My birthday was this month, and I hinted and suggested and hinted some more about what I really wanted - Murray Hallam's latest DVD, discussing how to make your own CHOP-2 system. The DVD plays in a regular DVD player, which is cool. And it also includes an extra feature, "Aquaponics: The First 12 Months!"
As soon as we got the DVD, I sat down to watch it. There are all kinds of tidbits, like how to actually dispatch one's fish when it's time to cook them, and how to avoid dead zones in your grow beds.
Even though I won't be using IBC containers, I learned a lot from watching Murray and his team set up that system. I love to see the little innovations from film to film, and appreciate Murray's putting all that information out in such an accessible format - not just the content, but his delivery of the content.
Tonight I created an emergency mini-growbed for my backyard aquaponics system out of a 2'x3' concrete mixing trough. I plumbed it with a small submersible pump from the local pet store (160 gph) and PVC bits from the local hardware store. It was cool to have a chance to incorporate the lessons I'd learned from Murray's video. And I also incorporated a feature I saw in Sylvia Bernstein's bell siphon kit, a sliced media guard:
I also incorporated an idea that occurred to me after trying to plant seedlings in gravel. I have 3/4" gravel in the bottom of the grow bed, but I cover the top 2-3 inches in hydroton, aka expanded clay beads. I'm hoping this will give me all the benefits of easy planting while retaining the cost benefits of gravel, not to mention the stability gravel gives tall plants that sometimes fall over in hydroton.