Aufin

iAVs in Florida

73 posts in this topic

VKN ...... 1) The empty spots are because I have some seeds I'm starting that will be transferred when they are strong enough. 

2) The depth is what is recommended on the iAVs site - 13 inches of sand plus a little freeboard.

 

 

Vagabundo Andino ........  You are in good hands with Gary's help.  I'm just starting with the iAVs method, so everything I do is pretty much trial and error. I'm sure Gary, and possibly Mark, too, will be of great help in getting you on the right path for another iAVs success story.  Don't be a stranger here, and keep us informed of your progress.  Also, read the threads VKN has been doing on his success in India.  He's way ahead of anything I've done so far. 

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Here ya go, Gary.  Silk Ear, Sow's Purse kinda thing you mentioned on the iAVs site.  (Shhhh ...... yeah I know.  Just messin with Gary.  Don't tell him).

 

  Had some sand leftover and a small pile of blue half-barrels, so I thought, why not?  Just another place to grow something. 

 

post-2899-0-99336600-1462922247_thumb.jp

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Here ya go, Gary.  Silk Ear, Sow's Purse kinda thing you mentioned on the iAVs site.  (Shhhh ...... yeah I know.  Just messin with Gary.  Don't tell him).

 

  Had some sand leftover and a small pile of blue half-barrels, so I thought, why not?  Just another place to grow something. 

 

attachicon.gif01.jpg

 

Hi Aufin,

 

Your secret is safe with me.

 

The only honourable end for a basic flood and drain system is for it to be converted to an iAVs.  

 

VKN has developed a small system that uses round tanks and sand beds, too.  I think they'd be perfect for a single plant like a cantaloupe, pumpkin or other vine that produces lots of food from a single plant.  

 

If nothing else, I think a little unit like yours would make a great seedling propagation system.  Great job!

 

 

Gary

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  A couple days short of a month since I built the box, filled w/sand and FT water started flowing.  Plants were added a couple days later.  Fish seem happy, plants look happy, bugs nibbling on the plants seem to be doing good, lizards eating the bugs eating the plants are having a grand time.  In time I might find I overplanted, but that's OK.  I wanted to see who would survive the transplant and which seeds would come up. So, I'll probably be culling in the future, but for now everything seems to be coming along just fine. 

 

post-2899-0-02621700-1463351656_thumb.jp

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  A few things I've learned about iAVs so far.........

 

1)  It's a very simple, easy, and hard to screw up method of growing.  Once the timer's set up, everything runs on "auto pilot".  Just a few basics that can't be ignored such as sand size, bed depth, and water runs downhill. 

2)  Don't underestimate the drain.  If you think it's big enough, make it bigger.  Once everything's running, it's going to be a real PITA to redo it.  The furrows take care of the rest.  You want it to drain really, really good.  One of my small side beds has an undersized drain, but I'm not going to fool with it till I'm ready to replant.

3)  Squirrels like iAVs, too.  They might jump a little when the flood cycle starts, but get right back to their little thieving ways soon enough. Bought a fake owl ...... didn't work.  Next is dropping a few fake snakes around.  Can't let the tree rats get everything.

4)  Hardest thing about iAVs.  Leaving it alone.  Find something else to do, like pollinating all those veg blooms. 

 

 

post-2899-0-80329000-1464743732_thumb.jp  post-2899-0-55928300-1464743775_thumb.jp

 

 

Okra in iAVs

post-2899-0-95351100-1464743930_thumb.jp

 

Blue Barrel trial with corn.

post-2899-0-47336600-1464744057_thumb.jp

 

Will probably need to thin out the okra and corn.  Wanted to see how dense the beds can handle.   

 

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Hi Aufin,

 

Your iAVs is a good example of what building and operating a backyard system should be about.  Simple. Easy. Resilient.

 

I re-read this thread and loved the bit about pumping the radial flow separator out to fast track the detritus layer. 

 

How many fish....and what type.....are powering your system?  Apologies if I skipped over that detail.

 

Gary

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Hey Gary,  

Approx 275 gal tank with 30 (?) tilapia. .....they won't stay still enough for a proper headcount.  Getting close to fish fry time.

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Aufin,

 

Plant growth is great.  

 

The cucumber plant is evidencing chlorosis.....probably due to low nitrogen.   The bountiful flowering on the cucumber plant also suggests that there's insufficient nitrogen.

 

Any idea of the total weight of fish biomass in the tank?  What is your feed input rate?  

 

Can you boost your feed rates....or if you're already feeding them what they'll eat....can you access more fish?

 

How are you feeding the fish?  Can you quantify your feeding regime and rates?

 

You may want to postpone that fish fry until we get a handle on the nitrogen situation......and it looks like you'll be having tomatoes with your fish.

 

None of my observations should be taken as criticism.  You're a great emerging example of what happens when someone follows advice around iAVs.  We're determined to see you succeed.

 

 

Gary

Edited by Gary Donaldson (see edit history)
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Aufin,

 

Plant growth is great.  

