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Est

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Many people are aware of Bugweed's circulating bog setup that he has going on in one of his large pots; after I saw it I was convinced that I wanted to make something similar myself. About a year later I decided to get my butt in gear! Since I began working on this a week or two ago I've gone through a couple of revisions to perfect the system.

Before I start to tell my tale, I'll present some of the reasons why everybody should have a circulating water system:
-The moving water through the pots prevents stagnation and Cps such as Sarracenia, Darlingtonia are known to appreciate it.
-By allowing the water to fall out of the drainage holes in to a water reservoir, you are oxygenating your water which aids root growth, and helps keeps plants healthy by preventing stagnation and the risks that it entails.
-This system is pretty efficient since water that you put in to the pots is recycled instead of sitting on a tray where it just waits to be evaporated.
-The physical action of moving water can help keep substrates in good condition and help prevent fungus and other nasties from setting up shop.
-The moving water can help keep substrates healthy; helps prevent compaction of soil, prevents anaerobic respiration of bacteria in the soil (which can lead to sulfur production.)

The Story:

System 1:
It all began with a water pump I had from a small fountain set. Since I wasn't using the fountain (and haven't in a while) I searched and found the pump. It's pretty small, not very powerful (I suppose if someone really wants to know I could find out specifics about it, lemme know.) Next there was a big container (reservoir,) and empty pot, and a pot with my plants in them (bog pot.) Lastly, I took a bit of .5 inch tubing my father had extra from beet operations (he uses it to transfer beer from vat to bottle, etc.)

The setup is VERY simple: Put some water in to th reservoir container. Turn the empty pot upside-down and put it in to the water. Set your bog pot on top of the empty container. Have your fountain push water through the tubing and in to the pot. This very simple operation can be done on any number of scales, but most pumps would probably be overkill even for large pots if only 1 exit point is allowed.

Analysis of system 1:
-This system is simple to set up, easy to deal with, and pots can easily be rotated in or out.
-Can be overwhelming for a single pot if only one exit point in the tubing exists
--To overcome this problem, one can add a flow restricter to the end of the tubing such as ones found in irrigation; drip, spray, rotational, etc.
-This system can be made more complex easily by drilling holes in to the tube at interval and lining the tube around the circumference of the bog pot meaning that there is maximum movement of water through all parts of the pot and to prevent pressure issues.

Overall: System 1 was a good place to start; nice and simple. This could work great if you have a big bog pot or if you want to start small (it's good to ween your spouse in to the idea by starting small
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).


System 2:
System two was where things started to get a bit more complex, and quite a bit more dicey! The goal was to have multiple pots (4) on a single-pump, single-reservoir system. So I took a trip down to the brewery store and bought a couple of feet of .5 in tubing (about 25 cents per foot) along with the 3-way splitters. The part of the reservoir would be played by a seed flat, the support would be an old wooden mattress support. The idea was to slip the seed flat under the mattress support and position the pots such that the drainage holes would be over gaps between planks of wood on the support.

So things started to fall apart. I selected two large pots and two small pots to try this system out. 4 big pots wouldn't fit because the seed flat was only so big. I was able to position the large pots such that their drainage holes permitted water to fall back in to the reservoir unhindered, but this's where I had to start improvising: I put each of the smaller pots in to large ziplock bags and cut a hole in the corner so that I could direct the water back in to the reservoir without having to worry about having all four drainage holes off of the wood.

Once the setup was complete, more flaws began to show themselves. The pump couldn't provide ample water flow to all four pots, the water followed the path of least resistance due to low water pressure in the tubing causing some pots to get no water and others to overflow, it was very hard to get the system started because of the pressure issues, and I was losing a lot of water!

The Patches: These patches can be used in all systems and are good for anyone undertaking this project to keep in mind if they plan on setting up a system with multiple pots and exit points.

Here I began to use flow restricters to increase the pressure in the tubing to a) help each pot get a suitable amount of water (small need less, big need more) and b) prevent water from only following the path of least resistance since it's VERY hard to have the tubes set up just right to get it to flow the way you want. The fix is a simple one: all you need to do is add a small piece of irrigation lining in to the tubing and then (if more restriction is required) put a nozzle on to the end of the irrigation lining. For the smaller pots I used low flow, for the bigger pots I used higher flow rate nozzles. The real goal here is to creature pressure in the system to make sure that the water isn't "falling" down the most downward sloping track, but actually being pushed through the entire system.

