Friday, January 1, 2010

How To Make a Grow Bed (PART 7 - Wood Protection and Appearance)

This is it, the final instruction for building a functional grow bed for a large aquaponic system. By this point you should have a functioning grow bed. This instruction will show you how to make it look a little better by adding trim and the do's and do not's of using wood protection. Lets start with the trim.

ADDING WOOD TRIM
In a previous instruction I said to wait until the grow bed was functioning before adding trim. The reason is you want trim to cover up ugly spots without getting in the way of the grow beds functionality. So now it is easier to see where to put extra trim and where you won't want it.

There are some benefits to adding wood trim
1. Covers hardware
2. Attractive
3. Covers corner joints
4. Covers seams
5. Helps secure unconnected areas
6. Hides unsightly construction



When adding trim to your grow bed there are no set rules. The only thing I recommend, and I stated it in a previous instruction, is that you want at least on piece to connect all the 2x4's on a side. This will help keep them from separating and help keep the sides from bowing out when full.

Here you can see an area that would benefit from trim...



Here is the pattern I chose for my grow bed. It adds a lot of strength to the sides because there are three trim boards connecting all the side 2x4's.




WOOD PROTECTION
I would almost recommend staying away from wood protection because of the chemicals that can make there way from the wood into your pond. However, we are dealing with water and wood, the two are not very compatible. If you don't protect the wood, expect dry rot. The decision is yours and I would never tell anyone to use any chemicals for this project. You can add a clear plastic canopy to act as a greenhouse that will protect from rain, as an alternative.

When using chemical wood protection it is important to keep it out of the water supply to your pond. This might lead you into thinking it's best to protect the wood ahead of time, which is a bad idea. Not only will you get the stuff all over yourself when handling the bed, you will transfer it over to anything else you touch. It can easily make its way into the pond water.

So now is the time to do it, but be very careful of splashing it and from dripping it. Take your time and move slowly.

One mistake I made, which is the ultimate reason I didn't get my fish in time before winter started, was to apply the protection the day before it rained, about 12 hours before to be exact. What happened? The rain washed the, still wet, chemicals directly into the pond water. I spent hours trying to skim it off the top and ended up draining about half of my water. It took about 2 weeks before I couldn't see any traces of it. Luckily no goldfish died, but I am sure they didn't like it.

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