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Uh Oh, I have another bit of material I probably won't resist trying to use. Raft Bed Saga Part 1

Raft Bed Saga Part 1

On my Visit to Cosmo Back in October to witness the install of the indexing valve in the Man Cave, Michael bestowed upon me one of his used billboard liners.

I'm often not good at leaving useful items just sit by taking up space, I tend to try and make use of them when I can. Anyway, we will see how it does for me.

The liner is folded in half in the picture below.



Well, I was really busy and barley at home through most of October but since I got back on Oct 30, my mind has been back at work expanding Aquaponic systems and gardens. (This is largely against my will, my mind just goes on and on some times even when my body would rather be sleeping, I know I'm not alone in suffering from Aquaponics Insomnia.)

Anyway, part of that liner has gone to a wicking bed to be planted with some winter veggies here shortly.




Still need to add more compost.

Then I will probably set up a section of bed to test out some raft. I will use fence panel sections like I did for my duck bed and use the billboard liner for it.


The cook thinks the wire won't support the water. I still need to wire the fence sections together where they overlap. I know one section high will support water and gravel. I am hoping that with only water to press out against it that maybe the two sections high will still be sturdy enough once wired together. If I find it trying to collapse out too much I can always add fence stakes around the outside at intervals and/or run wires across the top to help hold the sides in though wires across the tops would interfere with rafts being able to float down the length.

For now I will plumb it into the big system. I will need to work out a cover to keep leaves and crepe myrtle debris out of the bed. I'm still not entirely certain I want to bother with much raft culture but I think I will try out a little bit just so I can compare and see how it works for me.



There is one other thing I'm not entirely comfortable with, I could smell the vinyl when I unfolded that liner. I'm not sure that the vinyl liner should bug me any more than the firestone pond guard EPDM liner (which I use.) Heck, should I even care about chemicals from either of those seeing as I tend to re-fill and keep re-using water bottles for quite some time before re-cycling them. This is one of those dilemmas that I know many people wrestle with and I've still not really answered it for myself.

So, I'll test it out for a bit and see what I think of a raft bed. If I don't like it for that, I'll just make a few adjustments to it, fill it with compost and call it a wicking bed, that bit of ground was giving me difficulties as a dirt garden anyway because of the roots of the crepe myrtles.

The length is about 25 feet long to make some multiple of 4 or 8 work in the length for the rafts. The width is about 36" so I figured if I were to cut an 8' long blue board into 3rds then I would get 32" wide rafts that will hopefully have enough space to float in a 36" wide bed. This would give me 48" by 32" rafts that should be reasonable for handling. I have found that I am not comfortable reaching over or across 4' wide garden beds and hence the narrower bed. In case it gets converted to wicking bed.

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Comment by TCLynx on November 6, 2010 at 9:12pm
Here is the continuation of the Raft story
Next installment
Comment by TCLynx on November 6, 2010 at 5:16pm
Ok, plumbed in and we will see what happens.
I did have to add some wire stays across the top to keep it from bowing or collapsing outward too much.

The water level in the bed is dictated by the water level needed to get up and over the drain back up into the sump tank for the main system. The ground at the raft bed is actually lower than the top rim of my sump tank over by the main system :( so it isn't like I can play too much with water levels.

Now that I have system water running through it, I can hope that the slime and likely algae build up will help plug the pin holes and such.

So now I'll get to start figuring out the actual rafts, hopefully before algae becomes too much of a problem, either that or David will need to bring me a bucket of duckweed.
Comment by TCLynx on November 5, 2010 at 5:29pm
Well, started filling this one and I fear that it weeps. There are minor abrasions or pin holes that are not really visible but will still drip. If bio slime doesn't seal it up for the most part, It will become a wicking bed more swiftly.
Comment by M Cosmo on November 5, 2010 at 5:27pm
Hmmm. I might just sneak by one night and drop off some more of these liners just to see you suffer. What a devious plan.
Comment by TCLynx on November 5, 2010 at 7:02am
I tried both ways, the chickens might have eaten it if there were absolutely nothing else but I think that would have included the philodendron first. So, the chickens are never likely to be forced to eat the duckweed since they are nearly free range and there is always food available to them.

Now with the ducks, I expect that they might teach the chickens to like some new things but probably not.
Comment by David Hart on November 4, 2010 at 4:45pm
Did you give it to the chickens 'fresh' or 'dried' TC ...?
Maybe, they are like my tilapia...they'll eat it, as long as there isn't something better.
Comment by TCLynx on November 4, 2010 at 4:29pm
The chickens really were not much interested in Duckweed. Will have to try it again now that I have ducks.
Comment by David Hart on November 4, 2010 at 3:33pm
Wow TC ! If you don't like the rafts.....that would be one big duckweed pond !
I wish you weren't so far, I could be giving your chickens and ducks a couple 5 gal buckets of duckweed every day.

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