Mountain

How much water to plants? how often and how long?

26 posts in this topic

I watched several videos last night and these people had some impressive systems that were way over engineered for my taste.  They had automatic systems for watering and then floats for draining at the right time etc, a whole lot of money and time involved.

 

My guess is that I could do the same thing using 4 to six inch pipe cut in half for my plants as many of them were, but place a block every two or three feet backing the input water up and forcing it to drain at a specific rate through a drilled hole at the bottom.  Run the top of the block at an inch or so below the sides of the pipe and the water initially would course over the block into each section filling them and then slowly drain through the lower hole in the block from one section to the next out the end and back to the pool.  All I would need then is a simple timer turning the water on every so often and running for a specific amount of time.

 

I have been gardening for over 40 years, but I have no know how on hydroponics, I do know if you give too much water you drown the plants, how much time does the plants roots need to be underwater each day as per type of soilless media?  If I can get an idea of that, I can then easily calculate the water intervals and the length of water time and how fast to drain the system.  I would also have to imagine that there is a variance in water tolerance between different types of plants, so any specific understanding as per specific types of plants would be nice as well.

 

In winters I would hope to be able to grow, lettuce, cabbage, radishes and other cool weather plants in the greenhouse.  I can keep it well above freezing with rotting hay and manure laid in a trench down the center of the greenhouse. 

 

Summer time I would like to grow tomato, cucumber, herbs, melons and peppers.

 

I have no doubt that I could figure it out with simple experimentation, but if anyone knows off hand how much water per time period it would save me, much of the experimentation.

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Hi Mountain. Your question has a set of very involved answers as there is a great variety of setups that work, including complete root immersion in water at all times. If you are growing in soil, you would need to tailor the amount of water to the type of plant. Many vegetables require 1"-2" of water per week. This of course varies with climate, and soil conditions.

 

My soil nightshade bed, for example, has gravity fed soaker hose irrigation fed from a 55 gal barrel. The soil is very rich in organic material (high water retention capability), well draining, and is mulched to prevent evaporation. I keep an eye on the weather, and based on my perception, with the occasional test (just dig into a given spot to check for moisture when I suspect that we haven't gotten enough rain/temp's have been high). If I feel it is needed, I just let the whole barrel soak the 8'x4' bed, resulting in a little over 2.5" of water.

 

 

Edit:

 

Oops, just reread your post and seems that I misunderstood your question - thought you were looking to grow in soil in the GH. As a long term soil gardener, you probably know much more than I about watering needs in soil. Could you clarify what media you plan to grow in as this would help determine your options? Most hyroponics/aquaponics setups of which I am aware are loop systems that reuse the same water commonly cycled at intervals (15 min's on/45 min's off is often used), easily achieved with a simple pump and timer.

 

As far specific crops, most greens/herbs grow readily in floating rafts with roots completed immersed in water. The water would either be oxygenated or you could use a method that allows the water to slowly evaporate/transpire allowing the roots an air gap in a very moist environment (there's a thread on here - I think called Kraftky method that explains it well).

Edited by edmolina (see edit history)

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I have no idea what media to use yet, I have been studying aquaponics for  a whole two days now.  From what I have seen my most likely media would be crushed granite, that is readily available to me in large quantity. 

 

I have a 60 ft x 90 foot by 12 foot deep pond beside my house full of many thousands of catfish and many turtles and some ducks and geese, that I would use as the feed water for the plants during spring and summer months.  I intend to build a 6,000 gallon tank to run Koi in and then set up my 20 x 50 greenhouse over that, and then use that water in winter months. From different things I have read on here, some people just run an 8 inch media and continuous 4 inch water flow.

 

I have a 350 gallon tank that I could set up in the greenhouse on a wood frame and I could simply fill that up using a float system and then run the water into my trays at a constant rate and keep the water level at four inch within the media.   This would allow me to just run my pump for likely for 45 to 60 minutes a day one time keeping the tank full. 

