Well, after a few test runs, which are still running, the system seems to be holding up pretty well. But there are a few glitches still – mostly in process, but a few infrastructure problems as well.
As I am preparing the batches I am noticing little sources of potential contamination. For example, the buckets I amusing to soak the seeds are often touching the ground. This is not a problem in itself, but when I store them they store inside of each other and thus can contaminate each other. I can remedy this by having two or three buckets which are storage buckets. These buckets will be used as the base buckets and not for production.
The other problem is drainage on the benches. The coroplast sheets are holding up pretty well, but they do bend a bit and there fore the water pools. I had wanted the benches to drain to a specific spot, but am now realizing that with each watering only a small amount will actually end up on the benches so I will just drill holes in the coroplast and have the water drain to the ground. Because the ground is covered with bark mulch it will drain away easily
The benches are also a bit wobbly because the synthetic lumber is a bit flexible so I need to brace the legs. It is an easy fix and inexpensive, but just more time. I also have not put in rodent security on the legs but have seen non problems. I was going to put in a platform that would make it hard for them to climb over, but now I amthinking of using aluminum sheeting that they cannot climb up.
I am finding that my seed density is too much so I need to do some adjustment there – so much for the trials! Also I had a few irrigation glitches: the timers was not fully shutting off and the microsprayers were the wrong ones. SO I ordered new sprayers from Wes-tech in Victoria and realized that the timer was on backwards. I had thought this would be OK, but apparently not – so it willnow have to be upside down since they are designed to account for water coming from above (from a spigot), whereas I have water coming from below
I also need a large tarp to cover the soil pile. This will prevent birds from pooping on it. I will use another tarp for the harvest table. I have been using a lumber wrap on the potting table and it has been working well. It makes it easy to clean and to switch from doing the soil to seeding the trays without mixing the two. One of the key things I am trying to do is not let any sunflower seeds hit the ground. I do not want to make the area a concentration of protein for rodent and bird pests. I watched a young squirrel sit and wait as I was seeding the trays yesterday which made me nervous!
Here’s another picture just for fun. These are the trays as I am getting ready to fill them with soil from the pile: