This is what I have so far. I started from seed. They are sprouting well, except the cilantro which hasn’t yet. I just added the correct amount of nutrients to the reservoir for a gallon tank(this is after first week of constant water circulation). What do I do now? Do I keep the pump on? Should I look at a PH guide for these specific veggies? Even get a meter? I’m a newb. HELP! My windowfarm update 1.1.11
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How to choose, size, connect and maintain a filter adequate for your needs.
Reverse osmosis home filtration systems provide large volumes of pure, clean, color- and odor-free water for people, pets and plants. A “hard wired” RO hyperfiltration unit is a convenience easily within reach of the average DIYer.
A domestic DIY-ready RO system typically consists of several components, often sold as a kit along with an installation instruction manual:
1. Filter Array—four to six filters mounted on a hangable metal housing. Units with more filters deliver slightly cleaner water. All the filters in the array are pre-connected by the manufacturer, so hookup is a snap. An automatic shutoff valve is usually part of the array.
2. Holding tank—a 3 to 6 gallon capacity pressurized vessel that stores filtered water ready to flow to a sink- or counter-mounted faucet. Until direct flow systems hit the market recently, the RO process has been too slow to instantly provide a gallon or two of filtered water, hence the need for a tank. Tankless direct flow units are pricier.
3. Faucet mounted in a convenient location, usually on the kitchen sink.
4. 1/4″ plastic hoses to connect the filter array to feed water and to the faucet, and for waste water discharge
5. Feed water valve: either self-piercing saddle type, identical to an ice maker supply setup that taps into a water pipe; or a ball valve installed in-line in the riser tube of a sink’s cold water supply.
How RO System Filters Purify Water
Water flows through the filters in the array and is successively cleaned in “stages” as follows:
* Stage 1 Prefilter, 1 – 5 micron—removes sediment, suspended rust and sand.
* Stage 2 Prefilter, granular activated carbon (GAC) 1 to 5 micron—removes most chlorine, organic chemicals, taste, color and odor.
* Stage 3 Prefilter, either a second GAC or an activated carbon block, 1 to 5 micron—further removes chemical entities Stage 2 filter missed.
* Stage 4 Filter, osmotic membrane—the workhorse filter that gives the system its name. Removes 92% to 98% of all remaining chemicals and dissolved solids in tap water.
* Stage 5 Postfilter, deionization (DI)—removes remaining dissolved solids. Premium systems have 2 of these when ultra pure water is needed for aquariums, hydroponics and laboratories.
Selecting a Reverse Osmosis System: How Large?
The EPA estimates that the average adult consumes 2.0 L (about 1/2 gallon) of drinking water per day. Choose an RO system with a filtration capacity sufficient to meet typical family needs and “surges” like parties that require extra water for coffee, drink mixes and the like. A unit that generates 3 GPH (gallons per hour) has about the same capacity as one rated at 75 GPD (gallons per day), and is large enough for most households.
RO System Pre-Installation Considerations
1. Many RO systems require a minimum water pressure of 40 psi. Booster pumps are available if pressure is a problem.
2. Consider a whole-house filter, ahead of the RO unit, if incoming municipal or well water is unusually turbid or rusty.
3. Choose a spot for the filter array (approximately 18” H x 18” W x 8” D) that’s easy to access, since the unit needs to be serviced twice a year. If the undersink area is too small to stand or hang the array, consider a basement, utility room, etc.
4. Select a location for the holding tank (approximately 18” H x 12” W x 12” D). It can be spotted anywhere up to 30 feet away from the filter unit.
5. If there’s no available kitchen sink-top hole to install the added separate purified water faucet, replace the kitchen faucet with a pullout spray head model to free up the sprayer hole. Alternatively, drill a new dedicated hole in the countertop or sink. Careful: porcelain, marble, granite and some composites may shatter or crack unless a specialty drill bit and proper technique are used.
6. Supplies needed: common hand tools and perhaps an electric drill; Teflon thread paste or tape; extra 1/4″ plastic tubing for longer runs and cable ties to dress up the job; a basin wrench to reach up to faucet nuts under the sink; flashlight; wall or cabinet anchor screw hardware.
