Home made preserves - Success!

I forgot to take a photo of the finished home made preserve.

Then I remembered.

Also, I don't really have enormous teeth.

I cut the shapes out with a spoon for additional drama.

It didn't really work.

But the bits of ginger, and apricot did work.

Home made preserves - Introduction

As usual, I have no idea about how to make things like marmalade, so if you are new here, you might not know to wait for a bit to see if this works. This is more of an experiment than a recipe. So don't try this at home.

During my last drive in the country I visited my bee whisperer friend Buzzy. He likes to think his blackberry jam is a show stopper. In truth it's pretty good, but it isn't set enough and the seeds are a little too hard.

But while I was up that way I went to the Crystal Brook country show. A place where such shows a stopped by show stopping preserves. His wasn't entered, so didn't stop anything.

While we were staying at the bee whisperer's house, were were given a most amazing cake. It was a poppy seed cake with an orange, kind of toffee, glazey, gooey sauce.


My all time best cake eating experience ever.

They cooked it in front of me while we were chatting in the kitchen, but I didn't take any notice, because I had no idea it would actually be good. The sauce seemed to involve a lot of orange juice, and a lot of orange peel as grated zest, and I presume a stack of sugar.

I have a mandarin tree that is overloaded with fruit that didn't quite see enough water when they were forming, and as a result are a little dry. We are eating them daily, but there are so many they are starting to drop to the ground.

I was juicing some of the mandarins this morning to see if they made good juice. Not so good.

All these things, the fact that I'll soon have a stack of things like tomatoes from the aquaponics system, and my natural predisposition to try stuff "my way" before doing the research I should have done in the first place, have led me to the following conclusion.

I'm going to make some preserves.

In fact I've already started.

I also have a juicer

I also have a bread maker, and a fire extinguisher.

It's good to be prepared.

I picked a bowl of excess, woody mandarins.

And found this tired old lemon in the back of my fridge.

In forming an argument against unset blackberry jam being not able to stop shows, I looked up setting jam and found pectin is the go. Its found naturally occurring in packets on supermarket shelves, and in lemons. I didn't find a supermarket in the back of my fridge, but did find an old tired lemon. I don't know how much or which bit of a lemon to add, so I threw in the whole thing.


I forced it all through the juicer, directly into the bread maker holder pan thing.

It all went through with all peel still on.


I dropped in all the sugar I had in the sugar bowl.

Then went and got another bowl and added that as well.

I cant tell you how much of each of these ingredients I used because I have no idea.

And then stated it running on a slow cycle in the bread maker. You need a slow cycle to stop is splashing around all over the shop.

I ran it for an hour, but it still hadn't reduced enough so I've put it on for another hour.

And I've been wondering if I should add some of the pith for some texture, mouth feel, and visual interest.

There's plenty of it, but it also has some seeds mixed in. There are a lot of seeds in my mandarins.

So as I type it's two minutes away from 2 hours total run time in the bread maker. It's still very liquid but is a pretty good rendition of the sauce I was served with the poppy seed cake.

I decided it needed something like apricots, to give it that silky texture as it's a little too much like water. Water as runnyness I can fix, but the pallet is a little too watery. I think apricots might help that, and also add another layer of flavour as it's a little too shallow and really only has "sweet citrus zest" going for it.

But instead I found some sweet ginger, that I thought should work well. I chopped some up to add towards the end so it maintains a little of it's texture.

I'm going to have to do some research to see how much sugar, and how long a cooking time I need to set jam.

- I suggest you sing a little song here, or perhaps go and make a coffee to maintain the real time essence of this blog post while I look some stuff up on the net. -

I found some dried apricots, so diced them up to add when I add the ginger.

[edit from the future - not on the net, I found the apricots in my kitchen]

My sugar research indicates "more" is the answer so I added another bowl.

I have no idea if the sugar is meant to caramelize a bit, but if so this is going to take a lot longer than I thought. There is no sign of any bubbling in my mixture.

Perhaps just a little more research.

