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New MOBILE Rubbermaid stock tank system getting put together.

 
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
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kids forest garden fish fungi bee solar
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Time for some more number crunching...

Today when I went shopping to a local grocery store I finally found some hydroponically grown "Alive" lettuce with the roots still attached. The heads did not look like they were doing too well and had probably been there a little while. Both packages said that they were grown in North Carolina. At least they only traveled a few hundred miles at most. I do wonder if they have anywhere near the nutrient levels of aquaponically grown lettuce. (though mine will be picked and eaten fresh too)

I plan to mostly grow loose leaf lettuce that can be cut multiple times to increase production.

Anyways, the price per head was $2.79.

If I am able to produce 36 heads per month in a system my size... that is the equivalence of over $100 worth of lettuce per month/$1,200 per year. Not to mention adding tax on the lettuce... and taxes paid when making the money to pay for the lettuce. Got to love that stacking of taxes!

My wife eats about one head worth per day too. Which means... this system will pay for itself in no time! lol
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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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Time to organize the first bed for max production

I HATE doing this... but I just ripped out all of the baby seedlings that were just starting to put on their first set of true leaves. Then gently pulled out the giant cluster of extremely old starts that have now bounced back. Picked out the strongest among them... and re-planted them in an organized fashion. I don't expect much from these honestly since they are a good 2 months old at this point and have spent so much of their lives hiding in the shadows. lol

Now I just need to get a new set of seedlings going in the newly built grow spaced down below. Hopefully they will be ready to head upstairs about the same times these start to bolt. Hopefully the transplants won't go through any major transplant shock. :S

I managed to squeeze in 24 plants @ 6 inch spacing in rows about 7 inches apart. With this intense lighting... it should do well in theory (with cut/come again lettuces).

Now that this bed is organized... I will be able to slowly organize the other one in a few months. I hope to be able to grow enough lettuce in just 1.5 beds... so that we can do strawberries and clones in the remaining 1/2 bed.



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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 5 days since I made the last post.

1) The lettuce that was ripped from the bed and transplanted into rows still looks very happy and they are now putting on some growth. HOWEVER, the lettuce that was the same size in the other bed is now twice the size of the lettuce in this bed. In the future I shall not be moving plants around so late in their lifecycle.

2) My two older strawberry crowns have started throwing out fowers! Several blossoms have come/gone. I count 9 total blossoms. Perhaps the strawberries will like the fake light. Only time will tell.

3) Today after work I finished building my new seedling starter station. I basically took one of my HD 1010 hole less flats, a 12" x 12" x 1/4" thick plate of PVC, 18 one inch HD net pots, and my daughter's small air pump and made a DWC/Kratky style grow station.

The plants were recently germinated directly in the second bed up above over the last two weeks. I literally just sprinkled seeds into the bed. They are all just starting to get their first set of true leaves. These jokers will still have all of their original roots when they hit the gravel beds for a second time. Hopefully it will reduce transplant shock. If not I will germinate the seeds in a bowl and put them into the net cups immediately upon germinating... and adapt from there.

Here are some of the picks of the project. I smoothed out all of the holes with my pocketknife after drilling them. To keep root snag to a minimum. Also made the holes oversized since the plants will never be grown fully in there. The pots will be easy to pull.





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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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Future Grow Test Plans


After seeing how much my transplants have fallen behind compared to the lettuce that was the same size in the other bed (Now encroaching 3x the size)... I have decided to perform a series of grow tests to maximize production. Let me explain what I plan... and ask for suggestions!  

Take a look at the root mass on the Newest set of transplants that I just planted down in my new seedling area (IMG 1443).

Now take a look at the root mass on my old/larger transplants that I moved in the bed up above (IMG 1403).

Those older transplants were much larger when removed from the bed. However, their root mass isn't all that much larger since I ripped so many of the roots when pulling them up at that stage.

Because of this I deduced already that performing this process earlier in life will be majorly beneficial. Hence why I will be transplanting these plants much younger in life.

Anyways, I am now curious if...
1) I were to grow directly from seed and just thin the plants after germination. Would they POSSIBLY be either equal to - OR surpass even these younger transplants (like the ones in the new tray)?
       a. If... by harvest time... they were even just "Close" to the same size. I would surmise it to not be worth the extra effort and energy. I would use that space to grow fruit tree clones or plants for the future outside garden.
       b. What about taste and plant lifespan before needing to be replaced? Would those be better if the plants weren't stressed out from being moved repeatedly?

Since I am now in a more controlled environment. With controlled light, even nutrients (Though I could spike the starts in the bottom tray with things like sea kelp powder), and with similar temps. I can now much more easily perfect the growing of my plants. I no doubt will have to learn to deal with pests indoors.

I was reading up on Grand Rapids lettuce just yesterday. According to the site in the following link... this type of lettuce can be grow for up to 7 MONTHs before it starts to bolt if conditions are right. Are there many kinds of lettuce like this out there?

https://natureandnurtureseeds.com/products/grand-rapids

If so, My system should be able to definitely be able to produce more than enough lettuce for the family. Cut and come again types can be some heavy producers since they don't have to re-grow a new root system every harvest like head type lettuces. Perhaps I will be able to grow several rows of each type... but staggered in time sequentially.

I plant to play around with this a little. I will post up some pics in the future. I actually have the first version of this test already going! When I was planting out the new tray the other day I left a few seedlings behind in the other grow bed.
 
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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This dude just taught me a LOT about how different light wavelengths/colors effect plants. I will post it here for watching again later so I can soak it into my long term memory. Looks like man kind is still learning. lol

 
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 just found a LED grow light setup on Amazon that is at a pretty decent price for what you get. Ordered a single light to put on my 4 lemon trees, herbs, and clones during the Winter.

