View Full Version : Self watering grow troughs

11-22-2012, 05:46 AM
My buddy lives just outside of town. He had an empty shade house 'just sitting there.' It was too much of a temptation, so I said something to him about it. He did want to start using it again.

I had already helped his brother set up an aquaponic system. He was impressed with it, and eventually we'll build one in the shade house. Time was going by quickly and I wanted to get something in there for our cool weather growing season. This seemed to be the easiest and quickest to build.

This build is similar to Stucco's wicking worm beds, as it uses the 'wicking principle.' If your interested in this, a search for Larry Hall on you tube will lead you to some interesting videos.

The shade house is 30 x 50 feet. It needs a little TLC. He had running water in it (of course), but no electric. Which was another reason not to start the aquaponics setup right away.


I built 2 troughs that are 2 feet wide and 16 feet long. I lined them with some thin liner that I bought at a local hydroponic store. The pots and bags are sitting in about an inch of water.


I ordered the float valves from US Plastic. These have adjustable floats, which came in handy for getting the depth correct.


The valves are threaded, like a bulkhead. They would work for going through something very thin. But, I was trying to go through a pice of wood that was 5/8 ths of an inch thick. The valve's thread was long enough to go through the wood. Problem was, that the threads are actually pipe threads and I needed enough threads to get a male adapter on there too. So I ended up installing a 1/2 inch bulkhead to get into the trough.


About a week after I installed them, I had the thought...Why didn't I just run the pipe up and over the edge and then down into the trough ? A few extra 1/2 pvc 90's would of been cheaper then a bulkhead. Oh well.. :roll: ....next time.

I bought different stuff and made my own potting soil. I used some bat guano, organic fertilizers, azomite and some lime in the mix. The plants have been in this for about 3 weeks and they seem pretty happy....even the tomatoes that I 'tore' apart. I had a few small pots with 2 or 3 tomato plants in them. They were pretty big plants and the roots were in a giant knot, but even those seem to be over their shock. Too bad that our weather has been pretty cool for the last week or so. Cool for FL anyway... :P

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it so far. Even though I went the better part of a week without stopping by, the system was chugging along... :D

11-22-2012, 11:32 AM
Very cool. Does the pipe bring in fresh tap water or does it bring water from an AP system somewhere not visible above?

11-22-2012, 01:03 PM
This set up is using his well water.

In the future, when we get an AP set up, I'll remove the float valves, and then ap water will flow through them, just like the ones I posted about in my other thread...
New work @ Sahib Aquaponics (http://www.diyaquaponics.com/forum/showthread.php?1333-New-work-Sahib-Aquaponics/page2)

11-22-2012, 05:00 PM
Excellent design. You should start a consulting biz. That's a very innovative designs; I really like it! :-)

11-22-2012, 05:56 PM
Thanks UF... :)
I've been interested in the self watering/wicking idea since Stucco showed his beds. After seeing Larry Halls idea(s), just had to figure out a way to use AP water too.

The troughs in the above pictures...I have added a little ap water to them.

11-27-2012, 06:17 PM
The project looks good. You used what you had to work with and I'm sure it'll get better as time goes on. Good job

11-28-2012, 04:46 AM
Thanks NeverResting , I stopped by there yesterday. Things are really taking off. It's nice not having to be there 'every day' just to water.