Drain change

Updated overflow

I updated the overflow drain on the larger bog filter tank.  I’m still using electrical conduit elbow, but it’s 1½”, not 1″.  The outlet pipe is also resized for an 1½” tee-less connector.  I enlarged the hole in the piece of perforated drain which keeps the roots from plugging the conduit.

I’ve been finding more uses for inner tube.  This plumbing change includes a piece of bicycle inner tube for connecting the two pieces of pipe together.

The only thing I wish I’d done before assembly was to paint the conduit black, but once the water hyacinth is added to the tank the leaves will hide the gray.

Pond willows

Willows in pea gravel filled pots

I couldn’t leave the corkscrew willows in the upper biofilter tank.  The hydroton grow medium is not heavy enough to keep the willows upright and in the tank when the wind blew.  I knew putting them there was a temporary solution.  Yesterday I implemented a more permanent fix.  The willows are only in the water for this summer.

The half-gallon pots have recycled window screen in the bottom to keep the gravel from migrating out the drain holes.  The willow trunks are held in place against the side of the tank frame by truck inner tube pieces and staples.  The pots are held up against the side of the tank by cord hangers over hex head screws.  Everything can be easily removed when it comes time to plant the willows out after they go dormant this fall.

Corkscrew Willow

Corkscrew willow in upper filter. Terry's antique toy trucks look great on the shop deck.

I had a lovely visit with my brother Dan and his wife Vala yesterday.  They live far enough away that I don’t get to see them often.  I was gifted with some corkscrew willow cuttings which I’ve stuck in the upper bog filter until I can get them rooted and ready to plant.

King of vertical gardens

Patrick's private wall - aquarium is under the floor (glass) and is 6x8 meters.

Here’s a great thing to share with you, a video of  Patrick Blanc giving a presentation on vertical gardens at the California Academy of Science.  The video is an hour and a half long and is broken into parts.  I didn’t have any trouble with buffering, so give it a try.  He talks about all his walls, what was good, what was bad and includes maintenance, inspiration, plants he used, insect control, maintenance . . . it’s well worth watching at least once if not more.

New growbed setup

Half-buried tank, two grow bed trays.

back side of the grow bed. Note flush bottle. When the water reaches a set level in the bucket above, it then overflows into the tubing feeding the coke bottle. When sufficient weight is reached, the bottle pulls on the cord and flushes the valve in the bucket. A small hole in the cap of the bottle allows the water to drain out and the cycle repeats.

This is my new setup, sans the second bucket.  I am waiting on tee-less connectors to add the second bucket to the dump tank (existing bucket).  I’ll use a short piece of 1½” plastic pipe near the bottom of the buckets to connect them.  The two buckets, connected together, will give me the volume I need to fill both beds in a single dump.

Here’s the list of parts.

  • 2 five gallon buckets – mine used to contain pickles and were obtained from a local deli.
  • 1 pump
  • black tubing running from the pump to the bucket (visible in the top picture as the black loop to the right of the bucket and in the bottom picture).
  • 100 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank (buried to first step in the tank side).
  • 2 mortar mixing trays (the 8″ deep ones).
  • miscellaneous scrap lumber – none of this lumber was purchased new.  I’ve got 4×4 for the four legs (mix of pressure treated and cedar – it’s what I had), 2×6 for the between post supports and 2×4 for the top plate on which the tray rims rest.  The bucket rests on a notched 3×4 and a notched 2×4 held up by 2×8 scraps screwed to the tray frame.
  • a handful of 3″ decking screws
  • 1 toilet flush valve.
  • 1 16 oz plastic coke bottle (flush valve counter-weight).
  • black tubing to feed flush valve counter-weight bottle (visible in the second picture – connects to a piece of aluminum tubing which inserts through the bottom of the coke bottle.
  • miscellaneous hardware including a collection of stainless nuts and washers to act as the flush valve weight (offsets the weight of the plastic bottle so the flush valve flap closes completely).
  • Plumbing parts – some 2″, some 1½”.
  • Tee-less connectors to gang the buckets together.  I never order enough tee-less connectors.  They are the first connector I reach for when I have to fasten pipe to pipe or insert pipe into something.  I could have replaced the 2″ tee with a tee-less connector for less than a quarter of the price of purchasing a 2″ tee.