That being said, during the Summer I may swap out one of the upper Aquaponic system lights with one of these. They not only put out a TON more light (allegedly) than my current setup... they also offer a SUPER BROAD color spectrum that spans well into the UVA and UVB range on one side and the IR range on the other side. Which, can allegedly spike growth even further. I am thinking of having strawberries... with kale as an upper canopy.

Some of the user reviews say that they use them to grow out tomatoes to maturity and everything with them. They do offer the Same Light with a color spectrum more oriented towards blooming plants though too.

Just look at their light specs/tests down below. That is many orders of magnitudes better than fluorescent ever was.

What is cool about having a grow-oriented light... is that there are two switches so I can cut power consumption in half. Doing so with this light... would bring it down to about the same level as my current lights. lol

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CGRVWFF/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_1?smid=AGHGL81LFL69F&psc=1


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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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Time for some update pics... and time to organize the other bed soon.

Just snapped some pics. One is an update of the growth of that Black-eyed Susan from 2.5 weeks ago (old pic if 1st pic down below). It is a pretty good representation of how much growth all of the plants in the bed have put on. These lights look like they will work pretty good!

The last pic is a "Before" shot of the bed before I rip everything up. It is a beautiful polyculture going on in there. However, I want to get the flowers adapted to soil well before Spring so they can go out into the yard. All of the strawberries will be put into rows. So many of the plants will be going into shock for a while. I have gotten dozens of flowers from them so far. Well.. that is just off of 3 of them. The rest are to young to flower for now.

Just look how much the plant grew in just 2.5 weeks. It is already shading out the plants next to it.
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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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Light Spectrum - How it effects your plants

I just finished watching this video series and just have to share. I have been gardening for many years now and still managed to learn a LOT.

The knowledge gained from this series will help you with things like better seed germination, Bigger leaves on lettuce, more flavor in herbs, better grafts and clones, etc, etc!

This really is some must-have knowledge if you are in pursuit of growing good plants. It can be applied to more than just indoor plants too! It will help you to better determine proper micro-climates for plants outdoors and in the garden.


 
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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Babies!

Today I noticed that there were little dots stuck to things all over the place in the tank. Scraped a few off and put into my hand and realized that they were fish eggs!

The kids got excited. Every single piece of fake plant/tube/etc has eggs on them. We just ran out and bought a 20Gal tank to throw the plants into. The fish are quickly picking away at the eggs. One of the plants probably has thousand of eggs in it.

Looked it up and it turns out that me adding more light, the massive fake plants into the fish tank, the freak warm weather (around 70 to 75F) the last few days, and the extra feed I gave them over the last week gave them what they needed to throw out some eggs.

Anyways, I am now going to set up the tank on either the table or shelf in the garage. Topping it off with aquaponics water at first and then rain water there after.

Perhaps within a year I will have a ton of free goldfish to throw into a larger system out in the greenhouse I want to build. Cool.

Also read that goldfish come from Prussian Carp. Saw that folks sell them at the fish market for consumption over in China. Probably won't do that... just for sale and for gifts. Plenty of water fresh/or salt in my area to catch wild by kayak.

I will put up pics later if it turns out the eggs really are fertilized and make it. Should take 4 to 7 days... but cold weather is headed back my way. May take longer. The garage will start slipping down to the upper 50s at night.

Perhaps goldfish can be considered a great permaculture fish since they breed so easily and will eat anything that will fit into their mouths.
 
Marty Mitchell
pollinator
Posts: 420
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina - Zone 8a - Humid
54
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Update pics on the second bed in my system... and the new light that arrived.

I ended up pulling...

1) 20 Strawberry crowns. Even after snipping off dozens of runners. Planted most back into the bed in two rows. Put 6 out under different trees in the yard. Put some baby kale plants back in between the rows. Picked off all flowers/growing berries for now until they settle back in.

2) Pulled 18 Purple coneflowers and 19 Black-eyed Susans. Most have been potted up. Several of each flower type were extremely small and buried. They have been placed back into the aquaponics system for further growing for another month or two.


Also, I got the new $90 grow light in the mail from Amazon today. Did a temp install onto the strawberry area and it is AMAZING. I turned off HALF of the lights and it is still brighter than my other ones... which are already pretty darn bright.

Noticed that they do emit downwards IR heat... which makes since. They do emit light into the IR light band range... as well as the opposite/UV spectrum.

I now believe the Amazon user reviews that stated that they were able to grow tomatoes to full of fruit maturity with this light. At half power the light still pulls around 100W. Which is 40W more than my home made grow lights. At full power it will pull 200W allegedly... which is about 3 and 1/3 times more wattage than my first lights. It is about that much brighter as well!

I kind of want to order a second one to permanently install above the strawberries. I would be able to grow something tall in there and still be able to provide ample light for all. That being said... the home-made lights have been performing better than expected and are MUCH more efficient. Also, the home-made grow lights are infinitely repairable. I could literally keep them going for the rest of my life. Which is better for the environment. All of the tombstones (Parts that connect to the bulb ends), the bulb controller, the bulbs, and all wiring are replaceable/repairable. I LOVE that aspect. The $90 amazon light... may be also, I suppose I will find out in 5 to 15 years after they wear out. lol I will say that the Amazon light housing is of much higher strength/quality than the one I got from Lowes. I do see a simple mod that would make them better though. Should be easy enough.

Anyways, Pics!!!

The last two are of the new light temp. installed above the strawberries. If I ever need more light during the Summer months for larger plants I can just swap them out.

Both Flower species spread via Rhizomes over time. Hopefully in 5 years or so my yard will have huge swaths of low maintenance purple and Yellow flowers. They will feed/attract bees and birds. Which is very beneficial.

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Liar, liar, pants on fire! refreshing plug:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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