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New MOBILE Rubbermaid stock tank system getting put together.

 
pollinator
Posts: 324
Location: northeastern New Mexico
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DId you move from Alabama then? What was it like moving the cart? I'm getting my head around the idea of rolling it up on a truck. Well, then you have really tested the portability of your system. Good work, thanks for posting the updates.
Our system is the exact opposite then, being build of masonry, I hope it'll be here for generations.
Now all I have to do is get my adult children interested in keeping on with some of my "projects." Smiles
Brian
 
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
54
kids forest garden fish fungi bee solar
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Brian Rodgers wrote:DId you move from Alabama then? What was it like moving the cart? I'm getting my head around the idea of rolling it up on a truck. Well, then you have really tested the portability of your system. Good work, thanks for posting the updates.
Our system is the exact opposite then, being build of masonry, I hope it'll be here for generations.
Now all I have to do is get my adult children interested in keeping on with some of my "projects." Smiles
Brian



Yes. I am now living in Virginia Beach, VA. My system held up well.

The only trouble I had was getting it through the muddy yard after several days of hard rain. I ended up having to remove the gravel beds and set them to the side. When I first rolled off of the concrete slab I thought the wheels fell off. Nope, the system just sank into the ground that fast. All the way up to the frame(water removed). Just took the gravel beds off and she rolled just fine though.

I transported it in my 6x12 cargo trailer though. So there was a nice long ramp to roller her up onto.

I plan to go big/permanent one day as well! That is a dream of mine. I will hopefully be getting a home in a few years to where I can build a large greenhouse.

I plan to build something that will last long term also. Just build it once while I am young..ish and then be able to pass it on.





 
Marty Mitchell
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
54
kids forest garden fish fungi bee solar
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I figured I should put my face up and took a selfie before taking the next harvest off of the plants.

Just topped her off with rainwater and fish feed to the automatic feeders.

Since the water has gotten so much cooler the fish have slowed way down on their feed rates. I now only have to add water and fish feed about once a month. Harvesting a little every two weeks or so.

I keep wondering how many plants you could clone in a system like this each year. If you were to give say 6" plant spacing... it would be a LOT of fig, lemon, mulberry, and goji berry plants (things that I have easily cloned so far).

Talk about a system that would easily pay for it'self!



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Marty Mitchell
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
54
kids forest garden fish fungi bee solar
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UPDATE:

19 Nov 2019

It has been about 11 months since my last update. I recently purchased a new home!

My new home sits on 1.01 Acres... in an HOA neighborhood (Sadly) However, I looked up the rules and the only things I am restricted on is no poultry, and no livestock. So I can do fish, greenhouses, massive gardens, bees, fruit trees, etc. etc. I did several laps around the hood before putting in an offer and see it all in folks yards. My back 1/8 acre is a Solid wall of evergreen (Pines) to the North Sprawling East to West. If I wanted to I could put chickens up in the furthest back area and it would look like it was in another neighborhood (but nobody would even be able to see it). Will sit on the idea for a while.

For now I have gotten grass planted. Went with a horse pasture blend of orchard grass mixed with white clover and fescue for most of the yard. The back 1/8 area has had some wildflower seed thrown down along with clover and orchard grass. I plan to just mow that early every Spring and let it be wild the rest of the year. That space is Private with the fence and nobody can see it. I may slip in some Paw Paws, figs, and Mulberries to feed wildlife. Otherwise there is already a healthy amount of blackberries and Sumac back there on the forrest edge.

My yard is barren other than a single Oak (Just old enough to start producing nuts)

So... I already planted out two cypress trees and a maple up front (to create privacy in the rear). In the back I planted my old container fig and two old "Dwarf Everbearing Mulberry" trees that I clones a long time ago and kept in pots.

I purchased a "Shangri La" and "Illinois Everbearing" mulberry a month or so ago online and put into larger pots for the Winter. Same goes for two more higher quality dwarf fig tree varieties ("Violette de Bordeaux and Negronne") and another fig clone. All said trees will be going into the ground Outside in Mid Spring after threat of late frost is gone.

My Aquaponics System: It is still up in Virginia. Over the last 4 months it has been COMPLETELY ignored and abused. I taught my mother-in-law how to fill the fish feeders. She almost killed them once from over-feeding but all have survived. I show up once every few weeks to top off the water, make PH adjustments, and ensure the Bell Syphons have all roots removed.

She is a TOUGH SYSTEM!

