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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jul 28th, '15, 06:45 
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Hello everyone, It's been a while since I've posted about my system. So here is a quick update;

To start with, I am very impressed with the amount of growth that my system has exhibited since I planted it a few weeks back. Even my parents and siblings are rather impressed (and they are VERY difficult to impress with anything). And I think that my mother is thinking about redoing their dirt garden (er, dirt weed patch) next year to either be raised growbeds, or what I'm hoping, a large AP system 8) . Especially since she has sprinkled collard greens seeds all through the system :think: . Anyway, here are some pictures of the system as it was before the monster wind storm we had today;

Image

Image

Image

Image

As far as the fish are concerned, I had about 20 comet goldfish happily living in peaceful co-habitation with the yabbies up until today. The reason behind the HAD, is because I got a little over zelous in trying to drop the pH to a level that would prevent iron lockout in the plants. After I added the muriatic acid and let the system cycle for 30-60 minutes, I found almost all the goldfish floating near the top of the tank :oops: :lol: :( . The yabbies seemed to be unaffected by the sudden drop, but I wouldn't be surprised to find them dead when I go to check the system next.

Lesson learned; be patinet when adjusting pH :naughty: . Because even though goldfish are very hardy fish, even they can only take so much before they up and die. I will try and post a weekly update of the system until winter comes. Then I get to figure out how to winterize this thing, so the waterlines don't freeze.

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jul 28th, '15, 12:52 
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Great growth man and sorry for your fish loss. I hope you get restocked quickly. :thumbleft:

I really doubt you have yabbies in your system as they are native to Australia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_yabby

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jul 28th, '15, 22:39 
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Yeah, it bummed me out, and didn't make my wife very happy, but that's what happens when one is learning I suppose. Though the crawdads did have a rather large meal of the few fish at the bottom of the tank before I was able to pull them out :oops:. And as far as they are concerned, they don't seem to have been affected by the pH change. Which is good!

Thanks for clarifying that, I didn't realize there was a difference. So I shall from hence forth refer to my crayfish as crawdads.

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Jul 29th, '15, 17:40 
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:thumbright:

No worries mate. Crawdads it is then, that must be the technical term. :D


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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Nov 22nd, '15, 04:29 
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It's been a while since I've updated, so here it is!!

Over the summer my system was running more or less like clockwork, though I never did manage to get the one siphon to work properly (I think it was because of the way the barrel half was sitting on the support under it), so I just left that side as constant flood. My plants all did wonderfully well, considering the fact that I had planted so late in the year for my area. My Bok Choy plants all went to seed before I could really harvest them, the Kholrabi plants went all woody (didn't get big enough due to a lack of attention to nutrients), the chocolate cherry tomatoes were harvested fairly regularly and tasted amazing, my peppermint chard tasted aweful (though I think it's just because chard sucks, and a lack of nutrients), the arugula was not to my taste (too peppery), the grape cutting started to do great up until the end then it died, and my cantaloupe was growing wonderfully well until we got the first frost of the year. Then it died.

Regarding my fish and crawdads, they all died because I kept forgetting to feed them, as did my family (who quite frankly were more excited about my system than I was).

So over all, id say that the system was a success! And I think I may have even inspired my family to let me build a green house based system in their garden plot for next year, but we will see if that actually happens (because the sunflowers that are currently there were a wonderful source of pollen and nectar for my dads bees).

What I will be doing differently next year; more tomatoes, early planting of the Bok Choy, early planting of a grape cutting, early planting of the cantaloupe, maybe some corn, and maybe a few herbs as well. Perhaps I'll even try onion , jalapeños, green peppers, and Roma tomatoes for a nice salsa at the end of the season. As for the fish, I'll stick to goldfish, but be more diligent in keeping them fed :P.

I'll post up some pictures of the harvest, and system as it currently sits soon.

Cheers!


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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Nov 22nd, '15, 17:05 
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Thanks for the update - I look forward to those pics. :D

The greenhouse sounds exciting, have you got an idea on size and when you would get started?

