Instructables

Vertical pallet planter with automatic water cycling. No Watering!

Check out the AMAZING airlift video!   I have checked (with a manometer) and about 0.2 psi has pumped water to over 6 ft high.  (It worked all night using 3/16 inch tubing).     The whole pallet planter thing works  great after a few modifications to the original idea!  As you work on them you discover things and adapt. Originally, it was going to be just one pallet standing up.  So now they are 2 pallets joined together (to get a decent 7 inch gap)  and the pallets have legs to stand on and the legs collect water in their "boots" to be recycled back up top again.  Also, the floors of each section now slope back.  The concrete on the bottoms of the "boots" is to prevent the weight of the pallets breaking the plastic buckets.
 
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Step 1: Concrete shoes for the good guys!

Picture of Concrete shoes for the good guys!
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This step looks hard but it really isn't.  If the plastic of the base of the bucket takes all the weight of the planter and moves, it will break and leak. So you need to make strong concrete round the base.  In this case, I made the concrete using wet masonry sand as a sand mold and a flower pot that is a bit wider to make the hole in the mold., I used a pallet with plywood under the sand and then a 3 to 1 mix of coarse sand and cement for the concrete of the foot.  So lots of pictures and a few image notes  to explain the steps.  The pictures are screenshots from a camera movie so not wonderful quality but its better than watching my youtube movies! As I write, they are curing, it is cold so it will be a while. BUT, I have already made one pallet planter to a slightly different pattern and that first one does not have the feet at all. I haven't used a sand mold in years but it works great. (Your sand has to  be just the right firmness and wetness.  If it sumps too easily you may have to add a portion of clay. (if you have clay!)
gaiatechnician (author) 1 year ago
Just a note that I have a "how low can you go" video that lowers the bar for airlift pumps!   This is extraordinary actually.  I ended up being able to pump water to over 5 ft high with just 3 inches submergence! And THAT means airlift could be used in a whole lot more places.
jolshefsky1 year ago
I didn't understand the air-powered water pumping method. Do you have an instructable that explains it better, or can you add a diagram to explain it?
gaiatechnician (author)  jolshefsky1 year ago
Thanks I have a youtube playlist http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL17DC16567E0712FA&feature=view_all So check that out first, and I will put in a diagram soon.
I think I understand now. The "pumping" tubing is thin enough that bubbles can't get smaller than the surface tension of the water allows, so they tend to float a few drops of water with them. It's a neat way to get a high rise with a low flow rate — I'm no expert on pumps, but with most hydraulic-based designs (peristaltic, piston, centrifugal) I seem to notice that maximum rise is correlated to water rise, so you need a higher-power pump to raise water so high.
gaiatechnician (author)  jolshefsky1 year ago
I added a new diagram to step 6. This has been working fine for at least 4 days now. The air bubble pump produces almost 1 psi about 120 ft away and it is still good to easily pump air 14 inches deep in the bucket. This 14 inches of pressure in turn can pump water just over 4 ft high into the pallet garden.
gaiatechnician (author)  jolshefsky1 year ago
Kind of sort of,, You just need to size the tube and air pressure and air volume right. My pulser pump has worked with "tubes" up to 1.75 inches diameter and it is a similar idea on a much bigger scale. If you look on the net for plug flow and slug flow you can find out more about how the airlift process works. The pumps are only making about 2 psi but they can pump (with the T-joint method) to over 10 ft high! No water pump can do that with 2 psi! With the tube in a bucket, and only 14 inches (max) of pressure head, they will struggle at about 6 ft but that is fine as we are only going 4 ft high. The great thing is it automatically adjusts, so if you are pumping to a lower height, you get lots more water. With the standard water pumps, their speed is set whether pumping to 2 ft high or 10 ft high.
blkhawk1 year ago
I learned that vertical agriculture is a concept that has a great reception in Europe since some countries do not have a lot of land dedicated to agriculture. Kudos on your use of pallets to start this great concept at home! Did you try siphoning the water to the top using atmospheric pressure?
gaiatechnician (author)  blkhawk1 year ago
Nope, a syphon can only go from higher to lower.