Adding a second column to my windowfarm

Yesterday my windowfarm got a second column of plants. Once I understood the basic mechanics of how a windowfarm works, I set out to make column #2 more attractive. Honestly, I’m not sure I succeeded. The second column looks different though, that much is true.

2column

Perhaps one of these days I'll learn to photograph this better.

Instead of plastic water bottles I used white plastic cups, and instead of string I used ribbon to hang it. Unfortunately the plastic cups are too wide to work well with the 3″ net cups I have. Conveniently, Chobani greek yogurt cups fit almost perfectly. More conveniently, I eat a fair amount of Chobani yogurt (unlike bottled water, which I try to avoid).

ChobaniCup

Cutting the holes is tedious, but not too bad with a fresh, sharp blade.

Like the other column, each cup was given a cotton wick to help discourage splashing. The cups are attached to the ribbon with small metal brads. I confess I’m a little dubious as to how well they’ll hold up once the plants start getting heavier, so each cup got two on each side. The black lift tube was sewn into place along the ribbon.

You can see the two silver brads on the right, connecting the cup to the ribbon.

I realized much too late that the thinner cup plastic won’t allow me to easily attach a hose to the bottom, so I grabbed the bottom of a soda bottle that was lying around and improvised a water collector to sit at the bottom of the stack. The soda bottle bottom is considerably thicker than the rest of the bottle, and I actually had to use a 1/4″ drill bit to get a hole into it.

watercup

The cup is covered in paper to discourage algae growth.

Each column has its own reservoir, which makes water pressure debugging easier. It also may help cut down on contamination if one of the plants gets a fungal or bacterial infection.

reservoir

The reservoir bin is still incredibly ugly.

I’m feeling sort of “meh” about the new column. It’s got some pros and cons, and I think it’s sort of a wash versus the first one.

Advantages:

  • Doesn’t look like water bottles hanging in your window
  • Much easier to remove net cups for cleaning
  • Fairly easy to remove cups from ribbon, should one become damaged or need changing
  • Shorter height means shorter lift tube, making it easier to get water up
  • Inexpensive compared to purchasing water bottles. 50 plastic cups came to under $10.
  • Vaguely better looking

Disadvantages:

  • Looks like disposable cups hanging in your window
  • Not nearly as rigid as the water bottle set up, making it feel more flimsy
  • Cups are made of thinner plastic and more prone to splitting than water bottles
  • Shape of cups makes them more percussive, so dripping water sounds considerably louder
  • Because the bottom is flat, some water collects around the edges which may lead to contamination / algae problems down the line
  • The cup’s brittle plastic means a separate water collector must be used on the bottom to funnel water back into the reservoir
  • Lack of a “top” on each cup means water evaporates more quickly, so the pump may need to run more frequently

In terms of looks, I actually rather like the water collector cup (covered in paper). If it doesn’t look totally soggy and sad in a few weeks, I may make column #3 out of 1 liter soda bottles and scrapbooking paper.

I’ve also noticed that column #2 has a considerably higher water flow rate than column #1. I think this is due to a combination of a shorter lift tube, larger reservoir bottle, and minor differences in the airflow from the pump.

Filed under: Gardening

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