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PostPosted: Jul 27th, '14, 19:43 
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Hi there.

Well I have launched into the construction of my AP system.
The greenhouse is done. :thumbright:
The compost heater is constructed, filled and all plumbed up to heat the water in the sump.
And yep, the sump is in place.

The water temperature was 5 degrees when I first filled the sump. In 24 hours the temperature is now 13.2 degrees. The morning will give me a clue as to how much of that warming was due to the greenhouse versus the heater. :dontknow:

The current design includes a sump tank (600l), Fish tank (900l) and 3 x growbeds (300 mm deep). I am planning on growing silver perch when it's time to introduce them.



I will keep you all abreast of developments as the construction progresses.

Comments and questions are welcome.

Cheers

Carbonfarmer


Attachments:
File comment: Sump tank in place
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File comment: Compost heater filled
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File comment: The greenhouse is done.
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PostPosted: Jul 27th, '14, 19:48 
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Welcome! That's a very tidy looking greenhouse :-)
Looking forward to seeing how your heating system goes, I've bookmarked this thread now.
Best of luck!


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PostPosted: Jul 28th, '14, 07:33 
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Thanks katmac.

I checked the temps this morning. Greenhouse was 5 degrees and water in the sump was 9.2 degrees.

The temp in pile is rising nicely. The steam coming off the pile was impressive.

My conclusion at the moment having checked (by hand) the warmth of pipes, is that I might have an airlock or restriction of flow due to the slopes and levels not quite being right.

So the next thing is to try a purge the line of air (if any). I'll keep you posted.

Carbonfarmer


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PostPosted: Jul 28th, '14, 15:26 
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I too am anxious to see your results

do you plan to add organics to the pile through out the winter.. to stoke the fire so to speak?

The third hand reports are that this will be challenging because when you take heat from the compost pile it can slows or stop the processes that generates the heat. The general thoughts are that it's more feasible to have the compost pile inside the greenhouse so it can radiate but you arent "taking" heat from the pile. Of course from a hobbyist with a small greenhouse i can understand why you wouldnt want to waste greenhouse floor on a compost pile. Regardless, i have yet to see someone actually try it and report back, so again. very interested.

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PostPosted: Jul 28th, '14, 15:39 
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Hi mate

I am in Canberra and i think I have a similar size greenhouse.
What size is yours?
where will u be putting your sump ?
Cheers
Mick


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PostPosted: Jul 28th, '14, 22:08 
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Brian,
This is my first attempt so I will see how it goes as far as sind organics through the winter. From my reading of permaculture books I'm hoping to get 3-4 months heating out of it. We'll see l suppose. If I need to empty and rebuild then I'm going to have a whole lot of compost come spring.

Regarding regulating the heat - my impression is that people have used pumps to circulate the water to extract the heat. By doing that they chill the pile too much. Again my thinking (hope) is that the hydronic circulation will tend to be more self regulating. If the pile cools too much the circulation will stop and allow the pile to reheat. Nice theory!

And yes if I had the space I would just have the pile on the greenhouse. But space is limited by budget and the pile votes outside in favor of the AP system.

Mick - the greenhouse is Sproutwell and is 3.7 x 2.5 m. The sump is in the southwest corner (door faces north).

I might end up having to dig it in a bit to get the levels and flows right but we'll see.

On the happenings front - I purged the water line properly tonight. Didn't scald myself but the water would have been done to shower under. :D
For those interested - parts off the pile are at 50 degrees and the pile is collapsing quickly.
Brian, I'm already having to add organics. Just add well I collect the stuff for my vermiculture otherwise I would be struggling.

Cheers
carbonfarmer


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PostPosted: Jul 29th, '14, 05:38 
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Well purging the line in the compost heater seems to have done the trick.

It was 2 degrees C overnight and this morning the water temp in the sump is 14.3 and the pipes ate noticably warmer to touch.

Now it's on to the FT and growbeds.


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PostPosted: Jul 31st, '14, 21:08 
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I'm feeling pretty happy with myself at the moment. The sump is sitting at 19 degrees and has not dropped below 13 since the weekend even when the compost settled a couple of feet exposing the top lap of pipe. We'll see how things go when I get the FT and GBs running.


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PostPosted: Aug 1st, '14, 10:50 
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That's brilliant, can't wait to see how it goes with everything online :-)


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PostPosted: Aug 20th, '14, 18:45 
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Well it has ben a little while and I have managed to push ahead with the build despite the recent weather.

I reconsidered my levels and decided I didn't have enough fall between the fish tank and sump to fit the grow beds and have them drain. So I manned up a buried the sump 450 mm, giving me about 950 mm fall between the outlet in the FT and the top of the sump. :(

After a bit of plumbing and the associated swearing when I realised that due to a mid build alteration I didn't have the right fittings (another &^^&% trip to the hardware store), I finally got the pump and drain from the FT done. :thumbright: Give the pump a whirl and "Houston, we have lift off!"


The next weekend..

A growbed (300 mm deep, constant flood) was added to the top of the sump filled with scoria (just loved washing that - NOT!), rig a ring distributor, kicked the pump in the guts and ....... :headbang: Oh yeah!


Water test - pH 7.6 Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates all 0.

