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Celt’s Cavern Of Chaos

The Celt

Well-Known Member
Morning friends,

I’ve decided to start a perpetual journal to cover my grows and experimentation. It won’t be my last (or only) journal, just an ongoing one.

Welcome to my Chaos, and if you could see my grow room at the moment, it’s much like my mind, chaos to an outside observer, but normalcy for me :19:

I’ll start with a little back story to help with understanding why I approach things the way I do. I started growing, and using, cannabis six years ago for medical reasons. Until this year, I have always grown in LOS (living organic soil) for 2 reasons:

#1 - I am a carpenter and engineer and until I took up growing cannabis, I had never grown a plant in my life, although I grew up with a grandfather who was a master gardener and at one time, the rose specialist at a local greenhouse.

#2 - I am a mountain man and gypsy by nature, given the choice, I would sooner live in the wild with my dog. Since I graduated with my engineering 20 years ago, the nature of my work has had me travel a great deal which means I don’t have the ability to tend plants, sometimes for weeks.

I chose the LOS route to satisfy the above concerns, simplicity and water only, whether family or Mother Nature.

I am also an efficiency nut so much of what I experiment with revolves around that and working towards a self sustaining/low maintenance grow, as well as making it easier (physically) for me to tend.

First, a shout out to friends here who might be interested and may offer interesting views into what I do :)

No particular order, just everyone I saw who visited my last journal:

@Weaselcracker @Modest grower @Fredwak @Hplar @PCaddict @Dankman_420 @Bob Loblaw @bluenoserjoe @Strainyourbrain @StoneOtter @InTheShed @StRoostifer @DutchinAB @GardeningGnome @Amy Gardner @NuttyProfessor @DonkeyDick @HashFart @Canadadoes @Pennywise @Kodiak420 @MrSauga @PE636 @Konks Dirt Empire

I hope a didn’t miss anybody :)

Now let’s get on with some of what I have been up to in preparation for this next round.

I upgraded to growing in a 4x8 tent about 3 years ago and also invested in 2 x 630w DE CMH lights. I love the lights but have cursed the tent pretty much since the day I set it up. As I maximize my grow space, it meant my 4x8 tent required an 8x10 space in order for me to access all the plants. This pretty much took up the 11x12 room I took over for growing in. This annoys me because it’s not an efficient use of the space I have.

This led to building a turn table setup for my plants, allowing me to put the tent in a corner and still be able to access all the plants from the front of the tent. There will be 2, one for each half the tent. I still have to build one for the LOS pots, the easy one, the hard one for RDWC is done.

That covers the intro, the RDWC setup will be coming in the next post.
 

The Celt

Well-Known Member
As promised, the first experiment is with RDWC but with a twist ;)

First, I will let you in on a secret, I have ZERO experience with hydroponics :19: the closest I have come to growing hydro was this year using Mega Crop in Hempy.

I have always been interested in hydro, but I have neither the time required to maintain hydro, nor am I willing to spend the money on nutrients and monitoring equipment.

A number of years ago, when I first joined this forum, AACTs (actively aerated compost tea) were much discussed and being hell bent on organics and other reasons, it took my interest. At some point, I had made the comment that it was food for the plants, much like bottled nutes, to which I was told that “NO it did NOT feed the plants, it fed the soil”. As I had no time to investigate further, I left the experts to their opinion and filed the thought away for future consideration.

A special shout-out to @13goody13 for growing a plant in his turtle pond water this summer, and bringing those thoughts back to the forefront again :thumb: :thanks:.

And now, with COVID and lack of work, I have the time to pursue the idea :)

So the basic concept is to make an AACT and use it to grow in DWC, succeed or fail, here we go :)

Being a mountain man, and because this is a proof of concept, I have built the majority of the system from things I had laying around and stuff repurposed from other projects. Out-of-pocket expenses to date are about $150, mostly plumbing parts and a few one-way aquarium valves I need.

I didn’t want to spend a lot on something that may or may not work :19:

Details of the build and the chaos it created in the next post, stay tuned ;)
 
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Justin Goody

New Member
As promised, the first experiment is with RDWC but with a twist ;)

First, I will let you in on a secret, I have ZERO experience with hydroponics :19: the closest I have come to growing hydro was this year using Mega Crop in Hempy.

I have always been interested in hydro, but I have neither the time required to maintain hydro, nor am I willing to spend the money on nutrients and monitoring equipment.

A number of years ago, when I first joined this forum, AACTs (actively aerated compost tea) were much discussed and being hell bent on organics and other reasons, it took my interest. At some point, I had made the comment that it was food for the plants, much like bottled nutes, to which I was told that “NO it did NOT feed the plants, it fed the soil”. As I had no time to investigate further, I left the experts to their opinion and filed the thought away for future consideration.