But this will work. It already tastes great. and I'm now going to set it running for another hour to reduce it a little.

It's later, and we find ourselves two hours and forty minutes into the mix. I've been testing the jam by dropping a bit on a plate that I've been keeping in the fridge. I do this when I make caramel for popcorn, and it's starting to show signs of setting. When I poke it after it's cooled, it bunches up a bit rather than running away to the other side of the plate. I don't want this to be too thick so I'll let it finish it's last 20 minutes in the bread maker, and call it done.

I'll let it cool and get an independent taster to give an opinion.

It's later still...


Me: Try this. (handing over toast and my new jam)

Mrs 120ThingsIn20Years: You made marmalade.

Me: What do you think?

Mrs 120ThingsIn20Years: It's subtle.

Me: Can you review it for me? Perhaps three lines for the blog? You cant use the word "zesty".

Mrs 120ThingsIn20Years: I haven't got that much to say about it to be honest.

Me: Well can I have a one word response?

Mrs 120ThingsIn20Years: It leaves a delicious mandarin after-flavour.

Me: That's not one word.

Mrs 120ThingsIn20Years: Can you leave me alone please.


Well there you have it "Delicious!", and I agree. It actually worked pretty well.

I'll try to do some research next time, to try to lower your stress levels. The excitement must have been overwhelming watching this unfold in real time.

Much easier than I thought, but not very child friendly [due to high temperatures]. The same process would be perfect for sweet and sour sauces or anything similar. I might have to make my own sweet chilli sauce when my chillies grow up.

All in all totally worth while.

Aquaponics - Self cleaning swirl filter

Some stuff is better than other stuff.

This test is more like other stuff.

But it does illustrate the kind of thing a swirl filter might do if it were designed a bit better.

The first scene shows water entering through the thick black pipe on the bottom right of screen. The water exits the pipe via an elbow that directs water to the right so that a gentle whirl pool is set up.

You can see that the solids (these are real fish solids from a sieve I put under the inlet to the grow bed) do indeed collect in the centre and once they are there, they quickly sink to the bottom. Much of the stuff that looks like its going down into the standpipe (black centre) is actually an optical illusion. 95% of that is too low to be sucked in, but just appears distorted by the lensing that occurs with the water shape at the top of the tube. In the final product, a bell would sit over the top, so that wouldn't be happening, but that's the exit pipe back to the grow bed, so that's where we want the solids to go anyway.

After the bell siphon magically appears (I must learn how to do better scene transitions), we see the siphon kick in and most of the solids get sucked in, to return to the grow bed.

I add the same solids back again after collecting them with a spoon from a sieve.

The clear plastic tube on the left is where clean water would be drawn off to feed the NFT tubes. Water only exits via that tube for a few seconds at the top of each cycle. The length of time that water flows can be varied by the flow rate allowed through the tube. If you have a flow rate that takes a lot of water, it takes longer for the siphon to kick in. The exit flow could also be adjusted by simply moving the tube down a little from the rim. I placed it high because my little bucket was never going to be deep enough, so I was trying to get the most out of what little depth I had.

All in all, I guess this test was a success, even though it didn't work as well as I would have liked.

I Think it works well enough for me to have a go at making a bigger, better one.

Aquaponics - Swirl filter variation

I had an idea, but now I'm not sure it was mine after all. But here it is anyway.

I need to get solids out of the water for the NFT, but I don't want to remove the solids from the entire system. It's the solids that make everything work.

I thought I'd give this a try.

I took a peanut butter bucket. (We eat a lot of peanut butter)

And drilled a hole in it in the bottom.

Then drilled another hole near the lip.

I added a 12mm poly pipe length as a standpipe.

I also added an exit pipe (clear plastic top right), and an input pipe from the pump (19mm black poly pipe with an elbow)

The plan is to add water so that it swirls around.

The water on the inside moves slowly and the solids settle in the middle.

Actually I think there is something else going on here, but I'm not sure what it is.

