Aquaponic Gardening

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Meir Lazar got me thinking...pee-ponics philosophy...

When he asked how to add P or K to his pee-ponic system(s) for his flowering fruiting plants, I gave him a "standard" answer coming from a organic hydro perspective...Rock of Phosphate, Bone meal blahblahblah...but suppose you were a vegan? Or, the idea of using an unsustainable post peak mineral did not appeal to you? OR, you really were trying to stay within the bounds (of an as of yet non-existent) "pee-ponic philosophy"...Many of us choose not to do things that we are 'philosophically' out of tune with...or at least do them less, and attempt to choose when and why we do them, wisely...

Dosing your system with (N-P-K 11-1-2) humonia in order to get the 'required' or desired phosphates for flowering just isn't an option because of the massive amount of N you would be simultaneously introducing. I'm sure everyone is well aware of why this is bad and whatnot, so we wont get into that here...But, if you could extract all those phosphates, without all the N... that would seem like a mighty fine addition to you arsenal of effluent. It turned out that this wasn't a 'new' idea or anything (but what is these days?), this is what I did...

After researching why my cat gets bladder stones, the idea came to me...I added Mg in the form of Epsom salt (MgSO4-7H2O) to humonia, stired, strained. The white gunk I strained off is drying in the sun. That white stuff is NH4MgPO4-6H20-ammonium magnesium phosphate and is called stuvite (it's the stuff that bladder stones are made of). It is basically a phosphate precipitate. Like the whitish grey gunk (Calcium Phosphate) that builds up in your mineral hydro system over time causing you to have to flush the media...only instead of CaPO4 this is MgPO4...and 'ya made it yourself..!

According to the Swiss, this struvite should have an N-P-K value of 6-29-0 (Mg-10). AND...

...the effluent (liquid) that is left over from the process has a lowered N value, very little to no P value, and a high K value. Seems like a match made in heaven. This should really open up your fertilizing options while sticking to using 'sustainable humonia'...A 3 part hydro nutrient all from humonia. Whoopie!

Struvite dissolves readily in even slightly acidic environments, and slower in slightly alkaline environs. (might be a nice slow release fertilizer for the garden too). [edit. since writing this, I've used the MAP crystals in both the garden as well as in a couple of small bio-ponic test systems. The phosphates appear to be immediately bio-available to the plants (unlike say, bone meal). The potassium rich leftover looks promising, but the weather has precluded me from being able to test that out much on cultivars that are real potassium hogs...So more to come on that next spring/summer.]

I pretty much just did this last night and this morning and am still testing out some details, but it looks promising. I'm keeping notes of weights, measures, time...and should have some conclusions soon. If Meir or any one is interested I can post a 'how to' with details, measurements, and pictures. I'm building a 12 litre 'struvite reactor' out of galvanized sheet metal and pipes I have lying around (cuz I have lots of humonia to process and building stuff is 'fun'). But really all you need is a bowl, a stick, and a piece of clothe...

(and no explosions or highly caustic stuff with this one either...and 'skill level' is as easy as it gets. If you can make sugar cookies, you can pretty much do this. For now, just getting to the idea, seemed harder than executing it).

For the (so far) theoretical math there is this thread...http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/group/chemistry-math-and-aq...

And for some other struvite stuff there is this... one...http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/forum/topics/humonia-and-st...

I'd like to keep this thread (hopefully by culling some of the cream of what comes out of those other two) about how to make and use struvite and the results when used to grow plants...

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Replies to This Discussion

since peeponics is fishless then I'm NOT required to keep my PH below 7 to make the fish happy.

with that said what is the ideal PH for the plants and nitrifying bacteria that I should be maintain ?

also, because it is fishless, Am I required to keep the pump going 24/7 ?

anyone :)

It's not the fish that like the pH below 7, but rather the plants. So to answer your question...yes, if you want your plants to do really well, you will want to run the pH below 7.
No, you do not need to run the pump 24/7. If you don't have fish, the biological oxygen demand (BOD) of the entire system is significantly lower. You do not need to 'turn the water over' nearly as often.
As far as system pH for bacteria and plants...same old, same old...keep pH high wile cycling, then allow it to naturally slowly fall. I try to now keep both fishless, and fish stocked systems at a pH of around 6. In both scenarios, the systems will begin to crash at around pH 5.6 or 5.7

as always the valuable information you provide is highly appreciated.

been watching some videos on compost tea and aquaponics.

what do you think of brewing compost tea on a 5 gallon bucket then filtering it before adding a small amount, not sure how much per gallon of tank water ?

good or bad idea ?

or maybe just spraying directly to the plants instead ?

Just wondering: Are there any books about PeePonics or anyone in the writing stages now?

Yes, you can do that Butch.

Butch Pornebo said:

been watching some videos on compost tea and aquaponics.

what do you think of brewing compost tea on a 5 gallon bucket then filtering it before adding a small amount, not sure how much per gallon of tank water ?

good or bad idea ?

or maybe just spraying directly to the plants instead ?

Hi Joni...not that I'm aware of. That doesn't mean that there aren't any...just that if there are, I am not aware of them.

Joni Solis said:

Just wondering: Are there any books about PeePonics or anyone in the writing stages now?

I assume that due to the objectionable and controversial nature of this topic, you won't find much by the way of published literature, but the web is crawling with people trying new stuff all the time, especially Youtube. I found this forum has the most experienced people in the field and easiest to deal with for Q&A.

I actually learned about using pee for growing vegetables a long time ago from an article I read in Mother Earth News (I think that was the magazine). A lady was growing vegetables in five gallon buckets filled with leaves and then using old pee diluted with water for fertilizer.

Vlad I bet you could write a wonderful book about PeePonics.

I have the book, The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins (A Guide to Composting Human Manure). You can download it free as a pdf file from this page: weblife.org: Humanure Handbook: Contents - http://www.weblife.org/humanure/

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