Well lets get this party started says I. Add 2 litres of worm tea, bucket of water from kid's aquarium and two bladders... the next day

Water test - pH 7.0 Ammonia 0.25, Nitrites 0 and Nitrates 0-5 ppm (guestimate of 1-2) given the colour shift but not nearly enough to call 5).

And now we have....


Attachments:
File comment: Current system waiting for two stands and GBs to be added to complete (this version anyway).
20140820_171317-001.jpg
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File comment: bush beans, bok choy and some other asian green that "she who must be obeyed" had started.
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File comment: Pretty pink colour from the scoria. I presume this will disappear once the biofilms get established in the growbeds.
20140820_171423.jpg
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PostPosted: Sep 3rd, '14, 19:23 
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Well it's been 2 weeks and I have 3 GBs 2 x 300mm deep and 1 x 500mm deep. The pump (Eden 135) is pumping about 800 l per hour. A bit low so I'm up for another pump - eventually.

The GBs ate filled with red scoria and planted out with bok choy, wombok and a few beans. I sprinkled some lettuce seed in half of one bed so we will see how it goes.

I have been testing twice per week to watch the cycling process. pH has been stable at 7.8, ammonia has been at 1.0 ppm for the last week after 4 doses of humonia, nitrites have been 0 and nitrates have slowly risen to 5 ppm thanks to worm liquor and seasol. The plants have grown some but started to look yellow in the new growth. I added 10 teaspoons of soluble trace elements on Sunday and there has been noticable improvement. Happy wife!

Today we have nitrites. pH 7.8, ammonia 1.0, nitrites 2.0 and nitrates 5 ppm. I'll watch with interest to see if/when the ammonia comes down. I'm hoping that the sustained levels are due to the delay in urea coverting to ammonia.

But I must admit to an unreasonable level of excitement when the nitrites tested at 2 ppm. The addiction has started.


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PostPosted: Sep 12th, '14, 08:38 
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WOW! How thing can change in 9 days.

Lets get the system conditions dealt with first.

pH has hovered around 7.4 - 7.8
Ammonia had dropped to 0 after siting at 1 ppm for 2 weeks or so.
Nitrites are somewhere in the range 2-5 ppm (I ca't really tell the difference between them)
Nitrates have dropped to under 5ppm.

Water temp is sitting around 15 degrees.

Plant growth
The bush beans look more like climbing beans, the bok choy and wombok are going mad (the earlier plantings of bok choy are going to bolt to seed. Something is going on there!) and the lettuce is going well.

I figure the plants are all well established by now and driving the nitrates low. I will have to add seasol to boost it I think.

I am wondering if I overdid the worm liquor. It was very strong - stronger than I sell and the 6 litres may have been equivalent to 12 or more. Given the plant growth properties of worm liquor I think the plants may have bolted because of that. Particularly since things planted a few days later are fine. The joys of discovery!

A question of interest - how long has it taken for your system to convert nitrites to nitrates? (Yeah, I know. Be patient! I'm trying. :lol:

I know we all like pics. So here are a few showing the growth in a week.


Attachments:
File comment: GB 1 - 4 Sep 2014 - Sorry about the night shot
20140904_230020-001.jpg
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File comment: GB 1 - 11 Sep 2014
20140911_112622-001.jpg
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PostPosted: Sep 12th, '14, 08:45 
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I never tire of looking at growth comparisons :-) they make me so happy! You must be stoked :)
No idea on the nitrites to nitrates time cycle though sorry.


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PostPosted: Sep 12th, '14, 09:03 
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Pics for grow bed 2.

Attachment:
File comment: GB 2 - 4 Sept 2014
20140904_230040-001.jpg
20140904_230040-001.jpg [ 75.6 KiB | Viewed 3786 times ]



Attachment:
File comment: GB 2 - 11 Sept 2014
20140911_112603-001.jpg
20140911_112603-001.jpg [ 77.37 KiB | Viewed 3786 times ]



So I'm still waiting for the system to cycle (fishless).

I also added ammonia yesterday to keep things rolling. I added about 250 ml of 3.2% w/w ammonia to the system and only got a 0.25 ppm response when I tested this morning. This was well under what I calculated should have occured. My thinking on this is that the ammonia - nitrite conversion is running well and my test results are showing a post peak concentration.

So I wait, and wait and wait for those pesky nitrites to drop.

Another frustration, which is probably a good thing, is I am having trouble sourcing SP locally. It's too early and no one I have contacted has any or suitable stock to sell. Given the nitrites haven't dropped yet, anything I did get would be at risk anyway. Humph!

Well I will console myself with planting out some early tomatoes on the weekend and see how they do.

Cheers


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PostPosted: Sep 12th, '14, 09:17 
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katmac wrote:
I never tire of looking at growth comparisons :-) they make me so happy! You must be stoked :)


Yeah, very happy! :D And when I compare back to 20 August (earlier in thread) it just blows me away. Particularly when I'm still trying to get the system cycled.

It's going to cost me fortune though! My wife is attempting to become a life member of Diggers with the number and varieties of vegetable seeds she is starting to order. :lol: The early results have inspired her and now I'm up for several wicking and soil beds with associated fencing (to keep the roos, possums and rabbits out). Speaking which, I must go and punch some post holes through a layer of sheet rock. I hate fencing! Well digging post holes anyway! :evil:


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