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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5:18 pm in Completed Window Farms, Getting Started, Help the project by testing this, How-Tos, Materials and Resources, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, Version 2.0 airlift system by Andrew Dodd
Hey everyone, I just built my first V2 airlift system and I thought I’d share some pictures and tips for those of you who are thinking about building one yourself. I made a pdf and hosted it on mediafire via the link below:
It occurred to me the other day that terracotta pots would be a good container for a window farm for the following reasons:
1. They already have a wide top opening and a center hole in the bottom.
2. Terracotta is a tough material that won’t degrade when exposed to sunlight or water.
3. They are opaque which will discourage algae growth.
The disadvantages are:
1. They are heavy, unless you use plastic flower pots.
2. They reduce the amount of recycled material used in construction.
3. Terracotta can chip, crack, or break, which would cause leaks.
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
I’m considering making my bottom reservoir with an assembly of old soy milk cartons. (I have a window sill that it can sit on.) However, one of the soy milk cartons I’m using wasn’t cleaned out properly, and had some mold growing on it. I was able to scrub most of it off, but I’m afraid trace amounts of mold are left. I could use some sort of cleaner (vinegar would probably be my choice) to get rid of it, but I’m not sure if introducing that (would it leave trace amounts?) would be any better than the mold in the first place.
So my question is: how sensitive are the plants to what the water may be in contact with? Is there something I should do to minimize any risk, or should I just abandon this idea?
This gets way nerdy on the pump/plumbing of the Reservoir System. Beware. If you are super nerdy, this is where you can jump in and start making this system better!!
Your reservoir system is a liquid circuit controlled by a pump on a timer. The pump needs to only pump water, not air. Running a water pump dry will kill it. The relationship between the amount of time your pump is turned on by the timer and the gallons per minute flow of your pump dictates a minimum amount of water in your system and, therefore, a minimum size for a sewer pipe reservoir.
However, there is plenty to tinker with here.
Here are notes from my thinking when I wrote that part of the Reservoir system How-to. They are notes that I have not really edited, so ask questions if something is unclear,
Theoretically, let’s say our pump pumps 500gph. That’s about 8.3 gallons per minute. We have decided that we lose about 25% to the curve at the top of the reservoir, and we probably lose about 10% to any remainder at the bottom that is too low for the pump intake. That means that when the bottom reservoir is as full as it can be, only 65% of the water in the tube can actually cycle through the system. So, 65% has to be at least = 8.3 gallons, which means the total pipe capacity if completely full has to be 12.8 gallons.
The pipe formula is
length of pipe = volume in gallons/0.00432900433 x Pi x radiussquared
so when the radius is 4” for the sewer pipe with 1/8” thick walls, the minimum pipe length formula is
GPM/0.21759949= min pipe length
For this 500 GPH pump, minimum pipe length for a one-minute pump-on cycle with the timer we have recommended is
8.3/(0.00432900433 x 3.14159265 x 16)=
and if you want it to rest inside the window sill, that has to have the pump length added to it, which puts us at more like 40”
A typical window is 36” wide. So:
1- Maybe we don’t need this fancy a pump because we are only pumping up about 4+- feet of head. Maybe we could find one that would fit inside the reservoir so we don’t have to suspend it outside.
2- If we still want to use this pump, we should have people make them wider than their windows and suspend them outside the windowframe.
Ecoplus pumps correlated with head and cost are here: http://homeharvest.com/hydroponicpumpssubmersible.htm
(CAUTION: BE of these pumps- several of the ones we ordered did not pump as high as they were rated to pump!! Go a size bigger if you’ve got a tall window and can mount it outside the windowframe!)
Ecoplus 633 – 7.87 feet of head- pumps 633 gph
Absolute Minimum pipe length with our timer is 48.5” +pump, assuming it drains completely within 3 hours
Drip rate needs to be 3.5 gph
½ inch and ¾ inch hose connectors
7.2 inches long (with cover that we remove) by 3.1 inches wide by 4.3 inches tall-
won’t fit in pipe
$46.95 at home harvest
Ecoplus 264- 6.39 feet of head- pumps 264 gph
Absolute Minimum pipe length with our timer is 20.22”+pump, assuming it drains completely within 3 hours
Drip rate needs to be 1.5 gph
½ inch and ¾ inch hose connectors
6.2 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches tall-
will fit in pipe $21.95 at home harvest
If you put the Ecoplus 264 pump timer on a two minute duration cycle, you’d pump 8.8 gallons and your pipe would have to be 40.44”+pump long.
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.
This Sunday, I will be giving a workshop on the Waterpod! I will focus on whatever are the interests of folks who show up. If you bring measurements of your window, I can help make sure you walk away with a sketch of a full reservoir system designed specifically for one of your windows and all the specs for your components. I will also have a demo model of the three tier system with me.
Lots of other fantastic urban ag specialists will be around. Come hang out!
This 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.
This system can churn-out a salad per week, but it is definitely not the place to start if you are a beginner. This was our community’s first design and is a little more of a challenge. The window farm described in this How-To is a reservoir system. A water pump on a timer periodically pumps water and liquid nutrients from the bottom reservoir to the top reservoir. There are small holes drilled into the underside of the top reservoir. Small drip emitters with valves let out a constant drip of water and nutrients into a column of plants. Each plant sits in a grow medium in a net cup (a perforated plastic cup commonly used in hydroponics), within an inverted plastic water bottle. The cap of each water bottle has a hole in it so that the water and nutrients can drip from one bottle to the next, from the top to the bottom of the column of plants. The bottom-most bottles are connected to tubing that takes the water and nutrients into the bottom reservoir, where it sits until the pump turns on again.
Water pump systems are a little more finicky and are susceptible to clogging. Most of the community has moved toward the airlift design so unless you are very comfortable with tools and handy, we suggest trying the airlift how-to.
IMPORTANT ELECTRICAL SAFETY UPDATE!!! Please remember to include a drip loop on electrical components of this system. Make sure the cord hangs down below the outlet and then goes back up to plug in. Make sure you do not have an outlet directly under your reservoirs.
Download the PDF of the How To instruction guide here. Please note that we ask anyone who downloads the how-to to register on the site and to come back and post as you build, not just when you’re finished. You give back to the project by participating on the site. Bring questions, ideas, results of your testing various processes. This is a mass collaboration on the R&D of these systems.