Refining the design

I had an epiphany yesterday. Why on earth do I need a stand to hold up the horizontal half pipe which acts as the base for the pinch valve?  I don’t.  If I cut holes in the sides of the barrel and run the PVC half-pipe through, the barrel will act as support.  Duh.  Sometimes things are just too obvious . . . after you’ve thought of them, of course.

Terry’s got a trailer full of tin and various chunks of light metal to go in for recycling.   In this latest mess of stuff he has an old walk-behind lawn mower.  In our search for something to use as the pinch valve for my single barrel system the curved handle of the lawn mower seems to be perfect.  He brought the result in last night.   It looks great.

I picked up a pump.  It’s rated at 290 gallons an hour.  I think it’s a bit over rated for what I need, but it’s got a three year guarantee and has the right sized fittings for what I need.

I’ve made one more change to the design.  I’m not making the fill tube out of PVC.  I may change my mind in the future, but for now I’m going to run the flexible tubing up over the top of the overflow and down into the gravel.  We’ll see how that goes.

I still don’t have a barrel, but I’m still weeks away from being able to plant outside, so I’m not feeling rushed.

Spring gardening

I did a bit of planting this last week.  I got lots of Jiffy pellets stuffed with a variety of seeds which are now between invisible and a bit over an inch tall.  That’s a lot of growth in a week in my mind . . . And I got some other stuff planted out in pots in the yard.

I got a pretty red canna, some caladium and hosta, an elephant ear, some daffs and freesias and other flowering stuff divided between three big pots.    The three pots we planted are truly an eclectric collection of ornamental and flowering plants.  It should be interesting to see what they look like.

I rescued a lovely multiple pink rose with a wonderful scent which I’ve been eyeing  behind some downed posts on Skinner.  It was tiny and in a really bad spot, half under a fir tree, surrounded by silal and wisteria cuttings.  I stuck it in a planter inside a ring of glads.  We’ll see how it does.

I also rescued a couple Siberian iris tubers from the verge just down from the vet’s office.  There’s a patch of them growing in the chick grass and weeds.  I couldn’t put them in with my other irises as that bed is totally full, so I dropped one in two of the pots with the other stuff.  Next year I’ll try and be more organized . . .

Fish tank guts

I did a town run yesterday and picked up some of the parts I need for the single barrel fish tank/grow bed unit I’m working on.  I think the stuff I got at Thurman’s was a real coup.  I got a 1/2″ elbow and all the PVC I need (raided the store’s boneyard) for less than a buck.  The stop at Kaija’s wasn’t as thrifty a stop but productive never the less.  I spent less than $10 there on the T and tubing for the fill.  I probably got more tubing than I will ultimately need, but better safe at the start.  They’ve got the testing kits I’ll need once I populate the tank with fish.  I did a quick diagram of my plan for Matt and he expressed an interest in having a couple in the shop to sell to customers.  That might be fun.  We’ll see how busy I get with other things.  Terry may want to take on that project.  That would be cool.

Wad’s going to bring in one of the pump so I can see what kind of connection I need there.


I’ve been working on the guts of the barrel.  I had initially thought I would use wood for the rocker valve, but think I may use heavy wall PVC instead.  It can be shaped using heat to a shallow C shape with pinched chisel ends.  It can be drilled for the pins necessary for the rocker, counter weight spindle and connection to the water bottle weight.

I’ve still got some things to work out.  How fast do I fill the bottle to shut off the flow to the grow bed?  Do I put the all the overflow into the bottle or do I meter it?  How much counterweight will be needed to offset the empty, or nearly empty, bottle to pinch the tubing and produce a quick fill of the bed?  How fast should be bottle weight drain?  Should I use a shorter bottle to give myself more flexibility in the depth of the water in the fish tank?  I’ve got some agave quart bottles that are quite a bit shorter than a regular drink bottle, and the plastic is thicker/tougher as well.

I’m thinking, now that I know I can get PVC inexpensively from Thurman’s bone yard, I’ll might be able to make the stand out of PVC.  A single piece of thick walled PVC can be sliced lengthwise once at the top and twice at the bottom (perpendicular), heated at the seat of the slice and bent out to form the horizontal stand and legs.  I won’t know if this works until I try it.  Crafting the chisel ends to match the valley of the horizontal arms will allow a clean pinch of the water supply tubing.

I still have to come up with a barrel.  LouAnn has a barrel minus its top I can use for testing, though I don’t know what it’s contained in the past so don’t know if it’s perilous to fish.  I really need a good clean barrel and supply for more of same if Kaija’s decides to sell these units.