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 Post subject: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 1st, '15, 12:08 
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Hello all!

Recently I acquired a set of blue 55 gallon barrels, thanks to the kindess of my wife, and her growing enthusiasm for this activity. Today I got started on the frame construction, and I will say this upfront; never ask me to frame ANYTHING. :blackeye:

Anyway, on to the photos!

For starters, I am building this system at my parents house in their backyard. The area that I chose gets the most sunlight through the day, as it's not shaded all morning by the Blue Spruce pine tree, then all evening by the house. So where it is at right now, is basically where it will stay at when it's finished.

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I should have replaced the blade before beginning.....

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The frame is made from my parents old waterbed that they replaced not too long ago (my dad's back has gotten really bad these past few years, so they got separate beds). The lumber was perfect! There was just enough to make the top frame, but I will still need to figure out what I'm going to do about the legs of the system.....

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After this shot was taken, I realized that the barrels for the growbed weren't exactly level like I wanted them to be, so I untacked them from the frame and made the needed adjustments before re-attaching them. :?

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And that is what I was able to get done today. Tomorrow I figure out how I'm going to attach the legs to the frame, figure out how to stabilize the FT under the growbeds, and decide if I should clad the exterior of the system in plyboard to help insulate the FT.

At this point I have a few questions; 1) because I live in a climate where in winter things freeze up solid, what would I want to do for the system when that time comes? 2) Should I insulate the FT to try and maintain cooler water temps for the summer (my dad thinks the fish will die from heat)? 3) Would partial burial of the FT be a good idea, or a bad idea? :dontknow:

Any sugggestions, or questions are welcome especially since this is only my second system. Thanks! :wave:

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 2nd, '15, 00:30 
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One other question I have that has been bothering me for a while is, how do I reduce pH effectively? I've tried searching around the forum, and I've come across some very useful pH information, but nothing specific as to what I'm looking for. I ask because my smaller system is rather high, 8.2 to be exact. I've tried aquarium water treatment my wife had lying around, I've tried less food for the fish, more food, but none of those worked. Ideas?

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 2nd, '15, 12:18 
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For today's update I got the fish tank prepared, extra screws put into the GB frame for more strength than the nails could provide, got the legs cut and screwed into place on the GB, and mocked up how the system will sit when it is finished.

Image

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Next part of this project is to get the plumbing done (including the inlet, the siphons, and the down spouts), get the gravel for the GB's, get the fish and plants into the system (I am thinking of keeping goldfish, or koi as both can be had for fairly cheap depending on where I go).

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 2nd, '15, 18:37 
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Hiya thsdragoon, nice start on your second system.

thsdragoon wrote:
One other question I have that has been bothering me for a while is, how do I reduce pH effectively? I've tried searching around the forum, and I've come across some very useful pH information, but nothing specific as to what I'm looking for. I ask because my smaller system is rather high, 8.2 to be exact. I've tried aquarium water treatment my wife had lying around, I've tried less food for the fish, more food, but none of those worked. Ideas?



Muriatic/hydrochloric acid from the hardware store.
Add to your top up water to bring it down to your required pH. Leave it over night check again then add to the system.
This adds beneficial minerals to the water also.
Any idea why your pH is so high?

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 2nd, '15, 21:42 
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Interesting build. Maybe it needs some support underneath the half barrels, especially if you put gravel into them, so the nails don't rip out.

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 3rd, '15, 01:44 
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Quote:
Muriatic/hydrochloric acid from the hardware store.
Add to your top up water to bring it down to your required pH. Leave it over night check again then add to the system.
This adds beneficial minerals to the water also.
Any idea why your pH is so high?


Thanks for the help skeggley, I'll see if I can pick some up today. As for why the small system is high in pH, I'm not entirely sure. I think it may be because the water here is high as it is, but it could also be from not having enough plants, or possibly the mold I discovered when I moved it outside has something to do with it, or it could be the gravel I used was high in pH and I just didn't know it.

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Interesting build. Maybe it needs some support underneath the half barrels, especially if you put gravel into them, so the nails don't rip out.


Thanks for the heads up Gwydion, I got that done today :thumbright:

And with that, on to the photos!

First order of business for today was to dig out small holes under the legs, and put bricks underneath to help keep the system from sinking into the ground. This was something that my dad suggested I do, and it definitely seems to have made the GB's a lot more stable than it was just on the grass.

Image

Next I got the cross brace cut, and nailed in place. I have to say, I really cut it close with this one, it was a very tight fit for the board to fit under the beds, I was worried I'd have to adjust the height. But it came out perfect!

Image

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And that is all I was able to get done today, mainly due to the lack of plumbing, and the current lack of money to purchase the materials I need. Hopefully this up coming pay period I will be able to get at least that part done.

