Aquaponic Gardening

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Progress report:

I'm still fighting with the rainbarrels. This time I invited a friend over to help me, and we removed the fittings, put rubber gaskets in on *both* sides of the rainbarrel wall so it was sandwiched in, reinstalled the fittings, and one of them *still* leaks. The other one sealed fine on the fitting, but it leaks around the actual PVC pipe. Sigh. So I'm going to pull them apart and put silicone into the sandwich on both sides, and some PVC glue, and if that doesn't work I'll just scream.

I also purchased the 4x4 posts to make table legs for the growbed. But without cross bracing they wobble way too much. So I'm working on cross bracing (and meanwhile the growbed is still safely propped on cinderblock). I should mention that this little project necessitated the purchase of a jigsaw. The mitersaw was a piece of junk, a miterbox wouldn't have the angles I needed, and I'll be damned if I'll saw everything by hand anyway. I really want a table saw, of course. ;-) But this will do for now.

Oh, and the fish... I nearly killed 'em. I tested the water Saturday morning and it was bad. Scary bad. Everything would be fine if the growbed was set up so the water was being filtered. Weeks ago like I'd intended. Meanwhile, the fish are happily eating and pooping and the water isn't being filtered. So I rushed out to my local pet store and purchased a 300 gph aquarium filter. Of course it won't fit on the side of MY fishtank, like it would over a skinny little aquarium. But it actually sits quite nicely on top of the fishtank wall. It's very stable there. I also hooked up a long hose to the uptake tube, and fitted a screen on the other end (purchased from my local hydroponics store) so the filter is pulling from the bottom as it should. After running it for 24 hours I removed the slimy, greenish-black filter pad and hosed it off so it was pristine and white again. I'll probably do that again after work tonight. My poor fish!

And while I was at the hydroponics store purchasing the tubing and filter, I discussed Hydroton with them. They'll sell it to me for the same price as everywhere else offers it, plus they'll deliver it to me (for free, I believe - if not, they're close enough to home that I can make 3 trips without wasting the whole day). So if I ever get the growbed properly braced, I'll have the Hydroton ready to fill it.

Oh, and on that note, I'm having issues with the draining of the growbed. It's got a HUGE pipe fitted through the bottom right now. I think it's like a 2" or maybe even 3" (I'm going from memory here). There's no way I'm going to try to build a bell siphon with that as the upstand. I considered just drilling a drain hole near the base of it and doing a timer-based fill with a slow drain, but the fittings come up too high. So the next step is to see if I can unscrew it. If so, perhaps I could put in a reducer immediately at the floor of the GB and do a U-bend siphon off of that. The U-bend would be my preferred method anyway. If I can't do the U-bend up into the GB itself, I can run it off to the side and U-bend externally, leaving the gaping hole (properly screened from media, of course) on the bottom as is. That would probably be the least hassle at this point.

Plants have sprouted nicely and will probably want to be planted in the next few weeks. My fiance will be here on vacation in 2.5 weeks, so if all else fails he and I will just spend our vacation blasting through this and getting it done. I hate to admit it, but that actually sounds like a good vacation to me. Getting this project complete would make me very happy!

Summary:
Rainbarrels: fail
GB legs: fail
GB drain: fail
Fish health: fail
Stress management for me: fail

LOL. At least no one is dead yet. Not me, and not the fish. And where there's life, there's hope!

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