Thursday, November 10, 2011

Winter is coming

A long overdue update!

My trout order is on hold. The fish supplier tested positive for a specific bacteria last year, and they need a clean test before the DNR (Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources) will let them sell to me.
The tests have been taken, but the results aren't back from the lab yet. :banghead:

Which is kind of a bummer, because my tilapia died last night and today. Two died overnight, and I took out the remaining four today:

On the other hand, I'm still working on getting my aeration system up and running:

So until the aeration is up, I couldn't take the trout anyway.

The biggest problem I'm having with the aeration system is how to keep the PVC pipe sunk in the troughs. I'm using 2" pipe, because the runs are so long. Filled with air, those things are seriously buoyant! Currently, I'm using sandbags filled with my gravel. Any other ideas? I don't want to strap them down, because I don't want to add more holes to the liner, and I want the pipes to run underwater so I don't have to insulate them, and because I don't want the rafts to rub against the air lines.

Since my last update, I've also built my first seedling table.
The location:

It's just made of 2x4s and plywood, and it's insulated:

I'll get a pic of it populated by seedlings soon.

I've also prepped the other side of the greenhouse for the other two troughs. Hopefully, I'll build one on Monday, when I have a friend coming out to help:

With the end of Daylight Savings up here in the northern Hemisphere, I've started having to work in the dark:

And a couple more friends:

This is Geyser, a stray female 3-week old kitty I found at the greenhouse. I took her to the St. Paul humane society on Lexington. I named her Geyser, because she erupts (hisses, spits) on a regular schedule. Poor girl, she's had a tough life already.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2nd video tour, more work days

Sorry it's been a bit since my last post. Busy busy!
Second video tour:

I'm also starting up work days again, now that the soil growing season is coming to an end. I need lots of help!

Sign up for days to work

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

2nd trough almost online

With a lot of help from Fer, I almost have my second trough online:

Fer and Jones supervising

Getting the corners in

Nasty, nasty corners, takes two different styles!

Filling with water!
There's also a time-lapsed video of building it. Not the best such video ever made, but it's my first, so whatever:

There was some drama as I tried to get the uniseals into the liner (these allow pipes to be put through the liner, rather than going over the edge), which is explained on the BYAP forum thread Uniseal Problems. My solution? K-Y jelly. If it's good enough for Aliens, it's good enough for me!

Uniseal in place.
I also have a new friend (enemy? Is she plotting to eat all my produce?)
How many cabbages can a woodchuck steal, if a woodchuck can get into my troughs?
The whole picture archive is available here, and there's more detail on my BYAP thread.
My apologies for how rushed this post is, but I need to sleep!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More trough work, and planting!

It's been a few days since I last posted, because after my last post (which is duplicated over on Backyard Aquaponics) there was quite the discussion on the strength of the trough walls, and whether they would hold.

I'm using a modified design of a proven system (The Friendly's, in Hawai'i), and I've mostly made it stronger, so I wasn't worried, until I posted over at BYAP. =)

As I'm not an engineer, I started to doubt my ideas, but someone explained how this works, and now I'm moving forward.

Overview of the Friendly troughs
Friendly demo showing the liner and how strong it is.

I've filled the first trough part way and started planting.

I insulated and clad the fish tank for this greenhouse.

I've filled one of the 100 gallon stock tanks with washed gravel. I started to plumb from the fish tank to the gravel beds, but I haven't finished, and I didn't take pics.

I hope to finish up the plumbing on the growbeds and the first trough in the next few days, so I'll have a working system ready for fish soon. Then I'll plumb in the next troughs as I finish them.

Then, duplicate the system in greenhouse #2!

So far, I've planted:
  • Tatsoi
  • Mizuna
  • Nastutiums
  • Caraflex cabbage
  • Cucumbers, lemon
  • cucumbers, Armenian
  • Romaine (cos) lettuce
  • Arugula
  • many fancy non-cos lettuces
  • pakchoi
  • vitamin greens
  • Basil - Aroma 2, Sweet Dani, and Amethyst
  • Savoy-leafed spinach
  • spaghetti squash
  • stevia
  • watercress
  • Cilantro

Monday, August 8, 2011

Building the troughs!

I am very sorry to have been out of touch. I got a terrible case of food poisoning a few weeks ago which took me out of circulation for a week. The Dept. of Health interviewed me to find the source (no word yet).

Lots of progress!

I've lately been working on the troughs. The first one is nearly complete. The plumbing hasn't been added, but that shouldn't take long. I did it alone, except for the final bit of adding the liner.

First, I laid down the base:
I have the base up on 2x4s to allow me to clamp. I removed the extras as soon as the base was built.
The cross-bars are to prevent the bottom from bowing out under the weight of the water.

Then, I constructed sections of the sides. The vertical bars are 16" (40.6cm), because the plywood and insulation is 4' wide, so 16" is 1/3 of that:
Constructing these sections separately was a mistake. :think: The length of the 2x4s changes in the heat and humidity, so attaching them was problematic. Next time, I'll bring in the precut pieces of 2x4 and construct the troughs in place.

And then I attached the side sections.

And attached, and attached...

I then added insulation and plywood to the sides. Each piece of ply and insulation has been ripped into thirds lengthwise.

and added insulation along the bottom. This was also a mistake.
Having the insulation above the crossbars simply leads to a lot of broken insulation, and I'm unable to walk along the bottom of the trough. I will put the cross-bars above the insulation on the next trough.

The liner is 12' (3.7m) wide and 100' (30.5m) long, from Valiant Industries, and comes on a roll.

This took two people. :D


Clamped the end to help lay out the whole thing:

All laid out:
(My friend Fer walking away from the camera)

Folding the corners (holy hell that was hard!):

Putting in a few inches of water to get the liner to settle before the final staple job:

This is how I left it last night before we left, with a few rafts inside to give any animals a place to rest if they fall in.

I'll add some braces and finish filling it tomorrow, and check for leaks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Workday July 30th

I'm having another workday on July 30th (this Saturday). RSVPs and additional sign-up days can be found at the usual place:

Doodle Link!

What I've been doing for the last few weeks, and a bit to whet your appetite:

Gluing and screwing the troughs

The bottom frame for the trough

Putting in the side rails

Working at night

Remember those scorchers last week? I tried to work at night to beat the heat, but it turns out the mosquitoes were too dam^H^H^H darn thick, even with copious amounts of mosquito dope.

Then I got sick (not heat related). Just recovering now, and getting back to work.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In the company of critters

I also have a fair number of critters keeping me company.

Breeding pair of American Kestrels.
Moth getting her daily salt from my knee
Toad waiting for ants to come up the crack.
I had to pull a few of these out of the sump pit as it was being dug.

Dragon fly taking a break on a sheet of insulation.

I also have a bunch of prairie skinks, but I haven't managed to get a pic yet:
I had to pull a few of these out of the sump pit as well.
Pic from Nature Bend Nature Center,

There are also lots of various herons, a Bald Eagle that flies over many days, and I've seen a coyote as well.

More work progress

Lots more work happening out at the Greenhouse. The work days have been extremely helpful, and I hope to have more soon. The heat out there is pretty bad, though, especially since I can't roll up both sides of my greenhouses. I'm working on getting that fixed.  I may need to switch to a night schedule, so I can work in the cool.

Once the building is done, I don't think it'll be a problem.
Sump pit almost complete. Using a 5gal bucket as a step in and out.
Using cable ties to attach the insulation and plywood to the IBC frame.
Sumptank in place!
Laying out the troughs.