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PostPosted: Dec 20th, '19, 22:57 
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Asitis wrote:
great08 wrote:
Asitis wrote:
Before moving into the house i built we rented. Cost just over $4000 for power for the year in an inefficiently designed home in the same town.



It sounds like solar/wind power may pay for itself very quickly for you! Of course with prices that high... they likely took control of your local policy makers and made solar/wind against the law.

It sounds like your power bill is up to 4 times higher than mine.

If I were in those circumstances I would get a very nice greenhouse and put in a large system. Or move away. Most likely would vote with my dollars and move away.


Agree, with family here we have opted for a 10kwh solar install coming after christmas. With our sun should be paid back in 2.5years. With 22.5 years of free energy to 80% output.

Forgot to add the new house uses close to a quarter of that. The other rental was built in 2007, just stupid construction, ducted a/c, exactly the same model.



It sounds like you have an excellent work-around plan for the situation! Glad to hear that you can install solar too.

Over then next few years I plan to build a decent greenhouse. It will have a healthy mix of in-ground growing areas and aquaponics. With an eye towards collecting & holding onto heat. With some in-ground citrus as well. I am tired of moving pots around/watering/etc.

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PostPosted: Dec 21st, '19, 07:59 
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Gardening in a greenhouse in winter is such a joy


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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '19, 03:37 
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Asitis wrote:
Gardening in a greenhouse in winter is such a joy



You know it! I miss my old greenhouse and it was just a little one.



I am attaching a few links below. Two to some great vids on learning how to use lights to grow indoors and one to a PAR tester I plan to order soon.

The pic @ the end is from one of the vids and shows the most absorbed light spectrums from plants. As you move into the UV range plants can slow down on growth while the produce complex compounds to protect themselves from sunlight. Things that will make things like lettuce more bitter... but more beneficial to your diet (Maybe). One of the scientist said that he hypothesizes that all of the light spectrums are important for different things... and that having good light intensity is the most important aspect.

https://youtu.be/Pc_tqLYhITA

https://youtu.be/oK8e5bgqgT8


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PostPosted: Dec 24th, '19, 20:59 
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Update:

It has now been a bit since I posted up pics of the install of the lights. Before this all of the plants were struggling very hard in the garage just to survive. Anyways, they are all bouncing back! Last weekend the lights were officially put on a timer set to 12hrs a day.

I cannot wait to see how well everything does over the coming months in here. Honestly, with those large Lemon trees... and only around 4hrs of real sunlight @ my old location. This fake sun approach is showing Real Promise as the plants already... after just one week... are looking better than they were before I made the move. Proper amounts of light really does make a huge difference.

For now I took the cheap route and downloaded a free app to my iPhone that measures Lux. This is no substitute for a real tester however. Real test equipment has a dome-shaped lens and looks at a pre-determined light parameter. Anyways, using my phone camera only shows a line-of-sight reading. Meaning that I can leave the camera in the same position and get many different readings by tilting it in different directs. The following readings were from pointing the camera directly at a LED light tube.

@ 1in from the tubes (Where the metal screen is) I was reading around 74,000lux
@ 2in around 45,000 lux
@ 3in around 30 to 35,000 lux

So... since I know that my camera is only reading from one bulb at a time and that light is coming from multiple bulbs at a time... my actual lux may be a bit higher. However, I can totally assume that my light output is sufficient based on how astoundingly fast the plants seem to be bouncing back. I am pretty sure that my PAR readings would be around 300 to 350 @ 3", 450 @ 2", and 740 @ 1'. With the best light penetration down into the canopy being after raising the lights slightly to around 2 to 3 inches... which may be best after the plants get taller. I really do need to get my hands on some test equipment.

Pics... You can see that most of the lettuce and kale seeds I spread a week ago are now germinated and staying in short/stout form. All of the new growth on the new plants is a nice deep green. Some of the darker green lettuce types are now actually turning darker. Those OLD seed starts are no longer lanky/sorry looking. They are getting super thick. If you look back a few posts... the gravel was easy to see before and now it is getting so bright in there that my camera would no longer focus... so I had to raise the lights off of the plants. Even the purple cone flowers and rudebeckia goldstrum starts are starting to green up and throw on new leaves.

This is going to be nice in a few months as we climb out of the back end of Winter towards Spring.

On the nights when it dropped down into the upper 20s here (below freezing)... the garage remained in the mid 50s. Likely because of the large thermal mass of the concrete... 3 of the 5 walls are heat/indoor walls... the garage door sees sun until sunset... and the one unheated wall is insulated and sees sun from around noon until sunset.


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PostPosted: Dec 24th, '19, 21:56 
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Double post today!

This is the plan for my lettuce grown in the future.

I do want perpetual lettuce/kale/swiss chard for a family of 4 after all... as well as make fruit tree clones for trade/and us.

So I should definitely share how I plan to attempt it in just a 4ft x 7ft space!