It took me an afternoon to take apart the old single-bed stand (I needed to reuse the legs and some of the shorter lumber) and another afternoon to construct the new two-bed stand.  You cannot see it from the picture, but there is a 2×6 that supports the center of the beds underneath going from left to right.

It took another afternoon to get the new bucket and flush assembly put together and get the tray flood plumbing set up.

I still need another 100 liters of hydroton.  It should only take another 50 liters (1 bag) of hydroton to fill the beds, but I want to increase the size of the gutter for my plant wall so want some extra to ensure I have enough.  Until I get the additional hydroton, I’ll let the beds cycle and build the nitrite/nitrate eating bacteria colony.

Growbed Updates

The new and updated dump bucket
The roller assembly gizmo hanging on the side of the bucket. Note the notch in the bucket collar to accommodate the gizmo.
The outboard end of the gizmo assembly. Note the notch in the lid to allow the lid to (mostly) set down on the bucket.
The back side. Note the notch in the bucket collar.
Stainless long necked bolt.

 

Yesterday was a  beautiful day, mild, sunny and quiet.  Wadly was off visiting family and I had the peace to putter to my heart’s content.

I managed to get the dump bucket for my grow bed rebuilt.  This time I added a genius gizmo for the flush counter-weight assembly.  This crafty  gizmo was the happy confluence of circumstance and available parts and it all started with the proximity of the flush valve to the edge of the bucket.

Because my 5 gallon buckets have a lot of ridges and raised lettering at the center I mounted the flush assembly against the side of the bucket.  This gave me a smoother flatter surface for sealing the toilet flush valve to the bucket and, by mounting the toilet fill assembly next to the side of the bucket, I was able to reduce the distance between the rollers that lift the toilet flush flap and support the flush valve counter-weight.  I saw the lock assembly for a sliding window sitting on the bench ready to be taken out to the aluminum pile to recycle.   That started the mental wheels turning and I was able to scrounge the remaining parts to pull this gizmo together.

The new roller carrier is small, requiring one small notch in the bucket collar for installation and support.

The rollers are from the bottom of a sliding glass door.

The bolts holding the rollers are stainless.  I have no idea where they came from.  Whenever we disassemble something for recycling, we take any potentially interesting small hardware and stick it in one of our multiple cabinets with plastic drawers.  We had this particular bolt type in two lengths.  The shorter was twice the length I needed but they do a perfect job.  The additional bolt sticking out is more of a design statement than a flaw.

The holes in the center of the rollers was just a bit smaller than the circumference of the bolt which allowed the bolt to be pressed into the roller assembly.  A bit of judicious encouragement from my rubber mallet did the trick and the rollers are now pressed onto the bolts.

The holes in the aluminum slider window lock handle were just slightly smaller than the threads on the bolts.  Because the piece to receive threads was aluminum and the bolts were stainless,I was able to force screw the bolts into the holes to create the necessary threads in the aluminum carrier.  You see what I mean about a confluence of circumstance?  The bolts were the right size to press into the rollers and the holes were the right size to accept threading from the bolts.  Kismet.

Each bolt has a fiber or teflon washer and a stainless washer to ensure proper spacing for the roller.

The rollers aren’t stainless and aren’t designed to be out in the rain.  Terry painted them for me to help keep the rust at bay.  As to the bearings, an occasional squirt of WD-40 (water displacement 40th formula tested) keeps rust in check and the rollers turning smoothly.  the arrangement allows the cord to be lifted off the rollers and the roller assembly to be taken away from the tank/growbed assembly for maintenance.  At some point I’ll make a plastic cover for the roller assembly to keep the rollers drier.

If you’re wondering what I used to extend the overflow tube on the flush valve . . . it’s a vacuum cleaner hand wand extension pipe.  We’ve got a shelf under one of the benches that gets all the plastic pipe chunks we might need for a later project.  Wand extension pipe is just plastic pipe and the taper makes them perfect for fitting onto other pipe or into openings of not exactly the right size.

 

 

New ferns

Gutter fern

Two more different new ferns

The new ferns seem to be doing okay.  I have a couple that are more vigorous, but they are different varieties so the differences in growth are easily explained.

The gutter fern is a delicate thing when compared to the stems of the Hawaiian begonia (Ricinifolia Immense).  The stems of that particular begonia grow to be bigger around than my thumb. The other two ferns aren’t as big as my original wood fern, but they’ve just gotten started.