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edmolina

Eddie's hoop house system

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Hey all,

Looking for some feedback now that I am in the rough design stages of my possible AP expansion. Since I upgraded my FT to accomodate the greater number of fish, I now have an available 150 gal tank, in addition to some pond liner that I had previously purchased. I am considering options for what to do with the 150 gal tank after I move the fish.

One option is to put it in my hoop house, which is unheated, but covered in plastic Oct - Mar or so. The hoop house will have (after some modifications) two 2' wide GB's on either side, one will be 10' long and the other 16' long. My first thought was to take the 10' long bed, remove the soil, add the liner and some hydroton and turn it into a bed where I place wicking pots. The other side of the hoophouse would remain as a soil bed that I would water from FT overflow once I pipe rainwater catchment to the tank.

In this arrangement, I would need a cold tolerant fish that can do well in an oval-lish tank. Comet goldfish or koi are potential options, but I would prefer an edible fish. Trout would be great, but don't know if they would do well in such a small tank without streamlike flow conditions.

Another factor is filtration, and I am considering a pond filter that will be sufficient to run the system sans-plants if/when necessary. The hydroton in the bed would be overkill to whatever filter I use since I prefer to not have to clean that bed as regularly. In addition to edible plants, it would be nice to grow some ornamentals to add aesthetic value to the house and keep the Mrs. happy.

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Hi Ed,

One option is to put it in my hoop house, which is unheated, but covered in plastic Oct - Mar or so. The hoop house will have (after some modifications) two 2' wide GB's on either side, one will be 10' long and the other 16' long. My first thought was to take the 10' long bed, remove the soil, add the liner and some hydroton and turn it into a bed where I place wicking pots. The other side of the hoophouse would remain as a soil bed that I would water from FT overflow once I pipe rainwater catchment to the tank.
All of that will work OK. Remind me again of why you're removing the soil from the 10' bed.
In this arrangement, I would need a cold tolerant fish that can do well in an oval-lish tank. Comet goldfish or koi are potential options, but I would prefer an edible fish. Trout would be great, but don't know if they would do well in such a small tank without streamlike flow conditions.
Trout will live in your oval-shaped 150 gallon (around 600 litres) tank. You can easily replicate the fast-flowing water thing that trout seem to respond to.
Another factor is filtration, and I am considering a pond filter that will be sufficient to run the system sans-plants if/when necessary. The hydroton in the bed would be overkill to whatever filter I use since I prefer to not have to clean that bed as regularly. In addition to edible plants, it would be nice to grow some ornamentals to add aesthetic value to the house and keep the Mrs. happy.
Talk to us before you invest in any expensive pond filter. Some of the DIY options are not only much less expensive, but they actually perform the filtration functions much better, too.

Gary

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Thanks for the reply Gary.

I was orginally thinking of a nice pond filter with integrated water fall that I could turn into a nice water feature, but have since reconsidered. I don't really see myself spendng the money when I'm such a DIY kinda guy. Instead I am thinking of lightly stocking the tank, and using the large hydroton bed as the filter (I wouldn't be planting anything directly in the hydroton). If I go with comets initially, I can trial the system without too much at risk. I may use river stone instead of the hydroton, if I figure out another use for all the hydroton that I have.

The point of removing the soil is to convert one side of the hoop house to a recirculating system, where I could place wicking posts in an inch of water and have the rest filled with hydroton. The other side would remain as a soil bed that I would water with the overflow from the FT.

We have some substantial issues with tomato disease in my area, and even with all efforts to condition the soil, rotate crops, switch to resistent hybrids and implement cultural controls, I still find myself battling diseases. I tried some tomatoes in smart pots this year, filled with ProMix, and those three plants are about the healthiest tomato plants that I have ever had. One of them is even an heirloom. I'd like to be able to transfer the pots to a wicking bed in the hoop house, and keep them isolated from the soil to see if I can increase my yields and plant longevity.

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Hi Eddie,

Instead I am thinking of lightly stocking the tank, and using the large hydroton bed as the filter (I wouldn't be planting anything directly in the hydroton).
If you want a better bio-filter with a smaller footprint, I'd advise that you go for a trickling bio-filter filled with a media like oyster shells......good nitrification, great aeration.....and you can use that long bed as a dedicated growing unit.

Gary

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Thanks Gary. Maybe I should explain my aim with this project and give more to go on for advice.

