Monday, June 4, 2018

Final Post

Hello everyone,

This will be my last post about HydroLoft or the Plant Tube since we are wrapping up Greengineering projects and cleaning them up. Even though I won't be taking the lab version (in the workspace) of this class, I still think someone could learn from my experience and carry on my work. So in this post, I'll talk about what I learned and a possible future path for this project.

What I learned:
I am talking about what I learned in terms of how to grow plants efficiently. I designed and built two systems: Plant Tube and HydroLoft. Both have the purpose of growing the most plants in least space and least resources. The one on top is HydroLoft, and below is Plant Tube
They both managed to grow plants. However, Plant Tube produced much more yield in less time, with less work to create it. (The parsley hasn't grown because it was planted only a few days ago). So why did the Plant Tube grow better?

I don't know for sure, but using my knowledge of plant biology, I can hypothesize. Plant Tube works by being constantly filled with water, which is maintained at a certain level so that the grow cubes the plants are in remain wet. This means that when the seeds germinate, they are surrounded by a semi-inundated environment, so they are unlikely to rot. Important: this only works for some plants! It did not work for growing squash! 

When the roots grow, they will also be engulfed in water, so their roots are absorbing water once they have matured enough to grow outside of that semi-inundated environment. They are now able to absorb the most water without rot. I didn't photograph it, but when I took the cups out of the tubes, the roots were much, much longer and more developed than the roots of the plants in HydroLoft.

This actually makes sense. In nature, plants grow on river banks, which are semi-inundated. The ones that do grow in water, however, grow in still or slow-moving water. Lily pads, for example, typically don't grow in rapids. HydroLoft flooded the tubes and then drained, creating a semi-inundated environment through Van-der-walls forces (the water stayed in the gutter foam due to it simply being stuck to it). However, since the tubes are empty after the fact, the plant roots wouldn't be supported in the same way a flooded but still-water environment would be

Possible future path:

The only problem Plant Tube has is that in order to expand, it would need to do so horizontally, which takes up space. HydroLoft is space-efficient because it takes up space vertically. So how can this system be run vertically?

We can look at how it would be done in an automated manner (not requiring frequent checking). After much thinking and redesign, here is my proposed design:
It might appear to be like the original HydroLoft design, but it has two important modifications: the GroCube and the drainage.

I guess Mr. Deets was right all along about using a GroCube to best grow plants. It will make the semi-inundated environment certain plants need to grow, and the drain will ensure that it only starts filling up the level below when it's full. You would have to measure how much water is lost from the system per day to judge how often the pump would need to be active in order to keep the water at a suitable level.

Unfortunately, I will not be in the Greengineering lab next year, so a student will have to take this over for me. I hope that they find my reports valuable, especially this last one.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, May 31, 2018


Hello everybody,

Recently, I've just been maintaining the plants. Next week, I will work on wrapping up my project and possibly passing it on to a student next year. Below are some pictures. On the left is HydroLoft and on the right is the Plant Tube.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, May 14, 2018

Plant photos

Hello everyone,

The plants have been growing well, that's all that has changed from last class. Below are some pictures. The one on the left is broccoli from the Plant Tube and the one on the right is the Russian kale from the HydroLoft system.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Update: Plants are growing nicely, Plant Tube extended

Hey everyone,

I have had much success recently with the HydroLoft system and the Plant Tube.
This is the HydroLoft system as of May 10. It is growing some wheatgrass, Russian kale, and broccoli. This is a big win for us, and the electronics are working very well. We have attempted to power the battery with solar panels, but the grow light isn't enough, so it will only work when in actual full sunlight. This weekend, I will leave the battery to run for three days and see if it can keep the HydroLoft system working.
To the right is a picture of the Plant Tube. I have planted broccoli seeds and zucchini seeds. Hopefully, those will grow soon and become healthy plants.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, April 23, 2018

April Experiment Sucess

Hello everyone,

My HydroLoft system didn't malfunction for a whole week! Because of this, the plants survived and are growing.

 The growing pipe (GroPipe) is also a success. The water level barely lowered over the week, proving that it is super water-efficient.
My next task is to just keep monitoring the plants and making sure that they are growing well.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, April 20, 2018

Quick note on experiment

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to quickly say that I am leaving my system for nine days over the course of April vacation to see if the system survives. Either my plants will perish, or they'll be thriving. I'll find out the result on Monday.


Monday, April 9, 2018

Bottom Row Germination

Hello everyone,

I have been working on 3 projects lately:

1. The HydroLoft system (old)
On the top, the wheatgrass has been growing well, but the other plants aren't, so I'll probably replace them. The ones on the bottom, I checked them to see if they have sprouted their roots. 3 out of 4 have sprouted their roots, so it is a success so far. The green part should, in theory, rise soon after the roots sprout, so wish me luck!

2. Shallow Water Tray
 This is a plastic tray with water in it. That's all it is. Currently, squash seeds and russian kale is growing in it. I decided to do this project just for fun to see what results it would actually yield. Since the system is open without boundaries, the plants may grow in some unique ways. I accidentally let it dry out over the weekend though, so I might have to re-do it.

3. Gro Cube Pipe
This was inspired by Mr. Deets (a teacher) who made this, but vertical. I added some adjustments  and made it horizontal. It is secured by thin rope and is waterproofed on both ends. The right end has a tube for refilling the water, and the baskets hold gro cubes which contain wheatgrass seeds. Using capillary action, the gro cubes will keep the seeds moist until they grow their roots, which will be able to touch the water at the bottom of the pipe without the gro cube being wet. Hopefully, this will result in a super water efficient system.

Thanks for reading,