Sunday, February 9, 2014

Getting Ready for 2014

It seems like there's snow falling here every other day now. It's been a few years since I've seen this much snow.

I had to take a bit of a break from the balcony in 2013. With a couple of family vacations that summer I didn't feel I had the time to do much gardening on the balcony. I did manage to get a couple of tomato plants going and they did well until early August when I left them for a week without water. A few parsley plants I planted grew well despite the occasional drought. One thing I planted that grew really well were ground cherries. I had a single plant that sprawled out to dominate one end of the balcony, putting out lots of fruit for most of the summer.

This summer I need to fix up some containers. The large tote that I've been using as a self watering container for a few years now; that has been home to crops like pumpkin, watermelon and tomatoes; sprung a leak and no longer holds water. So it's time to replace it with a new one. Not necessarily something bigger but perhaps something a little more durable. Mind you, I got quite a bit of use out of that old plastic tote.

I've also got some ideas to automate the task of watering. I want to be able to take off for a week and not have to think about watering plants. I'm determined to put my engineering skills to use and solve this problem.


Pete said...

Hi, I read your item on stand-alone watering systems. I share your frustrations about the difficulties of achieving uniform flow rates through all nozzles. I'm trying to water pot plants on a tiny 9th floor Mediterranean balcony whilst I'm away for weeks at a time!
You mentioned "turning your engineering skills"to the problem. What about inserting a tiny battery-powered pump into the feed from reservoir to timer, which switches on & off simultaneously with the timer, or maybe responds to pressure like shower booster pumps do? Just a thought.
Thanks for a great blog!

Jeff said...

I'm thinking of doing just that actually. I'm planning to use a small microcontroller board (arduino) to manage it all, connected to a relay board and some pumps. Quite a few people around the internet are already doing similar things. Don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.