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 Post subject: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 4th, '18, 12:05 
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My wife calls me a frustrated farmer. Both of our professional careers and a young family require us to live in the urban environment. I believe in the need to educate our kids on where their food comes from and the benefits of home grown produce, taste, texture etc. Nothing beats watching the Kids get up in tho morning and browse the garden, snapping off brocollini sprouts and munching them as they pick strawberries or snow peas, pulling carrots, giving them a quick wash to munch on or putting them into their lunch boxes for a school snack. Unfortunately I had to demolish the previous veggie patch as we demolished our postwar home and rebuilt.

Having finished the new house and with the opportunity to add additional land from our adjacent investment property we started transforming the building site into productive land. A mini orchard of 9 stone and citrus trees, a chook house for 1/2 Doz layers and espaliered pears, cherries and apples went in.

Attachment:
File comment: Panorama of rear yard behind house taken ~18 months ago
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File comment: new pullets out and about
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File comment: wicking beds being constructed
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The location for the aquaponics setup and eventual wood-fired pizza oven was decided between the espaliers and shed.

Over the past few months with lots of reading of the forums and gathering of materials I have finally built and started cycling an IBC based setup sitting on 100x200mm lap jointed recycled hardwood sleeper frame, ~1000L FT with 90mm SLO overflowing into a 200L blue barrel RFF overflowing through 50mm DWV pipe reduced to 25mm at outlets into 3 expanded clay filled bell siphon growbeds into a sump with pump back into FT through 50mm DWV and spraybar.

This is now 1.5 weeks into fishless cycling with charlie carp and seasol. So far NH3 is still up ~3-4ppm, no nitrites as yet, pH is around 7.4-7.6 after adjusting with HCl. As the water temp is mid teens I am expecting complete cycling to take a while.

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File comment: IBC aquaponics system built
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I have planted out the GB's with seedlings of broccoli, cauli, beetroot, chard, coriander, oregano (and flowers to keep the wife/kids happy). They are all going gangbusters at present, hopefully they will continue to do so.

Fish are yet to be determined. Dependent on how long it takes to cycle I might be able to squeeze some trout in before summer, otherwise will be goldfish, then perhaps a few barra fingerlings once spring/summer arrives and water temps are appropriate.

Other jobs to do, things to consider:
-complete wicking bed lining and filling
-relocate current galvanised rainwater tank on rear of shed to capture off the polycarb house as top-up water for the wicking beds
-slimline or barrel rainwater storage capturing off shed, located between shed and rear boundary for AP top-up
-as the GB's & FT will be exposed to full western summer sun i'll need to consider shading options
-Eventually i'll be looking at continuous monitoring (being a scientist I like the nerdy stuff also) through an arduino type system.
-Solar/battery opportunities
-AP expansion?
-stuff I haven't even thought of yet!

Anyway, hope to document the journey along the way. Have added some photos as a baseline and an idea of what trying to do overall.

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 00:06 
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Welcome to the forum Graf :wave: . That's a great beginning :thumbright: .


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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 03:50 
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Great start and it looks like it will be a very productive system Graf. :thumbright:

You should have no problem stocking Trout, fingerlings are available through to August and then yearlings after that.

That is the case in Victoria, I don't know if the S.A. hatcheries sell the same size fish over that time frame. :dontknow:

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 07:00 
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Thanks for the welcome, hoping it is as productive as I'd like it to be. Spoke to Tooperang Trout farm south of Adelaide, they are still selling fingerlings. I might end up with a few yearlings if it's later in the season. It'll be a light stock at first as I wet my feet so to speak.

Have had some nice rain finally over the past couple of days, 16mm or just over 1/2" for our non metric friends. Saved me having to top up with dechlorinated tap water, catchment area of the 3 grow beds with that rain topped the sump up nicely. Really need to get onto moving the galv tank out of the way for more fish friendly rainwater storage. A jobfor this weekend perhaps.

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 07:28 
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Nice work.....:thumbright: Yeah, go light with the trout, they are such guts that you can really pump the feed into just a handful of fish and watch them grow fast and huge rather than growing a load of smaller fish.

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 08:06 
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I like this a lot, plenty of room to expand and well thought out.
As another SA although country :laughing3: I'll put my 2 bobs worth in.

1 Use rain water for aquaponics, tap for for wicking beds, the crap that is added to our 'drinking cough cough' water can play hell with fish (proved that the hard way)
2 Goldies are more forgiving if anything goes pearshaped and also cheaper to replace
3 DONT let the kids name the fish :D if/when the fish die you have all sorts of emotional problems.
4 Does the galv rainwater tank have a lining...galv also can play merry 'ell with water quality.

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 5th, '18, 16:05 
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Yea, planning on rainwater storage for the aquaponics top up, poly tanks replacing the old galv tank I have. Have read that zinc leaching from galv is toxic to trout so that's being repurposed for wicking bed duty.

