Aquaponic Gardening

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I knew it wouldn't take too long to start missing the extended growing season in Florida.  I had my aquaponics system set up for a month when my employer decided that they needed me to work in another state.

It's only my third month in Michigan and with temperatures in the 40s during my morning comute, I spend the 30 minute drive trying to figure how to grow vegetables in my basement.I don't think there are many fish that can survive zero degrees for three or four straight weeks.

I took a trip to the hydroponics store this afternoon. I have no interest in growing "medicinal" plants, but the guy was helpful in explaining how to build a hydroponic bubbler system using 5 gallon buckets, an air pump, and a manifold to evenly distribute the air to all buckets. He told me they recently sold the parts to construct an 8 bucket system.  But instead of typical hydroponic nutrients I am trying to figure out how to incoporate worms and make it a vermiponic bubbler system. 

I built a mini-bubbler last spring and it worked well, but I'm ready to kick it up a notch and reduce the costs of the inputs. The biggest expense in hydroponics is the cost of nutrients. I've got plenty of worms and they replenish themselves automatically so I would have the ultimate sustainable system.  And if I use solar power, I wouldn't even need to use electricity except for back up purposes. But in my basement I would need to use a grow light and those things draw a lot of current.

I'm not quite sure how to incoporate the worms and how to feed them without getting the food supply gunked up in my air bubblers.I've read about some people burying the food in PVC pipe and drilling holes in the pipe so worms can get in but food can't get out. 

I'm open to other ideas about incoporating fish into the system, but I can't fit the 210 gallon tank down the stairs to the basement (lol). I could get the 150 gallon stock tank down there, but my wife already vetoed that idea (lol)

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If you don't have any women's stockings lying around (ha ha) and want something that last a bit longer, try 5 gallon, paint filter bags.  They are cheap, reusable and washable.  You can find them at paint stores, Lowes, Home Depot etc.  We used these on the farm when making large batches tea for our 2 acre garden.

Warning, Devils advocate comment, test are showing that certain "teas" and hydroponics are more effective than AP water.

 

Runs and hides.

Well there are no Lowes or Home Depots here, and when I asked at paint stores for filter bags, I got funny looks (like I often get when asking for something "that doesn't exist" which just means that no-one here has ever heard of it) and get replies like "why on earth would someone manufacture and pay for a 'paint filter bag' hardyharhar, when you can buy womans stockings for like 20 cents"? 

More and more it is looking like I will be attempting to obtain some level of food production this winter using no fish. 8 IBC grow beds (all hooked up, filled with media and ready to go) and around 560 sq.feet of DWC rafts (still being built). The idea is to use the fish tank as a giant bubbler with casting filled filter bags until springtime, when I can get my fish and a back-up power system. . Now I'd like to cycle at the same time but realize this may pose certain difficulties (knowing when nitrates show up) since nitrates will already be in the system. I will in all likelihood document what happens in some detail. Will see how 'effective' it is...

Can you give me some links or more info on making a micro ethanol distillery ?

Chamsiddine Afraitane said:

Try to combine a micro ethanol distillery with your aquaponics. you can use the by product (corn mix with worms) to feed the fish and the waist heat to heat up your water and green house.

Let me know if you need more details

 

 


You tube is loaded with them.  Be on the lookout for an old pressure cooker - it can easily be converted and you can find a video showing how to do it.
For anyone interested in a commercial product.

http://www.imakemygas.com/

Jane said:

Can you give me some links or more info on making a micro ethanol distillery ?

You can also join a forum, the most active is " alcoholfuel@yahoogroup.com" under the supervision of Dr Peggy Korth.

She also has a website : www.sustainabletechsys.com

Geoge said:


You tube is loaded with them.  Be on the lookout for an old pressure cooker - it can easily be converted and you can find a video showing how to do it.
For anyone interested in a commercial product.

http://www.imakemygas.com/

Jane said:

Can you give me some links or more info on making a micro ethanol distillery ?

Two Jay,

Where are these test published, I'd like to see.

Two Jay said:

If you don't have any women's stockings lying around (ha ha) and want something that last a bit longer, try 5 gallon, paint filter bags.  They are cheap, reusable and washable.  You can find them at paint stores, Lowes, Home Depot etc.  We used these on the farm when making large batches tea for our 2 acre garden.