A special shout-out to @13goody13 for growing a plant in his turtle pond water this summer, and bringing those thoughts back to the forefront again :thumb: :thanks:.

And now, with COVID and lack of work, I have the time to pursue the idea :)

So the basic concept is to make an AACT and use it to grow in DWC, succeed or fail, here we go :)

Being a mountain man, and because this is a proof of concept, I have built the majority of the system from things I had laying around and stuff repurposed from other projects. Out-of-pocket expenses to date are about $150, mostly plumbing parts and a few one-way aquarium valves I need.

I didn’t want to spend a lot on something that may or may not work :19:

Details of the build and the chaos it created in the next post, stay tuned ;)
I do love science and experiments. And you're right, while we are "stuck" inside, why not do more!
 

Fredwak

Well-Known Member
Hi Celt! I like your style. I've lived places where you had to make do with what you had and experienced great satisfaction in doing so. In short, I'm in! Let's all get..
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.....and stay stoneder!
 

The Celt

Well-Known Member
Here is the build guys, not entirely what I envisioned, but what I was able to build using what I had on hand and will work to run this experiment.

Neglecting the turntable, it being a simple project, here is the parts list of things used:

55gal plastic drum
4 - 5gal buckets
1950 gal/hr submersible pump
1 1/4” hose
1/2” and 3/4” pvc pipe
misc fittings
3/4 form plywood

Remember the chaos? The following pics of the build are quite tame compared to the rest of the grow room at present :19:

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so here is how it all works:

there is a 55gal drum sitting on the turn table in the middle. It’s been cut down to 28” with ~ 1.8gal or 6.8L per inch of depth. Around this, there are 4 - 5gal buckets with net pots. The middle shelf supports the buckets so that they are ~3” higher than the drum.

The top has a 20” hole cut over the drum. The cutout piece has a 22” round piece of SS attached to it to make a cover over the drum. This cover supports the plumbing which provided its own brand of chaos I’ll tell you about after the technical details :)

The plumbing is simple in concept, not so easy to put into reality.

The pump sits in the drum, pumping solution up a central column to a circuit below the cover, and one above the cover. In the circuit below the cover, solution gets pumped through a halo-ring with jets that spray back into the drum aerating it’s contents. The circuit above the cover pumps water to the 4 buckets which in turn, drain back into the drum.

Easy enough concept, not so easy to implement when I want to maintain levels in the buckets below the net pots when the drain is only 2” below the bucket top. This is where the chaos ensued;)

To achieve the required level which gravity drain can not provide, I needed a siphon drain. This keeps the level in the buckets at the same height as the level in the drum.

Word of CAUTION, when testing systems with high water flow, use water and not your grow solution, you are guaranteed to wear it at some point, I’ve had a few showers to date :19: your significant other is not apt to see the humour of you getting soaked when you smell of solutions gone septic or fermented solutions, the smell seems to dissolve their humour ;)

I’ve had 2 major issues to overcome in getting flows working properly and balanced.

The first was my jet sizing. I used a 1/16” drill to make my jets and some of the organic matter was getting caught in the ports blocking them, mostly in the halo-rings in the buckets. After a few trials and a couple of showers that left me and the basement smelling of sour milk, I finally opted to do away with halo-rings in the buckets and use just a single 1/4” jet for each bucket. This minimized plugging, but still happens occasionally which leads to the next issue: return flow.


Return flow requires it to be a siphon flow to keep the levels in the buckets below the net pots, and also to keep flooding for occurring, which happened over night :(

The problem occurs when a jet in a bucket plugs, flow out of the bucket stops. There is enough air being driven into the reservoir (drum) that bubbles get into the return lines to that bucket causing it to lose siphon. This becomes a problem when/if the jet clears itself, not only has the siphon broke, enough air builds up in the drain pipe to cause an airlock preventing the re-establishment of the siphon, as well as restricting the gravity draining action enough to cause overflow.

The one-way aquarium valves I ordered will solve this issue, but until then, I can’t leave the system running unattended.

Next Issue - What goes into making the solution :)
 

InTheShed

Member of the Year: 2018, 2020 - Grow Journal of the Year: 2020 - Member of the Month: Jan 2018, Nov 2018, Jan & Aug 2020 - Grow Journal of the Month: Aug 2018, Dec 2020 - Plant of the Month: Oct 2018

The Celt

Well-Known Member
This is what went into making my solution,

Blood meal, bone meal, kelp meal, Epsom salt, DE and hydrated lime were boiled in a few gallons of water which, when cooled, was put in a 5gal water jug with LABs and a airlock on top. Left more Han a few days and this will go septic, which mine did. Not a big problem, septic bacteria will break things down too and is not a concern. Once into the system and well aerated, the septic bacteria die off and/or get eaten by aerobic micros. The smell is obnoxious but only lasts a few hours once in the system.