Step-by-Step: How to Install the RO System
1. First install the faucet (often the most difficult part of the project) on or near the sink. A basin wrench often comes in handy here.
2. Run 1/4″ tubing from the faucet to where the filter array will be spotted.
3. Mount the filter array where desired. Place a drip pan under it to catch inevitable small leaks.
4. Place the storage tank in desired location.
5. Connect the feed water valve to a cold (not hot!) water line and run tubing to the filter array.
6. Run a water discharge line from the filter array to a floor drain or utility sink; or into a sink drainpipe above the trap via a saddle usually supplied in RO “kits.”
7. Connect the storage tank to the filter array.
8. Check all hoses and fittings per the instruction manual. With the faucet open and the valve on the storage tank closed, open the feed water valve. Recheck fittings and eliminate leaks.
9. When water flows from the faucet, close it, open the storage tank valve, and let the system “charge” for several hours. When clean water has filled the tank the system usually shuts off automatically. Charging is complete when water stops flowing from the discharge tube.
10. Purge the system: open the faucet and let the water run down the drain until only a dribble emerges. This step rids the system of any residual debris.
11. Close the faucet and let the system recharge. Enjoy clean water!
How To Maintain the Reverse Osmosis System
Except for the osmotic membrane, which lasts two to three years, change out filters approximately every 6 months or 6,000 gallons. The stage 1 paper prefilter usually fouls faster than the others. To save money, obtain an extra filter and clean the dirty one instead of replacing it with a new one.
Written by: the Mad Farmers at SAN DIEGO HYDROPONICS AND ORGANICS
After your seedlings are planted in a hydroton basket (*1) (I recommend hydroton pebbles because they can be re-used many times, they are pH neutral, and releases no nutrients into the equation)
When water is ready and dechlorinated (http://our.windowfarms.org/2010/03/23/the-importance-of-water/) mix in the following Base Nutrients:
*) Maxsea 16-16-16 all in one powder
~A great product that is perfect for the new hobbyist due to its affordability and easy dosage is Maxsea (*2). It is a blend of quality North Atlantic seaweed, quick acting, liquid soluble nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other micro-nutrients.
For those willing to delve into their Windowfarm experiment further~
1) Aqua Flakes A & B by House and Garden
~The special composition of the nutrient solution leaves the water reservoir pure and keeps it fresh. At the same time it provides an excellent balanced nutrient, ensuring the optimal absorption at the root zone. Aqua Flakes base nutrient is composed of liquid nutrients and trace elements and contains no bulking agents (100% organic products bulk up and are too thick for airlifts) which make the transfer from the root zone to the plant easier.
~ Use from seedling to harvest (veg >flower)
~2ml/1 gallon of water * every week increase A & B by 1 ml
~NPK= 3.1 – 0 – 3.4 / 1.5 – 3.4 – 6.5 (N= nitrogen – P=phosphorus – K=potassium)
2) Drip Clean by House and Garden
~Drip Clean forms an ionic bond with salts, making it impossible for them to build up in the hydroponic medium or root system.
~Use from seedling to harvest (veg >flower). This will reduce need to flush plants before harvest.
~All natural derived from phosphoric acid and potassium oxide
~ NPK= 0 -18.7 – 6.1
3) Seaweed Foliar Spray by Nitrozyme
~Packs it with maximum levels of amino acids, enzymes, micro nutrients, plant hormones (auxins, cytokins, gibberllins) and soil biology that encourages vigorous and healthy plant growth. Plants under stress are unable to produce sufficient cytokinins, the natural plant growth hormones which are necessary for plant growth, nutrient mobilization and distribution, germination, cell division, root development, flowering and seed formation. These naturally occurring hormones have a very pronounced effect on the growth of plant cells and regulate delicate physiological plant processes.
~ Spray on weekly during veg, (bi-monthly for Aquaponics) but iIf flowering is in progress more flowering will occur.
~ 7-10ml per 1 gallon (pour in a spray bottle)
4) Great White Mycorrhizae by Plant Success
~This will enable your plants to break down and absorb nutrients efficiently and effectively. Also, it will increase water uptake and the overall absorption area of the root system, resulting in a healthier plant. Mycorrhizae is a combination of beneficial bacteria, and plant vitamins
~Use ONLY ONCE or TWICE per HARVEST
~ 1/2 scoop per 1 gallon
Remember all of this is trial and error, and there are several similar products on the market, but this advice has been tested on my Windowfarm.
