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With the last post on the pvc and vermiculite media I said that the idea with the media is to go into some new towers I want to test.  Here is a set of pics of the first bank of them going up on the back wall of my greenhouse.  I have not filled them all with plants as the nutrient levels are quite low now - forcing me to supplement.  I am expecting things to be a bit slow while I wait for the koi to grow, but in the mean time, it gives me a chance to build components.

 

 

The tower set is light enough to suspend from a crop support wire in the roof of the greenhouse.  A single water supply line without any individual control valve to each tower was tried first and it works due to sufficient pressure on the line.  Better control may be needed as I add towers.  In the end, I am hoping to be able to fit 8 - 10 of these and 5 longer towers of a different design onto the 2 back panels of the greenhouse. I purposefully did not "step" the rows of plants to see if this will allow me to squeeze 8 short rotation plants into 450 mm of 110 mm pipe.

 

 

Everything is "push fit" at the moment to allow tinkering and adjusting.  Inside the top "cap" of the tower I made a spray nozzle to ensure that the water is dispersed evenly throughout the start of the trickle path.  Will have to see if all the plants remain happy over time.

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Namaste Kobus,

 

Very nice design :-)

 

This is one I think you should be able to market commercially.

 

Good bless,

nice! I hope to have something like this one day! what does push fit mean? also what is stepping and your differences?

Hi Adam. Hope you are well.  "Push fit" refers to the fact that the whole construction is not finished in PVC weld or silicone - the top and bottom stop ends are loosely pushed over the 110 mm pipe.  I can get away with this because of low flow rates.  Thus if anything clogs up, it can be cleaned again.  Nozzles can also be cleaned in a minute, even with the pump running. Stepping refers to some towers that have a step down from plant one to plant two, thus if you were looking at it from the front, the plants will not form 4 rows, but the plants will "zig - zag" from one at its highest point to one at its lowest.  This allows for more plant root space per plant, but as I am trying to work with a small space, I first want to see if I cannot get away with this design.

Adam Shivers said:

nice! I hope to have something like this one day! what does push fit mean? also what is stepping and your differences?

Thanks for the compliment Sahib, but this design will be a delicate balance between flow rates, water clarity and crop rotation.  I must still test it a bit!

Sahib Punjabi said:

Namaste Kobus,

 

Very nice design :-)

 

This is one I think you should be able to market commercially.

 

Good bless,

Hi Kobus,

Push fit is the way to go, they look pretty! I'm wondering, however, if the choice of the drain pipe size is ideal..............but with loose fits you can always clean them out. You mentioned you're supplementing for low inputs?

Harold - yes, I pulled out the 37 big tilapia and replaced them with 17 (20, but three pegged) small koi.  Needless to say the system is looking for food at the moment.  I am anticipating a need to move some of the research system's fish out in the next few months when they will come back to the mixed system, thus in the mean time I'm supplementing with swirl filter tea, trace elements and seagrow - our version of maxicrop.

 

In terms of the drain size - they may get clogged by root growth but for the water flow, they are fine.  I have a spray head in each of the tubes with very little water at a time going into each.  The flow of all 4 are going down one 25 mm pipe at the moment without the flow being backed up.  But as it is all loose, I can go for 32 mm if need be.  My theory with these towers are that a coarse spray can be kept going at low enough velocities to operate 15 minute on 45 minute off cycles with just enough water going into each tower to allow me to run up to 15 spray heads off a 60 Watt pump lifting to max head.  The water then flows into the sand bed and horizontal 110 mm tubes.  I will re-introduce the unit when it is done.  During winter, it developed a "split personality" - one half of the unit running off a "clean" line and the rest operating off a "dirty" line.   

Harold Sukhbir said:

Hi Kobus,

Push fit is the way to go, they look pretty! I'm wondering, however, if the choice of the drain pipe size is ideal..............but with loose fits you can always clean them out. You mentioned you're supplementing for low inputs?

These have been going for a little bit and I am really happy with the performance so far.  The vermiculite / pvc mix stays moist for a long time, and only a small amount of water is needed to get the whole thing moist.
These have been going for over a month, but with low nutrient levels in the system the growth has not been rapid.  I'm still happy with the results of some of the lettuce species I have tried though.  While you really have to be careful when planting the heart lettuce (getting them in too deep makes them want to form the heart inside the pvc pipe which causes problems) the open lettuce variety is going OK.  It looks like I should be able to keep the towers going for 6 weeks at a time without clogging.

Hi Kobus,

The homemade towers present with beautiful aesthetics.! For a low cycle your growth is impressive enough.If you wanted to plant that variety, I'm sure they'll do well in towers with wider spaced holes(8"-12" apart maybe?), and may increase this present 6 week period.

Could try them in a wider spaced tower - the strawberries that I had in a trial tower filled with coir was a failure and I want to take them out and try something new.  The tower has the same spray head but is about twice as long as the compact tower and takes 10 plants.

Harold Sukhbir said:

Hi Kobus,

The homemade towers present with beautiful aesthetics.! For a low cycle your growth is impressive enough.If you wanted to plant that variety, I'm sure they'll do well in towers with wider spaced holes(8"-12" apart maybe?), and may increase this present 6 week period.

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