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PostPosted: Mar 23rd, '15, 00:01 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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From a farming (not Backyard) standpoint the different methods serve different purposes for me so I'm not sure I can Pick on over the others in general but for specific crops or packaging purposes there are different methods I would choose.
For instance, lettuce I choose the raft, no question.
In winter I like to grow a bunch of Kale in towers for my mixed kale packages.
I also like to grow kale in media beds because they will last further into the heat and certain varieties can grow far bigger that way.

Celery I grow in media beds and in rafts. It actually grows well in towers too but not as marketable grown that way.
Watercress grows in raft beds (will probably start growing it in a media bed at waist high that only has a little gravel in the bottom to alternate seasons with the water chestnuts though.)
Water chestnuts go in a raft bed with some gravel in the bottom or in a media bed with only a little gravel in it that stays at least part way flooded (I would choose a bed at waist high for ease of harvest though.)
Basil grows great in towers

Snow peas did well in towers and in media beds as long as the rodents didn't pull up the shoots to eat the seeds.

The following go in gravel beds and I'm not really considering growing them any other way.
Kohlrabi
Broccoli
romanesca
swiss chard
Hot peppers
Tomato
Pineapple
Aloe
chives
artichoke
lemon
french tarragon
Banana
Papaya

For ease of maintenance,
I like my 12 indexed media beds that have a pump feeding a diversion valve that alternates between two indexing valves.
The gravity feed indexing valves are having more cleaning issues.
The raft beds require a monumental yearly cleaning which basically shuts their production down for a spell each year. And if using solids removal that requires regular attention as do any other filters.
And towers require daily checking for clogged feeds.

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PostPosted: Mar 23rd, '15, 11:03 
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Quote:
I like my 12 indexed media beds that have a pump feeding a diversion valve that alternates between two indexing valves.


Oh, that's clever!!

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PostPosted: Mar 23rd, '15, 21:09 
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TCLynx wrote:
Snow peas did well in towers and in media beds as long as the rodents didn't pull up the shoots to eat the seeds.

Hey TC, thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience in this fantastic thread. You've given me lots of ideas on what to try in my towers - so far I have planted 8 Hokowase strawberries in one tower - only 152 more spaces to fill in the other 19 towers. Do you use bush or climbing snow peas in your towers, and do you let them trail down or give them something to climb on or do they just scramble up each other?

Cheers

Jo

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PostPosted: Mar 23rd, '15, 23:28 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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joc wrote:
TCLynx wrote:
Snow peas did well in towers and in media beds as long as the rodents didn't pull up the shoots to eat the seeds.

Hey TC, thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience in this fantastic thread. You've given me lots of ideas on what to try in my towers - so far I have planted 8 Hokowase strawberries in one tower - only 152 more spaces to fill in the other 19 towers. Do you use bush or climbing snow peas in your towers, and do you let them trail down or give them something to climb on or do they just scramble up each other?

Cheers

Jo


I have some garden netting on the frames that hold the towers to let the peas climb on. They are climbing varieties I believe.


I've mostly been putting 8-10 plants per tower but depending on the plants you might go as few as 4 plants in a tower or if you are planting something that likes to be fairly close (like baby lettuce or peas or chives) you might simply place the seedlings as densly as you can and perhaps plant a whole tray worth into the tower.

I tend to use the towers for longer tern cut and come again crops like the kale, basil and peas but they really are probably better suited to growing quick short term crops like lettuce.

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PostPosted: Mar 23rd, '15, 23:41 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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JimV wrote:
Quote:
I like my 12 indexed media beds that have a pump feeding a diversion valve that alternates between two indexing valves.


Oh, that's clever!!


Those swimming pool diversion valves with the motorized actuators are great for being able to do this.
Big benefits include;
Not turning the pump on/off all the time!
Being able to gang 12 beds from one pump!

Tips about those diversion valves and actuators, don't be cheap. I was buying the less expensive valves and they kept leaking, the O rings around the stems were failing in like 3 weeks and it was a pain to keep replacing them. And they were failing bad enough that they actually caused enough liquid to spray into the back side of the actuator to fail the cheaper actuators as well!!!!!! The more expensive valve (Hayward Goldline) that I have, has NOT failed so far though that one is only running gravity flow at this time though I used it on pump pressure before we moved, it was the first one I got! Also, the Hayward Goldline actuators I have so far have not failed unlike the cheaper ones I was using which have all failed.

Big problem I have had with these actuators is coming up with a controller for them. If you are into electronics it is easy to make a controller for them but there are no (that I know of) turn key controllers that work for them without modifications. Now perhaps some of the swimming pool control systems will easily control them but I don't think they will do the repeat cycle that is required and most of those control systems cost between $400-$3000.
It is possible to make a repeat cycle timer control it but you still have to add a couple power adapters plus a relay which is NOT turnkey.

Now when running a small/smaller backyard system (like 300 gallons of fish tank and 6, 100 gallon grow beds) I would probably say minimize height and simply get a 1 1/4" gravity modified 6 zone valve and run it using a Quiet One 4000 pump on a repeat cycle timer so you can do say 9 minutes on and 1 minute off giving your beds each one flood per hour and plan on replacing your pump each year. I don't know how well the Laguna pumps stand up to constant on/off over long term but perhaps a small laguna pump of between 1200-1800 gph would work for this. I've only tested one Laguna pump so far myself. I KNOW the Danner pumps won't hold up long term to constant on/off, their impellers break in a matter of months.

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PostPosted: Mar 24th, '15, 07:56 
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This is a really cool thread! I need more time to read it through so only read the first and last couple of pages - so far. How do you keep the hawks off your chooks? The tracter and fence are awesome!