Edited by Mountain (see edit history)

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Back in the 70's hand watered hydroponics was done with what was laying around, the trick was getting the water retention to match the watering. the most popular method I recall used two 5 gallon (imperial) buckets one at the top gravity dripping the nutrient mix into the media and the other under the drain to catch it so it can be recycled for the next watering. we used to water once in the morning and once or twice in the afternoon depending on the season and the growth of the plants.

 

I cut my teeth on coconut fibre (chopped) in a bathtub over a layer of river pebbles then tried strawberry towers with a mix of vermiculite and perlite (the vermiculite holds water the perlite drains like sand so you tailor the mix to the water method)

Had no luck with sand, pine bark chips worked provided it was composted or aged, porous rock products used to stay very wet and wick a long way up so plants would rot off. It is the same as soil, you are aiming for moist, not damp!

 

Germinating seedlings was done in rockwool cubes sitting in trays of liquid then placed straight in the grow medium, it was all pretty simple and worked extremely well.

 

Oh.... Hay, tried growing tomatoes in river pebbles and the plants were a bit scrawny them switched to bales of clover hay that worked very well.

 

I dont know what coconut fibre is like today, the stuff we liked was really tough and didn't go powdery BUT some batches were salty and needed to be flushed out then soaked in a nutrient mix to buffer up things like calcium or we would end up with blossom end rot.

 

good luck with it all, Yahoo

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I dont know what coconut fibre is like today, the stuff we liked was really tough and didn't go powdery BUT some batches were salty and needed to be flushed out then soaked in a nutrient mix to buffer up things like calcium or we would end up with blossom end rot.

 

It varies quite considerably from one product to another.  The cheap stuff is coarse in structure, can be heavy on the salt and is deficient in one of the nutrients (my heads not in a good place today so I can remember which one).  Canna make a clean, fine (in terms of texture) product but it is expensive.

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If you can readily get crushed granite, is it correct to assume that you can get sand from that same source? If so, I'd suggest that you read up on the sand bed thread http://aquaponicsnation.com/forums/topic/8906-sand-bed-details/ as this may be a good option for you.

 

Regarding other media, I'll relate my personal experience.

 

  • Hydroton (clay pebbles) - easy to work with, but rather expensive
  • Rock wool - low germination rate, seems to take too long to compost
  • Bio sponges (rapid rooters and the like) - great germination, and a great start for later setting in another media, or directly in net pots in floating  rafts
  • Wicking beds (soil/soil mix, depending on preference) - I have used a mixture of ProMix and compost, with some green sand, blood meal and bone meal with good results. The main advantage with wicking beds that I have found is that you have the most variety in plants that will work, since it is akin to growing in soil. Thus, you would have a minimal learning curve as you are already a proficient farmer.

 

I currently use timed, sub-surface flow in all my setups, which includes a deep water culture tank (DWC - rafts). The hyroton tank and wicking bed have a reservoir of a few inches of water that gets cycled periodically.

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There are sources of sand here for sale, sand is somewhat expensive here, but I have a few places I can just dig it up.   There is some really good sand near the mines up north of here, it is basically like beach sand, I was wanting to go back up there to get the large snails and some crawdads anyways.  There are also several places close to here where I can get unlimited amounts of degraded granite, it is very close to being sand, it is a mixture of sand sized fine particles up to about 1/8 inch particles.  This material is much like sand but drains a bit faster than sand. 

 

Most of the gravel media beds I have seen so far used nothing but the gravel, what function does the sand perform exactly?

 

I am also wondering if crushed basalt is able to be used, I have seen no mention of using basalt gravel yet so I was curious. 

 

So considering sand, would one be better to use actual sand or the degraded granite "sand like" material?

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Actually crushed granite was one of the recommended materials.  The main issue from what I currently understand is the sand needs to be primarily in the medium to coarse size with silt and clay removed or a very minor fraction.

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So if I collect the degraded granite and wash any soluble material out of it, it should make a good media....  I like the steady flow idea that I see some here using, run 8 to 12 inches media and free flow the bottom four inches or so with the water.

