So, now it has happened to me to. Algae has started to grow in my windowfarm, or rather in the tubes. I knew it would eventually start to grow algae because the tubes are transparent, but that was what my local pet store had. The plants doesn´t seem to have suffered.
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I completed my first window farm column about a month ago. I had started the seeds about two months ago but I have lost the majority of the plants I started already. I started my seeds in rockwool cubes and when they were about an inch tall I transferred them to my window farm. I left them in the rockwool cube and set the cube in a plastic grow basket with clay pellets around the cube. Up until this week I was using tap water combined with Liquid Karma by Botanicare.
The problem I am having is that the water and nutrient formula is adjusted to the correct pH in the reservoir but as it goes through my system it slowly increases. After going through the third bottle, the pH is already too high.
After doing research here and in other forums, I made the following adjustments.
1. Removed the rock wool cubes from the system completely and boiled the clay pellets. The plants are now growing in the baskets with only clay pellets. This adjustment seems to have made a slight impact on the severity of the pH increase through the system, but not enough to keep my plants alive.
2. I switched to distilled water and started to rinse the system and replace nutrient formula every other day. Again, this only made a slight impact on the pH levels. Now the pH doesn’t increase as fast, but after 10 minutes of the system running, the pH is back up above 7.5 in the reservoir.
Thankfully that I have been able to hold onto the remaining few plants by adding a few drops of lime juice to the tank every time I get a break from work (usually about 4 times during the day) but my plants are all less than 3 inches tall and the leaves are starting to turn brown on the very tips.
The remaining plants are beans (I think these could survive nuclear war they are so resilient), two tomatoes, two peppers and three basil that haven’t yet reached 2 inches tall. I lost all of the lettuce, two varieties of peppers, and my hybrid cherry tomatoes.
Anything you can suggest to help me out would be fantastic. I feel like I am taking care of a new puppy because I can’t leave my system alone for a day!
This is the windowfarm I made, very fast with materials on hand, too excited with the project to take my time and work diligently. So it looks awkward and I’m growingly fund of it, because it looks like a big sail on a child’s boat.
I discovered two structural defects after the construction (apart from it’s lack of symetry – which is only an aesthetic issue), and one missing component.
1. If you look closely at the two upper bottles, you will notice that I cut two windows in each bottles and I positionned them one behind the other to face the window pane. A 90 degree turn would have been necessary in order to position them sideways. The result ? One plant is placed behind the other and I’ll have to force it to make a detour to get out through its back window.
As I’m not willing to remove my treillis, it’ll have to stay like this, though.
2. Speaking of the treillis, which is made of three wooden dowels about two and a half foot long, and some bits of yarn, I first pierced holes in two of the bottles so my dowel would get through the bottle right along the diameter’s line. This is a mistake, as I realized as soon as I put the dripping system back on.
Each drop just landed directly over the dowel, soaking it and exploding in small droplets. So I had to modify the holes in the bottles in order to push the dowels aside and allow the droplets to fall where they were intended to.
3. Finally, the missing components are simply the bottle caps. Perforated right in their middle, they would direct the droplets to make them fall in the middle of the next bottle. Right now, a small amount of water is splashing a little bit on the outer sides of the second and third bottle. As I didn ‘t have the bottle caps to begin with, no regrets there, but they would have been handy.
The plants growing in there are (from bottle to top) one Blue Lake climbing bean (germination date : January 27th) and one Trionfo Violet climbing bean (February 5th), two Jewel Mixed nasturtiums in the middle bottle (February 7th) and two tomato plants up there, one Christmas Grape cultivar and one Yellow Pearshaped (February 5th).
The beans are real giants (I expect them to reach 6 foot high or more – I will have to train them down at one point), and the tomatoes are more compact training varieties of an undeterminated habit (e.g. they produce a succession of fruits over a long period of time instead of one main harvest).
The nasturtiums are supposed to grow “only” 16in. high. By the way, nasturtiums are interesting edible plants because you can eat their young leaves and stems as well as their flowers and their seeds (when harvested from the plant while still fresh). All these parts have a peppery taste and the seeds may be used as a good (and economical) substitute to capers, fresh or pickled.