Warning, Devils advocate comment, test are showing that certain "teas" and hydroponics are more effective than AP water.

 

Runs and hides.

Jonathan, nothing formally published, yet!  Test are on hold again until the spring growing season.  I will be sure to follow up as soon as feasible and proper information is available.

If you guys are interested, I'm setting up a little organic-hydro (mostly worm-tea-humonia-wood ash) rig and plan to keep meticulous notes/pics this time. As I am rather dumbfounded as to why everything did as well as it did last time around? (Especially with pH levels at above 8.5). This time I'll be controlling the pH levels, and I now have a way to take EC readings (though urea wont register, so I'm told) and measure things to the 100th of a gram.

I won't be 'publishing' this anywhere (I'm sure there are more serious people doing serious research on this sort of thing), but would be more than happy to share my results in any case. I've already seeded the Habenjeros, Feferones, Green COS Romaine,Red Summer Crisp, and Spinich that I'd like to use for this. 

Might be interesting to track the EC levels but keep in mind in an Organic hydro type situation, the EC readings will be rather meaningless compared to hydroponic recommendations since you won't be using anything similar to the hydroponic salts that normally get used.  The test kits we use in aquaponics will be more useful in telling you the nutrient strength.

See the EC meter really only measures electrical conductivity which rises with the amount of salts in the water since most chemical hydroponic fertilizers are a mixture of mineral salts they can then sort of use the electrical conductivity measurement to estimate the nutrient strength, but then it is only an estimate and can't tell you which particular nutrients might be out of balance which is why people usually have to dump and replace hydroponic nutrients regularly.

So, I've used an EC meter to sort of estimate my salt levels in a system in aquaponics but I never figure it has much of any bearing on my nutrient levels in aquaponics and I'll venture that the same will be true of a worm tea/humonia/wood ash mixture as well and your pH test kit will have far more use than the EC meter.

This guy said he added worm tea to his system and had an explosion of growth

http://youtu.be/bNDwumVaNko

TC...I totally agree, and am aware that EC and/or TDS measurements are not going to be a good indicator since it seems that organic-hydro relies on bacterial activity in the nutrient solution to free up many of the nutrients and make them available to the plants. Figured I'd add EC readings though in addition to the standard set of NH3/N4 - NO2 - NO3 - pH - Temps anyways (just to see)...

But you're right...my pH meter, gram scale, NO3 test and measuring cup will probably tell me more than an EC meter...(maybe someone, someday will come up with some sort of algorithm for hydro-organic or some such thing to make an EC/TDS reading relevant, though I really don't see how)...

I guess I just want to set this up in a controlled and orderly manner, test for as many things as I can, and see what I can draw out of it? Not exactly furthering the field science to be sure. I'd like to get a potassium test kit and use it in conjunction with the pH meter and EC meter as I haven't a clue as to how many grams of hardwood ash to add to 10 liters of water (right now I'm kinda wingin' it, adding enough to drive the pH of distilled water up into the high 8's then lower the pH with Muratic acid then diluting that to what ever I feel is safe/enough on that particular day... Needless to say, I'm not real happy with this situation as it stands and would like to get a better handle on it, as I feel that would ash could be a wonderful (and sustainable, for those of us that use wood burning stoves:) source of potassium. But as of now, am absolutely in the dark as to how much to use..?  

 ...I'd like to do a little more with my Arduino as well, but the programming end is going super slow for me. So far I can control a stupid wall outlet, a mains device coupled with relay (lights, fans blahblahblah), and receive temp and humidity readings every second from a sensor, but that's about it...Not exactly high tech impressive, but I'm workin' on it :)

I would like to find an CO2 sensor to couple with the Arduino to measure CO2 in PPM's so that I'm not flying blind with my yeast and sugar CO2 generator, just to see how well that works too...

 

Since the natural tendency of the bio-ponic nitrogen cycle is going to be to lower pH over time, you may not need to worry so much about adjusting the wood ash mix with acid since you can use it to buffer pH up.  (leached wood ash is how they used to make Lye or KOH)  And in the big Aquaponic operations they normally alternate using KOH (potassium hydroxide) and COH (calcium hydroxide) to buffer pH up when it drops too low.

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