*1 = http://stores.northcoasthydroponics.com/-strse-22567/Hydroton-Clay-Pebbles-10/Detail.bok
*2 = http://www.highcountrygardens.com/catalog/product/H0042 <– cheapest price I’ve seen
by: Holly Johnson
Remember to join the group ‘Nutrients basic to advanced’ for more updates/ recipe ideas!
Just got the system up and tested it overnight for any leaks etc. before adding the plants. I attached the lights to the bars instead of suspending them as it seemed easier. Success! No leaks or pooling. I think there might have been a slight clog in one of the drip valves, but I blew into the tube slightly to release it, which worked.
Getting ready to put the seedlings into net pots and install, but I’m trying to figure out the timing of the lights and nutrients first. I have a feeling it’s going to be a bit of trial & error. Since my 47″ reservoirs hold 2.6 gallons of water, I’m going to pour 2 gallons into the reservoir to make sure that my pump is always submerged in water. To balance the PH level in the water, I am using a tester kit and PH-Up and PH-Down to adjust the level according to this PH chart for hydroponic gardeners. My mix of herbs (Oregano, Thyme, Parsley, Sage, Verbena, Lavender, Sweet Basil), vegetables (Endive, Hot Peppers, Lettuce) & flowers (Morning Glory, Moonflower, Echinacea) warrants a 5.5-6 to keep everyone happy, I think.
For nutrients, I am using the following products measured to proportion with 2 gallons of water:
(L to R: PH-Up, PH tester, PH-Down, Drip Clean, Multi Zen, Roots Excelerator, Magic Green, Aqua Flakes A, Aqua Flakes B)
My contact at the local hydro store recommended that I turn the drip on 3x a day for 15 minutes to begin with (sun-up, midday, lights off) and to keep the lights on for 18 HRS a day starting from sun-up even though my windows face South.
Here we are at only 22 days since I transplanted my strawberries. They look healthly and are producing lots of flowers. A couple of them look they may turn into fruit, but I have never observed them closely enough in the garden before to know the stages of developement. I am hopeful.
This video was taken more recently on March 30th, 2010:
This is an update after the 1st week of growing in the 1st vertical plant tower and after building/planting in the 2nd vertical tower of our hydroponic window farm.
We have learned a few things just in the 1st week of setting up, planting and running our hydroponic window farm that I would like to share with you.
* Mentioned it in my last post, but I cannot stress enough, water quality is VERY IMPORTANT. The first couple of days I used our city tap water to power the 1st vertical plant tower(before my first video/blog until 3/22/2010). This was also before I purchased a simple PH testing kit. The electronic ones are nice, but I stuck with the manual method using a small container and drops to gauge the PH for costs reasons, plus I don’t think I’ll have to use it that often due to the reservoir sizes and the water I use now. I tested the PH of the city tap water I was using and it was over 7 which is not good. Aside from an unbalance PH, the city tap water also contains chlorine, flouride, other chemicals and various minerals. Even though water can be naturally dechlorinated by letting it sit 24-48hrs in an uncovered bucket, you still have to worry about all of the other nasty stuff and the PH of the water. Now, I could go through the trouble of filtering my water which I may do in some form or fashion in the future, but I find it easier and cheaper to purchase RO(Reverse Osmosis) water locally from 1 of the 2 sources less than a mile away which I did and I can happily say I’m now using it. Right out of the gate, the PH was perfect and no impurities whatsoever. An unbalanced PH can cause the plants to stop uptaking some or all nutrients in order to protect itself(from what I’ve read), same with all of the other chemicals inside the water. We do have some indoor AC units that collect several gallons of condensation daily in collection containers when they are working hard all day to cool down the apartment, so we will probably look into using that water instead when the time comes to keep them on. We are also considering purchasing an atmospheric water generator such as an Ecoloblue which also collects water from the atmosphere/humidity in the air, but also filters it afterwards which allows it to be used for drinking/cooking etc(7-8 gallons a day!) and the hydro reservoirs.
