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SFG wicking boxes

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Post  walshevak 12/29/2010, 7:08 am

davidclubb wrote:There's more than one way to skin a cat. The way I do it is by building two SF boxes, using 2 x 6 lumber, then using plywood as the bottom on both. The reservoir box is on the bottom, and I've lined it with 40 mil PVC shower liner, and I use a tube of construction adhesive. Then I put the SF box on top, and drill out a 6 inch hole within each square foot, making sixteen 6 inch holes for the baskets. The baskets are made with hardware cloth with 1/2 inch spacing. For the fill tube a 2 inch hole will suffice. You can also install a "flapper" style float valve, and attach the fill line with hose adapter. With the fill line and adapter, you can attach a garden hose and completely automate the watering process in the wicking reservoir. Hope this helps. Let us know how it works.

4x4x6 is what I originally thought, but then I got the free lumber. Do your think the 4x4x2 will provide provide enough water, especially since I often take off for a week to visit my kids. And I was trying to avoid a plywood bottom for the actual garden because of weight. I'm not able to wrestle stuff like I used to. Will check out the pricing of shower liner as well.
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Post  boffer 12/29/2010, 10:52 am

walshevak wrote:Hey Boffer,
A newbie to SFG here planning my first set of boxes. I have materials for 6 4x4x6 boxes that I hope to construct into table tops over the next few weeks. I plan to use your hardware cloth bottoms.
I'm sure you'll love 'em. One additional idea to consider is putting plastic on top of the weedblock. Wardinwake in Virginia was having trouble with too much evaporation on the bottom side, and is re-doing a couple boxes with the plastic. I'm thinking your weather is more like his than mine.


Now I have a question about the wicking boxes. I was given enough gently used 2X4s and plywood to make 3 4x4 boxes. (almost new material) If I lined them with pond liner, would this be deep enough and provide enough water for self wicking boxes?
Yes it would. How long could you go between fill-ups is anybody's guess. You could do an experiment this summer by stacking two boxes to make a deep box, and then comparing it's performance to that of the single box.


I have always saved my worn out pantyhose and knee high hose to use as ties and supports for plants. Do you think I could stuff them with Mel's Mix and fasten to the hardware cloth to use as wicking?
Am I correctly understanding that you want to use nylons as the baskets? It's worth a try!


We're all still learning about these SFG wicking boxes. Be sure to keep us updated on your progress, what works and what doesn't, etc.


C'mon Spring!
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Post  davidclubb 12/29/2010, 1:29 pm

If you want to get technical with the wicking box, there is 231 cubic inches in one gallon and 1728 cubic inches in a cubic foot, which means there is almost 7.5 gallons in one cubic foot.
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Post  Furbalsmom 12/29/2010, 5:58 pm

davidclubb wrote:A 4 ft x 4 ft x 6 inch box will hold a little more than 50 gallons of water. So, it stands to reason that 2 inches deep will hold approximately 15 to 17 gallons of water. Mel's Mix requires (at an educated guess) as much as two gallons of water per day. So you may want to build your reservoir using plywood and 2 x 6. Ultimately, it is your judgment.

Because Walshevak's freebie wood is 2 in X 4 in she could fill the reservoir box 3 inches and still have a one inch air space between the water and the bottom of the growing box. Sounds like more than enough water for a week or ten days.
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Post  davidclubb 1/3/2011, 9:37 am

Does anyone have any suggestions on where to find the "baskets" for the wicking box. Currently, I am building mine by hand, using hardware cloth. It is time consuming, so I am looking for a faster way to assemble mine. Please help. Thanks.
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Post  boffer 1/3/2011, 11:29 am

3 lb. plastic coffee cans with fifty 1/4 inch holes drilled in them.
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Post  davidclubb 1/4/2011, 10:06 am

Went to Lowe's yesterday, and discovered an easy way to make my baskets. I'm now using a sediment shield, which is used on a corrugated perforated backfill pipe. It's made of nylon, and you cut it to length, tie a knot in the end and staple it inside your sfg. It only costs $7.00 for a 100 ft tube.
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Post  davidclubb 1/15/2011, 9:35 pm

I just rebuilt my first sfg, and converted it to a wicking box, using a flapper style float valve to automate the watering process. This is the type of valve with the float mechanism built into the flapper. There is a problem, however, with the setup, because it does not stop filling the reservoir. This eventually causes the water to overflow between the plywood bottom of the sfg and the reservoir sides. If anyone has any suggestions on how to redesign this setup, please let me know.
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Post  camprn 1/15/2011, 9:42 pm

David, is there a reason you cannot manually fill the reservoir once or twice a week?
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Post  davidclubb 1/15/2011, 10:32 pm

Not really, but I'm working on commercial experiment that allows me to automate the watering process. My plans are to contribute to a community gardening project, and would like to perfect the wicking system with a low pressure float valve that shuts off when I want it to.
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Post  boffer 1/15/2011, 11:17 pm

First guess is that the float isn't rising high enough to close the valve.