Analysis of System 2- Probably the worst of the 3 systems.
-Even though the drainage holes were cleverly placed and the ziplock bags worked well, the wooden mattress frame simply didn't work: some water runs along the bottom of the pots, and more water splashes on to the wood when it falls from pot to reservoir So not only does the water on the wood wick away, but the wood was untreated and if persistently waterlogged would have rotted and/or harbored nasties.
-The water reservoir (seed tray) was far too flimsy, and while the idea of having the tray hidden sounded nice, it combined in to a big disaster.
-This was a good system for teaching me what to avoid!


System 3: The final incarnation (as of 2006-07-26)
This third and final system combined the best of all worlds. I went to my Orchard Hardware (OSH) and purchased a big plastic tub (the kind for storing things under beds works fine) to serve as reservoir Now all the exit points of the tubing had flow restricters such that each pot received the correct amount of water. All three bog pots are set on upside-down turned pots and the system is working out just peachy.


Building Your Own:
Building a circulating water bog is a fun experience, and doesn't have to be expensive! You may already have many of the materials lying around such as a large tupperware or other receptacle for a water reservoir, irrigation bits and pieces, empty pots, and so on. Your circulating water bog is limited by your own imagination.

For a simple and efficient set up, all you need is a pump, a reservoir, some tubing (that fits your pump,) and for some, something to use as a flow restricter. What you want to keep in mind for a simple set-up is just that the water falls after it leaves the pot and drips in to the water reservoir as this oxygenates the water (big plus.) You can purchase pumps online or in hardware stores and depending on the size you can run a small system, or with something like a pond pump, you could create an entire bog garden in a circulating system. Get out there and do something creative!

One danger to keep in mind is that of clogging. The media inside the pots (99.9% peat) I used is fairly old, and I'm not sure if a new mix would hold up quite as well as mine have. Easy ways to get around this include putting something in the bottom of the media to filter debris (eg charcoal or a layer of sand or a filter purchased for this purpose,) a filter external to the drainage holes (such as a layer or two of cheese cloth,) or a filter/barrier in front of the pump intake preventing clogs. I've got no barriers, and we'll see if there's any long-term clogging of the nozzles by fine debris. Bugweed, however, does have a filter on the bottom of his bog pot so I may on on the road to disaster.

Silly Diagram Pictures

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Now in silly diagram 1 we seed the overall principle of a circulating water system. Terrible illustration, but it should get the point across.
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4potdrip.jpg


As seen by silly diagram 2, we see how I set up my system such that water has 4 exits, and thus water can flow in to 4 different pots.

Real Picture of My Setup

An overall shot of system 3:
PICT0080resize.JPG


Here we see how one of the pots is raised above the waterline of the reservoir water and the resulting ripples after a splash of water dripping down out of the drainage holes of the pot:
PICT0076resize.JPG



This picture is of the smallest of the three pots in system 3. We can clearly see the water level, and at the end of the tube we can see the bit of irrigation lining (black) and the blue restricter nozzle screwed in (blue) at the end:
PICT0077resize.JPG



Conclusion: That's all folks! A lengthy post of my story, my setup. Based on these premise, anybody willing to get off of their bum should be able to make a circulating system of their own, if just a simple one. These systems can be as complex or straightforward as you decide to make them, but hopefully I've given folks some idea of the principles behind circulating water.

All questions, comments are welcome! Please PM me if you'd like to see something added, noticed a gross spelling error, or anything like that. If there's demand for a video explanation of how it all works, then I'd be more than happy to give it a try. Now: Discuss!
 

Dave S.

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Excellent write-up! Thanks for the clear instructions and diagrams. I will be trying this soon.
 
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Great explination! I use somthing similer for my Darlingtonia bog. my set up uses a kids pool for the reservoir that I decorated with rocks, but the concept the same. thanks for sharing, Jack.
 
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Thanks for such an informative post Est. It really does make sense to keep water and air moving through the soil. I should try this sometime!

By the way, does this keep CPs really that much healthier?
 

CP30

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Great job EST! You answered most of my initial questions. This is like a simple hydroponics set up except that we do use a soil. I assume there is some erosion from the pots (as the water drips) into the resevoir that would be circulated by the pump. How do you prevent the flow restrictors from clogging?