If you put a helium balloon in a car, and put on the brakes, instead of the balloon moving forward like everything else, it rushes to the back of the car. The opposite also applies to acceleration and cornering. As far as I can tell, this happens because, under brakes, the pressure moves to the front. High pressure is like the pressure at ground level, and helium balloons hate being at ground level, so try to escape in the only direction they know how.


But it's not really up, its from high pressure to low pressure. Or in the case of the car, from the front (where all the air in the car is glugging toward) to the back.

Ask a kid with a balloon to try it.

I think something to do with something like that may, or may not, be happening here.

I'll try to find out.

I put the bell from the grow bed's bell siphon over my stand pipe, and the end result looks like this.

I have both tubes dumping back to the grow bed because this is just a test, but normally only one would go back. The other (top left of the bucket) would be feeding the NFT tubes that you can see under the device in the background.

I'll take some video and post it up tomorrow, and hopefully capture the thing working.

I'm not sure that it will work all that well, because I think it's too small. I think it needs to be wider, to allow the centre to be very slow moving, and deeper, to allow more time for the particles to settle out.

Aquaponics - modular potting III

I thought I might take this modular garden design just one step further.

If I cut holes in 90mm PVC piping so that at one end they are close together, and then progressively get further apart, it should allow me to grow twice as much stuff in one length of PVC, because the gaps between the holes, only need to be the size of the different sized lettuce as they grow up.

If I plant say 2 lettuce seeds in a pot every few days, I should be able to move the tubes along as they need more space, and as I need to plant another pair of lettuce for continuous supply.

So to start with I plant a lettuce in the space on the left. I wait a few days, move the first pot to the right, put a new empty pot in the first slot, and plant some seeds in it.

If I keep doing this every few days, or once a week, I get a continuous supply of lettuce. Or whatever else.

Anything that grows for a long time, like say chilli plants, I'll put into the main grow bed, but all the smaller fast growing things, I should be able to at least double the number of plants I can keep. And all without having to transplant.

I'm guessing it might take 20 seconds to move 10 lettuce along each week.

I think I've become obsessed with seeing how productive I can make my 5 cubic metres of grow house.

Aquaponics - Modular potting II

I thought I'd formalize the idea of movable modular plants by changing a small section of my grow bed to test the idea.

I started with an icecream container and drilled some holes in it to allow nutrient rich water to circulate freely.

I partialy burried it in the media where my core sampler used to be.

The depth I burried it is set so that the pots would see around 10-15mm of water at their ankles.

I used the same black plastic pots that I used in the NFT test tube, so I can move them to a new home when they need more space.

Nine seedling fit in the test modular garden.

If all goes according to plan, I should be able to move these at will into the NFT tubes that I plan on making. It will be a bit like transplanting, but without all the transplanting.

I'm not sure how well it will work, or if it will work at all. Sometimes unforeseen things happen when I do stuff without research.

One potential problem I can see is the possibility of the roots just ignoring my boundaries and doing whatever they please.

I think that's what I would do if I were a plant.

But I'm not so I have no idea.

Aquaponics - Modular potting

When plants are small they don't take up much room.

I'm confident we all new that.

But one of the problems with having only a small grow house, is that space is at a premium. If I plant a seedling with enough room around it to grow into whatever it's going to grow into, I'm left with a stack of empty space for the next month or two.

One solution to this is to plant all kinds of fast growing little things between the big things and harvesting them as the big thing needs the space.

My solution is to make it so I can move all my plants around at will.

No doubt this has been done before, but rather than research and find out if there is anything wrong with doing this, I'm just going to jump right in. The fact that I don't know of anyone doing it, may well mean it simply doesn't work.

I'm not going to let that stop me from trying it anyway.

Before I made my NFT test tube, I had already bought some strawberry seedlings that were growing out of their punnet. I needed to transplant them, but didn't have the NFT tube built. My solution was to transplant them into their pots, and then just bury the pots in the main grow bed. This meant that they wouldn't have to go through any more transplant stress than they needed to, and could settle into their homes that would be theirs for the next few years.