My goal is to make use of the extra 150gal tank outdoors, using a low cost, attactive fish. The grow bed is where I would set my wicking smart pots (felt material).

Issues/concerns:

- do want to have to battle mosquitoes in the GB (if i setup the GB w/o media)

- needs to be aesthetically pleasing since it is near the house (ideally, I would like to setup a water feature, that doubles as food production)

- filtration should be easy to clean, and blend in with the hopefully naturally looking setup

Ideally the system will look something like a pond (with ornamental water plants), overflowing into a water fall to the GB, that should flow like a lazy stream, that would then get pumped back into the FT/pond. It may be difficult to make this look natural, while being contained in a hoophouse, and using components/materials on hand.

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Had to laugh after looking at Gary's neat setup and comparing it to my mini jungle. Since we're at opposite points in the growing cycle, it makes sense, but funny nonetheless. Also, I planted some winter squash that has just taken over, corn is holding its own, and the sweet potatoes are binning all over, not to mention the 'wild' tomatoes that have spring up (seeds left over in the compost I'm assuming).

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Hi Ed,

When it comes to making a "natural" aquaponics system, you could do no better than use the example of a mini-wetland.

Read this article and see if it strikes a chord with you.

Where the article refers to tussock grasses and the like, think in terms of vegetable plants and shrubs.

The various "stages" can be constructed using tanks or tubs.......or as simple continuous flow wicking beds - based on plastic liner.

This is the means by which you can have a functional aquaponics system that looks like a "natural" garden and pond arrangement.

Gary

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Thanks Gary. Maybe natural looking is too strong a statement. I'm thinking more of a manucured, water feature look, but integrating a bog/wetland feature as a filter, might fit the bill, if I choose nice looking plants.

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Hi Ed,

You have plenty of options available to you.

You can substitute suitable edible and ornamental plants in place of those that are usually prescribed......and you can opt for formal pond/grow bed structures as an alternative to the more "natural" look.

One plant that I would certainly recommend for a system like the one you're proposing is water hyacinth. It is an attractive plant and it filters water like nothing else. It can be harvested for use in compost.

Gary

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The FT should keep above freezing, and plants should be ok as long as I grow in season crops (i.e., brocolli, corn salad, etc over the cold months). I tried the hoop house last year and the tank I had in there for watering the plants never froze. Also, I have followed Elliot Coleman's recommendations for what to plant year-round, and that worked pretty well.

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Ed,

 

How did your system develop?  I am more interested on if you used the felt pots as wicking pots and how that worked.  I am in the process putting together a little wicking system and was going to use 18 gal plastic totes and instead of putting a weed barrier and filling up with compost I figured it would be easier to use the felt pots you mentioned and a soiless/compost enhanced mix.  I can set them right on top of the expanded shale and let them go at it.  Makes for ease of moving things around and changing up the mix as the seasons change.  Thoughts?

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Ed,

 

How did your system develop?  I am more interested on if you used the felt pots as wicking pots and how that worked.  I am in the process putting together a little wicking system and was going to use 18 gal plastic totes and instead of putting a weed barrier and filling up with compost I figured it would be easier to use the felt pots you mentioned and a soiless/compost enhanced mix.  I can set them right on top of the expanded shale and let them go at it.  Makes for ease of moving things around and changing up the mix as the seasons change.  Thoughts?

 

5 gal buckets with 4 vertical planting sites, 1-3 plants in the top, 1.5 gal water reservoir, no ballast rocks needed, use a Micro-Fiber wick to pull the water up into the soil column.

 

OR

 

25 gal Re-Cycled Molasses Tub, with 8 vertical planting sites, 1-36 plants in the top, 7.0 gal water reservoir, no ballast rocks needed, use 4 Micro-Fiber wick to pull the water up into the soil column.

 

OR

 

You can use your 18 gal plastic totes.

 

Last picture is a 25 gal, tree pot with a Insert that has with 16 vertical planting sites, 1-36 plants in the top, 7.0 gal water reservoir, no ballast rocks needed, use 4 Micro-Fiber wick to pull the water up into the soil column.

 

Great for Strawberries

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Edited by Old Prospector (see edit history)

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They are my Keyed soil retainers, also they serve so the crown can't be planted deeper.

 

I have a few pictures. Unless the customer sends me some photos then I usually have them, but its hard to plant them and also deliver them to my customers.

 

or if I remember to take some from what I grow.

 

But I'm not good on remembering to take photos.

 

 

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