YOU HAVE INSPIRED ME!
 

Est

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[b said:
Quote[/b] ]By the way, does this keep CPs really that much healthier?

lol I'd normally defer to Bugweed on this one and let him tell you about how healthy his circulating bog is. He's a major proponent to this sort of setup for many of the reasons listed. Even without having done extensive analysis myself, I CAN say that it will prevent rot, fungus, dessication and that having oxygen around the roots is a very good thing. Have you seen a picture of Bug's circulating bog? I'll see if I can find one and post it here for you guys to see. It really does seem to keep cps happy!

[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Great explination! I use somthing similer for my Darlingtonia bog. my set up uses a kids pool for the reservoir that I decorated with rocks, but the concept the same.

Since I set this up I've wanted to get my hands on some Darlingtonia for just that reason! Hopefully I'll be able to procure some from somewhere. I envy folks who get them from the cubes, even if the cubes are dubbed "death cubes."

[b said:
Quote[/b] ] I assume there is some erosion from the pots (as the water drips) into the resevoir that would be circulated by the pump. How do you prevent the flow restrictors from clogging?

The pots being used contain almost 100% peat. There'll be a little perlite and charcoal, but the perlite is just trace. And actually the soil has held together pretty well even though there is water visibly higher than the soil line. Some tiny little chunks fall through the drainage holes, but they almost never clog anything.

However, the media inside the pots is fairly old, and I'm not sure if a new mix would hold up quite as well. Easy ways to get around this include putting something in the bottom of the media to filter debris (eg charcoal or a layer of sand or one a filter purchased for this purpose,) a filter external to the drainage holes (such as a layer or two of cheese cloth,) or a filter/barrier in front of the pump intake preventing clogs. I've got no barriers, and we'll see if there's any long-term clogging of the nozzles by fine debris. Bugweed, however, does have a filter on the bottom of his bog pot so I may on on the road to disaster.
smile_n_32.gif


I'm glad to hear that you folks enjoyed it. Please let me know if you've got any additions or anything. I should probably edit in the bit about barriers/filters to prevent clogging so people see it in the first place.


Edit--

Question: How did the pictures load for everybody? I figure it's good that they're a) small, and b) at the bottom so they can load as you read. They're being hosted on my server (two ADSL lines = ~80kB/s upload) so if they load to slow for a lot of people, I can host them elsewhere.

Bugweed's Circ. Bog:

P1010019.sized.jpg
 
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I am curious about Bugweed's circulating design (Bugweed?), how does the water get oxygenated? It looks like it is being circulated under the top of the soil and down into a closed reservoir due to the nesting of the pots. It seems like this would minimize oxygenation. Is there an opening in the reservoir that's not visible in this picture? I love the concept, and those plants ARE very happy! Thanks you guys!
 

Est

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The action isn't displayed in the picture, only the resulting growth. Bug's follows the exact same concepts; the white pot it a big, deep pot that serves as a reservoir, the orange pot sits on top of the white pot. Instead of sitting on another pot, the orange pot's circumference is slightly larger than that of the white pot, so it rests on top of it. The water still falls out of the bottom and the pump is still located at the bottom of the reservoir.
 
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Wow, nice setup, explaination, pics (they loaded fine)! I'm probably gonna get off my lazy bum and build one for next year's usage!

This thread should be pinned (just my opinion.....):D
 
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I understand that the water is still falling inside the reservoir but it seems that with a closed reservoir there is no extra oxygen to oxygenate the falling water (after that which is trapped in there all goes into solution). I am just wondering about this because I like the closed design (it's tidy) -- am I being dense about something? Isn't that how water gets oxygenated, by falling through oxygenated air?
 

Est

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[b said:
Quote[/b] ]I understand that the water is still falling inside the reservoir but it seems that with a closed reservoir there is no extra oxygen to oxygenate the falling water (after that which is trapped in there all goes into solution). I am just wondering about this because I like the closed design (it's tidy) -- am I being dense about something? Isn't that how water gets oxygenated, by falling through oxygenated air?

Water doesn't "like" absorbing oxygen, but having oxygen is beneficial to us; oxygen is added any number of ways depending on your setup, but the contant is that the water needs to be agitated to get oxygen to be absorbed. It can be added when drainage water falls in to the reservoir, when the water exits the tubing (spray, splash,) etc. So, hypothetically, even if there was no drop, oxygen can still be added to the system.