* Adequate lighting is also very important to keep the plants photosynthesizing which equals produce! I think it’s probably safe to say that most window farms will probably not have 100% of the needed light to produce as quickly or as much as most people desire, but I could be wrong here. That is certainly the situation in our setup and while we try to use the natural sunlight when it’s available for a few hours a day, we’ve supplemented to make up for the lack of desired light. We added a 4ft 54W florescent bulb complete with reflector to our window farm and attached to the sliding glass door facing the vertical plant towers. We reshaped the reflector to open up and allow for light to be casted almost 180 degrees towards the side of the plants which I believe really helps the light be as efficient as possible and keeping unwanted light from shining out of our window towards the neighbors. You can tell the plants really are reaching to grow towards the light, so much that I’m going to need to move the vertical plant tower back just a hair to keep them from touching it, hehe. I have the light on a timer for 12hr on/12hr off(6:30am to 6:30pm).
* Attaching the wooden dowels that support all of the plant containers on the vertical plant tower to the reservior for extra support sounded like a good idea at first, but presented some logistical maintenance problems later on. We corrected this by mounting a aluminum L bracket (the kind designed to hold up a simple shelf) to the top of the window area so they wooden dowels can held straight up via a hook driven into the top of the dowel and inserted into a hole on the end of the L bracket. All of the weight of the plants/dowel is resting on the floor via the bottom of the wooden dowel and the hook/L bracket assembly is to keep it from tipping over. This allows for us to easily move or rotate the vertical plant tower and remove the reservior for water maintenance(water replacment and cleaning). This will also allow me to move the vertical plant towers back some from the light as I mentioned above with a simple modification or two.
* We are using the caps that came with the bottles and recreated the holes in them to be smaller directly in the middle of the cap. The plan does not call for these caps AFAIK. Why did I use them? To keep water from splashing out of the containers onto the floor. Without the caps or using caps with large holes in them allows for water to flow unevenly which results in droplets that are thrown out the container and that adds up quickly over a few days. I recut the caps to use a smaller hole(5mm) and this seems to work very well.
Recap of plants we have growing, locations and dates planted
Plants on 1st vertical tower(far left) from top to bottom – planted on 20100321:
1. Butterleaf Lettuce
2. Green Beans
Plants on 2nd vertical tower(middle or right) from top to bottom – planted on 20100330:
1. Brussel Sprouts
I thought it would be interesting to do a little math on the cost to run the light and pump. With my current setup(1x 54W florescent light and 1x Petco 9904 pump), assuming a 30day month and $0.15/KWh power rate, it costs a mere approximate of $3.50 a month to run the light 12hrs a day and the pump non-stop. Not bad!!
Our future plan is to put a 3 vertical plant tower in the same window on the far right. In order to do so, we will need to purchase another 4ft 54W florescent light w/ reflector(lights can be daisy-chained together out of the box), another air pump and 4 more 1.5L Ozarka water bottles. We pre-purchased all of the other materials with the expectations of creating at least 3 vertical plant towers total.
Will try to post an update in about a week’s time. Happy window farming!
With any medium for your Windowfarm, rather it be hydroponics or aquaponics, you start with the first element: WATER. Many new gardeners tend to overlook this basic step, and just pour it in. If you are using water from your tap, one thing to put into consideration before adding any additional nutrients is to simply check your parts per million (ppm) and your waters acids and bases (pH).
The only “pure” water in nature is rain water. The sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals called total dissolved solids (tds) and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity. (*1). Water contains a variety of trace minerals such as: fluoride, boron (Bo), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo) and selenium (Se).
Now you may ask, “how small is a part per million?” The simplest way to put it in perspective is picture a filled bathtub. One drop of water is 2 ppm of a bathtub full of water (*2).
One great tool to have for your window farm is a Hanna Digital meter. I chose the HI-98129 (below *3), so that I can have the most accurate reading of my ppm and pH levels of my water before I add the water to my window farm. Do a reading and collaboration, let your water sit out for 24 hours (natural dechlorination) before adding nutrients to you system and you will lessen your chance of giving your plants too much nutrients which will kill them.
If you pay attention to your water, you will have happier and healthier plants!
By: Holly Johnson
2= http://www.swep.com.au/pdf/drinking water.pdf