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PostPosted: Feb 17th, '15, 10:16 
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Dear all,

I have been reading and planning my system for a while now, I'm about to start my first aquaponic project.

My growing space is inside an apartment, since I don't have natural light I will be using grow lights. I will start with microgreens and aromatic herbs, once the system is well established I might feel confident to invest in more powerful light and grow some bigger veggies.

I have been struggling to figure out the best way to grow microgreens in this system as there are some particularities about them. These little veggies go from seed to harvest in a period ranging 10 to 20 days, they don't grow over 10cm. I don't think is good idea to start the seeds directly in the grow bed for various reasons:

1 - Roots are small, won't take the potential of a deep grow bed.
2 - In soil theses veggies are seeded on a very high density, clay gravel simply won't let it happen.
3 - Image harvesting 1000 small sprouts on a clay gravel bed!

I suppose it would be very hard to grow in expanded clay, plus, the high turnover of theses veggies would make me spend a lot of time harvesting every week. So I thought about something else, a sterile polyester pad over the expanded clay, this would allow the bacteria to develop as in any system but would make my life a lot easier when it comes to sow and harvest.
These pads come in 50cmx25cm, I will simply buy a 30meter roll on ebay for 30$ and cut it in the size I want.

This isn't a new idea, I simply never saw it before in aquaponics, only hydroponics. A picture of it:

Image

So my idea is to use low height grow beds, 10cm or so and then only 5cm of expanded clay on the bottom, on the top I would directly put the polyester pads. When it is time to harvest, simply remove the pad and a put a new one with new seeds.
I'm not sure if 5cm of expanded clay is enough to develop enough bacteria, but I believe so because I will have 1,5 square meters of growing area for 250 liters of water, which I think is enough comparing to other system I have seen in this forum. Growing area = quantity of expanded clay in direct contact with air, so important for bacteria development. Plus, having in mind I will be growing smaller greens there are less nutritional requirements, so less urge to have bacteria all around pumping nitrogen :)

Considering the size of these plants, I still undecided about the flow of the water in the grow bed. Bell siphon are good to have oxygen around deep roots, but in this situation I think an Ebb and flow is enough, just let the gravity take care of it.
One question here: Where should I drill the hole for water flow? On the bottom of the grow bed, or maybe a 2 or 3cm above the bottom just to be sure the expanded clay on the top get moist?

Attachment:
microgreens aquaponic.jpg
microgreens aquaponic.jpg [ 26.89 KiB | Viewed 9670 times ]


I hope I haven't said any big stupid round thing in the previous lines, apart from my grammar. If so, please educate me.

Anyone here experienced on microgreens in aquaponics?
Any tips for me? :D

Thanks in advance,
Pedro


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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '15, 13:29 
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Just ordered 5 meters of this: Image

I will cut it in 25cmx40cm and put the seeds directly on the top of it while it stands above the clay pebbles. I will have to adjust the height of the drainage pipe so the water touch the pad.


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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '15, 13:45 
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nice solution pedro.


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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '15, 14:14 
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Sounds good!

Try it without the pad as an experiment.

I was looking into the fodder growing solutions, and they don't use the pads, the roots form a thick carpet, and seem to grow well.

For barley seeds at least anyway.

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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '15, 14:25 
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he isnt planning on using it like in that picture, he will lay it over his gravel growbeds, so he has to use the pad.


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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '15, 17:14 
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Colum Black-Byron wrote:
.....Try it without the pad as an experiment.

I was looking into the fodder growing solutions, and they don't use the pads, the roots form a thick carpet, and seem to grow well.


+1

I saw a commercial setup, where the mat of roots was like a carpet base...

I would look for a super fine plastic mesh that even the roots would not penetrate..
..
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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '15, 21:45 
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The seeds have built in nutrients until their first true set of leaves form. If you plan to have fish they won't really suck up any nitrates before you harvest the seedlings. If you plan to have fish there should be a steady growth of greens growing all the time. Then you could have the fodder hooked up past the media beds just for steady moisture and oxygen. I agree that a mat is not needed. Most fodder racks systems are just smooth bottom trays with a light system. Automatic watering is nice but there aren't many out there. I have been searching for examples for a while to set up a seed starting chamber with auto watering. Keep the ideas flowing.

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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '15, 01:50 
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Neat!
RairdogAP, good point on micro's not pulling nutrient until they're past the 'sprouts' stage.

Pedro, nice solution!
The wife and I have been densely planting microgreen mixed seed straight into the gravel. I just scissor off clumps here and there as needed. Your idea would be a nice way to not be leaving behind the roots in the media each time.
Have fun with your build!

Nate


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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '15, 04:26 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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Depending on the micro greens they can use a bit of nutrients. Some are grown well beyond the 2 leaf stage and they will need nutrients.

The only concern I would have with the pad is over watering but that would just be a control issue and working out how often to irrigate.

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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '15, 09:23 
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Thanks for passing by.