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PostPosted: Mar 24th, '15, 23:49 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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In the early days the hawks didn't bother with the full grown chickens, probably because we had ducklings which were far easier picking.
I'm not sure what got all my chickens eventually because we were loosing just one or two at a time until they were eventually all gone. Occasionally a hawk might kill one I expect but they couldn't carry off a full grown chicken so they had to eat it where they killed it and we would see the evidence.
We have all sorts of wildlife around here though so who knows.

I now have a mobile (well sort of the cook built it so you have to be a human OX to move it much) chicken pen that will protect the chickens from the dogs and the dogs can patrol around it to protect the chickens from most predators and it is covered to protect from flying predators too. Will see how it does, I just need to make it easier to move because bringing the truck around every day to move it 15 feet is just not efficient enough (hard to deal with extra gates and driving the truck while wearing a 21 lb 1 year old.)
Right now we have 7 chickens in the pen and yesterday we got 7 eggs!

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PostPosted: Mar 25th, '15, 00:04 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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I guess I really need to find time to take pictures to post again. it is just so difficult to get time at the computer to do those things now days.

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PostPosted: Mar 25th, '15, 02:36 
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Yeah makes it tricky

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PostPosted: Apr 23rd, '15, 04:24 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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Harvested over 96 lb of fish today. Thirty Channel Catfish.
Actually had a customer that wanted 10-20 whole fish so I had to figure out how to kill them without risking cutting into them. (for us the cook usually conks them really hard but even with a blunt object you sometimes break the skin and many people find that kinda graphic to see.)

So I picked up some dry ice at the grocery store and put a couple pounds into a bin of water to elevate the CO2 levels and drive out as much oxygen as we could. Then net a fish, put it in the CO2 water for a few minutes. When it seemed still enough I could pull it out and weigh it then put it in their cooler with ice.

Then harvested some extra for us to leave us with an even number in the tank and the cook said it was quite nice to clean a catfish that wasn't still thrashing (cause even after you whack them they tend to continue twitching and thrashing for a bit.) When they have been put out by an overabundance of CO2 they are pretty still.

I wound up getting extra dry ice since I didn't know how much I would need but I think 5 lb would have been plenty. I put perhaps 1.5 lb in the water in the bin to start with and then added a few more bits every now an again since the thrashing fish when first dropped in probably aerated the water some. After weighing them I dropped them in the cooler with ice for the customer and the ones the cook was going to clean went in our big cooler with the left over dry ice making sure they couldn't revive easily by gasping air. And it wasn't like I could really "save" the dry ice for later, it tends to evaporate even when in a well insulated cooler.

In the future I will pick up a package of dry ice the morning we plan to harvest or perhaps even have the customer bring it with them.

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PostPosted: Apr 27th, '15, 11:48 
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Hey TCL, I finally got around to installing one of your Uniseals, and it worked great! I'm getting much higher flow that I was with the bulkhead fitting. Thanks for posting all the related tips and tricks.

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PostPosted: Apr 27th, '15, 22:58 
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Glad it helped Jim.

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PostPosted: Apr 27th, '15, 23:14 
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I'm seeking creative ideas for seed starting. Lettuce and celery in particular.

Challenges I'm dealing with right now are that it is heading into summer in central FL (that means the temps might not drop at night and it is HOT during the day.)

I need to start between 150 to 200 lettuce seedlings per week.
I can't keep them indoors (AC and lighting) for more than a week. (I only have space/lighting to do 2-4 1020 trays indoors)
Whatever tray or raft they start in I need to be able to move outdoors and keep them in it until week 3. That tray/raft needs to be able to float in a raft bed somehow without becoming too wet or drying out.

The Lettuce grows on in 1" grow grips. The planting in the grow grips could happen at the 3 week transplant/space out point or we could plant in them in the first place but my requirement is we only transplant/space out once and only move the trays from inside to outside once.

I've actually done relatively well with lettuce over summer other than this issue with getting good germination when it gets too hot. In winter I was able to plant directly into grow grips in mini rafts and those would remain indoors on the shelf for a day or so until I saw seeds starting to break at which point I would move them to the odd ends of my large raft beds where they would stay till time to transplant out to the big rafts.
But now it seems to be too hot and if I move the rafts out when only a few seeds have started to break, none of the others follow suit but if I keep them indoors it is too dark and they stretch.

Here in summer, I would probably keep the indoor temp between 74 and 78 F normally but lettuce would prefer to germinate at around 68-70 F it seems.

I'm setting up lights over the AC to see if I can make a more controlled environment for the germination of lettuce during the summer but I am open to ideas.

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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 03:15 
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Maybe use a window box or portable AC to chill the seedlings in an outdoor area (in better but not direct lighting) with a frame and cover of some sort over the bed to keep the cool air. Watch out for condensation though using plastic (I've only seen this done using cloth because it was to induce blooming in a different crop so it only needed to be done at night).

I read where you could prevent lettuce bolting in aeroponics by cooling the solution down around 65 F. This makes me wonder what effect pumping cold air into the DWC would have on lettuce growth.


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PostPosted: Apr 28th, '15, 19:35 
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As regards cleaning catfish, an old fella showed me a trick to paralyze them (because they pretty much refuse to die in any timely fashion). They have a soft spot on their ?forehead? That you can kind of feel. A long thin piece of metal (sterile coat hanger type of device) can be inserted through here and back through the brain/spinal cord. You may want to make a small knife cut first, but he was a charter captain and could do it blindfolded. They stiffen up straight out and won't move anymore.
They aren't dead because even 8 hours on ice only seems to make them more hornery, but they won't flop about while you try to clean them.
Hope this helps the cook.
Sorry for the gross.

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