an adaptation to twiggybed!

Perth, Australia

Hi I'm from Australia and I was following twiggybud's raised watered and open earthbox. it's not a earthbox but very similar ( ). I had my own ideas of his setup and I didn't want to hijack it any further than I already have.

So anyhow here's a picture of my setup I've planted last Sunday the seedlings that I started. They are rather small but I wanted to get going because of the moon, didn't want to wait until next week for the right time to do it. (i follow the moon pattern for my gardening.) the pot mix is about half inch gravel, then about 2-3 inches of peat premium mix. I was using this for something else but it turned out to be the wrong mix so I'm using it in here... then for the rest of it, a hortico general all-purpose potting mix (very cheap over here).
sorry it's a such a blurry picture...

The idea was to kind of integrate aquaponics with this setup.... its supposed to be a lot more raised than twiggybud's therefore resulting a deeper water culture with fish in it and there are second pots underneath the top soiled pot that are full of pea dolomite/hydroton gravel. The gravel is supposed to act as a bio filter where the bacteria can convert the ammonia from the fish and any other sludge into good food for the plants. the plants will soak up this stuff at their leisure. This is a different setup to aquaponics because AP requires or often has a pump or a setup where they transport water to the top container or to the Growbeds/Planters and then they drain or flow through back to the fish tank... whereas in this situation I'm just sitting soil pots on a pots full of gravel in water.
I think there's a factor that this may not work.. it's anaerobic bacteria (the bad kind) I think because there is no drying time in the gravel there wont be a lot of the good N conversion happening. Still... I want to see if it works against my better judgement...

anyway on with the picture..

Thumbnail by Jensilaedi
Perth, Australia

this is a picture of my aquaponics setup ... the fish tank is the big one on the right, it overflows into the sump tank underneath the coffee table (to keep the water in the fishtank at a constant level so it doesn't drain dry and therefore kill the fish!) The pump is in the sumptank sending dirty fishy water into the Growbeds on the coffee table... the gravel in the beds are a biofilter that converts the ammonia from the fishy poo into good plant stuff. Sometimes the plants will suck up this stuff or maybe the next round trip... yes this means that there's ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates throughout the system. It doesn't bother the fish nor the plants and the bacteria who resides everywhere there is water will love it.
The Growbeds have a siphon at the back of each green box where you can't see them... I was trying to make it look pretty and you don't need to see all the plumbing or have it in the way!! These siphons drain the growbeds when it gets full of water which means that when drained they have an opportunity to dry out - activating the aerobic bacteria conversion for the goody N stuff. It also brings in air which is full of oxygen and allows the plants roots to breath. so the pump is constantly turned on for 15 minutes every hour to fill these beds and during this 15 they may drain or not drain. They do drain sometime in any 2 hour period so no plant ever gets waterlogged for more than an hour and a half.

I know that this works, I've grown celery, cos lettuce, lebanese cucumbers and tomatoes in this system with no addition of fertiliser, soil or additives at all... its all grown purely on fishy water and dolomite pea gravel. of course i feed the fish every second day... that's part of the 5 minute maintenance that I give it daily!

I'm just explaining my version of aquaponics so anyone reading my above post would understand my idea of integrating AP, Earthbox and twiggybud's setup into one wholesome system. Hence my reasoning that it may not work because the new setup doesn't have a lot of water movement nor does it move up and down levels to allow drying time.


Thumbnail by Jensilaedi
Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Hi Jensilaedi. I'm glad you posted the pics to help me understand. Aquaponics is a very worthy subject and I don't understand why more people in the warm climates don't do more with it. I used to have aquariums and for several years I had a fish pond in my back yard. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn't have the time or the interest and now I have a very limiting handicap.

I don't know a lot about anaerobic bacteria but I do know the aerobic kind is considered much healthier for plants and animal life. Do you think all of your water is circulating? I think you could put a dripper on each pot and grow your plants directly in the pebbles. This would really increase the aerobic microbes which should make the system more effective in harvesting the goodies.

My plants send out roots to free range in the waterbeds and I think they thrive there because the water has a lot of dissolved oxygen due to surface exposure and wind action. If you have any problems with root rot the first thing I'd think of is too little drainage/oxygen getting to them.

I'm very interested in how this works for you because I'm considering some kind of dripper system for strawberries.

Perth, Australia

ooooh a dripper system, I've considered that a lot too... the only problem I can think of, of that... is that the dripper tend to need very soluble liquid for it to work. Fishy water is dirty and will.. and I say it strongly, I've had it happen in the past... it WILL block the drips. So... I guess my point is... I would use the dripper system if I wasn't putting the fish in there.
The gravel filled pots were supposed to support the soiled pots on top of it so that the box would be deeper in water. Just so anyone here can understand; the more water I put in there, the more nutrients it will have to provide to support the plants.

As I understand it, strawberries like acid soil.. so you will be able to grow the plant but you might not get a lot of fruit unless you somehow make the organic mix acidic enough. I have a mandarin tree and it grows hundreds of fruit every year. on a regular basis I squeeze one mandarin near the strawberry plant (not on top of it.. just near it) to treat it so that they can keep being healthy. It puts out flowers but doesn't fruit every time...

I'll post later a picture showing a bit of aquaponics plumbing that I'm using...
and the picture is one of my biggest tomatoes I've ever had it's about 9cm across (3.5") and doesn't appear to be stopping here.. its still growing!! Its in one of my aquaponics systems.

Thumbnail by Jensilaedi
Perth, Australia

these are the toms I picked a little while later... !

Thumbnail by Jensilaedi
Perth, Australia

an update.. I took a picture of my system last week... it's now a month old and the cos lettuce and the spinach are maturing nicely.. with celery following up. the melon seeds however got a a bit waterlogged so I'm not sure what happened... I think they simply didn't get at least 6 hours of sun that they would need. I think they want to be able to dry out so I don't really think that a deep watered earthbox is going to work. but I'm going to convert the systems into Twiggy beds because I still think that they grow very well!

Thumbnail by Jensilaedi

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