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 Post subject: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 10th, '11, 11:08 
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Well I'm kind of sleepy and I have no beer tonight so this will be hard to do, but I'm overdue for starting my new year's thread!

I figure I _must_ get the main system up at the end of February in order to get things going like they need to this year. Luckily there will be some money to expand the AP setup so I'm confident that we'll have plants and fish this year. The last couple years have been lacking in wildlife for my AP systems.

I will try to describe the ideas I'm working on over the next few days, keep an eye on this space. Here is a list:

1. Rendezvous system, will likely have larger planters in the main system with the plants located wherever and all around the house (and at work!). May use 5 gallon buckets but inexpensive full-sized planters will be nice. Might make some shelves on the deck for these planters.

2. I realized this Winter that the inside corner of the space between the nook and the garage wall is the best place to put a small greenhouse. The angle between the walls faces about due South, and that corner is sheltered from the winds that blow around here. That area is free of snow at the moment because it gets warm sun and no wind, for example. I would like to keep plants there, whether it's a cold frame or what I don't know yet. I am not expecting miracles from a greenhouse in this area, I just want a shelter from frost so the plants don't die.

3. I am going to try not using any gravel at all in this system. With the Rendezvous system I am using hardwood charcoal. Today I realized I could potentially grow bamboo and make good charcoal from it, unlike waiting for trees to grow. The other way would be to buy a pile of wood chips for cheap and pyrolize them myself in a metal drum. I don't know if I will get around to making one or if I will just buy charcoal in bags though.

4. I want to hook up a double-sided screen of "bed burritos" to grow corn. That would be a neat project!

5. Today I got parts to experiment on the Rendezvous system with a biofloc-like biofilter. The idea is to aerate the small trash can and keep the solids trapped in it, with only clear(ish) water coming out of it. The Rendezvous planters would continue to be watered from the aquarium, but would not receive solids, unless it becomes necessary for the sludge to be reduced because the system starts misbehaving. The plan is to try to see if the system can be stable by the plants removing liquid nutrients without the sludge being removed at all. If this works I may try a bigger version for the outdoor system.

6. The other space-saving configuration I want to show is to arrange planters into a "hexagonal closest packing" lattice. I had considered hanging up net pots with PVC flashing funnels under them, with drain hoses down to the next net pot below, but the plumbing would defeat the purpose which is to stay minimal. The net pots and funnels would form an HCP lattice in 3D space. In my mind the ultimate growing arrangement is one where it looks like an individual plant is floating in space all by itself - only room is used for the plant and its roots. No excess media or containers or supports would be used, to maximize how many plants you could get in a 3D volume. The EPCOT aeroponics squash that hang in the air with their roots just dangling naked is the inspiration there. I don't know how far I will get this year on it but that has been on my mind for awhile. For now I think I can just support the Rendezvous planters on shelves or wire hangers to form an HCP lattice and that would do the job.

7. I plan to grow potatoes and carrots in Earth Box-style SIPs, there's no reason not to and we use potatoes every day. I've never grown them and for some reason it seems mysterious, don't know why there is a mental block there. The goal is to add a side dish to every dinner this year. Our family typically only has a meat and a side of some kind for dinner - I hope to add at least a salad or vegetable dish every night.

8. I am not concerned as much about producing fish as vegetables, but the plan is to grow trout. The timing may be bad though if they are not harvested until after July, that may prove to be wrong-headed. Trout are easy to get around here, in PA there are a ton of hatcheries that grow trout for the streams. I almost think I should do like the plant growing and try one of each, koi, bluegill, catfish, trout, yellow perch, tilapia, etc. but that is not the plan.

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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 11th, '11, 07:27 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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I look forward to seeing how it goes for you this year. :headbang:

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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 11th, '11, 08:46 
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Some big ideas and targets for 2011. I will keep an eye on this thread.

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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '11, 09:39 
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Pictures of the Rendezvous system plants, notice snowman in the background.