Water tests this morning (day 13) have shown first traces of nitrites (0.5ppm), Nitrosomonas sp. have moved in! So expecting nitrites to spike over the next few days with the eventual arrival of nitrates as the Nitrobacter sp. move in. Will be interesting to see if I get measurable nitrates with the plants growing.

Will be adding small amounts of CHarlie Carp to keep ammonia available until fully cycled with occasional seasol doses.

Carbonate hardness has dropped to <1 dKH from 4 at initial setup out of the tap,likely from the HCl added to bring pH down from about 8. I'm expecting a further reduction in pH as the nitrification cycle gets going so it's time to get the buffers sourced, in particular potassium bicarbonate. Hit up some friends in the wine industry might be the go.

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 6th, '18, 08:05 
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Nice little yard and system!

If you want to grab some media out of my (pathetic but functional) system to help with the cycling then sing out. I'm just up the hill from you


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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 7th, '18, 11:17 
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SeanD wrote:
Nice little yard and system!

If you want to grab some media out of my (pathetic but functional) system to help with the cycling then sing out. I'm just up the hill from you

Thanks Sean, system has started cycling, nitrites are increasing, just waiting for nitrates to show up.

I'm happy with current plant growth, imagining that when the nitrates turn up they will go gang busters.
Attachment:
180507 2 weeks growth 1.jpg
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Picked first few lettuce leaves for the kids school wraps today. Looking forward to constant supply of salad greens from baby spinach, lettuce, young beetroot leaves and edible flowers to brighten up salads from the pansy's, marigolds and violas.

Last weekend had to put in a divert in the GB system to take off excess flow as I couldn't throttle the flows enough to reliably have the bell siphons break without the whole system backing up. I ran some 25mm pipe
through a uniseal out of the 50mm distribution pipe to act as a weir overflow returned to the sump. I had to incorporate a T as it started acting as a sipon otherwise and stopped any flow to the last 2 GNB's, this is working a treat so far and shows I have more than enough pumping capacity to run at least another bed or 2 if/when needed or desired, maybe some NFT runs perhaps?

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 8th, '18, 02:05 
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Great looking system! Wish the weather here allowed for trout! Hope my lettuce comes out lo9king as good as yours!

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 8th, '18, 06:39 
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So nitrates have turned up, quicker than expected I must say. Ammonia is still coming down and nitrites are off the scale. I swear that the brassicas are almost doubling overnight. Having some beautiful Autumn weather at the moment, clear sunny days low 20C (~70F) with chilly nights down in the low teens, water temps are sitting around 14C first thing in the morning, rising to 17 by later afternoon with the GBs in full sun.

Might be able to get some fish in over the next few weeks when nitrite conversion catches up, happy days!

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 12th, '18, 16:57 
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Things are coming along nicely. Ammonia is coming down, nitrites are still off the scale, nitrates are increasing and plants are going well, cabbage moth caterpillars have turned up, manually picking off the caulies and broccoli and smooshing, too small for the chooks as they are only a couple of mm long. Hopefully cycling will be complete in the next few weeks, looking forward to having some fish!
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Finished of the hinges for the fish tank lid made from some 75mm expanded polystyrene sheets left over from the house build and finished off the spray bar.
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Started lining the wicking beds with carpet. Will have the liner, drain hole and water reservoirs done on the first bed tomorrow.
Attachment:
raised beds lining.JPG
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Brussel sprouts and kale planned to go into that bed.

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Last edited by Graf on May 12th, '18, 18:13, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 12th, '18, 17:37 
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Ha ha ha ...you got the bug real bad, your addicted well and truly

looks very impressive, being slightly OCD does help too....

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 12th, '18, 18:16 
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OCD? who's OCD...i'm just a details type of fella............. :D :D :D

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 Post subject: Re: Grafs urban farming.
PostPosted: May 15th, '18, 12:43 
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Things are going reasonably well. Haven't added any more ammonia recently so the levels are falling, ~0.5ppm now, Nitrates are still up there (~5 or greater) and Nitrates are up around 80-160. Still no fish so no food inputs however dosing with Seasol, couple of capfuls at a time.

dKH was <1 and I noticed the pH was starting to drift down from 7.6 -> 6.8 so added 1/2 handful of crushed eggshells under each of the 3 GB inlets, also about 1/2 cup CaCO3 (Garden lime) into the sump, and small amounts (bout Tbsp each) of Dolomite lime and Potassium Bicarb. dKH is now about 2 with granular garden lime still sitting in the sump under the GB siphon outlets, will expect this to dissolve over time I guess.

over past 3 weeks have also added FeEDTA ~2Tbsp into water flow, although this might not be available at the pH i'm sitting at currently as I've noticed some nutrient deficiencies showing up in the brassica new growth. I'm thinking this is iron deficiency, time for a foliar spray I think
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Might need to look at sourcing other chelate form?

any suggestions/comments/suspicions welcome :)

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