 

The cucumber plant is evidencing chlorosis.....probably due to low nitrogen.   The bountiful flowering on the cucumber plant also suggests that there's insufficient nitrogen.  I think it may be a bit more than just low nitrogen.  Took a close look at the sand and found some small pieces of lime-looking grains.  Evidently the sand was misrepresented as  containing nothing but silica.  Not a lot, but more than I'm happy about.  Soaked in vinegar, no bubbles, so I don't know what it is.

 

Any idea of the total weight of fish biomass in the tank? No idea. The fish aren't babies.  They're 2+ yrs.  What is your feed input rate?  Not very scientific .... a couple handsfull morning and evening.

 

Can you boost your feed rates....or if you're already feeding them what they'll eat...  Increasing the feed shouldn't be a problem.  Been trying to do minimal feeding to try to get rid of the weak pea soup look of the water.  .can you access more fish?  Maybe, but I was thinking I  might be overstocked already. 

 

How are you feeding the fish?  Can you quantify your feeding regime and rates?  Quantify?  Hell, I can't even spell quantify.

 

You may want to postpone that fish fry until we get a handle on the nitrogen situation......and it looks like you'll be having tomatoes with your fish.  If I can keep the damn tree rats from eating everything. 

 

None of my observations should be taken as criticism.  Not a problem, observations are welcome.  You're a great emerging example of what happens when someone follows advice around iAVs.  We're determined to see you succeed.  You'll also figure out over time that I'm pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum from VKN as far as being any where near "scientific".   Actually, as to my methodology, I'm probably closer to the type to make Mark expel me from the class. The basic prescription for the sand composition, bed depth, slope/level, furrows, F/D timing, etc is being followed but the rest is a bit "loose".   The nitrogen issue, tho, I do need to figure out.  Possibly change the fish food.  Maybe I'll see how the fish do with supplementing their diet with little bodies of dead tomato-stealing rodents.

 

 

Gary

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weak pea soup makes me think of algae.  Algae may be locking up your nutrients, maybe cover the fish tank to block out sunlight if possible and not already done?

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Oh yeah, it's algae.  Not as much as it was, tho.  Working on a better cover.  75% coverage isn't working as good as I'd like.  Working on a total shade cover.  Hard summer sun is on its way.

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Gary sees plant deficiencies and I see great looking plants. lol  I too would be expelled from mark's iAVs class, if I was ever admitted in the first place. :)

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For what it's worth, here's a little update. 

Main bed coming along OK.  The bugs n borers have pretty much decimated the squash, cucumbers and cantaloupe.  Seems when I get some fruit forming the bug bastards find it and bore into it.  Not only that, I think they brought some kind of disease into the cucumber.  Cucumber vine going to be history soon.  Have a new one started to take it's place.

  Have a few cantaloupe coming along on the vine.  Going to make some kind of concoction to try to convince the pickle worms to leave them alone.  The tomatoes seem to be doing fine.  Getting some tomatoes.  The bushes are getting a little too big but I can't bring myself to trim them when they have flowers.  Eggplant is being smothered by the tomatoes, and I can't seem to figure out how to pollinate them.  Seems my little paintbrush and making bee noises doesn't work.  I think the squashes just don't like it where they are. 

 

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The small 2x4 bed is doing fine.  Okra doesn't seem to be very picky about where it is as long as there's plenty of sunshine and water.  A bit overcrowded, but still producing, anyway.

post-2899-0-06304400-1467495531_thumb.jp

 

The little round experimental bed is doing ok.  Again, overcrowded (on purpose), but corn is forming. 

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I intend to build a couple more beds, 2x8 feet instead of a full 4x8 ft, and do the planting with a bit more thought now that I have a little better idea of how things work.  Probably put together a couple small satellite, okra-size, beds, too. 

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Working on getting a couple more sand beds built and expect to begin cycling them later on this week.  Built them 2'x8' and am going to put in 2 rows of vegs, and experiment with putting a small row down the center for wildflowers and flowers known to deter bugs. 

 

 

2x8b.jpg

2x8c.jpg

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Great work, Aufin.  Thanks for the updates.  These....and your photos....are particularly welcome at this stage of the iAVs renaissance.

Got any observation to make regarding your water quality and the like?

Edited by GaryD (see edit history)

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14 hours ago, GaryD said:

Great work, Aufin.  Thanks for the updates.  These....and your photos....are particularly welcome at this stage of the iAVs renaissance.

Got any observation to make regarding your water quality and the like?  Well Durn, Gary,  guess I'll have to break down and get some water monitoring stuff if you're going to keep asking such tough questions.  Fish seem happy, water looks cleaner than it has in a couple years, vegs were doing fine till this 100 degree weather started cooking everything.  Everything is shade covered, but still too hot for much of anything other than okra to grow. 

 Both new beds are now online, shade covered and cycling/seasoning getting ready for cooler weather.  Need to do a little cleaning and straightening around the beds, but I think I'm going to wait for a little cooler weather, too. 

