plants grown from seeds. They were grown in soil as seedlings and I washed all dirt off from roots 1 month later. They recovered from shock rather quickly. The nutrients I used or the first 3 weeks was Botanicare Pur Blend Pro grow. Now the are using Botanicare Pure Blend Pro bloom. I hope to get flowers soon on my tomato plants!
Here are pictures of what I am growing:[/captiion]
I have also uploaded a short video on Youtube. Arelys 2nd Windowfarm 4 weeks later
I put some baby lettuce plants into my tower while I grew some stuff from seed. I cleaned out as much dirt from the roots as possible.
They get full south sun, but still air, and a 65-68F environment. I started them on 15m water every 2 hours, but then I noticed some browning leaves and a bit of mold inside the cups. Someone said that means they are too wet, so I dropped the water to every 3 or 4 hours. Then the plants started wilting.
I have totally cleaned out the unit and recupped the lettuce, but I don’t want the mold to come back. The mold was totally contained inside the cups. What kind of water schedule should I use? Or is it caused by other environmental factors like the still air/cool weather/water pH/water not changed enough/etc…?
I have finally completed my windowfarm, and transferred my baby plants! So far it was neat watching the plants grow from seeds. I hope they bear fruit. I have 2 spinach plants, 2 different tomatoe plants, 3brocolli plants, and 3 mint plants, and 1 lettuce plant! I used the air T-lift system to get the water pumped to the top.
I’m interested in growing some “larger” vegetables in my WindowFarm, like lettuce, and I was curious if anyone had any experience with store-bought modified containers. Most shower caddies have hooks for (curtain) rods, and sturdy hanging plastic bins (easy enough to cut a small hole through). Would anyone be up for the challenge to take make a lean mean salad machine out of this?
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.
I’m looking for any advice on how to maximize yield from crops. I have some Bibb lettuce that is now out of control and I’d love to start eating some , but I’d like to keep the plants growing and turning out new leaves as much as possible.
Does anyone have any guidance on how to maximize yield for lettuces, kale, basil, etc? Pick leaves randomly along the stems? pick only mature leaves? pick up to half the leaves? only up to a quarter or eighth or sixteenth?
Thanks for any thoughts / experiences.