My husband, single-highhandedly, put up our first greenhouse!
Originally our system was designed from an old fiberglass pontoon boat. Our idea was to use one pontoon for the fish tank and the other for the grow bed making a 1:1 ratio for filtration and cleaning power. But once the earth moving equipment came all that changed. I had talked to someone on the phone that morning about his system and he insisted we should put the fish tank in the ground. There's a number of reasons for this, but ours was simple...if the system went down all the water would drain into the fish tank...one of the things also recommended by Auburn University.
So I asked the guys if they'd mind digging us a hole. And so they did...one that's about 5' deep and about 25' long and nearly 8 ' across. Approximately 5000 gallons of water...we didn't know it at the time, but we'd never have enough grow beds to keep it clean.
One thing we learned the first winter, about having your tank in the ground, is that it creates a heat sink...we should have insulated it!
The way our original system works is about as simple as it gets. The fish water is pumped into the grow beds for 15 minutes every hour and then drains back into the pond. So our first three grow beds (we got another boat) came from pontoon boats...and they work fantastically. But one thing we learned...always put in bigger drains. You can see the tiny drain in the picture above...which is still there, they just have to be cleaned out ever so often.
Plants just love this system! Barrels are easy to find, just make sure you clean them thoroughly...we always get food grade barrels and Lloyd still washes them out three times. I planted 8 rattlesnake beans in one of these barrels one year. It seemed the more I picked the more they grew! I was getting 5lbs every two days! I have one can left in my pantry...that was two years ago!
We call this the banana boat because it was big and yellow and we thought banana's would love to grow in it...they didn't. They love those blue barrels standing upright! But surprise surprise, the citrus loves it! This pontoon is super huge: 35' long and 4' deep. Lloyd had to bury it two feet deep.