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 Post subject: B-Town Mini AP/VP System
PostPosted: Nov 29th, '18, 00:02 
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What's up y'all,

So after graduating college in 2017 while I was looking for work I built a greenhouse to start my AP system in. Nothing special, just wood and some roofing plastic, 6ft x 6ft x 6ft (which I learned is a little bit of an issue for me considering I'm 6'2" and wear hats that block my view of the door frame :/ )

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Also so you can see what I mean :D

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Anyways the system is small, two 20gal reservoirs (sump and fish tank), two growbeds (~2ftx4ft), and some gutters. Around 20 goldfish, a handful of mosquito fish, and a few ghost shrimp make up the inhabitants. Tried growing Marzano Tomatoes, Broccoli, Kale, Arugula, Green beans, Chard, Cucumbers, Watercress, Green onions, garlic, elephant's ear (for the fish to hang out in) and an Avocado among some others I can't remember at the moment.

Used to run the gb's on an attempted bell siphon system, then got annoyed and switched to timed flood cycles (30min on/ 30min off). Now I have them running on constant flood for simplicity while I'm away.

It's been a while since I've been home to work on it and make sure it's even somewhat alive (been working in SoCal), but here are some pictures from April.

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Let me know if y'all have any questions as I'm sure I missed a bunch of stuff, I'll do my best to answer them! (with the exception of some chemistry questions, only had a few pH measurements while I was taking care of it)

Also will post some pictures of the plants a couple months later when I get the chance.


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PostPosted: Nov 30th, '18, 08:31 
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Nice little compact unit.... :thumbright:

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PostPosted: Dec 1st, '18, 00:53 
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Here's some pictures from May and July of the plants.

Within this period I started to add some of my compost from my worm bin (as well as redworms themselves) to the growbeds within larger (like 5") netpots with lids. I think it helped to compensate for the lack of nutrients being put out by the fish? Has anybody tried this (composting directly in growbeds) with positive results?

Though the clear winners in my opinion were Kale and Tomatoes. Does anybody have an idea why the tomatoes are so skinny? I didn't clip the stems during growth and the smaller growbed is only like 5" deep... For that matter the broccoli never really made that big of a yield.


Also thanks earthbound!


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File comment: Tomatoes in larger GB from July
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File comment: Kale Tree :D
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File comment: Broccoli in May
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PostPosted: Dec 30th, '18, 00:04 
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Update:

Moved back home last week, came back to an entirely dry growbed (the shallow one, which had a crack which I temporarily fixed with silicone a while back) as well as NFT gutters with no flow. The runoff from the FT to the deeper growbed had come to a halt with root buildup in the pipe, leaving the FT just overflowing back into the sump - I'm guessing it has been like this for a month or two. The water was opaque green, but the fish still survived (damn I love goldfish).

Went ahead and removed the shallow growbed, as it was cumbersome and leaky, and I cleared the deep growbed blockage before leaving for holidays, and came back 3 days later to clear(er) water! (measured pH at around 6.5, 7)

After that I spent a day working on a new dutch bucket extension that I had been planning for months, 4 buckets with sizeable net pots inside, a standpipe in the bottom chamber and a constant drip flow from the main pump/sump.

It's been rather chilly around the bay, but I'm ready to start growing some new crops via indoor germination then transplanting. Thinking about Kale (dinosaur), Broccoli, Chard and Lettuce.

Anybody have recommendations for winter plants? Or advice about dutch buckets?


Either way, happy holidays and happy new years y'all!


Also photos:


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File comment: New buckets
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PostPosted: Dec 30th, '18, 07:31 
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some bean, pea, or snowpeas would do well in the cooler months of you can stick up some mesh for them to grow up..

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PostPosted: Jan 16th, '19, 04:50 
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Did some work, put in some insulation on the greenhouse and covered the north side entirely to reflect light back in. Materials were some project styrofoam, an emergency blanket, and a bunch of bubble wrap from a local recycling center. A little ugly but I think it has character, and it helps keep the room above 50degF at night. Also put in a tiny NFT route, some DWC like netpots, rerouted the FT water inlet, and put in a 100w heater for the fish.

