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 Post subject: How Much Food Produced ?
PostPosted: Oct 26th, '16, 23:14 
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We are building an AP system in our basement - cold winters and no greenhouse here.

It will have 4 growing beds, each made from one half of a plastic barrel cut in half - pretty typical.
Two of the growing beds will be Media and the other two DWC Floating beds.

I am wondering how much food this will produce and how often - once it has been running and is stable.
How long would it take the AP system to become mature so it can support more demanding plants such as tomatoes for example ?

I understand there are many variables affecting the amount of food produced . . . . but I am just trying to get a general idea.


We will probably start out growing herbs and watercress then, as the AP 'system' is able to support it, grow lettuces and finally when the AP system is mature - tomatoes and cucumbers.

Eventually we would like the AP system to supply the ingredients for a large salad three times a week, for our family of four.

Perhaps we will need to expand our system once we get the first version working well.

~Xriva


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PostPosted: Oct 27th, '16, 02:19 
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Welcome.
Every system is custom built so each system produces different amounts of food.
One thing you could do is define how many heads of lettuce you would need to get to your goal.

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PostPosted: Oct 27th, '16, 03:10 
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Thanks - We would consume about 3 heads of lettuce per week. And according to the Internet, DWC lettuce takes about 30 days to grow to maturity.

My DWC floating beds will have a surface area of 12 inches by 48 inches - so I think I can grow 8 heads of lettuce in each.
So two DWC beds should be more than enough

I'll start by planting three plants each week - after a month I should have a good cycle going.

I'll also have two media beds in which I'll eventually grow cucumbers and tomatoes, once the AP system is fully functional.

I know this probably all seems rather obvious to you guys - but as I 'm new to AP, it seemed like a good idea to ask.

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PostPosted: Oct 27th, '16, 04:06 
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If you start the seeds in a separate tray you can move the seedlings to your DWC later.

That way you only put healthy sprouts into your DWC to ensure your yield, and you cut a week or 10 days off the growing time in the DWC.

Instead of 8 heads every 30 days you would get 8 heads every 20 days; which gets you 3 heads a week instead of 2.

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PostPosted: Oct 27th, '16, 09:07 
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Couple things here...

(a) as a rule indoor systems probably wont generate as much as an outdoor sunlight system.
I am sure people can & will make the case etc, but simply it takes more effort and input-energy to get an equivalent level of production.

Sunlight is the #1 factor that separates indoor AP from outdoor AP.
Then temperatures /warmth (hence greenhouses etc)

(b) outside of commercial it is often unrealistic to grow whole heads of plants to maturity.
more effective use that suits AP is a pick-as-you-go approach.
This allows you to benefit more from the plants and actually helps keep the system in balance.
eg. our supermarket sells 4 leaf bags - 2xlettuce, rocket, spinach etc in a plastic bag.
AP can easily meet this and is more practical than waiting for the head to develop.
So choosing plants that suit a grazing approach is better IMO.

(c) the system you describe is pretty small. OK for the leafy greens but would be a bit limited for larger plants.
Another option is to look at Dutch Buckets / Bato Buckets (search on forum here). In a small system they might give you some options that would complement the half drums and indoor situation for tomatoes & cucumbers etc.

Bato/Dutch buckets are also the mainstay of many hydroponic and intensive tomato farming.
They work pretty similarly in an AP.

Food&Fish has his own little self-watering variants (see his thread - last few pages) that work as well.

(d) AP is not the be all and end all. Many of us here grow some things better in wicking beds for example.
So AP is really just one of a few things you can do that will complement each other.

In most cases you would need a big system to sustain a food program.
Most people here on BYAP would have a few AP meals - it is also seasonal.
So you get too much sometimes and none at others.

The guys who produce the most amount have large outdoor areas and/or greenhouses.
Can run big tanks of fish and have the capacity (time, funds and ingenuity) to put in to it.

(e) finally as those have noted above every system is different - comes down to fish, situation, the system, water parameters, inputs and additional dosing, even the person/s.... lot of factors.

In my own limited system I simply looked at what we were buying. I could do the bags of lettuce and spinach quite easily to meet 2 peoples demand, and at times can even give a bit away . I could get a few cucumbers in summer from my wicking beds. When things are going well I have tomatoes - which are much nicer than the store ones. Chinese leafy vegetables go very well. But waste of time me trying to match carrots or potatoes and some things that the supermarkets simply provide at unmatchable levels.

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PostPosted: Oct 27th, '16, 11:00 
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Great info you guys - thanks !


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PostPosted: Oct 27th, '16, 11:44 
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I would reconsider the drums personally.

Tubs would work better IMO and get you better volume & produce for size.
I briefly played with barrels and didn't bother - cut them halfway vertically as half pots and use as wicking pots or something is better than sideways half drums IMO.

That little example I had (in your other thread) was easily driven by 10 medium goldfish, had 100 Litres media (herbs in the media tub), and actually supported two DWC tubs very easily. It all ran off a 500L tank,but easily could have been 300-400L. As you can see in that photo (other thread) I got 14x80mm baskets into that for less area than a half drum and 400mm depth (steep sides make a difference).

I could easily push my fish load up (it was a breeding tank with water plants in it) and then could have had one tub of spinach (which that pic was set for), one tub of lettuce A, another of rocket etc etc. No problems what so ever.

You note it fails the 25L per fish of media rule, but.... the fish are medium sized GF's anyway (not plate fish).
You could go a 150 or 200L tub for media with 500mm depth quite easily and not much bigger area taken up.

You are inside so UV resistance becomes less of an issue for the tubs - so opens up a lot of options.

You don't mention fish tank in your first post but I would go for an IBC / Tote size as minimum or one of those large Rubbermaid tubs that people around here have used. Or even a circular aquaculture style if you have the room. Aim for greater than 500L whatever you go with. If space is limited in your basement cut IBC down to 2x 500L and run two mini systems and no sumps etc. They will go under a bench easily.

(sorry Aussie so we are all in Litres - substitute appropriate gallons and inches)

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