Barrel Growbeds: DIY AquaPonics View the slideshow to see the evolution of the construction of my system.
Barrel growbeds are the feature of my second line in my greenhouse.
Barrel growbeds in all it's variations is probably the most used DIY AquaPonics technique world wide, much promoted by Travis W. Hughey on his Barrelponics forum.
Travis W. Hughey was the first person to make growbeds out of plastic barrels. He is one of the real pioneers of AquaPonics -see the links page. It is to Travis that I owe my introduction to AquaPonics.
see the links page for more info on Travis W. Hughey and his Barrelponics forum.
Used plastic barrels are cheap (they used to be free) an the ideal starting point for a DIY AquaPonics system.
As you can see on the drawings on the left, they can be cut in two different ways: cut lenghthwise, you are left with two half cylinders, cut the other way, you are left with two bottoms.
The main drawback of barrels is they need a lot of piping: each individual growbed needs it's own.
Growbeds are filled with media to grow the plants in. These media serve a quintuple purpose: - to serve as support for the plants. - to ensure nutrients to be accessible to plant roots. - to ensure oxygen to be accessible to plant roots. - to aerate the water flowing back to the fish tank. - to ensure biofiltration and nitrification to make the water reuseable for the fish.
To achieve all this, flood and drain is the preferred method.
See the "flood and drain" page in the menu for more info.
I chose for barrel bottoms, as they give a constant depth and need a less complex support: being flat bottomed, they will rest on every horizontal surface. But I lose planting surface (can't win them all).
The constant depth enhances the biofiltration capacities: 10 mm fill in a bottom gives more biofiltration volume and surface than 10 mm fill in a half cylinder.