You can see the buried pots at the top of this photo of worms being added to my grow bed.

I didn't have enough real estate in the grow bed to plant them out, and this way I could crowd them in while they were small, and then move them to the NFT tube when I got around to building it, without really transplanting them.

I think I'm going to try to use this concept throughout my system.

Electronics - PICAXE

PICAXE is a brand name that sells electronic bits. As far as I can tell they work a lot with the education system within the UK.

That and the fact that they seem to make interesting looking stuff is all I really know about them so far, but I think they might be the people to help me along, far as getting started on this understanding electronics "thing".

They make programmable chips, and stuff like temperature sensors, robot motors, remote control stuff, battery holders, and what looks to the novice to be just about everything someone like me could want.

As far as I can see, you get hold of an experimenter board, designing your project temporarily on it, then program your chip by plugging the board into your computer. Then once it's all tested and ready to go, you solder it all in place on a circuit board to make a permanent version.  Next, you install it into your lawnmower, ask the newly installed robot arm on your fridge to pour you a drink, and watch your lawn mow itself.

That's my plan anyway.

Actually my plan is to make something that will open the glasshouse door if it gets too hot inside.

I've tried to understand electronics before, but I think I need a practical way to study rather than by reading books. I borrowed a few books from my library about a year ago when I wanted to blackout proof my aquaponics pump, but stuff like this just doesn't stick in my head unless I do something with it in the real world. My current understanding is a general idea about how stuff might work. I could make a torch, but I couldn't make it turn itself on in the dark.

Generally speaking, I've avoided mentioning brand names on this blog, but this time I think I'm going to have to. Each of the different companies make their own versions of these kinds of things, and as far as I can tell, their components are not necessarily compatible with each other.

Around 25% of the readers of this blog find their way here by search engines looking for a particular bit of information, so by mentioning the brand name, it makes it possible for the reader to know if I'm talking about the same stuff that's sitting on their desk.

I'm not getting advertising or any free stuff from them, although I would gladly accept it (if ever anything like that happens I'll let you know). I found their product through google adverts like the ones on my page, so there is a chance their ads will appear on this page because adverts are topic dependant. So if someone was to click on one of their ads, I would gain a small amount of money from them, but I wouldn't know it was from them and not a different advertiser.

What I'm trying to say is that I am not endorsing the product and I'm not knowingly being paid by them or anything. But I will let you know what I think of their product as I become familiar with it..

Other than opting out of adult content ads, I have no control over which ads Google displays on these pages.

I know nothing about this brand and have no opinion on the PICAXE quality or business practices.

No doubt that will change soon, because I'm about to buy some of their stuff!

Aquaponics - Blocked NFT test tube

My test tube is getting blocked.

Its only a week ago that I rebuilt my NFT test with larger plumbing to prevent blockage of the water supply.

But now it seems rather than clogging the pipe, the solids are getting through my NFT tube and getting caught up in the plants root systems.

There was a bit of a change in the sound the system made as the water entered the grow bed. It went from a babbling brook, to a brook with a throat infection.

It turned out that the culprit was a build up of solids.

This pic is looking down the NFT pipe with all the plants removed.

The water was still running, but was flowing in surges rather than constantly so I get the feeling it would have blocked soon.

Quite a bit of solid fish waste for a week and only ten fish.

And no doubt much of it got through to the grow bed, so this is only a sample.

Looking back through my posts, it seems that this aquaponics business is a lot of problem solving.

It really isn't.

I'm quite happy to make mistakes and show the world, but if you keep your system simple, there is really no need to tinker with it. Before moving to this house, I ran the blue barrel system without doing much at all.

Until the goat ate everything.

But now I want to try different methods and collect solar heat, and all kinds of other things. So it's bound to look more complicated than it is.