Now I know that I can go on vacation for several weeks at a time and still have it working fine when I get back. Not once have I had an issue other than whatever animal it was that opened the fish feeders fully that one time(caused massive amounts of feed to get dumped 4 times a day).

I plan to drain the system sometime in the next few weeks and bring it down. I have a rain barrel system I built up and it is now filled... so the water is cooler now too which is easier on the fish.

Luckily the Lemon tree clones (4 of them) and strawberries have been growing/spreading like crazy. So I have only had to add some lettuce seed directly to one open area of the gravel to keep the beds planted out.

The system will likely stay indoors in the garage until I can build up a fire pit space in the back. My new deck is in the shade/North side of the house, wood, and small. It will not handle the 2000 lb + of the aquaponics system.

After I get the system to it's new home I will snap some pics and give an update. I now have a 1/2 Acre back yard that is full Sun! Better believe a greenhouse will go in back there! I will be able to do in-ground citrus and a MASSIVE aquaponics system. I hope I can learn how to grow extra to sell.

~Marty
 
Marty Mitchell
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
54
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Update: 04 Dec 2019

I have now moved the aquaponics system down to my new home in NC.

I don't yet have a place for it in the back yard (Long Story). However, I have decided to use these Winter months to give it a go in the garage under artificial lighting. If it works out... the system will stay in the garage. I LOVE being able to access the beds from all sides... and view the fish from both sides. The garage temps are much more stable than outside as well. Which will be conducive to better plant growth.

I have made some modifications to the system (plumbing) to reduce humidity and may make more.

I will be running four 4' long T8 fixtures using GE LED T8 tubes that are rated at 2300 Lumens and 6500K for the color. Each fixture being 1' wide with 4 lights. Which will provide almost 100% coverage for the beds. The lights will be hanging via rope and adjustable in 1/8" increments from 0" up to around 3' or so. Since they are LEDs (Cool running)... and so adjustable... I will be able to keep the lights extremely close to the plants. The reason I wanted to go this route is I DO NOT want to have to put up reflective material... but also do not want to waste light at the same time. The fact that I saved a ton of money (Compared to dedicated grow lamps/fixtures) is just a major bonus.

With the 6500K spectrum I cannot expect to grow much more than leafy greens without swapping out some of the bulbs with something from a different spectrum. Since I am able to do that... that is also awesome. For now... perfecting/fine tuning lettuce, swiss chard, and kale production will be my priority. I will be able to run tests too. Varying distance... and length of time the lights are ran.

I want to start pumping out more greens for the wife. The cloned herbs and 4 lemon trees have now been taken out and potted. Once the light housings get here I will have some lettuce going in no time. For now... the Nitrates and nutrients will be able to slowly start climbing back up (Fresh water). There are still some flower and strawberry starts in there for the moment... as well as some lettuce that germinated not too long ago.

Pics coming soon after I get the lights up!

I am most definitely getting a greenhouse sooner or later. I want the Harbor freight 10'x12' one that is around $600. It will need more money put into it to make it better but seems like it will be highly upgradable over time. I will most likely end up placing the aquaponics system in there... once I get it. Then also building an even lager aquaponics system. I want some koi, bluegill, and catfish.

If that happens... The light fixtures I am about to purchase will be inside the house and used for starting plants for the garden. The 6500K light spectrums is known to be great for starting young plants.

~ Marty
 
Marty Mitchell
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
54
kids forest garden fish fungi bee solar
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Well... I finally got the lights installed. I will post the details about them when I get the chance. Just ripped the Lemon trees, Goji berry, and perennial herb clones out and potted them up the other day. I will have to re-arrange the plants in the bed soon and get some kale and lettuce going. Then... I will begin playing around with light duration and such to minimize power use. The only things left in the beds at the moment are purple cone flowers, black-eyed susans, strawberries, and lettuce. Started the flowers and lettuce by just throwing down seed. The flowers will be going around the yard next year.

However, I used my light spectrometer and it says that these (not rated for growing) LED T8 fixtures do indeed have a very good light spectrum. The light band is constant from 430nm up to 640nm. Should be getting around 2300 lumens per square foot.

Details on cost, specs, and links to the items coming later...

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Marty Mitchell
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
54
kids forest garden fish fungi bee solar
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Electricity Cost per month:

I sat down yesterday and crunched the numbers to get an idea of what my power bill for running the system under lights will be. I called my power company and they charge $0.1143 cents per KW. It is a bit more pricey than some of the other places I have lived... but only by two cents or so. That being said... the power grid in my area is fed by endless fields of massive wind turbines and solar panels. Probably why it costs more.