 

I just realized this afternoon that I can use this with my ponds and build boxes right next to the ponds, the greenhouse makes it year round, but I can use outdoor boxes open to the weather during spring summer and fall months.   I was thinking this afternoon the idea of building a maybe four foot x 40 foot sand box next to the pond and pump the water into the high side and allow it to drain out the other end back into the pond.  I would also like to plant a small area directly into the soil next to the pond and see how that does compared to the water flow sand box.   With the four ponds I have combined with a few pumps some sand and a little running of my sawmill for some timber for the boxes I may be able to greatly increase what I can grow here.

 

Initially for this year I am interesting in doing the greenhouse setup.  I have noticed most people are using plastic to contain their grow media and plants, I am a bit (according to my wife "Very") cheap, and I am not about to spend hundreds of dollars on plastic.  Can I make wooden planting trays?   I was thinking of cutting up some red fir into full dimension 1x8 for the sides and then some 1x6 for the bottoms angle the sides to about 8 inches tall at the top  makes boxes about 8 inches tall by one foot wide at the top and six inches wide at the bottom, this gives right at 1/3 cubic foot of sand (degraded granite) per 1 foot of tray length.  Run 4 inch tall wooden blocks set in every foot or two to back the water up to four inches depth, drill a small in the bottom of the block to allow water to flow at the bottom of the block so that water does not hang in the bottom four inches and become stagnant.  This should allow for about what maybe one gallon of water in each foot of tray at any given time.  The system should have an overall weight of around 40 pounds per lineal foot maybe up to as much as 45 pounds with full grown plants.

 

Three planters on each side of the greenhouse 50 feet long, two hanging from center of greenhouse at about 10ft height and two planters running down the center at about four feet height calculates to around 170 cubic feet of degraded granite media....  Reduced a bit by how much room I take up with a fish tank and possibly a 350 gallon water tank.  That would be somewhere about 8 tons of grow media........  That gets big fast doesn't it.....   So with a 5,000 to 6,000 gallon fish pool I would have about 500 gallons of water in the grow trays at any given time around 8 to 10% of the tank volume.  How many say, pounds of fish would one be looking at to produce enough for this size operation?.....  I could fill my 350 gallon tank twice daily or so and run around 700 gallons of water through the trays each day that would run about 1/2 gallon a minute of flow rate on the water.  Each foot of tray would flow it's entire volume of water out about every two minutes.

 

Feel free to jump in and educate me...... 

Edited by Mountain (see edit history)

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I'm a bit confused mountain, I thought your first post was talking about a basic hydroponic setup.

 

Now I see there is a fishpond in the plans.

 

I think if you want good advice you will have to tell us how you intend to set things up.

 

Is it separate aquaculture and hydroponics systems or a single aquaponics system? there is a big difference.

My opinion on grow beds is only do what is necessary, there is no point shoveling granite if a lettuce or herb will grow happily in DWC for example.

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I did not intend to use the term "hydroponics" I have been studying this for a total of about three days now and tend to get some of the terms mixed up yet, sorry......   Now that I look back I notice I did accidentally use the term hydroponics once in the first post.  I am wanting to use my 60ft x 90 ft catfish pond and a 5 to 6,000 gallon fish pool water to grow plants, does that clarify it enough?.....

 

 

I have several large fish ponds here, I figured I would use the fish pond by the house to run a 20x50 greenhouse of plant trays.  For winter operations I would have to have a fish tank in the greenhouse, because the pond freezes over all winter and trying to pump water out of there in winter be near to impossible.  I am assuming that a large fish pond full of thousands of catfish should work for aquaponics growing of plants the same as a tank of fish would.

 

I would be building a 5 to 6,000 gallon fish pool inside the 20x50 greenhouse.....  I would be using the 8 inch deep by 1 foot wide trays filled with degraded granite, running constant flow at 4 inch depth at about 1/2 gallon a minute flow rate at current calcs, though that can be upped if it needs to be higher.   I am simply guestimating a setup to get feedback on what I may need to change or think about "before" I start building anything. 

 

Curious.... what is ..."DWC"..?

