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  • Aquaponics + Pallet Garden Build

    So, I've finally been given the all-clear to set up a small aquaponics garden out the back of my house. I'm on a pretty standard suburban block and our house takes up a lot of the lot, leaving only about 2m at the back. I built a deck out there and over-engineered a corner of it for an outside tank / aquaponics set-up. Where I'm standing taking this photo (when it was built) is THE spot.



    I have an old 6' tank in the garage which I planned to use inside. Luckily when I filled it up in the garage to check for leaks, it sprung one. I say "luckily" in that if had done that inside I might have been sleeping outside with the dog for a long while. So, I plan to patch up the leak and use it outside.

    The tank will be covered by pellet gardens. If you're not familiar with the idea of upcycling old shipping pallet for use as furniture or landscaping then google it - it'll make you consider them in a whole new light.

    My concept is to shield the glass and turn the tank into more of a pond and grow some nice flowers and herbs in them. You can see the broad theory in effect here:



    A couple more pallets will provide a frame for a couple of growbeds which I'll fill with expanded clay (and eventually delicious veggies! )

    My Sketch-up skills are a bit lacking, but this is kind of what it will looks like...



    I won't be going for eating fish at this stage - most likely some local Dubouyali. Plant-wise I'll be going with lettuce, asian greens, spinach, snow peas and possibly a few others.

    So far I've built a frame for the tank to sit on. Now I just have to find some muscle to get it from the garage to the back of the house!
    Matt.

  • #2
    Great stuff! [Subscribed!]

    Are you planning on some big natives in the tank?

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    • #3
      Sounds terrific Maazo with potential for looking very stylish on that spotted gum (?) deck! I love that vertical garden (I might try that this weekend as I have an old pallet kicking around!)

      Herb garden for Mrs Grubs near the back door perhaps!

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      • #4
        Looking great Matt, I'm hope to do something similar in the future. I'll watch your thread eagerly for inspiration! I love the deck!!

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        • #5
          Unfortunately that photo of the deck was taken 2 years ago. It's seen a bit of sun now and is overdue for a stain.

          Another thing I was planning on doing was installing a solar pump. However, the prohibitive cost and the fact I've got a 2500l/h pond pump I picked up off Rufus a while back sitting around unused means I'll have to shelve that idea for a while.

          Rebel, no big natives. Some some local rainbows, blue-eyes and hardyheads (if I can catch some) at the start. It's all about the biomass and the waster and we all know bows like to eat. Down the track I'll consider some yabbies - the thought of catching some and whacking them straight over the charcoals appeals!

          One thing with the pallets to be aware of if you're planning on eating anything grown in them is the treatment. Most pallets in Australia are heat-treated and they're fine (they will have "HT" stamped/written on them somewhere. If they don't, then they're probably treated with methyl bromide. MB has been phased out, but they're still some being (re)used.
          Matt.

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          • #6
            I'm looking forward to plenty of updates down the track! I'm sure the end product will be well worth it.

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            • #7
              I like your design. Where there's a length of wood missing in your sketch, is that where plants will spill out?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Dantrasy View Post
                I like your design. Where there's a length of wood missing in your sketch, is that where plants will spill out?
                Yeah, I'll be putting some timber underneath and perpendicular to those slats, so they will form troughs. I've seen similar stuff done with PVC gutter (plug "gutter garden into your search engine).

                You may also be able to catch a glimpse of the fish through the glass.
                Matt.

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                • #9
                  Quick update on this...

                  I built the vase that the tank would sit on a while back, but it's taken me this long to actually move the tank there.



                  However, the tank has a decent leak along the back so I need to patch that first. Once thats done things might start to move a bit faster.
                  Matt.

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                  • #10
                    Had a bit more time to work on this project over the past week or so.

                    First up was patching the tank. There was a decent gap (~1mm) in some parts along the back pane. Bit hard to see in this pic, but there was little wonder under the pressure of a full tank, the silicone (which admittedly was only the Selleys rubbish) was getting sucked through the gap.



                    So, i picked up a 1800mm glass rail 10mm thick from an tank builder to reinforce and seal it properly (I hope) and some better silicone for the job...



                    Anyway, I'm giving it at least a week to cure fully. If it leaks again, I'll be junking it and building the pond out of pine sleepers.

                    So, in the meantime, I've started adapting the pallets for use as a vertical garden. As you can see from the pic it kind or resembles an oversized spice rack. It'll be interesting to see what I can grow in there. I'd prefer flowering plants. They're not all that deep but we'll see...

                    An indication of the framing around the tank.

                    One spice rack, one soon-to-be spice rack (aka pallet)



                    Hope to able to update a bit more over the coming weeks.
                    Last edited by Maazo; 14-04-14, 08:41 PM.
                    Matt.

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                    • #11
                      Been doing bits and pices over the past few weekends and have got to a point where I've been able to plant out.

                      I had to buy a new pump as on the one I had the cord had frayed and was shorting out.

                      Some of these materials I had lying around from previous projects, but for the sake of posterity I've added up everything I used in this project:

                      Pump $60
                      Timber $40
                      Tank $50
                      Glass $10
                      Silicone $20
                      Grow Beds $30
                      Clay Balls $105
                      PVC and Tubing $25
                      Misc Hardware $30
                      Seedlings $30

                      Total $400

                      So not too bad really.





                      Plants I've tried are Lettuce, Spinach, Tomato, Capsicum, Brocollini, Leek, Spring Onion, Strawberry, Parsley, Basil. There's a bit of a dearth of direct sunlight, so I'm interested to see how they go.

                      I'll be heading out on the weekend to pick up some Dubouyali and Hardyheads for the tank.

                      Also need to do up the pallet gardens and plant them out soon as they'll help a little with temperature regulation during the colder months.
                      Last edited by Maazo; 20-05-14, 07:22 PM.
                      Matt.

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                      • #12
                        This is all kinds of awesome Matt. Is it still operating as good as it looked above? Did you find the automated watering was a god-send over summer? Are you sick of salad?

                        I really MUST get some tomatoes growing aquaponically in my greenhouse. I've discovered plants don't do so well if you shield them from the environment with glass and forget to water them.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Grubs View Post
                          This is all kinds of awesome Matt. Is it still operating as good as it looked above? Did you find the automated watering was a god-send over summer? Are you sick of salad?

                          I really MUST get some tomatoes growing aquaponically in my greenhouse. I've discovered plants don't do so well if you shield them from the environment with glass and forget to water them.
                          No where as good Grubs. Two major things wrong ATM: (1) not enough biomass in the tank - the pacific blue-eyes are breeding, but I need to go out and catch some doobs; and (2) bloody possums are eating all my crops -need to build myself a cage to keep them out.
                          Matt.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Grubs View Post
                            I really MUST get some tomatoes growing aquaponically in my greenhouse. I've discovered plants don't do so well if you shield them from the environment with glass and forget to water them.
                            Let me get this straight. You've got all manner of irrigation pipes everywhere but no irrigation system for your green house?

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                            • #15
                              any updates?

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