Aquaponics has become a bit of a platform for a few other things. For instance, I'm attempting to collect solar hot water. I'd like to get back into the wind energy thing, and connect up a wind turbine or two to the system and take it off grid. And I'd like to learn some electronics to apply to the grow house, and to everything else I do in the future. Electronics seems like some powerful stuff, and I'm pretty sure it will be interesting to learn a bit about.

Currently I know enough to make a torch.  

I figure I need to know enough to make a remote control lawnmower. I'm not really sure if that's the amount I need to know, because I don't know enough about electronics. But that seems about right.

Aquaponics - Settled media

As I mentioned in this post on moss growing on my media, my grow beds seemed to have settled since the move, and are perhaps getting too wet at the surface as a result.

I think it's officially causing problems.

At one stage my media was up near the rim of my blue barrel, but now it sits here.

That's around 100-120mm down from the top, so I can easily fit another bag of scoria on top. This would increase my filtration a bit as well as keeping the surface a bit dryer.

My media is still getting wet on the surface in spite of my trimming the stand pipe by around 15mm. I trimmed it a few weeks ago, but either it wasn't enough, or perhaps the moisture is coming down in the form of grow house rain, rather than up from the bottom, via the pump.

The media that is wet, is the stuff that tends to sit a bit lower than the surrounding media, but it could still be from "rain", and is simply not drying as quickly as the higher sections. I'm only talking about 10mm between the high and low sections.

One down side is that just as my first strawberry was starting to ripen...

It also started to rot where it was touching the damp scoria.

I really wanted to eat that strawberry.

Aquaponics - Strawberry pollination

It seems strawberries have something in common with their arch-enemy, the snail. They seem to reproduce in the same wacky manner, except in the case of the strawberry, there is less stabbing with calcium daggers involved. But they do carry all the reproductive tackle to be self reliant.

A strawberry flower looks like this.

It's not so bad small like this, but for some reason full size and at its full resolution, this photo makes my eyes hurt.

In this photo we see a close up of the strawberry in development. This one is around 6 mm in diameter, and sits in the centre of the flower. The mass in the centre "C" is what eventually becomes the yummy bit.

"A" is the boy bit that from what I gather, supplies the pollen. I think you can see pollen on in the picture.

"B" is the girl bit and is the actual fruit. The thing we eat is a fruit holder. The actual fruit surround the seed, and are the bits we would call seeds on the ripe strawberry. This are the dried outer shell of the fruit, that contains the seed.

I tried growing some strawberries from seed and bought two packets and planted them all. Not one germinated even though I followed the directions to the letter even to the point of heating the seed germination hot house they were planted in. I e-mailed the company and they asked for my phone number, but never rang me. I think they secretly know their product doesn't work.

Not to worry.

So it seems a strawberry is self pollinating and has all the required bits on each fruit. All that's required is a little breeze or a bug or perhaps just some luck. I run a small computer cooling fan in the glass house to keep the air circulating and perhaps the more recent strawberries are being pollinated by the breeze, or my rummaging around from time to time. The older original strawberries grew before the grow house was up but tended to grow lying down close to the ground. Perhaps they were just too shielded  from the breeze. The latest arrivals have overtaken the originals, and tend to grow up taller. This might be why I haven't lost any of these ones, as it might just be as simple as being exposed to the slight breeze from the fan.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Unless I learn something new.

Aquaponics - Pollination

Plant sex is pretty interesting, but I don't know a lot about it. Hopefully this is my first step toward gaining a better understanding.

I found a stack of strawberries that don't seem to have progressed past the "Here I am!" stage. I kept an eye on them, and eventually their stems rotted and the fruit lay on the ground.

I have a feeling it might be to do with pollination. Now that everything is in a grow house, I wonder if there is enough insect activity to pollinate properly. I remember having pumpkins in a dirt garden years ago,who's flowers didn't open enough to allow bees in, and they went the same way. There would be a beginning of a fruit, but it would never develop.

The dead strawberries had flowers that opened and formed normally, and there are a stack of insects walking and flying around, but no bees or other large insects.

Most of the other strawberries are doing just fine, so they either don't need pollinating, or are getting pollinated by the smaller insects, or being pollinated in some other way that I'm unaware of.