I also went ahead and planted a bunch of seeds. Been using a little kitchen herb garden unit and standard planters, and the system is soon to be inhabited.
Have arugula, spinach, lettuce, collards, parsley, cilantro, sage, snap peas, carrots and radishes to be planted. Also have chard, kale, and broccoli going in a bucket.


Anybody have recommendations on where to plant what plants? I'm planning on using one bucket for the peas and dividing the rest of the plants among the growbed (running constant flow right now, could run cycles), the mini-NFT I put up the other day, and the netpots I have sitting DWC style in the fish tank.

Also, I was considering getting a bigger fish tank to house more fish, as I'm unsure 16 three inch gold fish in a 20gal tank will supply nearly enough for this plant load. I've had to add worm casings from my bin to help the plants before. Bigger tank, more fish? Different fish? I know the reuse store here has 50gal blue food grade barrels sometimes, even then I'm working with little space as is...


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PostPosted: Jan 17th, '19, 11:22 
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I made an executive decision today. Spurred by the growing boredom and anxiety of my work being closed, I went to the reuse yard and picked up a new fish tank.

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A solid size ~40gal recycling bin. Reduce reuse recycle 4 lyfe. Might need to do some beautification soon with some paint.

I ended up spending the better part of the day working in the rain and not my greenhouse while I was rearranging, but it did give a little rinse to everything that was outside. May have hit the bucket seedlings a little hard.

Anyways the sump is now below the buckets (two new ones with the space opened up), with the general water direction staying the same. No more little NFT tho, sucker was giving me trouble.

Thinking about loading up on some new fish tomorrow, maybe branching out from goldfish... though knowing myself financially I'm probably gonna get goldfish. Alternatives?


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PostPosted: Feb 17th, '19, 10:18 
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Month later and the system is doing pretty well, though I can't seem to keep the greenhouse warmer than 50F at night, so I may need to redo the insulation on the greenhouse.

Noticed some yellowing on the arugula and radish, could that be a function of cold? Or nutrients? Or both?

Need to harvest some stuff soon.

Also put a light in to extend the day cycle for the plants in the evening, I think it looks pretty cool.


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PostPosted: Mar 24th, '19, 11:12 
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Hella changes.

Had a harvest here half a month ago.

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Was right about a week after I found a nice population of aphids and white flies hanging out. Went to town with a little diluted peppermint soap and seemed to take out the sheer majority (though retrospect could have messed with the fish, so I'll will avoid that). I ended up finding a whole bunch of white flies in the compost bin I had in the greenhouse - moved that outside. After a few days I found that a group of predatory spiders moved back in and cleared the rest of the whiteflies and aphids out.

I love those spiders so much.

Anywho, I replumbed my "dwc" gutters back in, and started using them to start seeds and hold my basils from inside. Moved a few plants into them that were taking up space in the bed. Tomatoes, peas, and others doing pretty damn well for the most part.

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Moved the broccoli into a corner because it's greedy af light wise, and moved the chard (trust me it's fine now
it was only sad earlier today). Collards doing good too.

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Since I've had a handful of fish die after getting sucked through the SLO into the growbed, and since I want a tiny bit more filtration (why not), I put in a rudimentary pre bed filter (old compost bin, reuse store). Has an air stone and some balls. Will likely add mesh, may sub for a bucket (this one is like 8 in deep so it's pretty shallow, not really a solids filter...). May end up removing it. Time shall tell.

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Also, the fish have been iffy lately (aside from taking rides in the tubes), a few dead in the tank, a few look like they have ick, and a few with small/distorted tail muscles (not fins). Checked the tank, not much in terms of solids movement so I rerouted water lines and put a jet end on the input at the bottom of the tank so hopefully that pushes more crap into the SLO and cleans the water a bit for the fish. Need to recalibrate my pH meter and check some levels for once to see if I'm just poisoning them.

Honestly wondering if I just overcrowded them too... now ~25 2.5"+ golds in a ~35gal tank? Have I been cruel?


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