Backyard Aquaponics 2020 – Quick Update 02

The strawberry tower is finally set up, and sleepy plants are in, as of Saturday. Most of them are already looking much less dormant as of this morning.

Just after planting, Saturday morning (June 20)

The tower, as you can see, is full of “hydroton” clay pellets; there are 4 “bays” per tier, with five tiers. That gives me space for 20 plants, which is what I’ve done. I had a handful of plants left over, so they’ve been planted in the green horizontal flood-and-drain pipe running horizontally at the top of the image below.

The awkward plumbing is actually the out-spout end of a typical bell-siphon. There is a 710ml pop-bottle being used for the “bell” over a 25mm SCH-40 PVC stand-pipe, which then drops down to the “T”. There is a slight bias/ tilt in the pipe to run “down” to the elbow and then directly into the vertical pipe which goes well below (50mm+) the top layer of clay pellets.

However, there is enough pressure that a not-insignificant volume of water actually goes “up hill” to come out the short stub of pipe at the top of the grow-tower. The pipe has an end-cap on it; both the pipe and cap are drilled with 20+ 4mm holes, to create a “shower head” effect. This spreads the water out over a wide area and slows it down, ensuring lots of “soak” into the top of the tower.

The only problem with this “split drain” is that it’s pretty noisy. Once the initial pulse of high-pressure flow from the siphon floods the “shower head”, it then starts acting like a venturi, for the primary drain pipe. This produces a couple of fairly loud “snorting” noises, until the siphon breaks. It’s not too obnoxious, and has the side benefit of injecting a lot of air into the water being directed into the bottom of the growbed.

At this point, most of the build-out work is done. I had two bags of new clay pellets delivered last Thursday, so if all goes well, tomorrow I’ll be finishing up the bucket-in-Dutch-Bucket system, and moving the tomato plants to their permanent residence.

Once that’s done, then there is some more basil to plant, and some leaf-lettuce, into the vacant spots. Then, I’m going to plant some carrot and beet seeds.

More updates to follow as things progress, so stay tuned. I’ll have more to learn and share about my lake in a box.

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