Colum Black-Byron, your reference is something like this I believe (min 2:10): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZTikdxj8AI
Looks very simple and functional, it works well with those seeds in particular as they have good volume, thus the "carpet effect" is achievable. However I suspect it wouldn't work the same way with smaller seeds, imagine doing the same thing with garden cress seeds, one would go bankrupt. A lot of things to explore here...

RairdogAP, depends on the microgreens, even growing in soil it requires light fertilization. I agree I will need to have a steady growth of greens to keep the system stable, more important, I will have to figure out how many fishes I can have in my system as the microgreens won't suck the same nitrates as "regular" veggies. I would say, much less, right now I have around 40 little aquarium fishes, I'm prepared to lose a few.
I didn't finish the design yet, I'm considering to add a deeper growing bed in a corner of my living room so the stability of my system won't rely only on the number of microgreens pads in the system. The good thing is microgreens are really fast from seed to harvest so in a limited period of time I have many chances for trial and error.

AquaNate, that's one of my concerns, I guess it would be a little messy to do it straight into the gravel. I feel motivated to do it nice, clean and efficiently.

Stuart Chignell, same concern here. I have a few ideas to overcome this, no doubt I will struggle until I find a solution.

The layout of the system I'm working is similar to the picture above, but prettier and denser :). The water is pumped to the shelf on the top and then run through gravity to the shelves above. Each shelf has around 15W strips of LEDs lights, a mix of blue 450nm and red 660nm. My bet is this would be enough for microgreens, I have spare lights in case more is needed.
The exact position of the aquarium and sump tank (used as DWC) isn't decided yet, I might need 2 pumps. Aquaponics in a living room demands a lot of compromises as design/aesthetics really counts.

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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '15, 11:47 
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The Thais are now adopting this process for there rice farming,they use a plastic tray with very small holes in the base,then add from what it looks like a very small amount of soil media then sow the rice. After the paddy fields are prepared they flood to wet the field throughly then place these trays in the field until the seeds germinate and get up to about 6 inches tall,these mats of seedlings which are tied together by there root systems are then taken out of the tray and rolled up like turf.The clever part now is they have come up with a small tractor type vehicle with almost push bike size wheel with knobbly tyres,on the rear of the tractor is a large angled tray,these mats are then rolled out onto this tray,In operation two operators,one driving the other feeding the seedling mats drive up and down the parry field,the mechanism within the machine cuts the mat into small clumps these are then planted by the machine,all very clever.Its not common now to see fields of workers bent over planting rice by hand.

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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '15, 14:04 
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Is it possible to leave the water in the GB's at its current level and use part for microgreens and part for leafys eg lettuce? Where you are to place your polyester pads make a few holes in the media and stick some fibrefill in; I have not tested this but I would have thought it would have wicked up the fibrefill and moistened the pad.
Only a thought. :)


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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '15, 19:40 
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Sleepe wrote:
Is it possible to leave the water in the GB's at its current level and use part for microgreens and part for leafys eg lettuce? Where you are to place your polyester pads make a few holes in the media and stick some fibrefill in; I have not tested this but I would have thought it would have wicked up the fibrefill and moistened the pad.
Only a thought. :)


Yes it is but why do you think the water should be kept in the grow beds?
Your suggestion is very well thought, that would function as a water bridge to bring the water from the bottom of the GB to the top of the growing medium. That would be simpler and easier than have to adjust the height of the draining pipe, for sure I would have more margin for error. I will note that, thanks.


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PostPosted: Mar 9th, '15, 08:02 
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Hello.

Above I said garden cress would hardly create a root mass due the small size of the plant, I run the test to prove it. I was wrong. Apparently the root mass can be done with more plants, in this context I think only microgreens would make sense.

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Image

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PostPosted: Oct 6th, '18, 10:27 
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Greetings. ¿How are things progressing with the polyester pad grow media?

. I´ m starting up a small, prototype system with two 1000-liter (264 gallon) fish tanks and 8-1m2 (11.76 sq. ft.) grow beds filled with volcanic rock. It is an ebb and flow system with bell siphons.

In addition to lettuce, herbs and other vegetables, I want to grow microgreens. I am looking for an effective, sustainable and economic grow medium. Here in México I do not have easy access to some of the more common grow mediums (typically hydroponic) that are available elsewhere. I want to sell the microgreens live, so I am looking for a medium that can accompany the microgreens into the market. Since I cannot, therefor, re-use that medium, I need to find something that is economical.

I have come across many options, but as I am new to the process of growing microgreens (I have previously worked as a journalist, activist and professor), I am looking for input as to which might be the most viable for my project. Some of the most common possibilities include grow mats (not easily obtainable here), peat, Oasis growing materials, coco moir\fibre, burlap, etc. I´ve also seen some examples of people growing microgreens with paper towels, nylon screen, bridal veil, etc. But I´m unsure where to start…

Any suggestions you might have would be welcome and much-appreciated.

Many thanks, in advance, for your help.

Sincerely,
Jonathan Treat


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