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 Post subject: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 2nd, '14, 19:38 
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Decided to start a proper thread for my system, this is it from mid August 2013 to now, slow moving and still not finished but getting there. I cleared the area I had available, built a support frame over my retaining wall for my three gravel grow beds, set those beds in place then leveled the ground and put down a base of Pea gravel for the floor. I tried to take the easy way out and set my sump tanks and fish tank directly onto the Pea gravel floor but I couldn't level them properly so I removed the gravel and set a brick paving base in place, had to re-route the rainwater down-pipe as well Once I had everything leveled I moved the tanks back into position and filled them with tap water to see how the level was, no worries there so the next step was the plumbing...

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 2nd, '14, 19:43 
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Next set of photos, plumbed and filled with gravel and water and a couple of transplanted plants...

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 2nd, '14, 19:49 
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And now some fishies in the tank and more plants

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 2nd, '14, 19:54 
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And where the plant growth is as of last weekend... I'm finding that the plants which have been put into the grow-beds in soil pots are doing a lot better than the others but I'm guessing that the system as a whole just needs more time to develop properly, or at least that's what I'm hoping.

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 2nd, '14, 21:51 
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The two empty beds on top of the sump tanks along the house wall are going to be floating rafts but the rafts will be sitting on stainless steel rods about an inch above the water level so I shouldn't need to use any air stones, I am looking for some sandwiched corrugated plastic sheeting about 8 to 10mm thick to use as the raft.

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 3rd, '14, 02:03 
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Beautiful setup HairyCamel.

The only thing I would have done differently is the pipe from the Fish tank to the grow beds which could go down to the ground and then back up on the other side of the path so that you can walk through from both ends of the setup. If you decide you want that then probably add a flush out valve at the low spot in case any solids accumulate. It's fine without this change and the flow may actually be better the way you have it, I'm not sure.

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 3rd, '14, 05:07 
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scotty435 wrote:

The only thing I would have done differently is the pipe from the Fish tank to the grow beds which could go down to the ground and then back up on the other side of the path so that you can walk through from both ends of the setup.
Cheers

Good point Scotty, might do this in the future as I need to redirect that pipe when I set the vertical posts off the pillars of the retaining wall for the lean-to/veranda still to be built.

Cheers :thumbright:

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 3rd, '14, 05:36 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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I'd take your seedlings out of their pots. The soil gets saturated and causes the roots to rot.

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 3rd, '14, 05:59 
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Stuart Chignell wrote:
I'd take your seedlings out of their pots. The soil gets saturated and causes the roots to rot.

Thanks for the reply Stuart.
I'm just testing with those plants at the moment, was more curious about growth rates so they will probably be sacrificed when they start to die off. The growth difference between those ones and the ones directly in the gravel is about double so it's been an interesting test. I might see if I can remove the soil without pulling the plants, If I can I might still be able to use them. I have tried to remove one of the plants earlier but the roots were already quite well spread and deep and being in a larger size Pea gravel they were too hard to remove without damaging them. I would have liked to have used expanded clay but it is just too expensive. Anyhow I'll see how I go removing the soil only

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 3rd, '14, 06:10 
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Just had a thought :geek: how saturated does the soil in a wicking bed get? Is there a way of controlling the saturation of the soil? Do plants in wicking beds get root rot? I need to study wicking beds now and see if I can apply that to flood and drain... :think: I like tinkering :D

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 3rd, '14, 10:56 
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You can adjust the level of the water in the wicking beds depending on how you drill and setup your overflow. You could also adjust the flood and drain depth lower in the growbeds where the pots are, which might be useful for keeping them going. I'm like Stuart though, I'd remove the soil even though there probably is a way you could get them to work.


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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 3rd, '14, 11:12 
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Yeah Scotty, that's what I would think the general consensus would be, but I have a spare grow bed so I think I might have a play anyway, mainly because I'm surprised at the difference in the growth rates. If it fails then there is no real loss, I just like the idea of an automatic wicking bed using fish waste...

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 3rd, '14, 11:18 
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Professional growers use flood tables for potted plants which is essentially what you'll be doing so I'm certain it will work. They do this on a timed flood and drain type system which probably means you'll have to reduce the number of cycles that you do as well as the water depth. I've done something similar with potted orchids but the media is much coarser and the cycles can be days apart because of how orchids have adapted. Your nitrate bacteria might not give you as good of filtration going this route - just a thought.


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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 3rd, '14, 12:08 
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I've had strawberries in soil pots in the gb's for 10 months or so and they have stopped producing and have started dying, only the bottom 25 mm was submerged in the water during the f&d cycle. Upon closer inspection I noticed a lot of worm castings on the soil surface and when I emptied it it was jam packed with worms (unlike the gb) and was pretty much just castings. The strawberry plants have rotted in the castings. Although the soil was not soaking wet I think that soil needs to dry out more to encourage fresh oxygenated water to penetrate the soil which is not possible on my 15/45 f&d cycle.

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 Post subject: Re: HairyCamel's system
PostPosted: Mar 3rd, '14, 12:16 
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Thanks for the info guys, I'll have to mull it over more. The pots I have in the grow beds at the moment aren't getting saturated, the top of the soil is dry to touch. Isn't a wicking bed constantly wet?

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