Martin.


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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Feb 27th, '16, 00:26 
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Hello again everyone, I have emerged from my winter hibernation! And have started up the system again! Needless to say, when the grow medium is frozen solid, with 6 inches of snow on top it's kind of hard to grow stuff.... So I'm rather glad it's now coming up to spring here in Utah! Yesterday I got the system flowing, and started getting it cleaned from all the moss and algae that had been growing last year (I'm just using my pumps filter to get rid of all that stuff). And the day before that I got some seeds into peat pellets for indoor starting. I've got Kholrabi, golden beets, chocolate cherry tomatoes, red leaf romaine, cabbage, cantaloupe, and Bok choy. Last year the grape cutting I took and stuck into the system took root and started to grow awesomely, but unfortunately I had done that too late in the season so it died rather quickly. So this year my wife and I decided to just go ahead and buy a pregrown grape vine that I'm going to put in. When they become available at the local nursery.

We are also thinking of expanding the system by one more blue barrel (2 halves), but that is entirely dependent on what my parents think about that idea. My mom would love to have a system, but my dad prefers raised garden beds. So we will see if that idea pans out. And with regard to the greenhouse (sorry for the long wait time Martin), IF my parents let me build one in their backyard it will be just a small one; 8'x10' and solar powered so I can help them save some money, but also so I can try to grow year round (again, we will see if that happens or not).

As for the current level readings; Ph is at 7.6-8, ammonia is .25 ppm, nitrites are 0, and nitrates are also 0.

Image

So today I'll put some more ammonia into the system to try and help kickstart that cycle again. And with regard to the moss and algae, what kind of stuff can I do to get rid of that before I get my plants in (short of a full water change)?


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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Feb 27th, '16, 01:40 
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hi great work getting your new system up and going. I just want to remind you that anything you put in the system if you plan to eat it should not be a poison like PH up and down are poison so don't use them. Also be careful about maintaining the top up water so you don't change the PH too much to fast for the fish. A 0.5 PH change per hour is too much too fast.

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 Post subject: New second system
PostPosted: Feb 27th, '16, 15:17 
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Donone, thanks for the helpful tips and reading though my thread (at least I'm assuming you did). Last year I learned the hard way that lesson of adjusting Ph too fast... I killed off a batch of fish that way. With regard to Ph adjustment, I use muriatic acid. And this year I'm planning on adjusting the top up water prior to topping up, hopefully by doing so I'll be able to keep Ph managed better, and the fish alive.

A quick second update as well on the system for today; I talked with both my parents, and they seem to have given up on the idea of having a dirt garden (my mom is going to plant in old laundry detergent buckets for some reason, and stick them around the yard I guess). So both my parents are ok with me using a section of the garden plot for my system, and they also gave me the ok to build a small greenhouse as long as it doesn't interfere with the flight pattern of the bees, and doesn't interfere with the small current bush that is just off to the side of where I'm going to eventually build. So tomorrow I'm gonna level out the section of plot I'm going to be using, and see if I can lay down enough bricks to form a halfway decent pad for the current system while I save up to buy the rest of the supplies. Which includes bricks, the greenhouse (which will actually be 6'x8' rather than 8x10), the solar panel to grow year round, and the next two barrels to expand the system.

And that's where I'm sitting at currently. I'd like to keep my system running constantly to help cycle the water, but my parents want me to wait on running it all the time until I've got my seedlings in.

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Feb 28th, '16, 06:36 
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Great stuff mate looking forward to the progress pics. Is your mum doing Dutch buckets?

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Feb 28th, '16, 12:25 
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I'm really not sure what she's planning on doing. I could post up pics of her stuff too if anyone was interested in that.

Anyway, today I got the plot started for the greenhouse! As I mentioned before, it's going to be 6 feet by 8 feet, and when I measured it out with stakes and string, it came back a lot smaller than I had hoped.... Sorry for the orange string, that's all my dad has.