An installation picture might help generate some ideas. So would the brand and model number of the float valve assembly.
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Post  davidclubb 1/16/2011, 3:07 am

I wish I had paid attention to the brand name. The float valve I'm using does not use a ball and lever. It resembles the big flapper that you see in the bottom of the tank (You know. The flapper that closes the big hole in the center?) This style of float has the float assembly built inside the flapper. It is controlled by water pressure. So, this style of float depends on being deep enough in the water to turn off the flow. So, based on that, I have seen that the 5 1/2 inches is not deep enough for this style to work. I need some other ideas to make the automated watering system work without any hitches. Any suggestions are welcome from anyone with experience in plumbing, SFG, landscaping, sprinkler systems or any related occupation. Thanks to anyone who can help with my experiment.
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Post  Odd Duck 1/17/2011, 11:50 am

I know they make small float and arm type assemblies that would work for this. Sorry I don't have specific suggestions, I just know the DH got something from a box hardware store when he set up my RO filter.

I've seen the same type set-up on a system I read up on at . . hmm, was it urbangardener.com? Let me see if I can find the link, give me a few minutes.

Nope, global buckets was where I found the vids (I think I followed a link from an urbangreen website).

http://www.globalbuckets.org/

Just look at the videos that go down the right side - the last 2 are the autowater system and shows the float valve. There are other websites, too, but this was one of the better videos and instructions I found since these boys are doing it for profit. The other videos seem to hold back a bit since they want to sell you parts/instructions, etc.
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Post  miinva 1/17/2011, 12:44 pm

Wow, that is so cool! I foresee my son and husband building a couple of bucket gardens Smile My husband has been thinking on a way to water our SFG's that doesn't involve me spending 30-40 minutes per day in the garden (which I don't mind doing, but don't always have to time to do), so maybe this will help to get the wheels turning.
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Post  Odd Duck 1/17/2011, 12:55 pm

Here's another, more elaborate set-up that would be pretty easy to imitate. I'll warn you, this site may be more aimed at growing a not so legal plant! You'd be amazed at what you'll find when you're searching hydroponics and aeroponics! Shocked

http://www.stealthhydroponics.com/product.php?xProd=100&xSec=34

This page also shows the float valve I'm talking about when you scroll about 2/3 of the way down the page.
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Post  davidclubb 1/17/2011, 9:50 pm

OH! Happy day! We finally rebuilt our first sfg, using the wicking method. We planted thyme, oregano, broccoli, lettuce, parsley, beets, sweet peas and green onions. I am so excited to see how it all grows now.
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Post  Furbalsmom 1/17/2011, 10:53 pm

Congratulations on getting your new SFG planted. Once you figure out the auto-watering feature, you can just sit back and listen to the garden grow.
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Post  davidclubb 1/17/2011, 11:02 pm

The automatic watering thing is only an experiment for when I'm ready for my community gardening project. That part has proven to be a challenge for me.
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Post  davidclubb 1/17/2011, 11:37 pm

Currently, the fill valve I am using is Plumb Pak Ballcock Hush Valve. Anti-Siphon. If you go to Lowes.com and search for fill valves, you will see a picture of it about 2/3 down the page. The problem I am encountering with this particular valve is failure to cut off the water supply. There is a control knob on the top of the valve. The knob controls how deep the water rises above the fill valve. The water overflows between the reservoir layer and sfg layer. Currently I am checking Home Depot's website, and have found a flapperless fill valve for less than $10. It has an arm and float assembly, which I believe does not require much clearance above to shut off the water supply.
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Post  Odd Duck 1/18/2011, 12:55 pm

I have never ordered from this site and can't tell you anything about quality of the product or service of the site, but a quick search showed me this for a great price.

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=23623&catid=569

Or maybe this

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Giant-Float-Valve-599085/dp/B000BOATQA/ref=sr_1_5?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1295373616&sr=1-5

Lots of options out there once you step outside the box store.
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Post  davidclubb 1/18/2011, 6:11 pm

Excellelnt! TYVM. Maybe you could offer some advice on how to select the right one for the job.
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Post  Odd Duck 1/18/2011, 7:03 pm

Hah, now you're really beyond my expertise! Very Happy I only know how to google! I would look for one that comes with it's own bulkhead type fitting and fittings that join to some tubing to hook into a water source. I think some of the float valves I saw had tubing listed, but I really didn't read that closely. I searched "float valves", then picked "mini float valves" once I was to a page/site because I saw that the regular ones were priced much higher than what you would want (some were over $300.00!). I don't think you need much flow for something like that, just enough to slowly top off your system.

Good luck! Maybe one of our resident engineers could help you more?
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Post  barmstr 1/18/2011, 10:05 pm

Head down to the local farm supply house and ask for a pan that hold water for dogs, cats, goats, etc that self fills from a water outlet on the house. Look inside and you will see a very simple valve with a float. Use that kind of valve.

Also, remember with self wicking boxes, you MUST have 1 inch of clearance (no less) between the bottom of the dirt and the top of the water. Just thought of this - Go to earthboxes web site and see their water shutoff valves. Youi maybe able to adapt this or just get some ideas.

Just did a quick float valve Google check. You may want to look at a pond float valve. Here is the link to a valve:
Pond Float Valve.

What did you line the box with that hold the water?

Good Luck,
Bruce
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Post  miinva 2/1/2011, 12:37 pm

Boffer, do you have any pictures you can share? It's hot here in the summer and we're trying to conserve water so I'd like to do wicking boxes where possible, instead of just putting in a watering system.
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Post  Blackrose 2/1/2011, 1:11 pm

miinva wrote:Boffer, do you have any pictures you can share? It's hot here in the summer and we're trying to conserve water so I'd like to do wicking boxes where possible, instead of just putting in a watering system.

If you go back to the beginning of this thread, boffer did post some pictures of his SFG wicking box. sunny
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