Well, I apologize for disappearing for so long. Truth is, aquaponics is not as simple as it first sounds…the bell siphon takes awhile to adjust…then the water cycle itself took another six weeks…which seems like a long time to me, when its outdoors and mid-summer and my plants are still in tiny starter pots, languishing. Then the first batch of catfish proceeded to die on us. Who knew the same fish my dad kept in coolers forever on long summer nights did not tolerate heat well, but they don’t. Fortunately, we also had bream and they did fairly well. We did find we spent a lot more time outdoors, sitting in front of our fish tank, feeding the fish, tending the plants…the sound of the water pleasantly filters the sounds of the neighborhood. Here's a view from the bench, the screen keeps the sun from overheating the fish tank and keeps debris from blowing in as well.
We put worms into the system grow beds in September. We wondered if red worms could survive in a semi-aquatic habitat, but two weeks after putting them in there, we saw lots of tiny baby red worms around the roots of plants we harvested. For treats, we pull a few worms from my worm bins and feed the fish. At Thanksgiving, we started a new tradition, a true farming tradition: the whole family (nephews included) took the vegetable trimmings to the worms before we ate our own dinner. Then we harvested some worms and fed the fish…and I’m sure we all hoped next year we would be eating fish!
Fish food creates another issue…nowhere have I found it practical to buy organic fish food and because our little fishies are for the most part carnivores, we are not getting the benefit of “grass fed fish”, but my vegetables are beautiful. Even though I planted in July, we harvested lots of okra and a gallon of peppers off of one plant. Pretty incredible. Now I have gorgeous greens: bok choi, collards, mustard, chard, lettuce and cabbage. I have been disappointed in their growth rate though. I’m sure they are shading one another out. I also forgot to take into account how much lower the sun tracks in the winter time, so we get minimal sunlight but it’s still a work in progress, as with any garden. What are your plans for the new year in your garden?
Here's the fall garden and the summer garden. You can see the seaweed extract in the milk jug. I used this to add nutrients this summer, while we waited for our fish to produce enough waste for the plants to use.