Ich bin ein Windowfarmer!

Over the past few weeks, after adding nutrients to my seedlings, they started to grow startlingly fast.  They went from this:

To this:

And finally, to 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.

  1. #1 by Domaphan on February 8, 2012 - 4:24 pm

    Hey–got any video of the Windowfarm in action? Would love to see it!

  2. #2 by Jennifer on February 8, 2012 - 5:04 pm

    Do you have a baby monitor for the plabnts when you are not in the room with them?

    • #3 by domaphile on February 8, 2012 - 6:09 pm

      I’m always in the room with them.

  3. #4 by prosdocimo on February 8, 2012 - 9:20 pm

    I am somehow reminded of that scene with Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson from Soylent Green with the bicycle generator.

    • #5 by domaphile on February 9, 2012 - 1:01 pm

      That’s funny. Although powering this contraption with a bicycle would be better than having it plugged in all the time (which is one of the downsides of indoor hydroponic windowfarming, thus far). Need to watch Soylent Green again – it’s been a long time!

  4. #6 by Jenny on February 8, 2012 - 11:01 pm

    Wow, so fun!! I hadn’t seen these contraptions before and have now fallen swiftly in love. Keep up the good work!

    • #7 by domaphile on February 9, 2012 - 1:01 pm

      Go for it! If I can do it, anyone can…

  5. #8 by corneliahorne on February 10, 2012 - 9:18 am

    domaphile, great blog title, *props* – which nutrients did you initially use when they were in the plugs?

    • #9 by domaphile on February 10, 2012 - 9:26 am

      Thanks, Comalicious! I used Botanicare Pure Blend Pro Grow (one teaspoon per gallon). It’s the same thing I’m adding to to the water in the windowfarm now. Seems to be working great.

  6. #10 by tegantallullah on February 10, 2012 - 2:16 pm

    Sounds like your window faring exploits are going swimmingly! I’m pretty interested because although I’m lucky enough to have a garden now, I’ll be moving to a city for uni in a few months and probably won’t then. I’m hoping to grow some herbs and salad etc indoors but I imagined it’d just be in pots… I’ve never done anything like this window farming before, do you think it’s easy to carry out as a complete novice?

    Much luck or the ‘next phase’ (: xx

    • #11 by domaphile on February 10, 2012 - 3:31 pm

      Thanks! I definitely recommend windowfarming for the indoors (so far) and I’m a complete novice, too! I will say that putting the whole thing together takes two people and it helps if one of them is handy. There are a range of options, from gathering all the supplies and preparing the bottles yourself (time consuming), to ordering all the components (prepped bottles, pump etc.) and putting it together (not so bad), to ordering the new and improved high-design windowfarm that comes basically assembled. I just ordered one through their Kickstarter campaign (I couldn’t resist), but it hasn’t arrived yet. They will even send you the plants! Definitely the easiest, but most expensive way to go. The online Windowfarming community is really helpful and I have loved being a part of this. Let’s just hope my plants survive! Go for it!

      • #12 by tegantallullah on February 12, 2012 - 4:52 pm

        Haha yeah, all the best for your botanical babies!
        And cheers for the advice, the middle option sounds like a sound idea to me. I’ll give it a Google. (:

  1. Sephardic Eggs: take two! « domaphile

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