Window Farms

Aquaponics & Apartments


Window farms are “vertical, hydroponic, modular, low-energy, high-yield edible window gardens built using low-impact or recycled local materials.”  This author of this description is Windowfarms.org, an organization started in Brooklyn with the stated goal of setting up these systems in apartment windows all over New York City.  If you are one of the guilty ones who still drinks water out of plastic bottles, you can recycle them into this project. It uses CFLs, a pump, PVC pipe, daylight, drip irrigation, water bottles and a bit of electricity to produce crops inside and year-round.  Essentially the pump is used to drive water up to the drip irrigation system and the CFLs supplement daylight – making winter crop growing possible.  The energy needs of the system are quite low, as CFLs are long-lived and use much less energy than incandescent lamps.  The pump is off most of the time and is only used to push the drip irrigation.
Of course there are many ways to incorporate urban agriculture into an apartment complex from the simple to the sophisticated.  If there are balconies or patios, potted plants work.  If there are raised beds, these can be replanted with herbs, fruits and vegetables.  Small ground-level plots are the least expensive to create.  There are probably multiple codes to consider, but fire escapes are also great places to grow plants.  Tear up the turf grass, create tenant garden plots and watch your water bill go down.  Tenants will care for the vegetable plots themselves, often greatly reducing landscape maintenance expenses as parts of the grounds convert to growing centers and food corridors.  One thing all gardeners seem to share is a love of a little companionship while weeding and watering, so along with seed and cutting sharing, you may see improvements in your tenant relations.


The ultimate in sustainable apartment living and urban farming, however, would be if every tenant had their very own greenhouse.  We feel compelled to give an Innovative Design Shout Out to the architectural firm that designed a private greenhouse for every apartment in a 150 unit high-rise building.
The firm of Knafo Limor Architects and Town Planners wowed the crowd with their design project for an apartment to be built in Wuhan, China known as the AGRO Housing design which is scheduled for occupancy in 2011.  The firm won the coveted Living Steel Award for the design.  The Living Steel Award recognizes those who have achieved the highest performance in sustainable design with projects for developing countries, but this design has full international appeal.

AGROHousing’s concept  is pretty fascinating. The high-rise 150 unit apartment building has 10,000 sq. meters (107,639 sq.ft.) of developed space. Included in the design are a tenant club, a kindergarten as well as the vertical greenhouse for each individual unit.  The property will rely on many sustainable features including solar-based heating and cooling, renewable energy, water conservation, rain harvesting and graywater reuse to achieve its near net-zero water and energy category.
The Chinese government has estimated that half of China’s population will have migrated to cities from rural areas by the end of 2010. This has stressed infrastructure, exacerbated high unemployment and added many issues that can be experienced with massive urbanization. Although green building advisors generally promote urbanization, it does create problems of supply and demand, particularly for foodstuffs.

The Agro Housing project is expected to address some of the issues created when rural residents are living in an urban environment.  It also recognizes and utilizes their farming skills with its urban agriculture set-up. It is hoped that buildings like this one will reduce demand for some food products in urban areas, reduce poverty and stress, improve nutrition and result in better physical and social health.

