Duckponics Update


     The deciding factor for me to come and be a part of Windward was their aquaponics system. I was enlisted to help renovate the related duckponics system. The problems ranged from debris in the pipes and grow beds to the grow beds not draining properly to float valves needing tweaking. We started by removing all the pea gravel from the grow beds and putting them into IBC's to be washed. The pond liners had to be replaced as there was a lot of holes and rust stains from the grow bed tanks.

emptying the round grow tanks for cleaning and repair

     Once the liners were replaced we could then refill the grow bed that was not having trouble draining. The other one that was having trouble draining needed to be raised up on cinder block ring cemented together and filled with gravel.

laying out the bond blocks for a retaining wall

     This was to increase gravity's effect on the water cycling through the grow beds. This ring was filled with rocks delivered by an amazing truck that could be completely controlled remotely! The rocks would hold the weight of the grow bed when it's filled with pea gravel and watered.

rebar and cement finish the retaining ring wall

     Cleaning the pipes and tubing posed an unusual set of problems as the hoses do not have much pressure behind them to blast the debris out. We ended up using a pump to increase the water pressure and shove the hose into the pipes, which were capped at one end, to remove the debris. This method did not work with the smaller tubing unfortunately. What ended up working was pushing a metal snake through the tube then tying a rag to the end of it and pulling it back through the tube, scraping the debris away.

emptying the round grow tanks for cleaning and repair

     Once the one system was up and running we planted Swiss chard, kale, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, bush beans, broccoli, and celery in the grow beds. We turned on the system to find out if there was anything else that needed cleaning and tweaking. What we found was that the duck pond would overflow because the float valve that shuts off the flow of water to the pond was set to a wrong level and wouldn't shut completely. This was fixed easily by removing the bolt that was holding it in place, rotating the float downward, and then retightening the bolt.

     When the grow bed was raised we ran across the problem that the tube bringing the water for the plants would not fit into the new configuration. This was dealt with by removing the whole pipe apparatus and tweaking where the pipes dropped down from the fill tank so they connected to the watering pipes in the grow beds.

     Now that all the problems have been ironed out, all the water is flowing where it is supposed to, the grow beds are planted, and the ducks are happy with the water level, the system is self sustaining.

gravel replaced, water tubes cleared and seedlings planted

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 71