As you all know by now... the best part about aquaponics is that as soon as a plant is done it can be removed from the system and instantly replaced by a 4 week old transplant. No tilling, weeding, fertilizing, or transplant shock required. So turnover per square foot is maximized AND no bending over during planting time required. My beds sit around high belly area on me (6 feet tall).

Anyways, I have set up a seedling station inside one of the ends of the system. The lights will be tied in with the other lights on the timer. I still have 4 spare LED T8 tubes but won't be using them for this since I have a dedicated seed grow light made by "Root Farm". I bought it some time ago and never really used it. Time to put it to work. You can see in the pics below that I just used some old junk reflective bubble wrap and set it around the light to capture/reuse light. The station is sized to fit one large seed flat or two small ones. I just have one 36 hole small tray. The extra space will be used to grow tree clones.

You can see that I have secured all wiring out of the way from potential water hazards... as well as using surge protectors. The timer itself is made for outdoors/rain as well. The wiring going to the lighting has been secured firmly and cleaned up to look nice as too. No matter how high or low the lights are set.

So I have made use of one end of the aquaponics system. The shelf holds supplies/test equipment and such. I still have another end I need to make use of the space. I will still need to find a use for the other end of the system.

Of the pics below you will see the actual bulbs I am using and inside the new grow chamber.


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PostPosted: Dec 25th, '19, 04:29 
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Time for some more number crunching...

Today when I went shopping to a local grocery store I finally found some hydroponically grown "Alive" lettuce with the roots still attached. The heads did not look like they were doing too well and had probably been there a little while. Both packages said that they were grown in North Carolina. At least they only traveled a few hundred miles at most. I do wonder if they have anywhere near the nutrient levels of aquaponically grown lettuce. (though mine will be picked and eaten fresh too)

I plan to mostly grow loose leaf lettuce that can be cut multiple times to increase production.

Anyways, the price per head was $2.79.

If I am able to produce 36 heads per month in a system my size... that is the equivalence of over $100 worth of lettuce per month/$1,200 per year. Not to mention adding tax on the lettuce... and taxes paid when making the money to pay for the lettuce. Got to love that stacking of taxes!

My wife eats about one head worth per day too. Which means... this system will pay for itself in no time! lol


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PostPosted: Dec 29th, '19, 07:29 
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Time to organize the first bed for max production

I HATE doing this... but I just ripped out all of the baby seedlings that were just starting to put on their first set of true leaves. Then gently pulled out the giant cluster of extremely old starts that have now bounced back. Picked out the strongest among them... and re-planted them in an organized fashion. I don't expect much from these honestly since they are a good 2 months old at this point and have spent so much of their lives hiding in the shadows. lol

Now I just need to get a new set of seedlings going in the newly built grow spaced down below. Hopefully they will be ready to head upstairs about the same times these start to bolt. Hopefully the transplants won't go through any major transplant shock. :S

I managed to squeeze in 24 plants @ 6 inch spacing in rows about 7 inches apart. With this intense lighting... it should do well in theory (with cut/come again lettuces).

Now that this bed is organized... I will be able to slowly organize the other one in a few months. I hope to be able to grow enough lettuce in just 1.5 beds... so that we can do strawberries and clones in the remaining 1/2 bed.


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PostPosted: Dec 29th, '19, 09:04 
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Great to see you are on track with the increased growth from the new light setup.


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PostPosted: Dec 29th, '19, 09:20 
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Asitis wrote:
Great to see you are on track with the increased growth from the new light setup.



Thanks! To be honest it was an "educated" but blind guess. I knew going this route was going to be adaptable if nothing else.

I just watched a bunch of YouTube vids and made an educated guess that seems to be working out at the moment. Later on I will likely do a modification to one of the light sets and input a switch to disable 1/2 of the lights in the strip (just for testing/potential power savings). Currently there are four 4ft bulbs over a spread of 12 inches. If I drop it down to two 2300 lumen bulbs I may be able to save a little money on certain crops.

Now I kind of wish I had went the T5 bulb route.

1) There is a MUCH larger selection of designated "grow" T5 bulbs out there with an even higher lumen rating/kelvin spread. A quick search on Amazon today told me that. That being said these look like they may put fluorescent bulbs to shame (ones with the same lumen rating anyways).
2) The T5 bulbs also have an actual selection of light housings with growing in mind. Both for shape and for things like that switch mod I want to try on one of these.

That all being said It will be around decade before these bulbs wear out @ 12hrs per day! So long as they keep working I will keep using them.

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PostPosted: Dec 29th, '19, 17:53 
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2.79 for lettuce :shock: .If you could shift yours for that much,you'll be laughing.
And like you said,with the amount the family eats,you would have cleared the annual electricity bill (lights) within a few of months.

I like how in america they say "hydro or no GMO" on the product.

Lettuce can survive on minimal light.I had them with 8 hours of light a day.but the seedlings needed more or they went a bit lanky.