With occupancy scheduled for 2011, here are some of the features in thebuilding design that these urban residents will enjoy:
  • The high-rise building melds the feel of urban and rural living
  • A 100 sq.ft. greenhouse is included for each apartment unit
  • Greenhouses use a drip irrigation system developed in Israel (they do not use soil)
  • Plants are grown within an organic medium such as peat moss
  • The irrigation system can be successfully operated by a layperson
  • Residents grow their own organic food and spices – potentially enough to resell
  • The greenhouses help address the difficulty of moving from rural to urban life by integrating the community socially and creating ‘green’ gathering places.
  • The greenhouses are controlled with natural ventilation and solar heating.
  • Tenants produce food that is disease, pesticide and fertilizer free.
  • The drip irrigation system reuses graywater
  • A rooftop terrace garden offers an open green space for recreation and informal gatherings
  • A sky club on the roof is meant to host celebrations, gatherings and events
  • A ground floor kindergarten keeps children close to home
  • Open interiors of individual apartments allow space to be easily re-arranged to accommodate changing family size/needs/work areas
  • The building grounds are minimally developed so the land can be used for rainwater harvesting, exterior gardening and food production.
  • Although paving is minimal to limit building footprint, what little there is will be manufactured from recycled materials.
The Agro Housing greenhouses will be operating through the use of aquaponic farming.  The engineers and designers expect each 100 sq. ft. greenhouse will provide all the produce the tenant family uses each year.  Like other aquaponic systems, the plants grow in a peat moss or coconut shell medium with fish kept in a separate tank.  The drig irrigation system also uses the building graywater and as no heating or cooling is done in the greenhouses – except by natural solar gain and ventilation- the crops are produced almost without expense.  The fish waste is converted by good bacteria that go through a process or two to turn the ammonia into nitrates, which fertilizes the plants. The plants reciprocate by filtering and cleaning the water, which is then returned to the fish.  The fish can also be eaten, so it is a very synergistic approach to agriculture. Of course, the fish must be fed but that is relatively simple.  In this type of system the plants grow very quickly – about one-third to half the time it would take in a conventional summer dirt garden – and they grow very big and healthy.
To see two quick 2 minute teaser videos produced in Australia using an aquaponics system, click here for a linkto a TreeHugger post on the subject.  You may feel a bit jealous when you see the size of the garden produce in the video as it dwarfs anything I’ve been able to raise in my own vegetable plot. Seeing the sort of daily plant growth this system produces outside of the tropics almost seems magical. Another benefit worth mentioning with this greenhouse system is that there is absolutely no weeding.
This is the first project of this type but is expected to be a model for up to 10,000 units in China.  It might also be an excellent model for sustainable urban development right here in the United States.  We already have green roofs and green walls.  Why not greenhouses to match?
If you are interested in greater detail, here is a link to the Specs on the project.
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菜豆生育過程中,主要吸收鉀和氮較多,還要吸收一定量的磷和鈣,才能良好發育。結莢期吸收磷鉀量較大。磷鉀肥對菜豆植株的生長發育、根瘤菌的發育、花芽分化、開花結莢和種子的發育等均有影響。缺乏磷肥,菜豆嫩莢和種子的品質和產量就會降低。缺鈣,幼葉葉片捲曲,葉緣失綠和生長點死亡。缺硼,則根係不發達,影響根瘤菌固氮,使花和豆莢發育不良。 耐陰半陰(大概3-4小時日照) 應選擇耐陰的蔬菜種植,如萵…


◎飼養與管理的重點 只要不是劇烈的變化,錦鯉很容易適應各水溫水質等環境的變化。並不是沒有大庭園就無法飼養,有人甚至在二樓陽台或頂樓陽台造水池飼養。然而我們是欣賞錦鯉雄壯豪邁之氣,因此水池盡量寬闊為宜,以水深1.2m以上為理想。魚池必須有底水排出,過濾循環等設備。用水不一定要取地下水,自來水也可以飼養。
良好的魚餌不會崩壞鯉的體型。餌的量也是在夏天水溫 高的時候,訂定停餌期間,才是整體來說使鯉變胖最重要的秘訣。如果還是想 要給很多餌的話,要增加循還量。錦鯉在水溫超過28度的時候,應給與相當於 鯉全體重量3%的餌。水溫25度時1.5%,水溫20度時0.3%,16度以下則要停止鯉餌,這就是鯉魚長得強壯的要訣。連續不斷地給鯉餌的話,引起內臟障礙, 而影響到鯉不會長壯,甚至導至體型的變歪。


英文版, English version
中文版, Chinese version
西班牙文版, Espanol version 

連通管基本原理 1.連通管原理指的是,在一般開放的空間中,幾個液體容器的底部都相通的裝置,而若任一容器內注入液體,則當液體靜止時,各容器的液面必在同一水平面。

2.兩 端的大氣壓力一樣,但管內兩端的水受重力作用而各自下墜,下墜瞬間,在圓弧頂部拉出一個真空,因真空而有壓力差,此時兩端的大氣壓 力再次從兩端將兩管的水壓回,但壓回的力量是大氣壓力減去管內的水壓(F=(Patm-PH2O)*A),而長管內的水比短管內的水還要重,所以壓回的力 量是短管的壓力大於長管的壓力,所 以,虹吸管內的水就會不斷的由短管端流入而由長管端流出。


4.如果用兩根連通管,但是其中一個連接抽水馬達,此時一根連通管是抽水,所以另一根把水送回,大氣壓力將兩管的水平衡,所 以,一個馬達可以有兩倍的動力,水就會不斷的循環。


簡易潮汐開關 (外部連通管) 1.由於水持續進入水箱,水在水箱和潮汐開關內以同樣的速度上升。(潮汐開關內的底部是連通的)。虹吸管是通到外部的。水會持續上升到外部的開口端。 2.一旦水上升到內部的開口端,它變成一個密封空間。由於水繼續上升,在水箱內水位繼續上升,但速度變慢。同時,水箱內水壓漸大。
(同時會將管道上端部份空氣帶出,因為空氣在管內流動,也是噪音最大的時候) 4.由於水在水箱到達高水位線後,體積空氣被迫壓縮管道,並透過虹吸作用,排出的空氣壓力後,進而開始大量排水。

1.由於水持續進入水箱,水在水箱和潮汐開關內以同樣的速度上升。(潮汐開關內的底部是連通的)。虹吸管是通到外部的。水會持續上升到內部的開口端。 2.一旦水位上升到內部的開口端,直接…