Archives for February 2013

Barrelponics and Hydroponics – What’s the Difference?

Barrel-ponicsWhat is the difference between hydroponics and Barrelponics?  Really, there is no difference.  In fact they are the same thing.  The only thing that makes them different is the name Barrelponics which was coined by Travis Hughey in 2005.

Essentially, Barrelponics uses what could probably be considered as the least expensive materials one could obtain to build the finished system.  To start with Travis recommends using 55 gallon plastic drums for all of the water containment in the system.  As long as you have a source for these, they are a great choice for someone wanting to build a hydroponics system cheap.  The only thing you really need to be sure of is whether or not the plastic barrels are going to be food safe.  It would be a shame to build one of these out of plastic barrels that essentially leech toxins into your system.

Where can you find plastic barrels suitable for a Barrelponics system?  The first place to start would be any company that deal directly with packaging food.  Consider a ketchup manufacturing company for example.  They may very well use plastic barrels of vinegar as part of their processing.  Another great source might be a winery or an olive packaging company.

All in all Travis has assembled a working system.  If you take a look at the Barrelponics PDF file Travis gives away as instructions for building a system like his, there are some things you can do to modify your own system.  Basically all of the plumbing would stay the same, but you could dress up the system by making wooden containers much like Kijani Grows makes.

Kijani GrowsNot everyone might like the aesthetics of plastic barrels as a hydroponics system which is why using wood for the grow boxes might actually be a more pleasing look.  The outside could be stained and lacquered while the inside could be waterproofed with a coating like Pond Shield.

While Travis’ system essentially is controlled by what appears to be a more mechanical means using floats and valves that are assembled to work with one another based off of the current state of the system itself, a system like those built by Kijani Grows utilize a more computerized way of maintenance.  Either will work.  You would just have to decide at the start which way you would like to go with your system.

The final thing that I did notice between the Barrelponics system and the Kijani Grows system is that the Kijani Grows system seems a little less complicated in the end.  If you take a look at the materials list for each system Kijani Grows system just uses less material to construct.  Because of this, it very well may be cheaper to put together in the end.

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3 Things to Look for In a Quality Epoxy Sealer

I get a lot of calls each day from people asking me about Pond Shield epoxy.  I receive questions about almost anything but the one thing the majority of them have in common is whether or not Pond Shield epoxy is the right product for the project in question.  So I will try and clear some of that up for you here by giving you three things to look for in a quality epoxy sealer.

As long as your project is sturdy in construction there is no reason why an epoxy sealer will not work for you.  The biggest problem though is that most people do not understand what makes a good, quality sealer.  Knowing that puts a pond builder that much closer to finishing a successful pond.

The first thing you need to find out is whether the sealer is designed for under water use.  This is probably the most important thing to find out.  An epoxy sealer that is meant to just provide nominal sealing to the surface applied does not mean that the epoxy or the bond will not break down after being subjected to an under water environment.  You would be surprised how many epoxies there are on the market today that cannot stand up to the punishment of an underwater service environment.

The second thing to consider is how much of the epoxy is made up of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  For lack of a better analogy, these are the amounts and types of solvents that are present in the epoxy sealer.  What happens with these volatile organic compounds is they will evaporate from the epoxy as the sealer cures.  Guess what happens when that evaporation takes place?  The coating can lose some of its body and can shrink.  The problem with shrinking is that if you are counting on the sealer to waterproof the surface applied, there can be repercussions if that coating surface diminishes after it has cured, especially in joint areas.

Finally, you have to consider how a sealer works.  A proper coating is not just applied like paint.  What I mean by that is when you apply a coating you are not just putting whatever color you chose onto the pond surface.  Because of this, you have to consider the minimum application thickness of the coating after it has been applied.  The reason there is a minimum thickness is because the sealer is going to be put under very specific stresses and has to be thick enough to take the punishment.  A mere 2 mil thick sealer, just is not going to withstand the forces placed against it and the pond will have problems.  Sometime people ask if they can stretch a kit that covers 60 square feet to 65 square feet.  The answer is no because if the kit is stretched to cover more area than it is intended to cover, then somewhere the coating is not going to be at the recommended minimum thickness and that area will have problems.

So keep these basics in mind when you are getting ready to coat your pond or water feature.  You will find that following the basic rules of coating will give you a much better outcome and greater chances of a successful project.

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