Each of my four light fixtures run four 15W LED T8 lights each (60W total). I really need to put a meter on them to see what they actually draw because most LED products use less wattage than what they claim. Anyways, this is the number I will use to get a base idea.

60W x 4fixtures = 240W total for the lights

240W x 12hrs per day = 2,880W per day = 2.88Kw

2.88KW x $0.1143 cents = $0.329 per day in cost

$0.329 x 365 days = $120.08 per year to run the lights @ 12hrs per day


The water and air pump combined cost about $24 per year running 24/7. So $24 for those and another $25 for good fish feed (Or make your own for free) would be all your costs in a greenhouse.

I conclude that if my system is able to produce much higher quality lettuce... year round in the shade of the garage under cool lights... this will be worth it. My wife spends Much More than $10 per month on low quality lettuce at the store. Not to forget that the store lettuce has had who knows what sprayed on it... and lettuce looses 80% of it's nutrition within the first day of being picked.


That is not the whole picture either though. For classically farm grown lettuce at least the following things happen in order for the lettuce to make it into your belly.

1. The soil samples are taken via machine over the entire field and they map out nutrient deficiencies.
2. Then a series of things happen to prep. the soil for planting such as... plowing a couple of times... deploying oil and chem based fertilizers... or spreading manure based fertilizers... and then sowing the seed via machine. Each time the ground is plowed... even more carbon is released into the air.
3. Next comes water and sun. Either natural rain or well water is sprayed. Runoff enters local waterways. Introducing soil from erosion and the fertilizer that was added to amend the soil.
4. As the plants grow they will begin to have pest/disease issues since they are planted in mass as a mono crop. Things like herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and/or each plant gets a physical barrier such as insect netting (that was manufactured elsewhere and shipped across country). Then these chems.. if used are leached into the soil and into local waters.
5. The plants are harvested either by machine or by hand and loaded onto a machine that they are following.
6. The plants are processed/washed and placed into plastic containers (produced from oil and shipped across country before hand).
7. The plants are refrigerated (More energy)
8. The plants then work their way through a network of shipping. Requiring more fuel/energy to both move them and keep them refrigerated the whole time.
9. They are placed on the shelf waiting for purchase. More refrigeration time.
10. You purchase the lettuce with your money (which took energy to make) and then drive home using more energy.
11. You throw it back into the fridge when you get home.
12. You wash it again to consume. Throwing your plastic into the garbage.


I don't know how you would calculate it all out, but I suspect that even if you go to this extreme path of growing aquaponics inside using a fake sun/lights. You and the environment are much better off for it. Classic gardening done right would be best though. However, the windows for good quality lettuce are small in my area.

My wife eats an INSANE amount of lettuce too. lol Sooo many plastic packages will be kept out of the garbage. That alone will way more than make up for the materials used to build the system.

I built this system to be a little lettuce factory. I plan to grow only loose leaf lettuce that can be harvested from many times. Setting it up for a quick turn-over rate.

I just threw down some seed directly into the gravel to get her up and going. From here on out as soon as lettuce is removed from the gravel... a 4 week old started plant will immediately go into it's space. I should be able to harvest a head every 4 weeks per square foot doing this. HOWEVER, if I grow the cut/come again head types my yield per square foot should be higher and I will not have to plant out as many seedlings. Saving time.

In early Spring I plan to clone at least one Shangri-La Mulberry  tree, about two Illinois Everbearing Mulberry, and at least 6 Violette De Bordeaux fig trees. That and all of the clones I have made so far should cover me for power costs for a few years.

I am attaching a pick of the clones I just pulled out of the system and the spectrometer results of my lights. 4 Improved Meyer Lemon trees in 5gal pots (One is about to be traded for several batches of chicken eggs and several large goldfish from a pond), a goji berry, two Sages, and two Rosemary plants.



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Marty Mitchell
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
54
kids forest garden fish fungi bee solar
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I am attaching a few links below. Two to some great vids on learning how to use lights to grow indoors and one to a PAR tester I plan to order soon.

The pic @ the end is from one of the vids and shows the most absorbed light spectrums from plants. As you move into the UV range plants can slow down on growth while the produce complex compounds to protect themselves from sunlight. Things that will make things like lettuce more bitter... but more beneficial to your diet (Maybe). One of the scientist said that he hypothesizes that all of the light spectrums are important for different things... and that having good light intensity is the most important aspect.