In one of your pics,there's a HAIRY plant :lol: .what is it? IMG_1378.JPG

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PostPosted: Dec 29th, '19, 20:41 
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7341 wrote:
2.79 for lettuce :shock: .If you could shift yours for that much,you'll be laughing.
And like you said,with the amount the family eats,you would have cleared the annual electricity bill (lights) within a few of months.

I like how in america they say "hydro or no GMO" on the product.

Lettuce can survive on minimal light.I had them with 8 hours of light a day.but the seedlings needed more or they went a bit lanky.

In one of your pics,there's a HAIRY plant :lol: .what is it? IMG_1378.JPG



Once the system gets up and going the annual overhead cost for running the system will be quickly overcome in theory. I like how they label everything here as well. Still a lot left out sometimes... but it is a great starting point. It seems that a lot of the businesses here have found it to be profitable to get those certifications so they can put them on their labels. Which... since the consumers are paying attention now... often may cause their product to be chosen over another.

I just scrolled up and found the pick you were talking about. That is a baby "Rudbeckia Goldsturm". Which is just a select version of a native wildflower known as "Black-eyed Susan".

When I Bought the new home I knew it was going to be Months before I would be able to bring the system down. That it would be essentially Abandoned for a few months. So I hacked up the tomatoes that were growing in the system. Slipped in some Sage, Goji berry, and Rosemary cuttings during late Summer. Then sprinkled some Purple Cone Flower and Black-eyed Susan seeds. The plan is to use them for landscaping on the new home. Those flower types are Extremely expensive around my parts. Seeds are cheap. I will now have around a dozen of each flower type. Cool thing is that they spread via rhizomes over time. So I will have a huge patch of brilliant flowers growing under the fruit trees at times. They will feed the small local birds during the Winter. And... Purple cone flowers (a.k.a. Echinacea)... are also Medicinal. Purple Cone flower is the plant in pic# 1383.

https://www.burpee.com/perennials/rudbe ... 00098.html

https://www.burpee.com/perennials/echin ... &type=grid

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PostPosted: Dec 30th, '19, 14:40 
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Thanks a lot.
I forgot to say in my last post that I love the look of the system.Is it in a garage?

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PostPosted: Dec 31st, '19, 00:42 
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7341 wrote:
Thanks a lot.
I forgot to say in my last post that I love the look of the system.Is it in a garage?



Thanks!

I think it was worth the extra effort to make it look so nice. It is indeed now located indoors in the garage. It is on wheels still though. If a hurricane or foul weather heads my way I can wheel it off to the side and pull a vehicle inside.

The MAJOR unforeseen bonus has been that this system has become a real focal point inside the home. Before the kids NEVER went into the garage except to get a bicycle or something. They now spend a good hour or two throughout the day doing laps around the system on their skates, scooters, or on foot to look at the fish.

I myself am slowly migrating towards opening the door an hour or two after sunrise (After it warms a little) at times. The air quality in the garage has skyrocketed.

Even had some old friends drive an hour each way yesterday to come and take a look at the system (I posted a single pic on my Facebook page). Several FB friends asked a slurry of questions and seem as though they may be interested in Aquaponics now.

It seems dressing it up may draw more folks into Aquaponics.

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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '20, 00:04 
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I haven't spent much time on here lately... seeing your pictures makes me realize how much I've been slacking and need to get plants going in my system again.

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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '20, 07:26 
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rininger85 wrote:
I haven't spent much time on here lately... seeing your pictures makes me realize how much I've been slacking and need to get plants going in my system again.



It is not hard to slack and fall far behind. Time goes fast!


Update:

It has now been about 5 days since I made the last post.

1) The lettuce that was ripped from the bed and transplanted into rows still looks very happy and they are now putting on some growth. HOWEVER, the lettuce that was the same size in the other bed is now twice the size of the lettuce in this bed. In the future I shall not be moving plants around so late in their lifecycle.

2) My two older strawberry crowns have started throwing out fowers! Several blossoms have come/gone. I count 9 total blossoms. Perhaps the strawberries will like the fake light. Only time will tell.

3) Today after work I finished building my new seedling starter station. I basically took one of my HD 1010 hole less flats, a 12" x 12" x 1/4" thick plate of PVC, 18 one inch HD net pots, and my daughter's small air pump and made a DWC/Kratky style grow station.

The plants were recently germinated directly in the second bed up above over the last two weeks. I literally just sprinkled seeds into the bed. They are all just starting to get their first set of true leaves. These jokers will still have all of their original roots when they hit the gravel beds for a second time. Hopefully it will reduce transplant shock. If not I will germinate the seeds in a bowl and put them into the net cups immediately upon germinating... and adapt from there.

Here are some of the picks of the project. I smoothed out all of the holes with my pocketknife after drilling them. To keep root snag to a minimum. Also made the holes oversized since the plants will never be grown fully in there. The pots will be easy to pull.


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