 

No fish pond in the plans, I have four fish ponds already, the one I mentioned by the house, another behind my barn which is 70 x 210 feet 14 ft deep with a 15 x 30 foot island in the middle of it, there are two ponds out in the hay field, a small one about 40 ft in diameter and a large one triangular shaped that is about 70 feet on two sides and about 90 feet on the dam side, the two hay field ponds are about 12 feet deep.  I also have a 30 ft diameter sewer pond with catfish and turtles in it but I would not use that for gardening purposes.

 

I am set for fish ponds.... 

Edited by Mountain (see edit history)

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DWC= deep water culture or raft culture.

 

If I was in your shoes I would  look into wicking beds and load several of them in your greenhouse and water from you ponds. Maybe put something in your greenhouse to hold enough water to get you through winter past the freezes or figure out a way to get water from you pond if necessary.  Nutrients could be supplemented in you wicking beds if necessary. 

 

I suspect the nutrient level from you pond will be low, but no way of really guessing and testing for nitrates would tell you for sure.

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This is my pond by the house no idea if this picture thing will work....

pondbyhouse.jpg

Housepond.jpg

Pond1.jpg

This is the bigger pond behind the barn...

Acoverpic.jpg

I see you figure it would have low nutrient levels, is that from the plants and algae using up the nutrients that the catfish create?

My initial foray into this will be using the 5k to 6k gallon pool inside my 20x50 greenhouse beings we are coming into winter. Do you see any problem with running Koi in the 5k to 6k gallon pool in a greenhouse?.... Do you think that the water in the koi pool will be nutrient poor?... I was originally guessing that the natural pond would likely have more nutrients than the tiny Koi pool due the massive number of fish living it over the last 20 years. As for making a pool, that is no real trick for me or expense.

As for the water through the winter, the ponds are frozen over from about late October to mid November until between March 15 to May 15 depending on the year. How much water do you think I would need to store up for the 6 to 7 months of freezing temps..... Seemed to me a fish pool in a heated environment would probably be more efficient in winter here.... The winters here are part of the reason I have an interest in the aquaculture, it is tough to grow a good garden here,some years it just doesn't work out, we can get snow on July 4th here.... This year was a real bugger, it warmed up by May 15 last frost about May 10 and things were great until mid June and the temps plummeted back down to near freezing over night and nothing grew. It didn't warm back up until early July, way too late for gardens to recover.

I have read this "raft culture" numerous times, but I have no idea what that means....

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Raft culture/DWC is simply plants in something that floats and the roots are in water. Quite often, Styrofoam is used, with holes cut for net pots where you set the plant plugs.

 

As far as growing in your tough weather, have you read any of Elliot Coleman's books? He grows year round in Maine in unheated hoop houses - highly recommended that you read some of his works, if you haven't already.

Edited by edmolina (see edit history)

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I do grow year round in the greenhouse and in my plant room and all over the house, our house looks like a jungle most of the time.... lol... I do great every year in the big gardens with radishes, peas cukes and squash they will grow well in any weather. I like to grow all our own food, some years like this year it is a bust did great on the radishes, cukes, peas and garlic but that was it. With a family of 6 we go through a lot of veggies, to be able to supply all that we need would be great. But to supply all that we need requires growing and harvesting around 150 to 200 pounds of veggies a month year round. We could easily eat much more than that but more than that is not needed.

I have done cold frame growing will be doing some this year, though our temps are wayyyyyyyyy colder than anything you will see in Maine generally, we get down to -25F to -50F commonly throughout most of January and some years well into February. Our normal snow average is 96 inches of snow a year. Winter here, is no joke...

My plant room that I just added in will add another 150 square feet of growing space which will help to clear the house a little, turned out quite cool, 12 x 24 porch that I built off the kitchen two years ago made a great grow area. I filled the entire 24 foot east facing wall with windows and the north wall as well. I can just keep the sliding doors off the dining rom open or the back door from the den open for heating it in the winter, should be easily able to keep it at 65 to 75 throughout the winter. I have a stove on the front porch I could put in it, but I already have two big stoves in the house seems unlikely to be needed.

