Our week was only the second week of the urban farm, and therefore there were a couple of things we had to keep in mind.
One, was the fact that we had to maintain watering the plants without really having visible results. We had a couple of seedlings and tiny sprouts, but unlike fully grown plants it can be hard to gauge the amount of water to use.
The second factor that we were concerned about was the level of sunlight that each plant would require. We had two tiers of plants to begin with, but the top and bottom rows experienced very different levels of sunlight. The reason for this is because the top row would get pretty consistent sunlight from the outside, whereas the bottom row only got light from the actual electric lights we were using.
A couple of days in to week 2, we noticed that a lot of the plants started leaning towards the sun and became lopsided. We switched the plants around and rotated the planters daily to ensure that they had balanced growth.
This highlights a challenge of growing plants indoors. The limitations of a room itself and therefore a roof mean that sunlight comes in at an off-angle. If there was a way to automate rotation, or only rely on UV lights in the room, then we could counter this. However, we were dealing with two sources of light and therefore had to continue to rotate.
The bean sprout planter was much harder to manage, and we attempted to replant. We re-checked the instructions and went online to figure out exactly how to plant without drowning the sprouts. We refilled the three levels of the planter and placed it to the left of the farm on the window sill so that there would be sunlight for the sprouts when they grew.
At the end of the week, there were two things we had to deal with. We realized we were not watering the plants enough, and only some of the sprouts had grown. There were not distinct differences between the top and bottom shelves however and I think this was due to the differences in the actual plants we were growing in each section. The second thing was that we couldn’t get the bean sprouts to grow effectively without causing big mold problems in the three levels. We decided to abandon the effort to grown the beans after this.
After the initial set-up and plotting of the plants, we could see that at the beginning of week 2 that there were some sprouting from the plants. All the plants were in plastic potting trays and organized in two rows: the first row would be for the plants that needed more sunlight, and therefore were right under the UV rays, while the second row were for the plants that needed less sunlight. Our goal was to make sure to keep the soil as moist as possible without killing the plant and to check for any new sprouting.
The first thing we noticed was that some of the plants that had already sprouted were already leaning too far towards the window due to the sunlight coming in. With this in mind, we would turn the trays around for that specific plant so that hopefully it would grow in an even and straight line. After a day or two we could notice slight changes that the sprouts began to tilt the other way.
Also, after the sprouted didn’t work the first week, we tried to redo it. After watching a YouTube video and going through a quick manual, we placed two rows of seeds inside the sprouter and left the last row empty so water could subside in there. However, after three, four days we noticed that the humidity and the water contained in the sprouter caused the seeds to become moldy, forcing us to discard the seeds.
By the end of the week, about half of the planted seeds had sprouted. Our only concern was that the bottom row of plants might not have received enough sunlight since they seemed to be growing slower.