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My Backyard Growspace  RSS feed

 
Chris Kott
Posts: 804
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Hi everybody! (hi Dr. Nick!)

This is my first project thread. I figured it would be a good place to start, as gardening is all I can do right now. I am trying to get information on shallow greenwater aquaponics for my rooftop (I have 2 12'x12' flat roof spaces I might be able to use, but even with reinforcement the ponds would have to be very shallow), and I want to do larger species on the ground in tanks I make from pallets and pond liner (I'm experimenting now), and I'm going to raise angora rabbits for the fibre and manure, because those and fish I can do legally. I also want to get bantam hens for eggs. I have 19'x35', half mostly shaded, the rest only getting full sun from noon onwards thanks to two Norwegian Pine to the immediate southeast. I'm rebuild8ng the garage post and beam with pallets for fill and a board and batten finish, and a hidden adjoining coop 4 feet wide and 12 feet long. I might just shorten it to 6 feet and give them another deep culture bedding area.
Anyways, this thread is about what I'm growing and how I'm growing it. I am trying to start everything from seed, and it's all organic, and most of it heirloom.
And I'm transplanting raspberry canes to the partly shaded front yard.
I'll post l8cs of it all, but first I'm going to document my hugelbeet rebuild. I will try to post them in proper order.
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last year's experiment
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worked pretty well
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so I dug out the back and put in a pallet wall
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 804
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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More hugelbeet pics.
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the south-facing pallets are gapped so as to allow for planting vines and alpine strawberries
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I have secured them vertically in place with hardwood planks hammered halfway into the ground
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reuse of a piece of brick pillar as structure and stepping stone
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 804
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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More hugelbeet progress.
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not a big fan of the right angle. I think I have two
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in this and the last one, the top layer of the woody bits and fresh acer negundo logs and branches
 
Brian Jeffrey
Posts: 106
Location: Connecticut
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Looks great. I always love seeing pallets in action.

And I gotta say I'm envious of your leaf litter.

What small species were you thinking for in your aquaponics? Do roof tanks need a shade roof over it?
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 804
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I would need to design my roof spaces as open shallow ponds. I'm looking for a small species that does well with temperature swings and is omnivorous, as I'd like them to eat mosquito and fly larvae, and I'll grow as much water vegetation that can be surface harvested, and with the American Elm to the immediate south of the space, I don't anticipate overheat problems.
I am fine with the fish on the roof only existing as a source of manure and mosquito control, although I would love it if they could be a feeder fish for something much larger, like a trout or (my dream) Salmon in a pallet tank (larger sized pallets than the ones in the hugelbeet) 3'x12'x4' deep, with a series of sedimentation/filter feeder and crayfish pools (if I can figure out how to manage it) around 3' deep, which I could, at need, top with a salad greens polyculture raft.
The system will finish in an in-ground pond as deep as I can dig before I hit the watertable (higher than normal these last years) approximately 12'x12' and at need again as high above grade as 4'. I intend to have catfish as well in any system with a carnivorous food fish. The pond will be circulated by solar pump back up to the main tank, and the rooftop system will be kept recirculating between the upper and lower levels, and I am currently experimenting with putting a pve tube as a cowl over an overbuilt electric trolling motor to see how much lift I can get out of it.
There will be a trickle overflow that will consistently feed a system of swales on contour in my little yard that will feed a hemp twine (unless something else can be found to be better and more lasting in the weather) wicking system for my growing beds.

-CK
 
Devon Olsen
Posts: 1066
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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im sub'd to follow along, are you planning on trying to put plants into the sides between the planks of the pallets?
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 804
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Yes. I'm going to try alpine strawberry, and probably malabar spinach and some pole beans. I'm going to have to plant seedlings into the gaps, though, as I don't think they'd grow the right way from seed.

-CK
 
Devon Olsen
Posts: 1066
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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yes i think you'd be right on putting starts in instead of seeds, much more likely to be sucessful that way
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 804
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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So I have a lot of jeans that have giant tears in the ass region. I'm sometimes hard on them, and I farm Value Village regularly, so they come to me with a bit of wear already. It occurs to me that jeans are cotton, and that they can be used as the base for a wicking system.

So I'm going to dig swales 8" to a foot into the ground on contour on the tiny hill part of my back yard (I'll post pics in a bit), filled with woody bits and 5" twigs (I don't have a chipper so I do what I can with hedge shears), with denim on the bottom of the trench between soil and woody matter. The strips of denim will extend into my garden beds just under the mulch layer, providing constant irrigation. I have also put 5" hemp stakes into the ground to both aerate and act as a vertical wick, so that water goes to the root zone and below.

I'm also considering using a barrel of standing water, a clear aquarium, a plastic window box, and some pumps that I have already in my possession as a trial-run of my aquaculture operations. The barrel would contain my larger species, likely small trout and catfish, and the fish tank would contain a miniaturized greenwater aquaponics setup to feed the trout species and provide the catfish with detritus and trout poo. I'm planning on pumping water via a tube near the bottom of the barrel sitting in the solids zone with a small electric sump pump contained within it (I don't want to suck up catfish) out on top of the window box planter, which I will fit with baffles so the incoming water follows a zig zag pattern to make the effluent stay in the filter system as long as possible.

I will plant pole beans, cucumbers, kale, and I will try corn. At the top of the baffle system I will add nettle to this, and beans will be in the first quarter, cucumbers in the second, in the third I will try chard, and the fourth will have beets. I will sow carrots in the spaces between.

I will also use a denim wicking system as a backup.

-CK
 
Cohan Fulford
Posts: 79
Location: West Central Alberta, Canada
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Interesting stuff so far, Chris, looking forward to updates.
Have you seen or heard of something similar to the denim wicking? I've had vague thoughts in those directions- more thinking about using fabric etc to slow water loss from shallow reservoir areas near beds, the wicking adds another element.. curious to hear how it goes..
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 804
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I have heard that bare cotton string can wick water 7" uphill, and with gravity assistance, probably further, and inside close-fitting plastic (though not for me; I don't use plastic unless I can't avoid it) or at the bottom of a s wale covered with mulch, probably even further. Wicking relies on the self-adhesive properties of water and uses the space between fibres as a highway. A strip of fabric has more spaces than a single string. I think it will work out great.

-CK
 
K. Johnson
Posts: 57
Location: Missoula, Montana
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I have heard that bare cotton string can wick water 7" uphill


Chris - this is a pretty interesting factoid. could you let us know how your String Theory works out. I suppose it will depend on how hot and dry the air is,, how big and tightly woven the string is etc. But it if some simple site-specific sort of situations could be worked out, that would be valuable. Are you the guy who was using twisted t-shirts for wicking? Hmmm. There should be inexpensive organic, all cotton fabrics available for wicking. I will have a look at Dharmatrading.com. Great source.

Kathy J
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 804
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Right now I'm just using torn jeans split at the seams into four pieces. The strips are laid down at the bottom of swales, which are then filled with twiggy bits, leaf litter, and some soil, so no material is exposed to the air. I do twist the lengths lengthwise to form long wrapped bundles that then go into the ground. More surface area on top of the area between the woven strands results in better wicking.

Right now, I am watering in only one spot, the highest corner of the bed that I have irrigated this way, and the opposite end stays well-watered. The size of the bed is 12'x12', and the wicking swales are spaced at 2' intervals perpendicular to the slope.

-CK
 
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