Sunday, August 14, 2016

Window Farm, Version I

Water Pump Window Farm

Window Farm, Version I


We finally put together the first window farm.  We didn't completely research how to manage the window farm with an air pump, so the mechanics are based on moving water through the system using a water pump.

When I was a member of windowfarms.org, the first version was this type of system.  There were reasons for changing to the air lift system, mostly due to using less energy and some discussion about being able to properly oxygenate the water.

We did a test set up with three planters to start with.  The results seem promising, so the remaining 18 pots were set up with plants that should do best year round in this type of set up.

Equipment:

Test start for lemon thyme

We made a ballast to hang the planters from some wood we had around.  I also have old jewelry making cord that was used for the airy macrame planter hangers instead of jute, but jute would look really natural and neutral.  

For the test start, we used one of our favorite herbs, lemon thyme and a random selection of lettuce seeds, but I didn't document which type of lettuce it was.  

The lemon thyme sprouted within 5 days.  We have one lettuce sprout so far from an
Random lettuce sprout
unknown number of seeds planted and unknown type of lettuce.  I'm not sure if the seed viability is the issue or if they are just slow to sprout.

Seed Selections


We have such trouble here with something(s) eating our lettuce and leaf crops that we decided to make the window farm a salad bar.  These types of plants don't need to be pollinated, we don't want them to flower and they seem to adapt really well to this type of growing environment.  The seeds include Lettuce; Black Seed Simpson, Yugoslavian Red Butterhead, Tango, Spanish Mix, Romain, Winter Density, and SloBolt.  Also selected arugula and spinach to finish off the leafy type of greens.  We're going to try out some green onions, cilantro, snow peas and yardlong beans as well.  The vining plants are at the bottom of the window farm.

Window Farm Salad Mix

Setting Up The Plants

  1. The LECA balls were put into a third 5 gallon bucket, covered with a weak nutrient solution to get the plants off to a good start.  The soaking was at least 24 hours in order for the LECA balls to absorb the nutritive solution.  
  2. A single layer of LECA balls were added to the bottom of the net cups.  
  3. The rockwool plugs were added on top of the single layer of LECA balls and then the net cup was dunked into the LECA balls to scoop up and capture LECA balls around the perimeter of the rockwool to keep the plugs centered.  This also wetted the rockwool for the start up.  
  4. Seeds were added to the top of the RockWool or pushed into the Rockwool divot depending on the seed sizes.  
  5. The net pots were dropped into the planters.

The Mechanics

Early Renditions of Window Farms


The mechanics of the system we made is based on one of the first versions of the WindowFarm.  We don't have the bottom pipe, everything just leads to a single bucket.  

We also aren't recycling water bottles.  My issue with the bottles is that the growth is forced in one direction and the humidity inside the bottle may be too much for some plants.  Aside from that, the optics didn't quite suit me.

Many items can be used for the planters as long as a 3" net pot can fit into the top of the chosen planter or somewhere inside the chosen planter.

Next Up


I still want to use the air pump for the Window Farm.  Lim San has created a system with a 7' lift from floor to top of the watering system and has done a fine job of it.  Subscribe to see his modified version which works really well.


An air lift system has been recorded to propel water up 18'!  As far as I can find, this record hasn't been beat yet...  So many possibilities...