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Olin Tlaloc
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Greetings from New Mexico! This is my first post here so I figured I would go ahead and jump right in and get to the juicy bits of my recent discovery. I will begin the problem, hard water and dead soil. Sure you could use an RO/DI filter to remove all the dissolved solids from the water but the problem of waste water would remain.

My only prior experience with water parameter management has been with salt water/marine fish tanks using live rock to filter the water. Live rock is limestone with tons of biological life in and on it that feed on nutrients in the water column. Using this technique has allowed me to forgo water changes completely for the past 5 years! This background in marine husbandry I believe is what lead me to my little breakthrough for hard water. In simple terms the filter consists of a worm bed which drains into a reservoir outfitted with an air pump/stones and a small return pump to send the reservoir water back to the worm bed to complete the circuit. I've been running a small system (two 5 gal buckets) for a few weeks now and the worms are thriving along with the plants.

I don't know what is happening biological but I would wager that the ionized calcium/mag is transformed into crystalline clay through the biological activity. Best part is the water stays at a rock solid pH of 6.8

I'll do my best to keep everyone posted on this as it develops
 
Ollie Puddlemaker
Posts: 148
Location: Houston, Tesas
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Olin - Welcome to Permies... This is great news, looking forward to your updates. I for one, would be interested in more about how you made your set-up. In South Central, there are heavy karst formations, so you shouldn't have any problem finding limestone. What part of New Mexico are you located in?
 
Olin Tlaloc
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Hi Ollie and thanks for the welcome! My reference to limestone was only to describe the biological process within a salt water fish tank. I am located near central NM. I'll post some plans once I finish them. If nothing else this is turning out to be a great way to keep worms in dry climates. Think of the overall system as a worm bed with a constant trickle of aerated water cycled through it. The worms don't seem to mind heavy moisture, most likely due to the aeration. In addition I have been dosing with molasses to encourage biological activity. Makes the reservoir nice and frothy!

I wonder, would this be recognized as a constructed bog?

 
Ollie Puddlemaker
Posts: 148
Location: Houston, Tesas
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Oh, so you are not using any limestone, just going thru the vermicompost? Surprising, most of us have a battle with our worm bins being too moist, but maybe your area is dryer and this why you're getting this result. Kind looks like your idea could have this application as a 'bog', huh...
 
Olin Tlaloc
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Ollie Puddlemaker wrote:
Oh, so you are not using any limestone, just going thru the vermicompost? Surprising, most of us have a battle with our worm bins being too moist, but maybe your area is dryer and this why you're getting this result. Kind looks like your idea could have this application as a 'bog', huh...


I was apprehensive when I finally decided to add worms to the system since I've read about problems with stagnation. The air stones do a good job of keeping it smelling fresh and insures against it going anaerobic. I need to do a side by side trial to see if there is any acceleration in soil creation with this method due to the increased aeration.

 
Olin Tlaloc
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Just discovered this little technique has a name....Vermiponics!
 
Olin Tlaloc
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This has me thinking now. If we can determine where soil creation happens the fastest we should try to recreate those parameters and rev it up. So where in this world is soil created most rapidly? Is it the bottom of a pond? If it is maybe we can devise a compact and large scale method of recreating that setting and possible call it hugelponics if whole logs are used. We could create soil rapidly without chipping(maybe) and soften water for establishing a system with well water.

 
Daniel Morse
Posts: 265
Location: SW Michigan
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This is the kind of science that we will need as we will have to start raising produce indoors. Here and outside of earth domain. I am very interested in this subject. Cool stuff! You have my interest.

Locally they have converted a old school building into a system of growing cash crops. It is part of the future now. As is what everyone is doing on this site. Good job.
 
allen lumley
pollinator
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Vermiponics, I though my leg was being pulled, Its real, O.K., I need to 'watch' this and go talk to the guy I get my fish from ! Big Al
 
Olin Tlaloc
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I try not to think of anything I do as science. I say this half jokingly since I try to approach things from a different angle and I know science has a way of explaining away the currently unexplainable.

The pH has rebounded a few times since my last post, probably due to using too much make up water. It seems to stabilize when i back off and let things circulate for a day or two. I'll need to invest in a meter to see any real numbers, until then I'll have to infer as to the hardness through monitoring the pH.

A point I hadn't mentioned earlier was how things needed to cycle when I first set this up. After a few days a rotten egg smell was faintly detectable and persisted for two or three days. I kept the pump and air-stones running just as you would a freshwater fish tank and things freshened up nicely.

I began this experiment with the goal of softening hard water naturally because I have a problem with well water. The real solution to that problem is rain and dew catchment but I did stumbled on a great way to keep some happy worms and a constant supply of nutrient rich water. I may need to add another stage to the setup with either woodchips or peat to make the softening a bit more effective and it should suit my needs while I build some ferro-cement cisterns.
 
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