Friday, March 11, 2011

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!

1 comment:

  1. Melissa - Thank you so much for your photos and article/post. I also greatly appreciate the link to the PH guide - that was very helpful. Good continued luck with your WF. Looks great!