Another issue was that once gone septic, the pH shoots for the moon, over 9. To compensate for this and make conditions more habitable for both aerobic micros and plants, I used pineapple and lemon juice to not only lower the pH (which btw I likely need to bring back up) but also provides carbon to boost aerobic microbe breeding. I also added molasses for potassium and carbon along with some worm castings once the pH lowered.

Right now, with the pH showing below 5 (pen needs calibrating) LABs are the dominate bacteria and the smell is a mix of raw LABs and pineapple juice :19:

Once I am able to run the system 24/7 for a few days without issues, and recalibrate my pH pen, I will readjust the pH to about 6.2 and add in more worm castings. I want to see smell change from sour to more earthy and the pH stabilize before I attempt plants in it :)

This, being an organic mix, it can not be monitored with traditional hydro methods like EC and TDS pens. As the nutrients are in the form of micro-organisms and not salts, ppm levels can not be measured by pens and other standards methods.

The 3 biggest concerns will be pH, temperatures and dissolved oxygen levels.

The pH we can monitor but for the most part, unless I see signs I need to adjust it, I am just going to monitor it out of curiosity in hopes that being organic, the plant will regulate the pH like it would in soil.

Temperature I will monitor and likely try to keep at 70F +/- 2. At warmer temperatures, microbe activity will be higher, but oxygen demand will also go up but warmer water also holds less oxygen.

I will be monitoring O2 levels, just not yet sure how. I can get test kits relatively cheap, but not until January and not sure I want to invest in a O2 sensor atm, they are not cheap. I am not overly concerned about O2 levels in this system but would still like to monitor them.

One thing that I can and will monitor, just not by conventional means, is TDS. I will monitor this more out of curiosity than concern. As there are no salt nutes, TDS is likely to be many times higher than it would be in other systems. Again, because there are no salts, EC/TDS pens won’t work.

To measure TDS in this case is actually quite simple:

Take a known volume sample of solution, say 100ml. Weigh the sample, as pure water, it will weigh 100g. The excess weight will tell you the ppm with a little math.

If the sample weighs 100.35g, 0.35g (350mg) is the weight of everything NOT water.

PPM is equal to mg/L (1000mg = 1 ml & 1000ml = 1 L)

Because we took a 100ml sample, we need to multiply the excess by 10 to determine the solids in 1 litre of solution giving us 3500mg/L or 3500ppm.

If anyone has suggestions on other things to monitor, let me know, if doable and doesn’t cost me an arm&leg, I will consider it :)
 

Bob Loblaw

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the heads up.

Is that center shelf gonna be able to support the weight once you get the pots filled up? It looks like you've room for a center leg under each bucket. Also the weight will make it harder to spin.

Speaking of spinning it, the outside branches are gonna have to be tucked in. Maybe a half circle guide around the backside so the branches don't spill out into the corners when you rotate... maybe not... if the branches get caught under the guide they will get torn off.

Sorry just thinking out loud again.
 

InTheShed

Member of the Year: 2018, 2020 - Grow Journal of the Year: 2020 - Member of the Month: Jan 2018, Nov 2018, Jan & Aug 2020 - Grow Journal of the Month: Aug 2018, Dec 2020 - Plant of the Month: Oct 2018
It's going to be an amazing journey to sit back and watch, as I'm sure I will have almost nothing of note to add other than agreeing with Bob:
Is that center shelf gonna be able to support the weight once you get the pots filled up?
That middle shelf already seems to have some pitch to it and you haven't even started yet!
 

The Celt

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the heads up.

Is that center shelf gonna be able to support the weight once you get the pots filled up? It looks like you've room for a center leg under each bucket. Also the weight will make it harder to spin.

Speaking of spinning it, the outside branches are gonna have to be tucked in. Maybe a half circle guide around the backside so the branches don't spill out into the corners when you rotate... maybe not... if the branches get caught under the guide they will get torn off.

Sorry just thinking out loud again.
Hey Bob, you are not wrong, 500lbs +/- does not turn easily lol but it does turn :) as for supporting the weight, ya it’s not a problem, form ply is much stronger than regular plywood and the weight isn’t being wholly supported by the plywood, there is an 1 1/4” angle brace, in the shape of a ’C’ under the shelf, attached to the leg and the turn table bottom. With all the weight of the system, the legs needed stiffening to keep from twisting when I turn things.
 
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