Thursday, April 23, 2009

Strawberry Towers

Here's a couple of pictures of phase 2 of my greenhouse aquaponics system. I'll give credit to Synaptoman for his strawberry tower design....and I've made a few tweaks to the design.

Here's the entire system. I don't have a open pit for the drain, so there are caps on the bottom of each tower with a 3/4" tapped fitting thats drain to the discharge pipe. I was afraid to have each tower hang since this greenhouse isn't really designed to hang that much weight in it. So I took a piece of 3" PVC pipe and made little stands to carry the weight, then strapped each tower to the cross brace to keep them balanced. Each tower has it's own ball valve to regulate the supply water flow.

Last week I chiseled out a few strawberry plants out of the frozen ground and planted them. They're already sending out new growth...early berries this year!!! This setup will hold a total of 48 plants which takes up about 5 square feet.

I had some problems with the water escaping at some of the 'pockets'. The surface tension was just enough where the water would flip off the curve. I took some scrap pipe and cemented a lip to each opening. If this drained into an open pit, it wouldn't have mattered, but I wanted to keep my floor somewhat dry.

This is how the drain from each tower is connected to the discharge pipe. I just cut a bunch of holes in each stand and ran a 1" pipe through it. Also, you can see part of an oval piece on the floor. This goes into the bottom 'pocket' to help prevent the stone from getting stuck in the drain fitting.

After a few weeks, there are now new leaves and they are starting to blossom!

I'm really hoping this setup will work. Strawberries are a lot of work in a regular garden. Plus, just when the berries are ripe, the chipmunks steal them. I'll keep you posted on the progress....

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'll admit it...I love automation. So it takes a day to build something where it normally would take 10 seconds to manually feed the's well worth it! My latest creation is a fish feeder.

I took a small gear motor and slightly modified an old auger bit that was laying around. Then welded a couple of pieces of black pipe together and stuck a cam and switch on the end. A 7-up or mountain dew bottle makes a great feed holder. I probably could have made it independent and put it on it's own timer, but I have it running off of my computerized controller that runs the rest of the system. The only think I paid for was the gear motor, which was around $ I lost my $0.05 deposit for ripping the label off the bottle. It works great! NOTHING gets stuck in there and it could easily take off a finger if you stuck in in the feed tube. After all, the bit is made of hardened steel and is designed to drill through wood!

Here it is all up and running. Right now my goldies are small and are still on flakes...and there's some pellets mixed in there.