Update aquaponics

I’m heading off for a work trip for 3 weeks so thought I’d do a quick update.  

The vegetables are coming up nicely.  It seems clear that I’ve found some balance with the ecosystem.  

Having said that, I find myself wishing I has more real-estate for the plants.  I can tell by the nitrates levels that there is a lot of room for more plants. 

I may investigate expanding the beds before the end of summer. 

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Garden overview 

Wanted to provide a little overview of the outdoor experiments that are taking place. 

The raised bed below is a hugel culture experiment.  I laid some rotting wood, then layered in some hay, some leaves,  some compost, some soil, then topped with hay.  

In this raised bed I have planted 3 types of tomatoes, 3 types of radish, and some romaine lettuce. 

The second bed is an in ground bed that I had to get ready in a rush.  I loosened the soil with a pitch fork, but did not turn it.  I then threw on a tarp for 2 weeks to kill the weeds with light deprivation.  I then added some compost and some potting soil. Layered on some hay and started planting. 

In this bed we have radishes, and some lettuces. 

Above, are the potato experiments.  3 containers with a bunch of potato seed spuds.  We just added a new layer of soil, but seems like we’ll have to add more shortly.  Interested to see how high we can go. 

Lastly, we have the chickens.  We tried to build the coop on the cheap, leveraging a second hand bed, some shutters, and a couple of palettes.  In total it cost us about 60 euros for the wire, and some of the longer wood, bolts, and hinges etc.. 

Overall fairly happy with the set up. 

Additional floating raft

I added a second floating raft tank to the system to take the remaining sprouts that I have ready. 

The second raft tank is connected to the first tank in two places low down in the base, so that water that enters the first tank enters the second tank easily. 

The exit point is from the second tank and flows back in to the general tank. 

500 L test set up 

My first test set up has been sitting around for over a month now waiting for fish.  The fish will arrive shortly, so I thought I’d take some time to document the set up. 

My system has three core parts to it at this moment. The main tank is 500 liter tank probably filled up to about 350l.  With this I plan to hold 25 fish.  The tank cost about 50 euros. 

On top of the tank I’ve placed a grow bed.  I selected this container for its volume, 170l.  The GB (or media bed)  contains about 150l of gravel and clay grow beads.  The aim of this bed will be to air the water and to run it through the helpful bacteria that hopefully should develop. This bed is a flood and drain system that is regulated by a home made bell syphon – which is much easier to make than they make it seem on the Internet (for instance there is no need for the snorkel). (costs: container = 30 euro, gravel = 6 euro / 20l). 

Lastly, I’ve added a floating raft bed to increase the productivity of the entire system.  This consists of a smaller container ( approx 70l) which fills at the same time as the GB.   

Both the tank and the floating raft system are oxygenated with a single air pump.  And the whole system is powered with a 500l+ pump.