aquaponics / how to / veggie garden

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

AKA Stage 2 of the aquaponics system

I think if I stood in one place long enough, I would be picked up, modified and made into a useful piece of the aquaponics system. It has been a mere four weeks and the changes in the backyard are extraordinary, and on a daily basis I am amazed at how Chris has re-engineered old and new things to bring more growing power online.

The latest addition is our attempt at NFT which is one of the three growing platforms that can be used in an aquaponic system. NFT is probably more at home in hydroponics, where nutrient rich water is passed along a small enclosed gutter, into which are embedded small grow baskets. I think it is not as popular in aquaponic circles, because, if used in isolation, you would have problems with solids building up in the pipes. As we have this in parallel with the grow beds, our theory is that the solids will mostly settle out in the sump and the grow beds, leaving the water for the NFT system relatively clear. That is the hope.

We costed the channels and paraphernalia for a ‘store bought’ system, but Chris has decided to go with normal plumbing pipes, some black-poly tubing, small in-line taps, and all manner of wood bits and bracing from previous garden structures. It ain’t pretty, but my word it is working a treat!!

So far he has two ‘U’s up and running, with two more planned. These are being run off a small pump in the sump, and only during the day—we figure that the plants don’t transpire and grow at night time, so we don’t have to keep the water circulating 24/7.

Inside each mini-basket, that sits snugly into the tubes, sits a piece of rock-wool, and into that is sewn a tiny seedling. The rock-wool offers both stability for the seedling and acts as a wicking material to ensure that the tender roots stay moist.

So far we have several lettuce and purple broccoli seedlings coming on, and we have decided to give the Asian Greens another guernsey, with the introduction of some bok-choy and pak-choy. Progress photos and updates as we go 🙂

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