Friday, June 27, 2008

OOPS!

I checked on the fish this morning to find the deck wet and the water level down about 6 inches. EEK! The fill hose for the gravel grow bed had pulled up and was splashing out of the growbed.

OOPS!

Tonight I have to make Mr. B's birthday cake, and I'm going to steal some time to wire those in place. That could have killed the fish, the plants in that grow bed, and burned out the pump. It would have been awful.

The seedlings in the garage are doing okay. It looks like I massively overplanted the oregano and will be culling a LOT of seedlings. They were really tiny seeds, maybe I should have done them instead of letting the kids do it. Also I put a wall-wart timer on the growlight in the garage. 8 hours on, 1 hour off, 7 hours on, 8 hours off.

This learning process is starting to change me. Until yesterday I was afraid to touch a live fish without a net or glove. Two of the transfer fish jumped out of the tank. the first I scooped up off the deck and plopped back in the tank. The second flopped off the deck and into the hole for our as-yet-unpurchased above-ground pool. I jumped off the deck and grabbed the fish of the ground, scrambled back onto the deck, and pushed him around in the water for a minute until he perked up. As for my fear of touching fish, I'm so over it.

Thanks for the pointer to the Local greenhouse company. That is AWESOME! Their complete setup with ventilation will be 1/4th the cost of where I was looking. I was a little afraid of going the pvc covered route, but this is to good to pass up. I did some research on heating and cooling a greenhouse, and it sounds like the best place for the tank is inside the greenhouse, and not a separate structure. This is because the tank has a significant thermal mass, and will help regulate the temperature. If I exactly copy the UVI system, I'll have nearly 30,000 gallons of "thermal mass". I am still afraid that there will be too much heat in the summertime.

Reading the greenhouse from left to right, here is the layout. (Still a work in progress)
Fish Tank(s), Insulated and partially sunk in ground -> Pumps ->
2 Gravel flood and drain growbeds plumbed to allow one to be off line for maintenance and still keep the system up.
1 large or 2 smaller DWC Pools running the length of the greenhouse. Constructed of concrete block. I am still undecided on whether to line the pool with PVC pond liner, or "do it right" and line it with concrete. If I'm leasing Farmland then they might not appreciate this kind of structure on the property.

The decision of where to put the planting and harvesting operation still needs to be made. I'm leaning towards planting on the growbed side and harvesting on the far end, but the seedlings don't need the same nutrient density that the full grown plants do, and the nutrients will probably be more dense closer to the tanks.

Really really optimistically with this less expensive greenhouse, I could bootstrap this and be profitable in one year.. Conversely, if I screw up abysmally we could keep it under $5,000 or so. That is still a pretty big "learning experience", but better than having $20k on the line.

TODO: Research Water turnover rates at UVI.
TODO: Research materials that buffer pH between 6 and 8. Shell grit is 7.6.

-ellie

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