The greenhouse will be heated this year with my 250 gallon tank stove that I built five years ago for secondary household heat and brush and log burning. It is nice I can load 1/4 cord of wood into it at a time and allow it to smolder for days, puts out mass quantities of heat though, wayyyyyyyy too much for my last house... we had to open the doors and windows middle of winter to keep the temp livable when we were running that otherwise the house got to around 110F and stayed there for days until the fire finally burned down enough...

I am going to guess that you are not much of a supporter of aquaponics.......

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Many of the nutrients in the pond is typically gassed off through natural processes, and consumed by algae and aquatic plants.    I've filled my duckweed tanks from my pond and wound up having to add nutrients to get good growth.  This does not mean your environment is not different though, why I suggested testing your pond water. 

 

I run about 200-300 lbs of fish in a 24x32 greenhouse with an intex pool (5000 gallons give or take). I run tilapia, but koi are much more cold tolerant and should be fine in heated greenhouse.  Keep the water temp above 50F to keep decent plant growth.  Koi will eat, but slow way down when the temp gets lower than 60F.  If fed you should have plenty of nutrients.  Plants such as spinach and greens grew great for me at the lower temperatures.  My winters and nothing like yours though.

 

What kind of plants are you planning on growing?

 

Growth drops in winter due to decreased light and temp.

 

I think wicking beds, basically lined raised beds with a water reservoir would be your quickest and easiest way to get started since fish water is already available.

 

You're in a similar situation as a member named Psuedoreality. He's in Canada, and his system thread might help with ideas.  I'll see if I can find a link.

Edited by Ravnis (see edit history)

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http://aquaponicsnation.com/forums/topic/5709-sub-arcticponics-aka-pseudos-system-20/

 

His cold environment is similar and may give some better ideas. You have a unique situation though.  If you make grow beds out of red fir, how do  you plan to keep water from leaking out of it?  I'm not familiar with redfir.  Does if have natural waterproofing in it?

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I will be running a bit of lighting through the winter, I would like to grow radishes, garlic greens, cabbage, lettuce, peas and potentially kohlrabi, daikon, ginger and a few other things if I can get them to grow. I commonly sprout garlic cloves, carrots, onions, ginger root etc throughout the winter for fresh greens for salads and soups and just to munch on, I do all that in the kitchen and dining room. I commonly grow beans in the house through the winter as well, I harvest into January and then grow another crop and harvest into the spring. Kind of cool training those around the windows and up the walls and what not. I also commonly grow flowers in the house in winter like morning glories and what not, they are also cool to train up walls and whatnot as well. Right now my house is too full of aloes and jade trees to plant much though, why I built the plant room. I have a four tall aloe that I bought the wife for anniversary gift 10 years ago, it was this tiny little six inch tall thing........ now over four feet and produce between 50 and 100 baby aloes each year, and started flowering five years ago, now it flowers twice a year as well as some of it's babies that have grown to the same size now. I currently have around 40 aloes in the house and have simply run out of room to put plants really. The wife has two avacoda trees one about 5 feet tall and the other four feet tall in the living room with the largest jade tree and a mixture of other stuff, who knows exactly what it all is, everyone brings us plants constantly and we plant them and propogate them. We traded our aloes first baby to a friend of our when it was about 3 feet tall for three jade trees of his about 8 inches tall, we now have over 50 jade trees in the house one of them 3.5 feet tall one 3 ft and many in the 1 foot range.

I am a plant nut, so is the wife, and I done just about every type of gardening but aquaponics. One big issue for me is time, it is hard to find the time to get it all done, 4 kids ages 9-14 and a paraplegic wife who spends 1/2 her time the hospital it is hard to find time to water and weed etc... Weeding is near to non existent with the greenhouse aquaponics from what I have seen and it is pretty easy to automate the water systems, especially me I am electronics technician, it is simple to design and build this stuff. I have a backhoe for digging pools, I am great with concrete and have around 20 tons of stone sitting in my hay field just hankering to be useful. I have a sawmill and timber so wood is cheap and easy, I have a full blown wood shop for finishing the wood I mill. I have torches and welders, a forge that I built two years ago and a foundry that I built last year, I am well setup for taking on aquaponics. I also have an entire farm full of junk metal, pumps, engines etc to scavenge from. Not too mention unlimited availability of grow media.

