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.