In the case of Bugweed's: There is a section cut out of the large white pot. Having a hole in the side in that type of setup allows for easy addition of water (because water DOES evaporate and is lost from a circulating system, don't underestimate that fact!) And unless the the orange and white pot in Bug's setup were to create an airtight seal (which you'd have to try really hard to do) the water would be oxygenated even without the hole in the side of the container because air can still be exchanged freely. In any event, you want a hole in the side simply for ease of adding water.

That last bit answers your question, right?

BTW, I can take more pictures of my setup at any point, so if you'd like to see a pictorial/video form of something as opposed to textual, let me know. I can be wordy at times and it may expedite the answering of questions.
biggrin.gif
 
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Thread stickied. Circulating water does work better than the plain old tray system, and inhibits rot in your rhizome. There will be more elaboration on this subject, should anyone be interested.
 

Est

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Not sure what happened to the topic title. Fixed it to something that makes some sense.
 
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Great explanation. But how does one implement this system if one has many, many plants in many, many pots. Clearly Bugweed has many plants...so there must be a way. The obvious way is to have a seperate pump for each reservoir. Doesn't it get tedious having so many pumps and tubes? I mean how many tubes can you attach to a pump? And...do you keep the pumps running water 24/7?
 
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Manny, the pump runs 24/7. Tough pump that spews 60 GPH. Unlike Est's set-up, the tube in mine feeds directly below the soils surface. Also, I use a high grade weedblock cloth under the soil to prevent soil cantaminants from dripping down into the water resorvoir. Since Est and I are planning to build the Bugweed style bog garden, you will see how I do it. I have suffered NO rot since I started using this system, and the fact that the soil gets oxygenated has had a fantastic effect on the growing of some of my plants. A healthy bog requires no repotting! LOL!! There will be a full report on this also written for the CPN and the ICPS. The NASC website will also have the details when EST and I are through. Stay tuned later this month for the Bog Garden of the Century!!!! The actual inventor, BTW, was Mike Ross of the BACPS. He gave it to me for a birthday, years ago, and I have used it constantly since. It works SOOO well. I plan on filling the new Bog with as many plants as I can, then disappear into oblivion!!!
 
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Bugweed...sounds amazing! Can't wait to see it. I guess I need to see pics. Because I envision several bogs. I make bogs out of the Home Depot black cement mixing tubs. How would I make a reservoir for those? How do you get the water under the surface? I'm not a technical person at all...pardon all my questions. But I see how great your plants look. I don't have a big problem with rot, but one plant lost is one too many. I have now switched to the direct overhead, trayless watering system. It rains a lot here and is humid. They won't suffer any less from not sitting in standing water. But I've always been a big proponent of "the wetter the better". This comes from seeing Sarracenia in the wild so many times.
 

JB_OrchidGuy

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MFH I am with you on this one. I understand what Bug is saying, but I cannot envision the water flowing out and not making a huge hole where it comes out. I too cannot wait to see some pictures. Bugs first circulating Bog is to die for!! I have a bunch of plants that are just dying for a new home!! The tubs I have them in outside are breaking down from the sun so Hurry guys! I need to do somethign about them come spring time.
 
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I'm curious what you guys do when things freeze up? I lost my pump this winter to the ice, do you remove the pump and just treat it like a normal pot and water it by hand? I also had a few tubes crack and split as they froze. :-(
 
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HEY!!!!!! CCFC!!! Glad to see you bud! How go the VFT's??

In the case of my working bog, the tubes are housed inside the huge base, and therefore do not freeze. Even though the frost was thick here this year, and the undrained containers froze, the sound of dripping water could be heard inside the water base of my set up. The soil surface was frozen to about 1/4 inch in depth, and still, underneath that, the water flowed and moved. Pinguicula's, ionantha, planifolia, and primuliflora, all survived the freeze. THAT blew me away. I expected to lose them the first night of the freeze that caught me unprepared for it. They live today, none the worse for wear! Even D. capillaris made it, and it does not freeze well in a pot in a water tray. If it works in Nature, why not work for you??
 
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Thanks for the welcome bugs. The VFT's are great, they are all outside freezing with everything else. Those are some tough little VFT seedlings.

Okay, so when everything melts I'll build another bog that has all of the tubes and pump encased in a thick weatherproof base. Next year hopefully things will go better.
 
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