The time of the year has reach to start seeding the vegetables. So the Albert Heijn started the miniature kitchen garden action again. The Albert Heijn is a Dutch supermarket chain, which happens to be my closed supermarket. At every 15 euros of groceries you get a tiny kitchen garden. It contains an organic pot with dry soil, seeds and a manual. The manual describes how deep the seeds needs to be placed into the soil, because it depends on the vegetable or plant you are growing.
The joy of kitchen garden
I really like this idea to grow your own vegetables, it is so rewarding. Last year I had a 2 by 5 meter kitchen garden and grew a lot of different plants and vegetables. Its relaxing and joyful to get in touch with nature. The reward to see the first sprouts pop-up or to see you first paprika hanging is huge. I could sit down for hours to watch the bees fly around and hopefully fertilize my cucumber and zucchini flowers. I even create a 0.5 cube meter area with special bee and butterfly flowers to attract more of these beautiful creatures to my garden.
Unfortunately, I moved to a new apartment at the begin of this year and lost my wonderful garden. I live on the first floor and have a French balcony. This is a pseudo balcony, it has balcony railing but the space is missing. This means that I had to be creative, because something in me wanted to play with the dirt again.
The perks of being a wall garden
As a tribute to the name I placed my kitchen garden against the kitchen wall. The solution was to place a steel wire mesh against the wall with tiny metal buckets for the plants. I can easily cut a few leaves of for a nice fresh mint tea or coriander for my girlfriends curry recipes. I also placed a cactus up to wall, but maybe that was not the best idea since I already cut myself multiple times.
Last year I monitored the temperature inside my propagator. A propagator let you increase the air temperature around the seeds, so the seeds will faster sprout. By tuning the air ventilation you prevent to overheat the seeds. To know the temperature in the propagator I placed a Ds18b20 temperature sensor inside. I also programmed a servo to close and open the air ventilators, but never put it into action.
This year I’m also going to focus on the moisture of the plants inside the propagator. Dehydration of the seeds can be preventing by monitoring the humidity. Evaporation can be reduce by opening and closing the air ventilation. A DHT22 sensor is used to measure both the temperature and the humidity of the chamber. Another DHT22 is placed outside the chamber in my living room acting as reference data.
Internet of Things
The data is processed on a Wemos D1 R2, which is an Arduino like microcontroller board with an ESP8266 WiFi chip on it. The Wemos will write my data each minute to my public Thingspeak channel. I use the Android app called Thingview to see the data on my mobile phone. This way every one, especially me, can follow the conditions of my living room and propagator.
The next step is to wait. To wait until the first sprouts find their first bit of sun light, then the air vents need to be opened to give it fresh air.
Edit: Wemos is powered off, no more updates to the public channel.