If I can get an aquaponics system going and keep is automated that is just that more that I can do, I am quite fascinated with this and look forward to it. If you are concerned about me getting in over my head or something, that seems rather unlikely.....lol....

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I would use plastic liners in the wood trays, that was my theory anyways... I was a bit concerned about mold, no one likes wood in a greenhouse environment, though I have as yet never really had trouble with it.

I built three experimental chicken coop greenhouses 7 years ago, I kept chickens in them over winter, because I had flocks I wanted to keep separated, I then let them out very early spring and started plants in the soil that I had loaded into them which was now full of chicken manure, worked quite well. Here I have been working to grow gardens in my sheep and goat pen and my horse pens, I kick them out to pasture early and then work up the gardens in the pens, they add the manure and waste hay each winter and the pens are fenced which keeps them and deer out of the gardens and I do not have to clean the corals out anymore. That gives me 10,000 sq feet of garden space that is well protected and well nourished.

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Well, sounds like you're well set.   Main reason I would choose raft over media is due to cost of media and moving the media into growbeds,but that does not sound like an issue for you.   I've used lined growbeds for years and they do tend to get mold issues in a humid greenhouse after a year or two. The only thing I would add to your setup would be a filtration system of some kind, radial flow for example, though with the amount of media you're talking about it may not be necessary.

 

You could grow your edible plants through winter and around March-April start seedlings for your summer crops, though I doubt I'm saying anything you haven't already considered.

 

Do you have a number in mind of how much weight or how many Koi you wish to grow?

Edited by Ravnis (see edit history)

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Sounds like a fantastic operation Mountain - despite the bitterly cold temps. Have you looked into walipini's/pit greenhouses? It seems that your available land, extreme temps, and ease in excavation/construction might make that a good solution that would substantially expand your seasons.

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That is one of my questions, how would one go about calculating number and or size of fish as compared to lineal feet of planters, or by volume of grow media, or maybe even number and type of plants, I have no concept of what to use or how to gauge or formulate even a guestimate in this area. I would start with small Koi in the four inch range or so and likely somewhere between 50 and 100 fish most likely. I understand that how much they eat plays a role in how much they produce as well as their size and number, I would imagine temperature would effect output as well.

With so many variables and no idea of a starting point to begin with, I have no idea what number at what size etc. I have never raised a fish in my life either, so my understanding of raising fish rather limited as yet, up until I watched a few videos on home made aquaponics setups I did not even know that fish tanks needed filtration.

I greatly enjoy the look of Koi and the large size they can get up to, in fact I would gladly trade my catfish for Koi, I have been looking into getting into Koi for a couple years now in my ponds, but to get fish large enough not to get eaten by my catfish is rather spendy and then you are looking at very few fish as well. Between the blue heron that hangs out at my pond the occasional eagle and all the other predators I would want a fair number of Koi to put in the ponds to make sure they do not get eaten before reproducing. I thought about making a large pool to raise the Koi in until they were bigger and then let them loose into the ponds maybe 25 fish per pond or so. Then I ran across this aquaponics idea and it just kind of went right along with everything I had already wanted and needed. I have no intention of raising fish to eat with my system, I have plenty of fish to eat already, but I do rather enjoy watching the Koi and I really look forward to seeing them swimming in my ponds all beautiful and bold colored. They would also help the algae and weed problems in my ponds a bit along with the ducks and geese. Prettier ponds would be worth a bit also.

Many potential positives to getting a setup going.

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http://aquaponicsnation.com/forums/topic/6622-low-energy-aquaponics-leap/page-6

 

In this thread, Paul Van Der Werf  aka Earthan Group answers some of you're questions.   He has some tables and calculations that should be just what your looking for. His site is down ATM, so I can't check links directly.  IMO, he's the most knowledgeable  member here when it comes to these questions, not saying others are not, but this guy is sharp.