Image

Once I got the square marked out, I got to shoveling dirt. I am planning on doing pavers for the floor/foundation, and as such needed the dirt to be level. I'm just glad my dad had a 4 foot construction level hanging around in the shed! Once I got the area leveled out, I got together all the bricks I could find in the yard, and started laying the pavers.

Image

Image

I'll need to buy more bricks, and will probably end up replacing these with some different ones to keep it all looking good, but this is what I've got done today. I will have to convince the wife that I need to buy bricks, then set a budget for them, and then save up to get them. It'll probably be a while before I can get them, hopefully sooner rather than later so I don't have to move the system with plants and fish inside.

Anyway, that's what I've got for today. Cheers!


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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Feb 29th, '16, 00:26 
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I just read this thread so far. Busy busy here most of the time. Looks good so far. If you read my thread I just decided to leave the PH alone in mine. In my plans for the future I will do a rain water catchment system to try to get better water for my systm.

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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Feb 29th, '16, 00:42 
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I don't know if you've already bought your greenhouse so I'll throw out a couple of thoughts based on my own experiences.

Harbor Freight makes a decent and pretty inexpensive greenhouse (it's hard to beat for the price - around $200 to $300 http://www.harborfreight.com/lawn-garden/greenhouses-supplies.html). I have their 6 x 8 and one thing that helps is to raise the base of the greenhouse up on 2 x 10 or 2 x 12s - this gives you a bit more growing space since the side walls are only so high and this makes them a bit higher. It does mean that you have a sill to step over going into the greenhouse though. Here's a link to one of my system threads and the first pic shows the raised foundation (it's a combination of a pressure treated 2 x 4 and if I remember right, cedar 2 x 10s.) - http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=9511

The raised foundation provides a handy spot to attach cleats where you can tie off your shade cloth.

Another thing to consider is usually the HF 10 X 12 goes on sale in the spring and between this and using a 20 or 25% off coupon you can save quite a bit. You would not have to raise the foundation as much, still not close to a 6 x 8 but if this is an option that you can afford it's worth looking into. Right now you could probably buy it for a bit less than $550 using a 20% off coupon and $679 is the current sale price (That's pretty good, I've seen them cheaper but who knows this year :dontknow: ). Here's a link to the 10 x 12 - http://www.harborfreight.com/10-ft-x-12-ft-greenhouse-with-4-vents-93358.html I know I'd probably get the larger greenhouse if space permitted, it's a huge difference for the price.

Just so you don't overspend, there are some other expenses to consider -
Adding ventilation - This is the main one. I used window screen kits and made screens. During the Summer I replace a 3 of the panels with these so the wind just blows through (you'd need to do more of these in a warmer climate or a larger greenhouse)

Winterizing supplies - On the 6 x 8, 2 x 4 foot rigid foam fits perfectly between the aluminum frame members. Clear bubble type pool covers and bubble wrap are also used a fair amount - my climate is mild so I don't use these.

Shade cloth is about $30 more

Hope this helps


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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Feb 29th, '16, 05:58 
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Don't worry about making me wait for the greenhouse, I am a patient man Dragoon. :D


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 Post subject: Re: New second system
PostPosted: Feb 29th, '16, 07:18 
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Hey Scotty, so that 6x8 greenhouse is actually the exact one that I'm planning on buying! I was considering the 10x12, but in looking at the price, and talking with my dad, the bigger option got axed pretty quickly :( . If I was a bit more stable and a lot farther along in life, I'd totally go for the bigger greenhouse! But until then....

And thanks for the tips for summer/winter! I'll be using them this year and in years to come! That brings up another question; I'm planning on running a small solar set up to help keep my parents costs down, and so I can try to grow year round. With your experience, where do you think that the best place on this greenhouse would be to hook that up (http://www.harborfreight.com/45-watt-so ... 68751.html)?

MartinC wrote:
Don't worry about making me wait for the greenhouse, I am a patient man Dragoon. :D


Sounds good Martin!

I'll be reading through your thread Donone!

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