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Ideas for a travel-sized system anyone?


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Old 02-17-2011, 04:53 AM
organicgrower organicgrower is offline
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Default Ideas for a travel-sized system anyone?

Currently i am converting a van into a camper, with the intent to travel in it for some time. I have a DIY system in my home, but obviously i want to take my hobbies with me, so i intend to build a compact one for the van too. Im downgrading to cherry tomatoes, maybe herbs too. It is also possible that it may need to be decently watertight...hmm.
Does anyone have an idea of what might be the best kind of system to go with?

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Old 02-22-2011, 02:02 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Where are you planing to travel? How long are you planing to be on the road per day etc.? Do you have pictures of you current systems? Just how much space do you have to work with? Do you have pictures of the van you are converting etc.?
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:06 PM
organicgrower organicgrower is offline
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Well, Im in Australia so theres going to be plenty of sun, i wont need a light. I have no camera, therefore, no photos. As for the amount of space, as little as possible. enough for one, maybe two small plants. Since i dont have many details at this point im really looking for ideas.
what size/ shape to make the reservoir? A length of Pipe, perhaps some kind of malleable bag even.
How can it be powered? A wick doesn't, but a water or air pump would need its own uninterrupted power source. wind turbine on the roof? (I could actually do this, may just for fun)
what is the most effective way to train the plants? In the case of cherry toms, training the vines around the reservoir/pipe, conserving even more space?

I dont really have the experience to think out all of the details myself, so does anyone else have anything?
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Old 02-27-2011, 10:25 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Well I can think of a lot of different things, but they all basically revolve around specific factors. For one you say you have plenty of sun, however you plan to growing inside a van. I don't think the van is made of glass, and doubt there will be enough sun (direct sunlight on the plants) coming through the windshield, and/or side windows. If you want a portable system that is easy to take out of the van and set in the direct sunlight, that's another issue and problem also. Do you plan on driving at night, so the plants can be set outside in the sun during the day? Do you plan on staying in the same place for a week at a time, then move to another location?

You obviously cant tie the plants to the outside of the van or they will be destroyed as you drive down the road. So any trellis you build will need to be easily moved (with the plants and hydro system still attached), or they will be damaged every time you need to move it. So the size of the full grown plant is a big factor, as well as how you plan to move it. Also how often you will need to move it, and re-set it all up again is a big factor. If it becomes too much trouble, you just wont want to anymore. I don't consider tomatoes small at all even cherry tomatoes, but space is relative so I don't really know what you have to work with.

For electricity, you can run pumps off of portable solar cells, or a power inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter. you can even hard wire an inverter directly to the battery. You can run things on the power inverter while you are driving and for short times while you are parked (or the battery will die). Then run it on the portable solar cells when you park for the day. As for the size of reservoir count on 1/2 gallons per plant minimum for small plants like lettuce and strawberry's, a minimum of 1 to 1 1/2 gallons for each mid size plant like peppers, and a minimum of 2 1/2 gallons per plant for large plants like tomatoes.

It's hard to give advice on designing and building such a system without any specifics. For instance you will need to take into consideration centrifugal force, and water sloshing while driving (weather the plants are grown inside or outside the van). Centrifugal force will change the way the water actually flows because the actual angle of gravity is changing. Water sloshing can run pumps dry, and cause a lot of leaking.

A simple drip system that you hand water might be the easiest way to go. You mentioned using bags. I attached a picture of a hand watered bag system. Notice the small clear water bottle at the top of the bags. It has some small holes in it the allow the nutrient solution to slowly drip out down into the growing medium. You can also just plant plants in pots or buckets in a growing medium (instead of soil), and hand water similarly. Either re-collecting it in a bottom bucket (bucket in a bucket, and the bottom bucket collects the run off), or just allow it to run off.

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