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Marty Mitchell
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
54
kids forest garden fish fungi bee solar
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Update:

It has now been about a week since I posted up pics of the install of the lights. Before this all of the plants were struggling very hard in the garage just to survive. Anyways, they are all bouncing back!

I cannot wait to see how well everything does over the coming months in here. Honestly, with those large Lemon trees... and only around 4hrs of real sunlight @ my old location. This fake sun approach is showing Real Promise as the plants already... after just one week... are looking better than they were before I made the move. Proper amounts of light really does make a huge difference.

For now I took the cheap route and downloaded a free app to my iPhone that measures Lux. This is no substitute for a real tester however. Real test equipment has a dome-shaped lens and looks at a pre-determined light parameter. Anyways, using my phone camera only shows a line-of-sight reading. Meaning that I can leave the camera in the same position and get many different readings by tilting it in different directs. The following readings were from pointing the camera directly at a LED light tube.

@ 1in from the tubes (Where the metal screen is) I was reading around 74,000lux
@ 2in around 45,000 lux
@ 3in around 30 to 35,000 lux

So... since I know that my camera is only reading from one bulb at a time and that light is coming from multiple bulbs at a time... my actual lux may be a bit higher. However, I can totally assume that my light output is sufficient based on how astoundingly fast the plants seem to be bouncing back. I am pretty sure that my PAR readings would be around 300 to 350 @ 3", 450 @ 2", and 740 @ 1'. With the best light penetration down into the canopy being after raising the lights slightly to around 2 to 3 inches... which may be best after the plants get taller. I really do need to get my hands on some test equipment.

Pics... You can see that most of the lettuce and kale seeds I spread a week ago are now germinated and staying in short/stout form. All of the new growth on the new plants is a nice deep green. Some of the darker green lettuce types are now actually turning darker. Those OLD seed starts are no longer lanky/sorry looking. They are getting super thick. If you look back a few posts... the gravel was easy to see before and now it is getting so bright in there that my camera would no longer focus... so I had to raise the lights off of the plants. Even the purple cone flowers and rudebeckia goldstrum starts are starting to green up and throw on new leaves.

This is going to be nice in a few months as we climb out of the back end of Winter towards Spring.

On the nights when it dropped down into the upper 20s here... the garage remained in the mid 50s. Likely because of the large thermal mass of the concrete... 3 of the 5 walls are heat/indoor walls... the garage door sees sun until sunset... and the one unheated wall is insulated and sees sun from around noon until sunset.



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Marty Mitchell
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
54
kids forest garden fish fungi bee solar
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Double post today!

This is the plan for my lettuce grown in the future.

I do want perpetual lettuce/kale/swiss chard for a family of 4 after all... as well as make fruit tree clones for trade/and us.

So I should definitely share how I plan to attempt it in just a 4ft x 7ft space!

As you all know by now... the best part about aquaponics is that as soon as a plant is done it can be removed from the system and instantly replaced by a 4 week old transplant. No tilling, weeding, fertilizing, or transplant shock required. So turnover per square foot is maximized AND no bending over during planting time required. My beds sit around high belly area on me (6 feet tall).

Anyways, I have set up a seedling station inside one of the ends of the system. The lights will be tied in with the other lights on the timer. I still have 4 spare LED T8 tubes but won't be using them for this since I have a dedicated seed grow light made by "Root Farm". I bought it some time ago and never really used it. Time to put it to work. You can see in the pics below that I just used some old junk reflective bubble wrap and set it around the light to capture/reuse light. The station is sized to fit one large seed flat or two small ones. I just have one 36 hole small tray. The extra space will be used to grow tree clones.

You can see that I have secured all wiring out of the way from potential water hazards... as well as using surge protectors. The timer itself is made for outdoors/rain as well. The wiring going to the lighting has been secured firmly and cleaned up to look nice as too. No matter how high or low the lights are set.

So I have made use of one end of the aquaponics system. The shelf holds supplies/test equipment and such. I still have another end I need to make use of the space. I will still need to find a use for the other end of the system.

Of the pics below you will see the actual bulbs I am using and inside the new grow chamber.

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These are not the droids you are looking for. Perhaps I can interest you in a tiny ad?
Gracie's backyard - a film about permaculture farming in the far north with Richard Perkins (stream)
https://permies.com/wiki/133872/videos/Gracie-backyard-film-permaculture-farming
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