Over the past few weeks, after adding nutrients to my seedlings, they started to grow startlingly fast. They went from this:
The arugula even began to flower, which -although beautiful – may not be such a good thing:
I knew it was high time to install them into the Windowfarm, but – frankly – I was stalling. The plants were thriving in their little grow-light world, and transferring them to the window would introduce a whole lot of unknowns: what if the winter light wasn’t sufficient? What if it was too cold and drafty in the window? What if the whole contraption just didn’t work? I was kind of waiting for my dad to come back and help me set it up, but his next visit wasn’t for a few months. I was on my own and this past weekend was the time. I set aside Sunday afternoon and lowered my expectations.
Because the bottle set up had already been done months before, there were only a few steps left to go – all thoroughly outlined on the Windowfarm site. The first task was to transfer the seedlings to their netcups and secure them with clay pellets. Easy enough.
Installing them into the plastic bottles was really easy – they just popped right in. Next up was attaching the air pump to the bottom bottle reservoir. Also easy, as it connected with this snap-lock.
The bottom tube connects easily to the air pump, which in turn connects to a timer, which plugs into an outlet.
I filled up the bottom bottles with nutrient-spiked water, turned on the pump and – lo and behold – water made its way up the tubes, dripped into the top bottle (watering the first plant) and then made its way down through the subsequent bottles back down to the reservoir! Awesome!
It ran for 15 minutes, stopped for 15 minutes and kept on going. This was definitely going to be an improvement over making sure my seedlings were watered frequently enough in this dry climate (which sometimes had me getting up in the middle of the night – I was obsessed). But then I noticed a little something. Drip. Drip. Drip. Slowly but surly, water was leaking out of the bottom bottle. Shit. I took a break to eat dinner and the little drips had turned into a tiny lake on my windowsill. Sigh. At least I was expecting something along these lines. I doctored it up with duct tape and set containers underneath to catch the flow. Oddly enough, the first night quite a bit of water leaked out, but the subsequent nights it stopped. I have no idea why.
So this is day 4 of my Windowfarming experiment and so far so good. Of course, it’s too early to tell how they are adjusting to their new environment, but I’m starting to think about the next phase. Questions like: how does one hand pollinate tomatoes? And how soon can you harvest each type of plant?
The “farm” is installed in my daughters’ room and is a funny Rube-Goldberg like contraption. For city kids, this food-growing experiment is a novelty, one I am hoping will make them into gardeners sooner or later.
In the meantime, I’m thinking about other “crops” we can cultivate indoors: pea shoots? Mushrooms? Ginger? And I’m having fun on Sprout Robot, a web service where you put in your zip code and they will help you plan your garden – everything from watering reminders to actually sending you the seeds! You can choose between a garden plot or containers but, alas, there is no option for the indoor farmer. Yet.