Marty Mitchell

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since Dec 08, 2013
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Virginia Beach, VA
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Recent posts by Marty Mitchell

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!

2 months ago

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

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.

2 months ago

Brian Rodgers wrote:Lookin' great8
I am glad you have shared this here as well as BYAP. This is a very nice system setup And it is portable!

Thanks Brian! I am enjoying it a lot.

In the end... I am SOOOOOOO glad I made it portable! Since I had to move across country about 11mos after building it and all. lol

I learned that lesson on my first system. It was a major pain to tear down and move... mostly falling apart during the move. This one is tough.

There are literally only two things I would change

1. Is making it about 4" wider so I could keep the beds strait when turning it into a greenhouse. However, if I had done that... it would not have fit through the fence gate to get it into the back yard where it currently sits. No big gates for this yard.

2. Is using solid cast metal wheels. I am keeping it on bricks(with wood wedges to level it). However, the solid concrete deck I had it on originally was pretty darn level. The rubber membrane on the wheels settled out into flat spots after some time. Making it hard to move around. On another side note... the wheels I used work just fine. I just only use them during transport now.

2 months ago
Chemical makeup of scoria...

Most AP growers report less mineral deficiencies when using it long term.

2 months ago
I think I found the big thread I had in mind!

It is titled "Is red scoria safe as a growbed media?" In Australia they usually refer to red lava rock as scoria.

I don't have time to read through the article at this time.
2 months ago
Yes. Heavy metals can be found in all garden soils. Typically being found in higher concentrations in areas near old hwys, old orchards, or old buildings with lead based paints (etc)

Here is a good Oregon State University read titled "Should I worry about heavy metals in my garden soil"

"In general, plants do not absorb lead into their tissues" is one of the quotes from the read. There is a good bit of info. in there.

One of the main things to do... according to the article... is to thoroughly wash your food before consumption. Along with several other practices.

Luckily, in Aquaponics, the leafy greens and such Never have any dirt/splash on them. Greens from Aquaponics are 10x easier to clean than lettuce from soil.

Some of the trace elements found in volcanic rock are going to be heavy metals. They are in a ratio found in balance with what is natural in nature... from what I have found in past searches.

I just did some searching around and could not find the break-down tests. They are out there somewhere. I read up on all of this thoroughly before using lava rock in my system.
2 months ago
I have never used black granite and cannot answer the question on that one. A good place to find that out would likely be an aquaponics dedicated forum like Run the gravel through the gambit for PH neutral testing before purchase. Vinegar test and all.

I have, however, used lava rock from the big box stores. It worked wonderfully. There are some insane amounts of minerals in lava rock that breaks down over time to feed the plants. Which is why volcanic soil is so awesome for gardening.

What I did in my old system in a 12" or so deep bed was put the bottom 2/3rd in lava rock. Then the top 1/3 in hydroton rejects I got for cheap on Amazon. It worked great as a anchor for heavy plants with the lava rock down deep and as something I could push my hands through easily for planting up top.

The downside was when pulling large plants out the roots were latched onto the rough lava rock and I had to push them back through to the bottom... which was easy. Cleaning out the bed in 5 years will be harder as well. And the lava rock came in massively large size... which meant more water was being pulled into the bed on each cycle. AKA more water level drop in the sump tank on cycles.

A few months ago after the move I found that there is a new vender on Amazon with much cheaper and near perfect hydroton that was the same price as the rejects. It has been working great. I still like the characteristics of the rejects more. They had chipped surfaces and got wet/settled faster.

I would love to have beds filled with small lava rock about the same size as the hydroton pellets. Easier to dig/plant.

Hope I helped!

It is indeed a learning curve... but... like learning to read... is well worth it. Even if you are not perfect at it at first. It takes time.

2 months ago
Here are some pics of the growth I currently have going on in the system right now. Mostly Swiss Chard and Kale.

Lots of other little things like Meyer Lemon tree cuttings, Parsley, and Strawberries here and there as well.

I just finished converting my open system over to a greenhouse. I still have to seal her up but she is chugging along well as she is... this time of year anyways.

I put in 4 Lemon Cuttings... and 4 survived. I will likely just pick the best positioned one and leave it in there permanently... and pot up/sell the other 3 for $5 - $10 each by the end of next Summer.

My yearly power usage is around $21 to $27 dollars. I figure that will pay for most/all of it. lol
2 months ago
Time For and Update:

Turns out that Aquaponics is definitely super good for making clones!!!

So far I have had a 100% Success rate for Cloning Summer Cuttings. Where you basically just cut off this year's new growth after it has had a chance to get stiff/tough... but the skin is still thin or even green still. Just leave about 2 leaf's on there and make the twig long enough to get a node or two below the water level in case it is a type of plant that can only root from a node.

Anyways, so far I have tried Fig, Mulberry, Goji Berry, and Meyer Lemon. 100% Success on every twig ever stuck into the gravel!!!

If I were to save JUST ONE bed for making clones... and I spaced the clones 2" apart in rows 4" apart... I could clone around 144 trees and shrubs in there every few months! How much money does that save per year in a tiny system like mine?

I ended up moving back to Virginia this Summer. So my system will soon be turned into a greenhouse. Sold the old fish for $100 which paid for the fish, fish food, and power for the year easily.

This time I got more expensive gold fish. Paid $3 for each of the fish from craigslist. The kids seem to be loving their new pets. These Comet Goldfish can on occasion get up to 18"... which I bet is more likely in an aquaponics system since they are being fed a ton more than usual... about 4 times a day! The red and white ones are Sarassa Comets. The Calico ones are Shibunkin Comets.

4 months ago
Awesome looking hive Kevin. I look forward to updates on it! Just saw your reply. I never got the email notification.

Mike Barkley... It sounds like you are up to some interesting things! I look forward to your updates as well!

Feel free to post anything you want onto this thread. Breath some life back into it.
11 months ago