This will be my first year growing things like tomatoes and cucumbers, so I really want to get this stuff sorted, and get a decent understanding of the issues.

So far most of the plants I've grown don't involve flowering and setting fruit. They have mostly been green leafy salad veggies that don't need bees until they go to seed. By the time they go to seed, I'm more likely to pull them up and feed them to the fish, rather than worry about their reproductive habits.

I'll learn some stuff about pollination.


Aquaponics - Fish salad

A fish salad doesn't need to involve eating a fish. Sometimes its enough to just invite a fish to a salad dinner.

Some of my cos lettuce is going to seed, and that means it starts to get a bit bitter.

We repeat harvest our cos lettuce by pulling off leaves as we need them. This means you need a lot less room to get a salad every day, because the root stock is big and healthy, and the leaves you pull off are soon replaced. Repeat harvesting means none of the waiting for all that growing plants need to do when you plant them from seed.

But one nice thing about keeping silver perch, is that they eat all kinds of stuff.

I cut the top off a lettuce and dropped it into the fish tank.

Usually, you don't see any great excitement from the fish, but by the next morning it looks like it's been attacked by a bunch of lazy vegetarian piranha.

Aquaponics - slightly more complicated no holes siphon

As I mentioned in a previous post on no holes siphons, in it's simplest form, it consists of a pipe full of water, with either end kept submerged in two different containers.

It's purpose is to allow the free flow of water between the two containers as if you had drilled holes in the bottom, and connected them with a pipe.

But without all the drilling and gluing and draining fish tanks that goes with regular methods.

A slightly more sophisticated form allows for greater flexibility.

Flexibility is a good thing.

Having some options when you are designing is also a good thing.

*One option is to take your two containers...

And create a simple no holes siphon....

Then stand its ends in small containers full of water. I chose to draw mine levitating, but you could attach your's to the side of the container if you find it easier.

"Why bother?" I hear you ask.

"Because then you could do this." I reply...

What this allows you to do is have the containers at different heights. I dont know why you want to do this, because I dont know you. But people have been doing this for ages. It's not as if its a new idea or anything. I'm guessing you are just like them.

But if you were to use a simple no holes siphon connecting the two tanks, the one on the right would empty into the one on the left and might just overflow.

In a situation where you were pumping water from the tank on the left to your grow bed, you could make it return from your grow bed into the tank on the right. This right tank would then over-flow into the left tank, but not so much that it drained.

So if you started with just the left tank but wanted to add another tank, you have two options. One is to empty your tank and drill holes in it and plumb it properly with glue, and the other is use a no holes siphon.

If you have some level issues with the new location of the second tank, this slightly more sophisticated version might be a solution.

Another method is to use bends in the end of your no holes siphon. These trap the water in the same way as the small containers, but might be easier to build, depending on your access to plumbing supplies.

The only downside that I can think of is the possibility for small air bubbles to accumulate over time. If these build up in the highest point in the pipe, they could eventually break the siphon, and allow the siphon to stop siphoning. A high water flow should move these tiny bubble as the form, but a slower flow, especially when the pipes get hot, could cause some problems. Warmer water tends to bubble a bit more.

*sorry I cant find my crayons. Even though I usually save them for aerodynamic diagrams, I wanted to use them here but they are packed away in a box somewhere in the shed. Crayons and aerodynamics go together for some reason. At least they do in my head.**

**it's a lot easier to read this if you triple click it with your mouse. Triple clicks work all over the place to select an entire paragraph, and I just thought I'd share this information.

Aquaponics - No holes siphon

A no holes siphon has no holes.

It also allows you to make the fluid level in two containers the same height in each, without having to drill holes in them to join them with a hose.

In it's simplest form, it's a hose full of water with both ends kept submerged, one end in each container.

As the level increases in one container, water siphons into the other. As long as the tube remains full of water, the two levels stay the same.

This can be a very handy solution to adding an extra fish tank or grow bed without having to empty your originals.

