Friday, April 26, 2013

Windowfarm Update 3

The Basil doesn't seem to be doing too well.

The Parsley is thriving!

I've cut the rosemary a few times for tasty recipes.  It's still growing strong.

The strawberries are coming along, and we even have a few small berries.


However, I'm afraid that I may be overwatering the strawberry plant.  The leaves are turning yellow and brown, which may be a sign of overwatering.  I'm planning on getting a timer to stagger the water flow.

I planted some spare garlic that I didn't use for dinner!  It's sprouted and is doing well.

Our Venus Fly traps are open.

Parsley is doing well, lavender is not.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Beautiful Aquaponic Systems

One thing that's important for many potential aquaponic systems is beauty.  People don't necessarily want something in their yard or home that looks like a science project.  Here are some really beautiful systems.  I'm hoping to use these as inspiration for my future projects.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pros and Cons of Different System Types

Commercial Aquaponics

I've been trying to compare the pros and cons of different types of aquaponic systems recently.  Right now, I'm working on constructing a 105 gallon setup at my friend's apartment.  We're making a simple flood and drain system, with a 50 gallon grow bed.  Filling that grow bed will require almost 200 Liters of expanded clay or some other media.  All that media is going to double the cost of our system.  We were thinking about alternative methods, such as expanded shale or even something like legos (but we don't have nearly 50 Gallons of legos).  The cost of buying a grow media for a large grow bed is so high, that it really got me thinking about alternative systems.  Here's a list of pros and cons of various aquaponic systems.  If you know anything that I haven't listed, please leave a comment and I'll add it to my list and credit you.

Media Bed Systems
Chift Pist, Simple Flood and Drain (Ebb and Flow), Constant Flood (Continuous Flow)
· Self Cleaning - The grow media filters out the fish waste
· A media bed performs three (3) filtering functions:
    · mechanical (solids removal)
    · mineralization (solids breakdown and return to the water) 
    · bio-filtration
· Media provides better plant support and is more closely related to traditional soil gardening because there is a media to plant into

· Expensive growing media

A Typical Media Bed

Chift Pist
· Pump is in sump tank away from fish and wastes
· Water level in fish tank remains constant
· Great if you have a tall fish tank
· Larger water volume because of sump
· Extra equipment required (sump tank)
· Must have tall fish tank or stand
· Can take up larger footprint

Chift Pist system

Simple Flood and Drain / Ebb and Flow
· The grow bed can be separated from the fish reservoir
· Simple design - Only two major system components - lower cost
· It is easy to understand and learn
· Great if you have a tall fish tank
· Requires a timer or bell syphon
· Pump is in fish tank, exposed to fish and waste
· Water level in tank fluctuates a little

Simple Flood and Drain system

Constant Flood / Continuous Flow
· Same as the Simple Flood and Drain, except when you remove the timer, the system is constantly flooding
· Pump is in fish tank
· Plant roots can become waterlogged, and areas of the grow bed can become stagnant and anaerobic as the flow of fresh water through the bed moves around any blockages

Constant Flood system

Deep Water Culture (DWC)
· Resistant against water temperature and pH fluctuations
· Excellent root development due to easy access to oxygen
· There is plenty of surface area for the beneficial bacteria to grow
· Very good for lettuces and leafy vegetables – used extensively by commercial farmers
· Requires additional filtration to remove solids
· Large plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. can be difficult, if not impossible, to support

Deep Water Culture system

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
· Both components (fish and plants) may be decoupled from each other whenever required and can/do operate independently of each other if required.  I believe this is important in a commercial situation because it allows fish or plant production to continue when and if there are any problems with the other component
· Water susceptible to temperature fluctuations
· Requires additional filtration to remove solids
· Roots that die and detach from plants can cause blockages in water flow
· NFT is only really suitable for certain types of plants, generally leafy green vegetables, larger plants will have root systems that are too big and invasive, or they become too heavy for the lightweight growing gutters

Nutrient Film Technique system


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Windowfarm update

Hey everyone!  It's been a while since my last update, and I've been seeing some great growth in my windowfarm recently, so here's an update.

The Basil is growing pretty slowly.  It's on the top shelf of the windowfarm, so maybe it's not getting as much light as the rest of the plants.

The parsley is jumping out, stretching towards the window!

The Rosemary plant is growing strong.  This one was bought from Home Depot a few weeks ago, so it was already growing.  I've been using it in some recipes too.  I threw some sprigs into the slow cooker with some pulled pork that I cooked last night.  It turned out incredible.

The Strawberry plant is growing well, too.  The leaves are getting bigger, and I've seen a bunch of flowers bloom.  The white flower petals fall off, and it looks like a baby strawberry.  I've never grown strawberries before, so I'm not sure if these will get bigger and turn into strawberries or not.

I used the green onions this morning on pulled pork grilled cheese sandwiches (might be my new favorite grilled cheese variation).  I had started them from some green onions that I got at the supermarket.  I cut them a few times, so they weren't growing back very big anymore, so I pulled them to make room for something else.

The lavender doesn't seem to be doing too well.  These guys shot up pretty quickly, and then kind of stagnated.  I'm not sure if they're getting too much light next to the window, or not enough because they're down in the solo cup.

The parsley on the window sill is doing awesome too!

Lana got a Venus Fly Trap that is starting to open up!

I also switched out the airline tubing and the one-way check valve for my airlift.  The thin airline tubing was getting clogged with the solid waste from the fish tank.  Also, the check valve was clogged, and barely working, so not very much water was getting to the plants.  I'm not so sure that the airlift is capable of filtering the solids in the tank, so I'm considering adding a water filter as well.