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a blue barrel containing dried and fresh weeds hooked up to a growing bed using the leachate.

 
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I cycle water around the bed and up to the barrel and the leachate comes out, drips into a 5 gallon bucket and   is sent in  pipes to the plants, drips onto the bed and excess water drains back into the 5 gallon bucket.   So we have a strange mixture of  compost tea,  and the returns from the plants in the 5 gallon bucket.    Plants send chemicals into the soil to (hopefully) benefit bacteria that will help the plants, and some of these chemicals are probably draining back into the 5 gallon bucket.  Plant, I think, even put sugars into the soil to help their favorite bacteria and fungi and maybe some of those get back in the bucket too,  and if the get into the bucket, they will also be sent up to the 50 gallon barrel of weeds!      . It has been working 6 weeks and the water/leachate is still "straw colored".  It never went black and I think that is because the plants are absorbing what they need from the leachate.  About 1/3 of my growing bed in heavy clay soil and the rest of it is stucco sand.  The tomatoes growing in it are doing fairly well and I have just started harvesting them.  
   
 
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are the tomato plants your are growing so yellow because they aren't getting enough of a nutrient or because the roots are a little bit too warm in your raised beds? also are you testing the ph of your leachate? love the compost leachate idea. a little bit of a mosquito dunk will kill all the mosquito  larvae without harming the plants. of course, a 25 cent goldfish will also kill the mosquito larvae without harming the plants.
More interesting Permaculture articles
https://EatTheSand.com
 
Brian White
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I thought most of my tomatoes were doing well, just the 2 at the far end seem a bit off!  There's at least 3 different kinds growing there, some have really green unripe tomatoes and some have greeny yellow unripe tomatoes.  They seem to alternate down the line.     Given that most of them are growing in pure sand,  it's not bad.   I generally don't use any fertilizer,  that way,  I can see if  new  things are having an effect.   Suppose I just go down to the store and buy some granular 18 6 12 and just start tossing it among my plants.  Everything will probably grow great and it's really easy.  But somehow, it feels like cheating and I wouldn't feel right about posting in a permaculture forum.     This project is purely to see if it works at all. So far, the tomatoes have done well,  the watercress has almost vanished (I thought it would love this environment)  and chard, evening primrose and mallow have not thrived. It's been a very big drought this year so I have very little in the actual ground because my water bill would be enormous. I'm probably going to change the setup to eliminate the mosquitoes or maybe to still allow them to lay eggs but with a screen 1/4 way down so there will be a daily drowning of mozzie larvae.  (They eat bacteria and crap out stuff that is probably useful to the plants).  Also,  I read years ago in a Polish book that mosquitos were a huge mover of minerals in the nutrient poor Taiga forest.  (The minerals in blood).   So if I can use them to add nutrients to my plants,  that's good.   I didn't check the ph.  Maybe I will do it next week.  We are having a gardening club tour on Sunday so I have to tidy up everything and show how my airlift pump works.  
 
Brian White
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I think I have another way of killing the mosquito larvae.   The ideal situation is for them to lay their eggs and  for the larvae to die a couple of days later.  I'll show pics if it works. I put in 2 small holes in the bucket near the bottom, and set up the 2 airlift pumps outside the bucket.   I am putting a removable mosquito  screen about 5 inches down in the bucket,  The hatched larvae can get through it,  but after a few molts, they will either get stuck above it and desiccate as the water level drops during the day,  or get stuck below it and drown as the water level rises when I fill up the bucket.    

chrissy bauman wrote:are the tomato plants your are growing so yellow because they aren't getting enough of a nutrient or because the roots are a little bit too warm in your raised beds? also are you testing the ph of your leachate? love the compost leachate idea. a little bit of a mosquito dunk will kill all the mosquito  larvae without harming the plants. of course, a 25 cent goldfish will also kill the mosquito larvae without harming the plants.
More interesting Permaculture articles
https://EatTheSand.com

 
Brian White
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Brian White wrote: I think I have another way of killing the mosquito larvae.   The ideal situation is for them to lay their eggs and  for the larvae to die a couple of days later.  I'll show pics if it works. I put in 2 small holes in the bucket near the bottom, and set up the 2 airlift pumps outside the bucket.   I am putting a removable mosquito  screen about 5 inches down in the bucket,  The hatched larvae can get through it,  but after a few molts, they will either get stuck above it and desiccate as the water level drops during the day,  or get stuck below it and drown as the water level rises when I fill up the bucket.    

chrissy bauman wrote:are the tomato plants your are growing so yellow because they aren't getting enough of a nutrient or because the roots are a little bit too warm in your raised beds? also are you testing the ph of your leachate? love the compost leachate idea. a little bit of a mosquito dunk will kill all the mosquito  larvae without harming the plants. of course, a 25 cent goldfish will also kill the mosquito larvae without harming the plants.
More interesting Permaculture articles
https://EatTheSand.com


So my mosquito net a couple of inches below the water level worked like a charm in the experiment with plants in pots being watered by the system.   No more mosquitos in the water. BUT,  the water is no longer straw coloured,  its murky brown and starting to smell a bit.  I guess the mosquito larvae were doing some good by eating  the bacteria and organic matter and keeping the water fresher looking.  There are also "rat tailed maggots" in the water now,  (These are the ones with the snorkel tails that live in foul water and grow up to be flies that mimic wasps).   I bought a PH meter and it came yesterday,  I measured the ph of the murky water,  and it's about 6.5.  My fish pond is around PH 8 and also my aquarium with fairy shrimps in it is PH 8.  The tomato system from the big blue barrel still has straw coloured water and it is PH about 6.5 But when I measure the PH of the airlifted water in the piece of white plastic pipe that acts as a boar scare,  it is PH 7.8 or 8 too!   So,  the airlifting maybe removes some CO2 from the water?   It amazes me that it can change the PH by a full point or more!  
 
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