I used one to share the water between my duckweed tank, and my fish tank. As the level in the fish tank changes due to where it is in it's cycle of pumping water to the grow bed, the water flows in and out of the duckweed tank maintaining the two containers at the same depth.

My duckweed seems to love the fish tank water. In the past I have kept it separate from the rest of the system, but now it's moved into the glasshouse.

There are a few ways you can implement it, but the simplest is to submerge a tube in water, then block both ends with your thumbs.

Take one end and submerge it into one tank, and the other end in the other tank.

When you remove your thumbs, the tube remains full of water, and a siphon starts to equalise the two containers until their surfaces are at the same height. If one container is at a different height, the water will try to settle so that the surfaces are the same height, so if there is too much difference, one container might overflow.

Make sure there are no air bubbles in the pipe, as they will break the siphon, and the exchange of water between the two containers will no longer occur.

Another way to make one would be to submerge the ends of the pipe, one end in each container, then connect your pump until water is flowing freely. Disconnect the pump, making sure you dont lift either end out of the water, and the tube should remain full of water.

Aquaponics - NFT test system rebuild

I mentioned I did a rebuild of my NFT test before leaving my system unattended, and as far as my attention goes, in the fore for four days.

Yeah I just wanted to say "fore for four" in a sentence.

It wasn't as fulfilling as you might think.

But this is what I did....

This is what I used to have.

Or at least this is the exit tube I used to have.

The inlet tube was even smaller, at 4mm.

It was getting itself blocked on most days.

This is what I have now.

Now I add the entire flow of my pump through the NFT test. I guess it's not really NFT now because its no longer a film of water, but rather a tube half full of water.

I went with 12mm poly because I have a lot of it, and a lot of fittings lying around.

12mm polly is around the same diameter that exits my pump, so anything that can make it through my sad little pump should flow through the rest of the system without blockage.

I drilled a bigger hole

And found some bits that should do the job.

At the time, I was also getting ready to go away for a few days, so didn't really have time to be fussy.

It would have been better to use straight fittings, and curve my pipes rather than have these right angle fittings as they slow the flow a bit, and I'm struggling with getting enough flow as it is.

It turns out, you can often force a thread even when your project is all plastic.

There has been a few times where I found it expedient to employ what I like to call "Force tapping" a thread.

It involves screwing something into a place where there is not yet a thread for said something. Oddly enough, if you unscrew it, you will often see a shiny new thread.

It even works when both parts are plastic.

It also ruins the thread of the thing you are trying to screw in, so be careful how you employ this method.

My next hot tip is to stretch an O-ring from a snap connector garden hose thinggy with some pliers, and gently force it over the thread you want to make a seal with.

Plumbing tape probably would have been better.

Actually, what would have been better, is whatever you would get is you went to the hardware and asked someone for a part that would do exactly what I'm doing. I'm guessing there is one.

But this looks pretty good, and as I strive for second best practice, I consider this as having exceeded my expectations.

I swamped the side the test system was on because I wanted a shorter trip from the pump, and a shorter return trip back to the fish tank.

I also mounted the entire thing onto some milk bottles full of water. This is an attempt to shed some of the heat that the PVC tube picks up on a hot day, and store that heat into the milk bottle heat sinks.

It should work a bit, but I'm not sure I'll need it any more because of the high rate of flow I'll be putting through the tube.

The new depth looks like this.

This is a bit deceiving because the water flows differently when the plants are in place, and it makes the other end dip a little.

The depth is now more like 25mm, where it was 5mm before.

It's very easy to check by lifting a pot out and seeing the water mark.

The new outflow into the grow bed now looks like this.

Due to the length of the tube, it now enters the grow bed from the far corner. This means it no longer dumps into the core tester.

There were no worms in the core sample I took last, and I'm wondering if having the water dump somewhere else might change that.

Today when I pulled up a lettuce, there was a worm within the root system, so they are in there.

[edit from the future - This turned out to leak a bit ]

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