Friday, March 11, 2011

Week 7 - Attack of the algae!

March 4, 2011

My poor tomato's bottom leaves have gone from gnarly to really crunchy. Oops haha.

Not too much chlorophyll going on in these guys. I do, however, have some tomato flowers showing up!

The broccoli seems to be doing a little better, the leaves are getting really frilly. Hopefully this means that I might have a broccoli head on the way! I have been feeding the column flowering nutes so maybe it will start to flower.

It's a jungle!

Yay for beans! The BF and I have eaten two of them already. Those spots on the leaves have gotten worse though. I have no clue what this is! Most of the leaves are really healthy, its just the few that look messed up.

I am thinking I might take these leaves off if they start to get really messed up. But I don't want to cause the plant too much trauma either.

Now here we have a shot of the reservoir... this week I started to flush the system because I heard that you should flush with water before you eat anything. Not too sure why this is, but I wanted to try it out. Truthfully, I took this picture so you can compare to the horrors that are plaguing my second column...

 Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! It's the ATTACK OF THE ALGAE!!!

Gross. I don't know if it is the white duct tape, or the tempest stuff, but I don't have algae in the first column that I built. It's in the airlift and everything. It's EVERYWHERE! The other pepper doesn't show algae, but it has a bunch of salt on it's leaves.

Hopefully I can figure out this problem by next week. I shall keep you posted!

Week 6 - Bountiful Beans

February 26, 2011

Yay I have lots of beans! Well if you compare it to what I had before, which is no beans.

The tomato grew a little more this week. The new leaves are not showing those brown spots, so hopefully the nutrient lock up is not as bad. I still have to get some pH down. The hydro store is in the opposite end of town so it is a pain in the butt to get down there.

The broccoli is a lot less droopy too! Poor thing. They tend to rebound fairly quickly, however. It's probably pretty boring for a plant without a little bit of adversity once and a while... right?

Now as far as the peppers go, one bottle seems to be doing ok, but the other... not so much. There is some weird brown stuff going on in the tempest stuff. Still not impressed with it. I'm sorry for the blurry photos. I didn't have much time this week so I snapped a few and did not review them.

The stevia grew a little bit, but it looks like I'm getting algae. Bad news. I called the hydroponics store and they said that they carry 1/4" black tubing, so when I eventually get down there I'll pick some of that up too. The next column I build will definitely have black tubing. One less place for algae to grow.

That's all I did this week. Happy window farming!

Week 5 - Problems starting to manifest

February 19, 2011

This week things went a little bit downhill. I have been having some issues with my airlift, every once and a while it will decide to stop working. Which really sucks for my plants, especially if I am at work when the airlift starts bubbling into the reservoir and not lifting.

Here is my poor little broccoli. While the leaves have begun to fill out a bit more, it wasn't getting water for a while so it is a little saggy.

Also my tomato is showing more signs of stress. I haven't been able to get some pH down yet, and I think that I have some nutrient lock out going on.

At least we have been getting more clear skies and sunny days! It makes the tomato look a little less sad.

It seems that my bean plant is suffering too. I'm not sure if this is the same thing that is afflicting the tomato, however seeing as they are connected to the same reservoir, it probably is nutrient lock out for this guy too.

I have been watering my houseplants with the leftover nutes, and now there is some white stuff in the soil. Not too sure what this is...

The peppers and stevia have not shown much progress since last week. I think that the nutes dripping right onto the leaves of the plants is really bothering them. Unfortunately I need a bigger drill bit than the one that I have so I can put tubes into the caps of the bottles and direct the drips. The white tempest stuff I'm using for a medium seems to be discolouring as well. So far my opinion of this product is dropping every week. Even with it being free!

Also, I have had another causality. The swiss chard kicked the bucket. I have more of it growing in soil so it is not too much of a loss.
R.I.P. Swiss Chard, you will be missed.
Please ignore my horrible paint job... can you tell that I am impatient? Hopefully this gardening stuff will help.

Ok, here is the good news: My bean is coming along swimmingly! I cannot wait to munch.

There is also another baby bean! 

And here we have a few more flowers that are starting to turn into beans.

 Well I think I will leave you with that. Yay for fresh produce in your front window!

Week 4 - Holy cow a BEAN!

February 13, 2011

Here is the update for week 4 of my window farm experiment. This week I purchased a pH testing kit that was in the pet section. It came with a little glass test tube with a lid, a bottle of pH indicator solution, and a little card that tells you what pH you're dealing with. I can't remember how much it was but I am pretty sure it was less than $10.

This is what my pH was for my original column when I tested the nutrients returning to the reservoir. Yikes...
No wonder my tomatoes are suffering. The leaves are turning crunchy and they have brown spots. Hopefully I will be able to get some pH down from the hydro store and then I can lower the pH for my tomatoes.

The ideal pH for tomatoes is around 6 - 6.5 according to this handy source that someone on the windowfarms website found: I recommend checking it out, it lists pH values for a lot of the common veggies and such.  Anything too far away from that pH can cause nutrient lock out, which means that even though you have the nutrients in the reservoir, the plants are unable to absorb them.

My broccoli is growing, but it's kind of lanky compared to the ones in soil.

I'm going to say that we've been having a lot of cloudy days, so it is probably not getting as much sun as it needs to grow into the robust broccoli that I am waiting for.

My bean plant has a bean!!! So exciting. This is the first veggie that has come out of the window farm so far.

And in the bottom bottle of my first column I have some Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'.

For my second column we've already had a casualty. :( It seems that the way I had the airlift tube going into the top bottle the poor little things weren't able to absorb any of the water. I'm beginning to not like this tempest stuff. Hydroton at least absorbs water, but this fluffy white plastic (that is apparently made with recycled pop bottles) does not hold any water at all. This is the result:

Sad day for those two hot peppers. Below is a picture of the top bottle in my second column. You can see the airlift tube on the left. The water ended up just running down the side of the bottle and not dispersing through the medium. The brown spot on the side by the one hot pepper is where the water fell.

The other peppers seem to be doing ok so far. At least once the nutes go through the top bottle they are centred and drip down to the other guys. It drips directly on top of them, however, and I'm not sure they really enjoy that. You can see the salt build up on the leaves.

Here is what I used to mix up my nutes this week:

After mixing up a fresh batch of nutrients for my window farm, I used that pH testing kit to see what it is at before it goes through the plants.

As you can see, the fresh nutes are almost the correct pH after being mixed. I will still have to go get some more pH down from the local hydroponics store, as the water is quite alkaline. Maybe in the future I'll do a more in depth study of the pH changes in a window farm.

When I change out the nutrients every week, I dump them into my houseplants or I water my other veggies with it. I have a schleffera (umbrella tree plant) that hasn't been doing much of anything for a while. It was starting to lose it leaves, probably because of the cold blasts of air from outside. I trimmed it back a while ago but it was dormant for a few months. Ever since I started watering it with the used nutes, it has come back to life!

Yay for little baby sprouts! I am pleased that Garfunkel is going to fill out. He was looking pretty pathetic for a while there. I have also started to try my hand at a little bonsai. I bought an inexpensive China Doll shrub and hacked it to pieces! I have yet to decide if I want it to be only one trunk or not.

Well that is all I have for this week, thanks for reading!