Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Problem Solved!

I went with the cheap and easy option - elbows! Found a neat little piece of conduit in the electrical department for the overflow ($3). Kinda looks like this:


Happened to have some 2" pipe and a 2" elbow, and had some leftover aquarium caulk.

So, I put in the piece I bought (middle), put in the 2" elbow (and a lot of caulk), had to move the pump outlet over a little (the pipe on the right was longer, so that the pump was centered in the skimmer) to make room for the previous two items (and added a lot of caulk), and voila!

Did all of this just in time for the 2.5" of rain we got yesterday. Now the pond is at an all-time high level, with probably an extra 300+ gallons in it from before.

Took the opportunity to update the veggie photos.
Broccoli looking really good. I cut a bunch of it already, fearing that I would somehow let it sit too long again and have it flower.

Tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, squash, etc.
Basil, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, etc.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Small Problem - Losing water on the drain cycle

OK, so flood/drain is definitely working out well for the plants, and I'm pretty sure that the fish like the bubbles when they kick on. It reminds me of Finding Nemo ... "bubbles!!!"

However, and this may be a problem unique to my set up, the cycling is causing me to lose water, and the equilibrium level of water is less than optimal. Here's what's happening...

In my pond, I have a skimmer with the pond pump at the bottom. The idea behind the skimmer is obvious - it allows you to catch stuff floating on the top before it sinks and then gets sucked into the pump. Now, whether that works as well as it should is another matter that I don't want to get into here. At the back of the skimmer is an outlet for the electrical cord from the pump to go underground to the outlet. There is also an overflow outlet that goes out the back, travels on a french-drain like gravelly-path to a small pit that I dug underground and lined with gravel and sand. This works quite well for keeping the pond from overflowing.

Here's the catch, though. While the pump is pumping, the 3 tubs with plants are filled with water. When the pump shuts off, that water drains out from the tubs and into the pond, raising the water level. When the water level reaches the overflow drain, the water flows out of the system.

I am most comfortable with the water level when it is just below the level of the drain, but as you can see, this is not currently possible for very long. Every time the tubs drain out and the water level comes up, I lose water until the maximum water level (when the pump is off) is below the overflow drain.

What I need is a way to automatically seal the overflow when the pump kicks off - or, better yet, seal the entrance to the skimmer. This way, the pond can handle the extra water, as there's plenty of space in the pond before it overflows.

If not that, I need to re-engineer my overflow so that it can somehow store the water while the pump is off and the level is higher until the pump kicks back on and it can handle the additional volume.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Just a quick update on the garden:

Things are growing quite well. I've got about 6 different heirloom tomatoes in, some broccoli that's starting to crown, strawberries, basil, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, and yellow squash. I'm using leftover 1/2" pvc as support for my tomatoes, which is nice, 'cause you can keep building on to it if you need more height. Other than that, I'm waiting for a call from Foster Lake and Pond about the tilapia. Should be sometime this month.

Oh yeah, I also replaced my water inlet piping, 'cause I had it going from the 1.5" feed lines down to 1/2" when I was trying a drip grid. The problem with 1/2" pipe is that it's the perfect size for hydroton to get stuck in. So, I got some 1.5" PVC. Shouldn't clog now!