The grow bed is almost finished

Today we installed the grow bed liner, insulation, pump, and some of the plumbing.  Actually, my wife’s cousin, TJ, did all the work (Thank you TJ!).  I just took pictures and got in his way.

The main challenge today was the fact that the grow bed is right next to the fence, so there is nowhere to stand on that side of the grow bed.  This made stapling the liner to the two-by-four a little difficult.

Two 1′ x 8′ and one 1′ x 2′ DOW blue boards were placed on the fence side of the grow bed and then two 2′ x 8′ and one 2′ x 4′ blue boards were placed on the floor.  The blue boards on the floor of the bed are designed to hold up to 60 lbs per square inch.  Yes, this is a little overkill, I know, but we wanted to be prepared in case someone mistakenly steps or falls into the grow bed.  Replacing these pieces of insulation after the grow bed is filled with water and operational would be a pain in the rump.

The liner was rolled out over the grow bed…

…and cut with a box cutter so about two to three feet was overhanging both ends.

Then the liner was positioned so it was even with the outside of the two-by-fours and stapled with a hammer tacker (aka, a “slammer”).

Then the rest of the blue boards were installed on the floor and side of the grow bed.

This is what it looks like under the liner.  The sides and the floor are now insulated with 2″ blue board.  Later we will add insulation to the ends of the grow bed, but it will be placed on the outside.  I did not want to lose four more inches of growing space by adding it to the inside.

All of this insulation should help keep the water warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Next, the wrinkles in the liner were smoothed out…

 …and the liner was aligned with the two-by-fours…

… and stapled in place.

Another challenge today was getting the liner to fit neatly into the end of the grow bed.  It bunched up, wrinkled, and folded in all the wrong places.  Overall, the liner was immensely uncooperative.

After watching the Trough Videos on Friendly Aquaponics’ website, the excess liner was cut off and a few strategically located cuts were made.  Then it all started to fall into place.

Here’s TJ stapling the liner to the end of the grow bed as one of his beautiful daughters admired his handiwork.

Then he folded the corners like a birthday present…

…and stapled the rest of the liner to the grow bed and trimmed the excess liner off.

After repeating the steps for the other end, we finally have a lined grow bed.

Beautiful, isn’t it?  Now we need some plumbing…

After installing a bulk-head fitting in the end of the grow bed, the PVC pipes, fittings, and pump were connected together.  Then most of the PVC pipe was run to the back of the fish tank, but then we ran out of PVC.

Tomorrow, we will purchase more PVC pipe and 1″ x 4″ lumber to trim out the grow bed.  Then we will cut a hole in the fish tank and install a bulk-head fitting, finish off the PVC pipe that runs to the fish tank, and then run some PVC pipe from the fish tank to the other end of the grow bed.

When it is all finished, the water in the fish tank will flow by gravity to the far end of the grow bed.  Then the water will flow through the grow bed, to the pump, and then back up to the back of the fish tank.

I love it when a plan comes together.

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5 Responses to The grow bed is almost finished

  1. Emily Siegel says:

    what did you use for the bed liner?

  2. Mike Smullin says:

    do you think it would be possible to make a fish tank the same way you made the grow bed? do you have any pictures of the framing–would it be strong enough? is the flow of water ok with that setup? i am leaning towards the 4″ PVC pipe with dixie cups for the deep/water beds. i also want to try gravel beds and barrel potatoes. i like your ideas of using a natural sanitation crew; worms can also perform that function in gravel beds. have you thought of a swirl/whirlpool filter for inedible things like sediment/silicate? thanks for sharing your results with the world.

  3. Todd says:

    Link is bad to liner, couldn’t fin it on the website. Is it food-safe?

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