How it all Started 8, Monster Grow Bed

Now the ever changing Big Aquaponics system expands again, this time doubling the filtration capacity all in one bed. I will call it the Monster Grow Bed.

Ground preped for Monster bed

Ground preped for Monster bed

This grow bed will be about 32 inches wide by 28-30 feet long and at least 12 inches deep. It sits on the ground and will be made with EPDM pond liner supported around the top edge by wood. I will drain the first two grow beds out to this grow bed. I started out thinking I might be able to use a FLOUT to drain this bed back to the in ground fish tank but I didn’t make this bed high enough.

Sunken drain pit in one end of bed

Sunken drain pit in one end of bed

gravel retainer

gravel retainer

I will continue working while figuring out how to make it work. (If you do something like this, make the plumbing much bigger and definitely arrange some means of overflow to get water back to the main tank.)
I estimated about 600 gallons of gravel for this bed and hope it will be a good place to grow tall plants that still need training and won’t require a ladder to harvest.

Monster Bed Full of Water

Monster Bed Full of Water

Gravel in Monster Bed

Gravel in Monster Bed

When one does a grow bed project like this, I highly recommend getting the load of gravel dumped as close to the project as possible and then set up the gravel washing station in between them. I was lucky to have the cook helping with all the gravel washing. By the time this grow bed was filled, we had gotten a second delivery of gravel from Pebble Junction. Each delivery was 6 tons. They estimate that that it takes 1.25 tons of this size gravel to make 1 cubic yard. It takes about 7.5 gallons to make a cubic foot. These numbers came in handy when figuring out how much gravel I would need and how many gallons I had.

Afternoon shade

Afternoon shade

Sump pump in bed

Sump pump in bed

This location gets wicked full sun for most of the day in summer and since I want to grow tomatoes and other stuff needing training, we pump a cattle panel tunnel over it. It will also provide support for plastic.

Behold, I finally figured out how to flood and drain this grow bed, with a pump on a float switch. The sump grow bed is borne. This “sump bed” idea is one I like living in a place where a nearly empty water tank in the ground could forcefully float up during a heavy rain event. I will re-visit this idea in the future.

For those who wish to go read the detail version check out my original system thread. BYAP System Thread Pages 39-44 (May 9-June 3, 2008) are the time frame for this Blog post.

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