Aquaponics Project – Day 5

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Haul Gravel, Then Haul Some More

We got a load of gravel – 10 cubic yards, which weighed in at about 14 1/4 tons according to the delivery driver. Of course the dump truck couldn’t get all the way back to the hoop house, so we have been shoveling and hauling gravel for the last several  nights. (It’s just too hot during the day.) We’re about 75% done hauling that gravel – just two of us and one wheelbarrow – then it’s time to wash and haul the rocks that are going in the barrels as grow medium – another few tons. Yay…

Cut The Barrel Supports and Assemble Them

Finally got back to work on this project. (If you missed any of the previous posts about this project, the links to them are at the end of this post.) Cut the wood for barrel supports for  couple of hours – my radial saw won’t cut all the way through, so it’s necessary to saw the boards as far as the saw will reach, then flip them over and cut the rest. Doesn’t always make for the prettiest cuts, but it does the trick.

Affix The Barrel Supports To The Long Beams

The barrel supports are explained in depth on about page 28 in the pdf instructions (depending on what version you have). The quick story is they are the same length as the barrel you are using and each one is made from one 2 x 6 and one 2 x 8.  The 2 x 8 overlaps one edge of the 2 x 6, making both “legs” of the support about the same. I did not use perfect pieces of wood, so some of the supports are twisted a bit, but I don’t think it will make them any less reliable. Once the barrel halves are filled with rock and water, they will lay up against the barrel supports and any support that doesn’t fit exactly will eventually be forced into place by the constant weight.

Here’s (roughly) what they’ll look like with the barrel halves installed.

barrel supports with barrel halves

An Added Step

You may have noticed I got plastic over the hoop house. This makes it almost pleasant to work out in the middle of the day. Still debating about how to close up the ends of the hoop house. Recently the gusts of wind here got as high as 90 mph. It really shoved stuff around. I think the hoop house ends will require plywood and long guide (aka guy) wires to make sure the hoop house doesn’t move too much from end to end. Maybe I should be more worried about wind coming from the other directions, but I think the curve of the hoop house will deflect most of that. Or – I could be completely wrong about that… I do intend to add internal braces in the hoop to keep them from collapsing under wind / snow stress.

Next Steps

The next steps will be to cut all the barrels in half, add the plumbing, then put the barrel halves in the frame. Part of the plumbing will be to make bell siphons for each of them – I’m not using the drain system as explained in the pdf instructions. I think bell siphons are less complicated, so less chance of something going wrong. I’ll include a great set of instructions for making your own bell siphons, including how to size them and how to adjust them if they aren’t flowing correctly.

As mentioned earlier, we also need to wash all the grow medium (also known as rocks, in this case) then haul them to the hoop house and put them into the barrels. This step will happen after the barrel halves have been plumbed and put in place.

Previous Posts

Day One – Getting Started

Day Two – Creating the Concrete Block Columns

Day Three – More Columns

Day Four – Building Support Beams


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