Used the basil, sage, and parsley in a chicken dish last week. Trying to get green beans, forget me nots, and lettuce going in the rest of the planters.


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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '11, 10:02 
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I think I see the snowman's toes. :)

Nice pictures. Neat plans as well. Concerning the charcoal, will you use that as a growbed media? Or as a biofilter media? Charcoal is used all the time in aquarium filters. Interesting :think: .

Would charcoal work as a growbed media?


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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '11, 10:15 
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just answered my own questions with a search. Found Dave's threads about planting in charcoal.

Note to self: search before asking dumb questions.


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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 31st, '11, 01:49 
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Not a problem JD, my threads get separated when I start a new one for the new year. Yep I am using hardwood charcoal (from Lowe's) for growbed media. No ill effects so far, it pretty much acts just like a very light gravel. I plan to support plants with wire trellises etc. or otherwise shelter them from the wind because they could fall over with the light weight media.

Finally bodged up some shelves to sit the plants on the window sills!


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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 31st, '11, 02:14 
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I wonder if you could layer the charcoal under another media? Maybe use a mesh screen between layers.


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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 31st, '11, 02:32 
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Do you mean to hold the roots down? Yes maybe, I may put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the planters to weigh them down so they aren't as top heavy, but the plants maybe pulling out could still be an issue. I will cross that bridge later when I'm growing bigger stuff and it is outside. But I want to be able to turn in the media into the dirt when I'm done with it, and any gravel or other synthetic stuff would interfere with that. I may also try coco peat and cocoa mulch as media. The charcoal is great though because it is indeed inert and the water can flow through it unchanged, unlike any "uncooked" organic media.

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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 31st, '11, 06:49 
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Yes to hold the roots down. So the good bacteria, nitrosomas and nitrobacter, will grow on the charcoal, no problem?

Nice shelf, looks like it does the job.


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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 31st, '11, 10:34 
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I actually do not know if the nitrifying bacteria are growing in the charcoal (but some should be), with the arrangement I have there is a separate biofilter after the planter that is there to handle nitrification. The main function of the planter is to remove solids from the AP system and to use up nitrates. The planters are probably not in the system long enough to have a large nitrification bacteria population, I expect the nitrification bacteria are not optimized since they go so long between feedings.

See the upwelling biofilter that the planter sits on, the aquarium setup is just like this only small:

viewtopic.php?p=251834#p251834

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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 31st, '11, 10:39 
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Okay, that's a neat setup. Maybe I will pose the charcoal as a growbed media question as a new forum topic, see what folks think.
Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Jan 31st, '11, 11:16 
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As with most topics on BYAP it's already been brought up, check this thread out:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1026&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Feb 3rd, '11, 10:50 
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i think charcole sounds good as media but the problem is that charcole absorbs amonia and when i know that in aquariums u are ment to change it every 3 months u dont want the amonia to be stored in the charcole and then dump in to your tank when it is worn out and kill all your fish


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 Post subject: Re: DD's System 2011
PostPosted: Feb 3rd, '11, 12:02 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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chomper999 wrote:
the problem is that charcole absorbs amonia and when i know that in aquariums u are ment to change it every 3 months u dont want the amonia to be stored in the charcole and then dump in to your tank when it is worn out and kill all your fish

Sorry... but that's just not true... activated charcoal does not absorb ammonia....

It has some value with regard to filtering "some" metals, particularly Iodine... but not as much as people think.. or claim...

It is suggested that in be changed... or "re-activated" every three months... due to possible binding of "metals"...

From Wiki...

Quote:
Activated carbon does not bind well to certain chemicals, including alcohols, glycols, strong acids and bases, metals and most inorganics, such as lithium, sodium, iron, lead, arsenic, fluorine, and boric acid.

Activated carbon does adsorb iodine very well and in fact the iodine number, mg/g, (ASTM D28 Standard Method test) is used as an indication of total surface area.

Contrary to a claim repeated throughout the web, activated carbon does not absorb ammonia

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