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Old April 10, 2015   #1
luigiwu
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Default Rain Gutter Grow System - as a raised bed

I was asked to start this thread so I hope it helps someone. I am not a expert gardener by any means. I truly believe the only way I've been able to garden is due to that fact that I take "me" out of the equation. The plants don't rely on me to supply them with water. The RGGS (rain gutter grow system) is the brain child of Larry Hall. The heart of the system is to have a water supply (either as a rain gutter or a kiddie pool) that has a constant level of water (controlled by a float), so that the plants in a soil-less peat-based mix can take up as much of the water as they need, when they need it.

SO much good info on Larry Hall's youtube channel. There is only one other tomatovillian here, Ricman, that I know uses this system and his results are AMAZING:
http://tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=33037

So this thread is about taking the basic principles and pushing to see how I could grow super efficiently in a shallow bed that is totally self-watering. I'm copying the rest of below from the original thread:

I basically made a frame out of wood with two intermediate supports/bracing (so 8 ft long with 2 supports at thirds.) I then rolled out hardware cloth and cut weed fabric of the same size. I stapled the hardware cloth with the weed fabric (facing inside of the raised bed,) along the sides of the initial wood frame. Marked out my net cup spacing, probably every 12 inches, traced the net cup and with tin snips, cut out the circle of the hardware cloth (and the weed fabric.) It allows "air-pruning" which is how you can grow in not a lot of depth. I had HUGE kale and broccolo spigarello growing in this raised bed rggs too!

The whole thing sits over a typical rggs gutter rig (in my case, I used a 4-inch pvc pipe - buy the drain pipes, much much cheaper) that is supported by a wood frame, with the net cups dipping into water supply/pvc pipe (but can also be a gutter.)

Below: the bottom view of a typical rggs "rig" - typically a wood frame to support a water trough for sub-irrigation (either pvc pipe or gutter)


Below: the rig turned right side up again.


Below: and perhaps a better picture that shows how the weed fabric with the hardware cloth is stapled to the raised bed frame (to hold the soil)



Below: and this is my more "traditional" non-shallow rggs This is my own personal design that is a "twin" rig. It allows me to build a support system for plants to climb upwards as I'm so limited in yard space being in a city and all.
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Subirrigated Container gardening (RGGS) in NY, Zone 7!

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Old April 10, 2015   #2
Worth1
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Looks like witch craft to me.

No really it looks great I have always thought of doing something like this.

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Old April 10, 2015   #3
tnkrer
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Luigiwu .. Thanks for starting the thread

I think i got the rggs part.
Are you using yogurt containers as net cups?
What is the depth of grow media?
The planter just sits on top of the rggs rig?
I see that the top of the planter is 2x4. So the bottom is just hardware cloth hanging down with staples? why doesnt it buckle down? I suppose the grow media supports the weight of the 2x4?

I plan to duplicate this system (probably for next season) for kale, chard and lettuces.

Thanks
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Old April 11, 2015   #4
nancyruhl
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Wow, love the pictures and explanation of your system. Looks like the plants really love it too. Did you bend your hoops yourself or purchase them? Love the trellis idea also.

I am hoping to double the roof gutter garden. It is such an efficient and carefree growing system, making many more non garden spots into gardens.
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Old April 11, 2015   #5
kayrobbins
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I am so glad you posted this. Larry's system looks great but when I watched the video and saw that the water was exposed in the spaces between the growing container all I could think about was what a great mosquito breeding spot. That is what living in Florida does to you, always worried about mosquitoes.
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Old April 11, 2015   #6
luigiwu
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Tnkrer, no, I don't use the yogurt cups as net cups. You have to look/think at the geometry in cross-section and make sure that whatever is being used as the "wick" has a good seat/submersion into the water level in the pvc pipe. I use 3-in Hydrofarm netcups that are super economical and good quality - I get them on amazon.

The potting mix depth is just a factor of how much you put in it and how HIGH the raised bed frame is to hold the media in. I used decking planks so I think its 5.5inches for me but you can see in the pictures, the mix settled and I still did great in probably what was around 4-inches of mix.

The raise bed planter does just sit on top of the rggs rig. I don't know what you mean by the 2x4?? You'll be surprised by how much structure the metal hardware cloth gives you. This bed is 16-inch wide. I probably could have made it 18-inches but obviously if you get wider, you'll need perhaps a 2nd rig below it. So along with stapling it to the underpart of the interim braces, the whole middle is supported by the wood frame of the pvc rig (the 2x6.) That's why no buckling. I hope this section helps. And also think in plan about all the supports that contact the hardware cloth.