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Never heard of the Walpini pit greenhouse before, though I built something very similar about 27 years ago at my last foster parents ranch. There house was two story with a basement built on a hill, the front yard about 10 feet higher than the back yard. My foster dad and I dug a 20x20 in ground greenhouse off the end of the basement that simply daylighted out to the backyard. We ran the roof about three feet higher than the front yard elevation and we built concrete walls along the soil. We built in concrete boxes 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep along the two soil walls and planted them full of fig trees and kiwi. In the middle we built an 800 gallon metal tank into a large stove and plumbed it and placed a 6ft x 6ft x 6ft deep hot tub in the ground that was heated by the giant woodstove. After about five years the roof was covered with kiwi fruit, they were harvesting mass amounts of kiwi in there. There ranch is located 13 miles outside of Monument Oregon at an elevation of 3,600 feet. Most years there it snows on the fourth of July.

I used this same ide for my goat barn at m last farm, I dug four feet into the ground and made short stemwalls up to ground level and then built the roof peak. I then built up the ground level two up on the roof. It was 18 feet wide by 40 feet long and held my entire goat herd as well as about 100 rabbits running loose each winter. I built that so that I would go through less feed keeping them warm, and so that I wasn't fighting frozen water all winter long. Milking goats drink a lot of water when being milked.

I did eventually turn that into a greenhouse by taking off the tin on the low side facing to the south, it made a nice greenhouse, though I sold the place that same year so I did not get a lot of time to experiment on that to see how well it could work.

The system that I am wanting to build here for my greenhouse would be partly in the ground, it would set across the crease of two small hill slopes which gives me a ground level of about 3 to 4 feet deeper in the center of the greenhouse than on the ends. I figured I would build a wall to support and add dirt dug from the ends to the center raising the outside ground level. The fish pool would be set over what is currently a 3 foot deep wading pool and have walls built up four to five feet high inside the greenhouse giving me a pool about 12 feet in diameter and about 6 to 7 foot water depth. A 12 foot diameter pool at 6.5 ft water depth is ( pi r squared) 6ft x 6ft x 3.14159 x 6.5 feet x 7.5 gallons per cubic foot = about a 5,500 gallon tank. I woild go deeper and get more heat value from the soil, but the water here table here in the spring months is "at" ground level, literally.... I had trouble with my goat barn that was in the ground, I had to lay in pallets and cover them with old tin so the water would flow out without the animals being in the water and resultant mud. I have some south facing hill's I might try and put a greenhouse in one, daylight it out to the south so that water will can be drained easily and use the front wall and roof for the light coming in, it would not have as good a natural temp as the Walpini system, but should still work well.

I am nearly finished milling the wood to finish my plant room add on off my dining room, should be building the roof by late tomorrow if all goes well.

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Ok, in reading some of those links, I am now aware of something called "solid filtering"  I am assuming this being basically fish poo that will accumulate within the gravel/sand bed system and use up oxygen in prodigious amounts.

I did a search on oxygen requirements for Koi and ran across something called a "bog" filter for ponds.  Doing a bit more research on the bog filter I find that the anaerobic bacteria are killed off to an extent and balanced out by nitrifying bacteria and plant growth.

Out of curiosity, can one create a bog filter in maybe the first 50 feet or how ever many feet of planter trays?  This should remove the solids problem and help to alleviate oxygen problems.  I spent some time looking up plants suitable for "bog" filtration, aquatic mint, cat tails, water cress, tomato are all good for this and they are edible.  I love water cress, I have thousands of cat tails that I could transplant from and mint is always good, I have several mint patches.

I read some numbers, they were talking about 130 pounds of fish a year using a 317 gallon water tank, can you seriously raise that much fish in that little amount of water. At that rate you could raise a ton of fish in a 5,000 gallon tank.  I hate to imagine how much that many fish would eat, or the price of fish food at that rate.  Everyone always wants to run their own chickens for cheaper eggs......  after you calculate the feed costs after buying the feed it costs quite a bit more to run your own chickens than it does to buy eggs, I have to wonder if fish/food would not be the same story.

As I understand it, Koi will live off algae, is it viable to produce enough algae to feed a large fish system?

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