Sunday, June 20, 2010

Progress Report - 1 week

Most things have gone really well.  A few have been less than perfect.

My bell siphon would work for 6 hours then either not activate or not stop.  I'd jiggle it, and we'd go through the whole thing again.  I tried increasing the inflow of water and further restricting the outflow in order to help the activation.  I tried drilling a hole in the top of the bell and running a tube outside to the bottom, to help it deactivate.  Those were imperfect solutions, plus now the flow of the water was giving me a 6 minute cycle - way too fast.  So for now, I've pulled out the siphon system and put in a simple timer.  Right now I'm running 15 out of each our for most of the day, and 15 of each 2 hours at night.  I've also put in an LED light system overhead.

My plants have had mixed results.

The basil is VERY healthy.

Lettuce is very UNhealthy.

Tomatoes started getting some burned edges, but I don't know if that was from the inconsistent flooding and draining, or lack of light, or transplant shock or water quality.  They don't seem to be getting any worse, and I hope they'll be okay.

I used some Parsley and Cilantro in my meal the other night, but I'm not sure how they're doing.  They look a bit yellow to me, but that might be from lack of good light.  So perhaps the new lights will fix that.

My nitrate level started going down (as expected) so I've added some fish.  Despite having high PH they all seem to be happy in there.  I'm slowly lowering the PH with white vinegar, but didn't want to go to quickly for fear of stressing my original fish.  He's been with me through thick and thin, and I'm rather fond of him.

Tonight I'm going to pull out the lettuce.  I'm also going to start some seeds in woolrock on another shelf and add those to the growbed when they're ready, where the lettuce is.  And this week I plan to get some more fish and work on getting my drain system better.  The original drain was 3/4" to accommodate a fast siphon drain, but now I want it to only trickle out while the 15 minutes of flooding is happening.  I also want to start thinking about how to hook up the second growbed.  I'd originally planned to stack them and have each drain into the one below, with a sump on the bottom.  But I'm thinking it would be best (and easier to use the LED lights) if they are side by side.  The water level doesn't go down much with the one bed, so I don't think a second bed will be too much for it.  But I'll need to plan it out and get splitters and such.  I won't actually plant the second grow bed until I've got a lot more fish in there, but I want to be ready.  I'm hoping to have the fish/plant ratio of my current setup stable in about a month.  At that point, I want to be prepared to expand to the second bed, with it all hooked up just waiting for fish and plants.

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