Enjoy!

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 3rd, '15, 13:47 
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Got the muriatic acid, and have an idea as to what I'll do to lower pH in my small system (it has officially become my testing grounds for all future systems). I found it funny how it was under the tile cleaning section of the hardware store, not what I was expecting at all.

As for this system, when I got my homework finished for the night, I was looking at the pictures on here, and I have decided to add in a tomato trellis on the west side (the side with the hammer on it). So that will be tomorrows project for me when I get my studies done for the day. I also talked with the wife, and she confirmed to me that I need to wait until next pay period to purchase plumbing (which I had figured she would say anyway). I'm thinking of running 3/4" PVC for everything, but I may do a mix of that with 1/2" PVC as the inflow to help slow the flow in, but increase the outflow.

I was also talking with my parents, and my mom may be commandeering my system when it is finished.... Then again, I did say she could use it. At the same time though she may ask me to make her a system as well..... We'll see I guess!

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 3rd, '15, 17:03 
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Of as another couple of board supports under the beds before filling them, just to be sure. They can start to bow especially in hot weather.

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 4th, '15, 11:09 
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earthbound wrote:
Of as another couple of board supports under the beds before filling them, just to be sure. They can start to bow especially in hot weather.


Thanks for the heads up earthbound, I'll keep that in mind as I progress the build. Though I will say that for this framing of the GB, I did use up most of my dad's lumber, and he asked me to save some for him..... So we will see what kind of constraints that will put onto the build. :dontknow:

As for today's progress, I did get the tomato trellis up using chicken wire and some wood I'm not sure if I was "allowed" to used. Either way, I was left with some extra wire from the trimming I did to make it fit, and a little bit of wood left over. I'm still not sure if I want to do something with that excess or if I just junk it. Either way, here are the two pictures from today.

Image

And for a close up of how I secured the wire to the wood. I'm thinking that I will need to go through and staple everything in place though.....

Image

I also did some quick math at work, and I will be needing 15 bags of gravel at about 4 US dollars a piece. Needless to say my wife was not too thrilled about that, meaning I may have to postpone that part of the system, which means that all I will be able to really plant and harvest from the large system will be possibly Bok Choy, Red Romaine lettuce, and maybe a few other cold weather plants I have. But I will have to wait and see about that.

Anyway, enjoy!

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 7th, '15, 22:55 
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So yesterday we had a pretty large rain storm, complete with lightning and thunder. And last night when I shut off my small system for the night, I noticed that one of my tomato plants had lost a leaf (as a seedling, that's pretty big), and I didn't think too much of it since I still have 5 other seedlings to work with. And then this morning, I noticed this on my Bok Choy and two other plants:

Image

Image

My best guess is hail, but I'm not sure. Any thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 9th, '15, 03:13 
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Quick update;

I managed to find some spare change that I had forgotten about in my CRV, so I want ahead and got the fittings for my stand pipes and down spouts bought, and installed.

The first how that I drilled was too small for the 3/4" fittings to thread into, so I moved to a 15/16" hole bit, which still turned out to be too small. So I took my pocket knife, and carved the final diameters to the size I needed the holes at (which was probably 1", but whatever). The pics I took aren't the best, but no thread is complete without photos:

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And that is all I managed to get done today, later this week I will be finishing the plumbing, getting the gravel kind of washed (if I have the time and patience to do it), and get the cycling started. I've got a few seedlings that I'm almost ready to get planted, but I'll see if I use those seedlings, as they've been watered with the water from my small system (which has mold growing in it). Comments, and questions are welcome!

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 10th, '15, 11:14 
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Today's update; I got the water into the FT and a second cross brace installed onto the frame, which was a pain due to how tight I accidentally made the frame when I assembled it. I talked to my dad about the wood, and he said that he had more wood he didn't need, so I took earthbounds advice and double braced it.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 10th, '15, 12:56 
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I'm enjoying your thread thsdragoon. Thanks for the updates and all the pics.
Regards, Martin.


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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 10th, '15, 20:42 
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MartinC wrote:
I'm enjoying your thread thsdragoon. Thanks for the updates and all the pics.
Regards, Martin.

Thanks Martin, it's been a super fun build for me.

There is only so much enjoyment that can be had from assembling model cars and airplanes, playing video games, riding and obsessing over motorcycles, and slaving over homework. Compare all that to building something that will provide food, and be useful instead of be decorative, it's a lot more gratifying. I've found there is that "something" this hobby gives that nothing else can, for me at any rate.

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jun 11th, '15, 00:04 
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Just got a phone call from my counselor at school, and I've been officially accepted into the paramedic program at my university!! On top of that, I managed to get a second pell grant which means that all my school is paid for for the next two years!!!

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