 

 

07.30.16a.jpg

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Well Durn, Gary,  guess I'll have to break down and get some water monitoring stuff if you're going to keep asking such tough questions.  Fish seem happy, water looks cleaner than it has in a couple years, vegs were doing fine till this 100 degree weather started cooking everything.  Everything is shade covered, but still too hot for much of anything other than okra to grow. 

Hi Aufin,

I wasn't suggesting you go to the extreme of investing in a test kit. ;)  It was more of question about whether you'd noticed any difference in your water quality since you joined us on the dark side.

Gary

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Hi Aufin,

Quite an impressive setup! Looks great. Any update on trying the wildflowers down the middle? Also, I was curious about how you sealed the plastic around your drain. I'm in the midst of designing a similar system and was pondering the drainage part. I did note your comment about making sure it's of adequate size, so thanks for that!

Cheers,
Jeff

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Working on an update.  Hasn't been much going on in the summer heat.  Fall plants are coming in the stores so will be planting soon for fall.

 Didn't take photos when I did my drains.  Had an idea and went with it.  Thought about documenting after, but will try to explain.

  The larger 4'x8' box I put a 4" drain through using a lot of sealant.  Have a small leak which I intent to fix pretty soon.

  On the smaller 2 x 8 foot boxes I installed one 2" drain in each box.  Drilled a 2" hole with a hole saw and put a 3" long 2" galvanized threaded nipple through and capped both ends with a threaded galvanize-to-PVC fitting.  The PVC fitting is just enough larger than the nipple to make a pretty good tight seal against the plastic liner. And, by tightening both ends against the wood, keeps the assembly from moving around when fitting the rest of the drain and, when walking/working around the bed, keeps everything tight should you step on the drain line later on.  Plenty of plumbers' putty for the threads (both ends of the nipple) and a bit of silicone caulk on the inside where going through the plastic.  I cut an X in the plastic sheet and shoved the nipple through from the inside so some plastic might line some of the hole (probably doesn't make any difference, but made me feel better). Made a media guard to fit around the PVC fitting with 1/8" hardware cloth and added a good sized pile of small garden pebbles around the media guard to stop the sand. So far, no leaks at the through point of the beds.  I used 2" because that's what was available without going on a quest. 

  If I had it to do over again, I think I would put 2, maybe 3, of the 2" drains in my large bed instead of just one 4".  Don't have any justifiable reason why, just think multiple drains might be better than one central drain.........maybe.  I stepped the 4" fitting down to 2" for the run back to the tank.  Works just fine.  

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I would strongly recommend you do away with the galvanized nipple and go with something like this.

bulk head fitting

 

Galvanized metal can release under the right conditions toxic ions than can harm fish. Different species have different tolerances, but I would not take a chance when these work so much better anyways and no sealant required.

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Considered the galvanize issue,  but its only a 3 inch piece, so I went with it.  Plus I wanted something solid going through the wood that I could stabilize and not worry too much about it getting knocked around and leaking.  My drains do not leak (yet) even after a little manhandling putting the rest of the drain run together, and a tripping over the line a few times.  Plus, if where I caught my fish is any indication of what they are capable of handling, I don't see where just a couple inches of galvanized pipe is going to have any bearing on their quality of life.

Not intending to sound argumentative,  but that's my justification.  If anyone has concerns about the short piece of galvanized pipe, then maybe they might want to consider painting the inside or sanding down to bare metal.

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I'll just direct you to an answer I posted here.   It's mostly about copper, but zinc has similar effects.

I understand your reasoning.  Those bulkheads I pointed you too are very strong, I used it and it's been strong like a timex.  Hit it and knocked it around.  The gamble is that the copper released will be absorbed by plants faster than it can accumulate and harm fish.   The danger is primarily in acidic and soft water, so at least you will know to monitor for those conditions. 

That said under just right conditions the danger is minimal, but under the wrong conditions you could suddenly loose all of your fish. I remember answering threads where  "my systems been running fine for months, but suddenly my fish are dying...." only to find there was metal that was not fish safe in the system.  There were typically other events associated such as adding acid to lower pH or  sudden water changes from rains overflowing the system and softening the water, so it's not as simple as saying the problem was copper or zinc metal in the water.   But please don't take this as a knock on your setup, it's a true inspiration.  Best of luck to you, forewarned is forearmed.

Edited by Ravnis (see edit history)

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Have a situation I don't have any ideas as to why:  the detritus layers in the furrows in the larger sand bed/filter have gone away and aren't forming any more since I put in the two smaller beds.  Both beds are fed by the same pump and supply line, so I don't understand what's happening.  The smaller beds supply lines are throttled back to maybe 60% flow, so there's pressure backup to feed the large bed.  Can't imagine everything just blowing by the line to the large bed.  Small beds have plants in them and the detritus furrows seem to be doing just fine, so turning them off for a while isn't an option.  Changed the supply manifold a little to not have so much turbulence coming out of the line and scouring the sand.......made no difference.  As much as I don't want to, I'm about ready to add another pump and supply dedicated to the large bed. 

 

2016.09.17B.jpg

2016.09.17.jpg

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