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PostPosted: May 14th, '13, 16:22 
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Per ccBear's suggestion, I am creating a thread here to journal my journey into Aquaponic nirvana (now there's a high mountain to climb! :headbang: )

Right now, I have no system. I have money, time (when I'm not consulting) and a location.

First order of business is to start on the design. For this, I need my goals, resources and constraints.

Goals
Build an aquaponic system which can provide vegetables, salads and fish, year round for 6 people.
Create an example AP system to inspire local groups and individuals

Resources
Me (45 year old, unfit but only working 1-2 days a week so available)
Support of my family (wife and 6 year old boy)
1400m2 of land but with an existing house, garden, patio, large garage and pool on it
Large garage (160m2 by 4.5m high). Insulation of its roof is underway (around 30% complete)
Money (4000 Euros budgeted)

Constraints
Physically located in Northern Europe (but not a full continental climate)
Climate up to 30C in summer. Lows of -3C in winter (at night).
Phyiscally constrained site in a village (satellite image below)
3-4 months allocated for design and construction
New structures cannot be more than 1.8m above soil height (dig down possible)
Lack of Aquaponics knowledge (but lots of theory)

Two possible sites seem to be either in front of the garage along the back wall or on the unused land (but the fish would need to be housed in the old chicken coop).
Garage would seem to be better as it is more accessible and adaptable but obviously more "in the way". Decisions, decisions! :idea:

Satellite Image (thanks Google!) -
Attachment:
File comment: Al's Property from a Satellite
Property Satellite Annotated.jpg
Property Satellite Annotated.jpg [ 102.02 KiB | Viewed 9179 times ]


Unfortunately, I now really have to go and do that consulting work I promised! :naughty:

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PostPosted: May 14th, '13, 18:08 
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Good luck there will be answers for you I am sure, cheers

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PostPosted: May 15th, '13, 19:00 
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Right, I have been reviewing the possible sites and taking pictures and videos of them.

I will upload an edited video to YouTube and publish the URL shortly.
Also, I have made measurements and I will put up graphical representations of the space.

In the meantime, I have some photos below:

Full View of the Garage and Proposed Site of the Growing Beds
Image . Image

View towards Pool House, Behind the Pool House and Old Chicken Coop
Image Image Image
Unused Land and View back to the Garage
Image Image

Suggestions on layouts and any issue with putting the fish tanks inside and the plants outside (under an attached greenhouse arrangement), or indeed on anything else, are gratefully received!

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PostPosted: May 16th, '13, 00:04 
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Looks like you have some nice space to play with.

I'm putting my tank and sump inside a garage - viewtopic.php?f=18&t=16590

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PostPosted: May 16th, '13, 01:24 
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Here is a video of the grow bed site, the garage and the alternative site



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PostPosted: May 16th, '13, 05:10 
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That is a great bit of space.

The fence/wall looks like it would be good for NFT pipes.

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PostPosted: May 16th, '13, 20:13 
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Google Sketchup can be very powerful and very frustrating. My first morning with it andI produced the model below.

Maybe a bit over the top, size-wise for my goals but it helps to put the basic ideas down on virtual paper!


Attachments:
Original Site.jpg
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PostPosted: May 16th, '13, 21:32 
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Just my opinion but that unused space looks like an absolute dream. A bit more work maybe, but it will give you far more space to work with. You are hoping to feed 6, so you will need more than what you have drawn in sketch up there i think. Especially if you are hoping to feed 6 people with fish!

Beautiful pup by the way :)

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PostPosted: May 16th, '13, 21:34 
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Does the height restriction apply to shade sails etc?

Even shade cloth will help keep the frost off your produce in winter.

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PostPosted: May 16th, '13, 22:14 
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rsevs3 wrote:
Just my opinion but that unused space looks like an absolute dream. A bit more work maybe, but it will give you far more space to work with. You are hoping to feed 6, so you will need more than what you have drawn in sketch up there i think. Especially if you are hoping to feed 6 people with fish!
Hey rsevs3,
Are there any accepted estimations of the amount of m2 of grow beds for quantity / person amounts of produce? I have around 13-15m2 (depending on width of bed) in the sketch up. What is your view?

