Sorry I haven't checked back in until now. On Tuesday I spent all day tracking how the path of the sun was affecting the sun/shade patterns on the plants (every 15 minutes), in order to see if I needed to transfer any of them to better positions in the tower. Turns out my wildfire lettuce was getting a wee bit heat-stressed, poor thing, so I put it in one of the shadier slots and now it's a happy camper and is growing quite beautifully.
In between all of that tracking of the sun on Tuesday, I was also able to fashion a thermal barrier to wrap around the water reservoir to keep the temp of the water from getting too high in our hot weather. Two days before on Sunday, the water temp in the reservoir had reached 97F/36C in spite of me continually placing and re-placing packs of blue ice in it all afternoon. And the next day on Monday my hubby and I were away from home pretty much all day, and when I checked the temp when we got home in the early evening/just after the hottest part of the day, it was a whopping 101F/38C! Considering that the optimal water temp range to aim for resides anywhere between 65F/18C and 85F/29C, it became blatantly obvious in an instant that something needed to be done or our plant roots were likely to get cooked!
So we went to Lowe's and bought some insulation barrier material. It's the kind that looks like bubble-wrap on steroids encased in some kind of silvery foil-like material. With the trusty help of Pi I was able to cut out the proper lengths and make a double-thick barrier out of it, and for extra measure I sandwiched a layer of regular bubble wrap in between the two layers of insulation and taped it all together at the seams with duct tape before wrapping it around the reservoir.
Results? It fits like a glove around the reservoir and works awesome! With the barrier on there, the absolute hottest the water temp got to by late afternoon/early evening that day (Tuesday) was 90F/32C, without the use of ice at all
, in spite of the outside temps being the same as on Monday when the water temp reached 101F/38C. I call that success!
Yesterday (Thursday), the outside temps were a little cooler here (98F/36F) and the hottest the water temp reached at the hottest part of the day was 88F/31C - again, without the use of any ice. In spite of going slightly over the optimal range for about an hour or so once late afternoon/early evening arrives, all the plants are doing great and thriving/growing wonderfully.
Also yesterday (Thursday) I experienced my first tower invasion. In the words of Theodin, King of Rohan of LoTR, "And so it begins". lol....
I woke up in the morning to discover a bevy of ants herding aphids up to my cucumber plant. They didn't bother any of my other plants- just the cucumber plant. I looked under its leaves and saw that there were several aphids there. So, I physically removed the aphids with Scotch Tape (works great), sprayed isopropyl alcohol on the ants that seemed to be setting up their 'base camp' on the reservoir lid beneath where the cucumber plant is located (to stun them before smooshing them), then I dusted the lid of the reservoir and around the base of the tower with food-grade diatomaceous earth.
So far today (Friday), I've only seen one lone ant. It was wandering about aimlessly on my reservoir lid (until I smooshed it). There were no others to be seen anywhere. Yay!
So far, I'm really loving this aeroponic tower concept. Here's a cool video that shows how it works: