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Balcony kit at Hillview (Qld)

Discussion in 'New Aquaponics systems - off-the-shelf ready to go' started by miadeb, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    The kit had to be sited against the west wall of a steel shed to access power. It is in full sun from mid morning. Silver perch went into the fish tank in December 2009 and water temperature climbed to 32 degrees as day time peaks neared 40. Little grew in the three grow beds. Our one success with plants in the heat is with the herb Brahmi (see photo), a shallow rooted bog plant that extends as a ground cover. We acquired it in a pot but overhead watering saw little growth. It will grow floating in a pond and in a pot standing in water but still not as vigorously as in the grow bed.
     

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  2. Castaway

    Castaway Senior Member

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    Welcome. I never heard of Brahmi but a quick check on google reveals it to be:

    Wow!

    Anything else it can't cure?
     
  3. ian

    ian Member

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    The common Cold and Death perhaps? :rolleyes:
     
  4. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    ceylon spinach

    With regard to Brahmi, it was the last item in Castaway's list that caught our attention. Neither of us can claim it works yet.

    There is some discussion around the forum of yellowed leaves on plants in AP Gb's. In the accompanying photograph is Ceylon Spinach (not up yet as I seem to be blocked from making attachments). The yellow leaves are on a plant in the GB. The greener leaves are a seedling pulled out from a pot of the stuff. The difference in clour will be due to a too low ph, water in FT being around 6.5. Our soils are alkaline and what can be watered with it are watered with our bore water. It has a calcium and magnesium carbonate content sufficient to kill some plants. Ceylon spinach thrives on it. We use this as a green for ducks.

    Have pulled the Ceylon spinach from the GB. Saw roots projecting out the drain from the siphon into the FT. There was a build up of roots in the bell siphon housing. Remembered reading in someone's post to rotate the housing to cut off any roots. It worked a treat. Thanks. This is another plant not to put into a GB.

    Temperatures are dropping. Lettuce seedlings are sprouting out all over. These are from seed set on lettuce that went straight to seed in the heat. Seemed a pity to waste the seed and we sunk it into the clay pebbles. Capsicum seed is also sprouting. Plants that were sickly are now coming good. It will be a race to beat the first frost for some of them.
     
  5. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    sinking grow beds

    Siphons in the two side grow beds began to cease proper function as the beds lowered and the pipe into the tank tilted upwards. The system went onto an area where the ground is a deep cracking clay loam, overlaid with a load a crusher dust. However the footprint of the masonary blocks at each end are small. The recent wet softened the ground and down went the blocks. Will put large paving squares under the blocks for a greater footprint when they have sunk enough. Meanwhile the beds have been raised to the start position on wooden chocks over the top of the block piers.
     
  6. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    Hi Maideb, you are not blocked from adding attachments....if it is not working I would suggest that you are trying to load images that are too large or of the wrong file extension.
     
  7. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    Is it worm time?

    Our FD cycle is speeding up. The time to fill is shortening and there is ponding at the inlets on two grow beds. I interpret this to mean the space between the clay balls is filling with plant roots and fish waste reducing the free space for water. Will try some compost worms. I expect these will open up the grow bed and increase the volume available for water to fill before the siphon kicks in.
     
  8. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    That is true, when harvesting plants it is a good idea to give the clay beads a bit of a stir up before planting the next crop.

    The worms really help. They reduce the volume of the solid waste by 60 to 80 percent and by their action and the action of associated bacteria and microbes, rel;ease nutrients to the plants.

    I have found that the service life of a grow bed filled with clay pebbles is about 18 to 24 months. Then a clean out is in order.

    Remember the grow bed is actually a bio-filter that we grow plants in.....
     
  9. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    How do you clean a grow bed?

    Thanks Murray for the confirmation regarding role of worms. Have added some compost worms in each of the three beds. But now you have invited another question. Is there an easy way to clean or do you dig it out into a trough and flush it?

    What are the symptons that indicate a need to clean? I looked for a thread on cleaning and found one claiming virtues for a mature bed, some beds four years old and still performing.

    Dennis
     
  10. RupertofOZ

    RupertofOZ New Member

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    Hi Dennis,

    Unless your growbeds are too shallow, too small... and/or you're over-stocked and/or over-feeding...

    You should need to clean your growbeds....

