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PostPosted: Jan 30th, '18, 01:26 
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An update on my system. I have included (2) swirl/rff filters between the fish tank and the grow beds. This meant the addition of a 1-1/2" bulkhead fitting to the fish tank, to supplement the existing 1-1/4" fitting. I've had to turn the new pump way down so the fish tank doesn't overflow. Now, I can run it full blast, and it won't overflow; now the growbeds downstream do. New plumbing is in order, I think. And some additional growbeds as well.
Each of the barrels holds ~35gal of water. Each barrel has an inlet pipe that 90s immediately, to make a swirling action, and an outflow pipe that is in the center of the barrel, with a flower pot over the pipe to force the swirling water down and up again, hopefully dropping out those solids. Each barrel has a 1-1/2" bulkhead fitting at the bottom, to drain the solids as they accumulate, into a mineralization tank which is yet to be built.

Next step, more growbeds and modified plumbing (3" diameter main line from filters!)


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PostPosted: Jan 30th, '18, 01:28 
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Some more pictures


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PostPosted: Feb 7th, '18, 01:04 
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Removed the small swirl tub, expanded the hole, and dropped another 100gal stock tank into the ground. There's some buried 1-1/4" pvc pipe that connects both sump tanks, and also allows for controlled overflow through the pipe emerging from the ground in front of the new stock tank. With this addition to the sump, I now have 200gal of "resting" capacity in the sump tanks, although around 1/2 of this seems to be "used up" once the pump is turned on and everything reaches new equilibrium, around 15 minutes. So, once the system is running and reached stability, the sump tanks are about half full. Power off, and the sump tanks are totally full.

This is a lot better than the previous arrangement, where the sump overflowed if the pump turned off, and I had to add water to the system when I turned the pump back on, otherwise the sump would run dry.

I've converted the bathtub gravel bed to flood/drain. It is draining into the recently placed additional sump tank. I turned off the forced air to the bathtub, and now the primary growbed is getting all that air.

Also, the primary grow bed is taking so much flow, I'm able to run a 3/4" diversion back to the new sump tank, while also feeding the (2) secondary growbeds.

The water level in the new sump tank is usually around 8-10 inches higher than the original sump tank.

I built the primary growbed as one of my first projects. It has held up pretty good, but I've noticed the bottom is bulging in a concerning way. I plan to attempt to the jack-and-brace the existing structure, but for now, I've taken the middle step of removing one level of the 2x4 growbed border, and a substantial amount of gravel, from the primary grow bed. The bulge hasn't gotten any better, but neither has it worsened.

The gravel I dug out was excellent. Some solids in the growbed, as expected. However, I found no evidence of anaerobic activity. Everything had little to no odor, and what I could smell was a good earthy smell. I'm certain the forced air injection at the bottom of the growbed is what stopped anaerobic zones from forming. The bed was originally ~16 inches deep, now it is around 12" deep, with less gravel, and less water too.

I moved the kale from the primary growbed, to the secondary growbed. There are no signs of transplant shock or anything, which really surprised me. I originally pulled them out roughly, and tossed them on the compost heap, before I had a change of heart and planted them in the secondary growbed.

All open space in all beds is planted with seeds or seedlings of many different types of veg. I also have an orange tree that I'm considering planting in the bottom half of a 55gal drum that is fitted out as a growbed.

As always, lots of ideas, and not enough time to filter the bad ones from the good ones.

Everything seems to be going good, though.

Thanks for reviewing.


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PostPosted: Feb 7th, '18, 03:35 
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Archaic design but I love it !) Reminds me of those old PC games like T.I.M. with parts everywhere
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PostPosted: Feb 7th, '18, 04:47 
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jayendra wrote:
Archaic design but I love it !) Reminds me of those old PC games like T.I.M. with parts everywhere
True backyard AP



Thanks for the encouraging words, Jay!

These structures are the first heavy structures I've built, and I feel like there's definitely a progression from one to the other.

I didn't want to get too fancy with the structural components of the garden. I've basically only used non-treated wood, galvanized nails, poly sheeting, and some latex paint. The exception to this is I used carrier bolts in the fish tank platform, due to the incredible weight imposed by the water. Indeed, I wish I had incorporated carrier bolts in the primary growbed.

The conceptual design of the flow is pretty efficient, in my opinion. The pump moves the sump water to the fish tank, and the water overflows from there, using gravity to run through the swirl filters, down into the growbeds, and then finally into the sump tanks again. Physically, the piping could be modified to optimize for flowrate (straight shot from swirl filters to growbeds). However, I took a loss here to keep the pipes lower profile.

I do not run a big flood drain cycle in the primary grow beds; it is continuous flow, with air injected by pump through a 1/2" pvc pipe manifold placed near the bottom of the growbed. Without this, I would need to run flood drain cycles to keep the bed from going anaerobic, I think. I didn't really wash that gravel, so I'm sure there's a layer of fine sediment near the bottom of the growbed.

Let me know if you see room for improvement, and I may implement the proposed solutions.

Thanks for taking the time.


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PostPosted: Feb 7th, '18, 06:38 
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Its the best design the CHIFT PIST I think.
The air into the grow beds is interesting. I've always just had the water running from the growbeds back into the sump as my aeration and also a step down nozzle on the pump line (at the fish tank end) to spray just above the water to disturb and bubble.

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PostPosted: Feb 15th, '18, 06:09 
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Everything is ticking along nicely. I've added a dozen more small gold fish and a few mosquito fish into the fish pool

I've harvested the large outer leaves of the beets, as well as half-gallon ziplock bag worth of assorted micro-greens from the bathtub growbed.

Purple Cabbage in the growbed is hanging in there; it's a hard transition to AP for these little guys, I guess.

I've trimmed the parsley bush way back, so it doesn't shade the other smaller plants behind it.


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