Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winter time is Design Time

Well it's been cold enough the last few days to convince me that even if it isn't Winter yet, Winter is on the way. Thanksgiving is next week and my youngest son will be graduating from Navy Basic Training shortly. I've begun sketching ideas for the coming Summer. I want to be able to take a vacation and not worry about my electricity failing and losing all my plants, so this seems like a good year to explore the wonders of passive systems.

Have you seen those dumb watering globes that some folks are peddling on T.V. You fill them up and stick them in your plant container into the dirt and somehow they are supposed to meter the water into the soil. I did a little web research and "surprise, surprise" the vast majority of the comments were very negative. They clog, they don't work right apparently most of the time dumping almost all the water into the soil immediately and flooding the plants. Why am I not surprised? A lot of those $19.95 for the miracle product things on T.V. are just con-jobs. If your experience differs, please let me know.

I mentioned that I picked up a couple of smart valves for one of the passive systems. Then I'm thinking about variations on wick-system design. The other thing I thought I'd do is try to figure out how to use inexpensive float valves to control systems but first I have to find some inexpensive float values — they all seem a bit pricey.

So what elements will I need? It's always a good idea to think about what you're looking for. I think I need: 1) A nutrient tank, 2) Some sort of feeder to feed nutrient into the plant sites, 3) cheap and reliable float valves that work well at low pressure (might just use toilet float values but I want something that is easy to modify), 4) A set of plant containers of some sort, 5) Passive media for the containers.