This year, I'm planning to experiment with the other Larry Hall brainchild - the kiddie pool concept. For me, it'll be boot trays with 1 gallon grow pouches sitting in 1/2-inch max of water at all times. I'm going to cover the exposed water with pea gravel.

I have seen other ways of making sub-irrigated raised beds that involved drainage pipes/ sand etc. For me, this method was just KISS...
Let me know if you have any other questions.

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Old April 11, 2015   #7
luigiwu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nancyruhl View Post
Did you bend your hoops yourself or purchase them? Love the trellis idea also.

I am hoping to double the roof gutter garden. It is such an efficient and carefree growing system, making many more non garden spots into gardens.
Hiya Nancy! I really do enjoy this system of garden too. If I ever move out the city and I would also like to try no-till, back-to-eden style. For the frames/hoops, I stole the idea off of here (see below.) You built a jig and used a heat gun on a 1/2-in dia pvc pipes to help you form the pipe to the jig.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7ui...QSaqG&index=14
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Old April 11, 2015   #8
luigiwu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayrobbins View Post
I am so glad you posted this. Larry's system looks great but when I watched the video and saw that the water was exposed in the spaces between the growing container all I could think about was what a great mosquito breeding spot. That is what living in Florida does to you, always worried about mosquitoes.
I can understand. The funny thing is this pvc rig was the first one I made and since then, all my rigs have been the open u-shape gutters. I was also initially obsessed with (not) mosquito breeding, but I'm in the north and after a while, practicality won. The u-shape gutters just are much more flexible going forward (allowing diff plant spacing.) I just use mosquito dunks and I do cover the exposed parts the best I can. I can understand why its more of an issue in Florida. This video is a LONG one but one of the best, imo as its very thorough.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CclTbusP7Ms
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Old April 11, 2015   #9
luigiwu
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Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
Looks like witch craft to me.
Its magical!
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Old April 11, 2015   #10
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As far as covering the gutter to keep out mosquitoes, I took landscape fabric and cut it a few inches wider than the width of the 2 by 4 supported gutter and sewed a pocket down both sides. I put half inch PVC pipe in the pockets, cut a hole for each net pot and set the container on top which anchored it down. Really helped keep debris out also.

Thanks for the link on making the hoops.
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Old April 12, 2015   #11
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Looks great - Thanks for posting this!

What sort of a float rig did you use for your reservoir? Are you adding nutrients to that (hydroponics)?

For mosquito problems, I wonder how long a BT "dunk" (for outdoor pools) would control the problem in a closed system like this (since the primary water loss is evaporation, it wouldn't get washed out).
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Old April 12, 2015   #12
luigiwu
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Originally Posted by PhilaGardener View Post
Looks great - Thanks for posting this!

What sort of a float rig did you use for your reservoir? Are you adding nutrients to that (hydroponics)?

For mosquito problems, I wonder how long a BT "dunk" (for outdoor pools) would control the problem in a closed system like this (since the primary water loss is evaporation, it wouldn't get washed out).
Hydroponics requires constant circulation of fertilizer liquid since the grow medium itself has zero nutrients (and cannot hold nutrients.) Since everything is planted in a potting mix, it can hold nutrients. Having the gutter just allows me to put the fertilizer there (Flora-nova) mid season if I think it needs a boost. For the first half of the season, I literally do nothing since every container has a top dressing of 10-10-10.

I do use BT dunks. I can't say how long it lasts but I think last summer I put in a 1/4 of a ring in each gutter every month.

The recommended float is made by Kerick and you want the adjustable arm one. The kerick brand is used in commericial/industrial applications so you know its a good one. I've bought others from online because I wanted a smaller float bulb and I can tell you the kerick ones are waay better. Anyways, if you watch Larry's videos, he tells you about all the parts. I find his videos highly entertaining.
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Old April 12, 2015   #13
PhilaGardener
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Thanks for those additional details!
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Old April 12, 2015   #14
JamesL
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Luigiwu,
Great setup!
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Old April 13, 2015   #15
ricman
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Hello Luigiwu,

Looking great as always. The very first RGGS prototype I built for testing was a 4 hole pvc pipe unit. It worked great and I still use it, for cucumbers now. I just finished planting 60 tomato plants in my RGGS's, now if the weather will just cooperate. Great work with the RGGS, keep it up and good luck.

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