My main concern with the unused land is the additional time it will take to develop and extra effort involved ensuring winter survival. I'm sure I will use it but whether in this phase or later, is to be decided!

rsevs3 wrote:
Does the height restriction apply to shade sails etc?

Even shade cloth will help keep the frost off your produce in winter.

Technically shade sails wouldn't count as they are not part of the structure.

rsevs3 wrote:
Beautiful pup by the way :)
Thanks. He is a 8 month old Malinois (Belgian shepherd) and he eats everything (plastic, wood, clothes...)!

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PostPosted: May 17th, '13, 15:42 
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Right today is the start of materials sourcing and investigation.

Also, I have a meeting with my accountant to see if it makes sense to form a company before building this system. I could potentially save tax on building materials (which is 19.6% here) but I suspect there are downsides, especially as I have no plans to actually sell anything at the moment! We will see.

So importantly, sourcing. I've never built a greenhouse, growing system or aquarium in France before so I am trying to locate every possible shop / online store that might be able to provide materials. Obviously, general building and DIY stores (bricolage, they're called here) are useful but otherwise I need to both identify stores and a preliminary list of what I will likely need.

So, for materials we have:-
Piping, Grow Beds, Fish and Sump tanks, Polycarbonate, lumber, pump(s), media (expanded clay?), aeration devices, water sampling kits, plants and fish.

For types stores, I have the following list:- Hydroponic stores, Aquarium stores, Garden centres, DIY, specialist material online stores, pool stores.

What have I missed? Please let me know any suggestions for other types of stores (other than Aquaponic ones :naughty: ) which I should look at for sourcing. Also, any material I have forgotten.

Thanks! :thumbright:

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PostPosted: May 17th, '13, 19:31 
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Are you going to use IBC's for tanks/grow beds?

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PostPosted: May 17th, '13, 19:45 
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I was considering them. Thoughts / downsides? I was also going to check out the local hydroponics place and see what they have in the grow bed area.

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PostPosted: May 17th, '13, 19:59 
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Choosing the materials is one of things when you start out. You need a bit of experience to know what materials you need, but you need materials to get some experience. As i mentioned earlier, i think it is a good idea to start with a small system to get a good idea about what it is about. You will certainly get the creative juices flowing once you start.

You are coming into your warm season now, so you really will not need a greenouse to kick off, so there is some time bought for research etc. Even with you cool winters you might get away without a greenhouse.

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PostPosted: May 18th, '13, 18:00 
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Well yesterday was an interesting day. The car brokedown and I had to cycle to the accountant. He said it was the first time anyone ever arrived there by bike (it is in a business park). And of course I couldn't visit any shops yet to see what materials are available.

However, it does seem that if I combine my current consulting work with my aquaponics construction into a single business, I will be able to offset Aquaponics expenditures against my tax! Of course, since I have no current plans to sell any produce, I will have a business which generates money by consulting but mysteriously always seems to only lose money in its aquaponics activties! I will need to hold off any major purchases until I can get this buisness in place.

I spoke to my neighbour about my car (which is a 16 year old VW Polo) and he asked the neighbour across the road and then the two of them went two doors down to a guy who used to be a Mercedes mechanic! He said "No problem", he could get the part and do the repairs - for nothing! Given the part is costing 120 Euros (I am paying for this, of course), this is no small bit of work. I knew there was a reason I loved living in France!

Anyway, the car is currently being repaired across the road by two of my neighbours. The real irony is that only two weeks ago we ordered a brand new car (An all-electric Renault Zoé) but there is a 2.5 months wait due to their backlog orders. Hopefully, the repaired VW Polo can be revived in the meantime (we will be keeping it for longer journeys).

rsevs3 wrote:
You are coming into your warm season now, so you really will not need a greenouse to kick off, so there is some time bought for research etc. Even with you cool winters you might get away without a greenhouse.

You are right about now (although it has rarely been above 17C!) but the winter will certainly necessitate a greenhouse. We are at 47 degrees North.

More research on materials to follow!

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