    And if any of the above apply.... then you need more growbeds... or less fish...
     
  11. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    I think Rupe means you should not need to clean your beds.

    Beds that are constructed well with good depth (300mm or close to) and using 19mm gravel or similar will usually go for several years between cleans.

    You have to have enough of them to properly act as the filter for the system and not overloaded with fish. This will change from species to species.
     
  12. RupertofOZ

    RupertofOZ New Member

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  13. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    Brahmi

    We have stripped the brahmi from its grow bed. The plant extends via horizontal stems with roots down from nodes. It was creeping into the adjoining beds and stiffling all else in its own bed. Coverage was as a mat 5cm and more deep. So add this one to the list of plants best not put into a grow bed. It is too bitter in taste to be usefull in any quantity but if you do herbs commercially a grow bed may be the most successful means of having reliable and substantial production of this plant.

    The AP system adds a new dimension to our gardening here at Hillview. We are in a zone with rainfall at 750mm plus or minus 350mm and dry spells extending over 3 to 6 months. There are many plants we have avoided till now that will likely succeed in a grow bed.

    I recommend an AP kit to any gardener wanting to extend their range of growth regimes. With a kit you do not need to immerse yourself in the plumbing that appears across the forum. Stick to a lower fish stocking rate and go with the hardier species and you will avoid a lot of the problems discussed in relation to fish. Gardeners will stock a pond with fish and give them little thought. Aquaponics need not be any harder.

    Dennis
     
  14. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    So, so true Dennis,
    AP need not be complicated or difficult, and you have expressed that thought very well.
    In fact I believe it is the easiest gardening I have ever done, and gets easier with time.
    The real joy with this type of easy gardening is being able to catch a fish (or two) only one hour before our guests arrive for dinner, and it is on the dining room table. A feast fit for a king.

    Tuesday night we had Barramundi for tea. Some of the home grown ones we processed a few weeks ago. Fried in butter with some herbs....yum.
     
  15. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    frost over grow bed

    Its early winter and we have had our first frost for the year. We have our AP kit uncovered. Plants in the grow beds were coated with ice. Seedling capsicums have burnt. Lettuce is holding up. Strawberries are flowering but not leafing out to any degree (I note reports on the forum of little success with this plant in AP).

    We stripped the fruit off mature capsicums and removed all but one plant to see how it will handle the worsening cold. Mia has added seedlings of bok choi and kohl rabi expecting these to survive.

    I had put in some fennel seeds wondering if conditions would be too cold for germination. Apparently not. They are up. We have the pump on a timer so cold night air is not going into the system.

    Water temperature is down and fish have stopped feeding. We are adding some Seasol each fortnight.
     
  16. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    Two years ago I had a bumper crop of strawberries....they do not like salt in the system....maybe that is what you have read.
     
  17. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    strawberries

    Being sixty kilometers south of you Murray we can expect similar outcomes. No salt in our system. I think it is likely that the beds have not matured yet. The added worms have not cleared the grow beds. The time between siphoning is still short.
     
  18. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    alkalinity spike

    After many weeks with a ph around 6.5 and only drifting lower (lime added a teaspoon at a time to bring it up at about fortnightly intervals) we went over 7.5 overnight. The only event was a short shower (1mm) that night after a dry patch of at least two months.

    I believe the cause to be accumulated bird droppings. These are evident along the side ledge and anything on the clay pebbles would sit inert there with the top 2cm being dry until a rain shower washes them down. Internet searches confirmed that bird droppings can be alkaline. The attraction for birds would have been the insects on the plants.
     
  19. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    rain and alkalinity

    More rain (11mm this time) and alkalinity went up again. The last 1mm obviously did not wash all the alkaline deposits down into the wet area of the grow beds. There may still be some of the alkaline agent left.
     
  20. miadeb

    miadeb Member

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    6 month wrap up

    Now coming out of winter and tank temp coming up. Some days when fish will feed. Lost two fish possibly weak from cold and no feed as forum entries suggest can happen or as a reaction to the sharp swings to alkaline. Little alkalinity in last shower so whatever agent was its largely gone for now. If it is bird droppings then a cover will help. Am exploring what might come out of the grow beds with direct sown seeds and cuttings. They do some things here for plants that we have not achieved by other means and they will be much used.
     

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