Well in this system the workhorses are the fish!
Nasturtiums are taking over, I keep having to tie them up and throw them over the edge. Come take some of these yummy edible flowers home!
The broccoli did ok, they only formed small heads though before they started to bolt. Maybe starting the out earlier in the season would have been better.
This is seriously the best strawberry I have eaten all season. Which is really saying something since we harvested gallons from our home garden this year.
Released about a hundred lady bugs into the greenhouse about a month ago, to help control the aphids.
I was hoping some would stay in the greenhouse, mate and lay eggs.
Look! These are lady bug larvae! They kinda look like tiny alligators. You definitely want to know how to identify these little guys and keep the around. The lavae are hungry and devour dozens of aphids a day. They also chomp on mites and insect eggs.
I already don't use any pesticides and in aquaponics using organic or natural products like insecticidal soap is dangerous for your fish and bacteria colonies. Most aquaponics setups are also placed in greenhouses which come with a particular set of pests and diseases. The best control once these pests are present are beneficial insects. It's best to try and keep these pests out in the first place, always thoroughly inspect the plants you bring in and it's best whenever possible to start your own from seeds or cloning.
Saturday was sunny and beautiful. Many great volunteers showed up to lend a hand. We got a tremendous amount done, thanks so much!!!
Never to early to learn how to grow food!
New barrels installed now we can off gas and dechlorinate 100gallons at a time.
Look. At how great the strawberries are growing! Happy little aquaponic Berries!'
I will be giving tours of my system April15th-18th 1pm to 3pm come down and check out the system in person!
I started cycling for this system by using powdered ammonia. It worked pretty well. I wanted to share what my test kit looked like over the month.
This is what it started out looking like. Although nitrates and ammonia are flipped from how they will appear in the rest of the post.
So currently it shows test tube #1 PH is pretty high, above 7.6. Tube #2 nitrites are at 0. Tube #3 ammonia and tube #4 nitrates are both at 0.
Doing a little better now, PH is coming down ammonia is added, nitrites are still at 0
Ph looks good here about 7.2ppm. I over added ammonia, should have mixed it in a bucket and added it slowly rather than adding it directly, it took time for the ammonia to dissolve and mix fully. Nitrites is still at zero. At this point no reason to test for nitrates.
Hooray! First population of nitrifying bacteria are present. Due to the change the water becomes more acidic, Lowering the Ph. Tube #2 the ammonia is still really high, if I had fish in this would be a serious hazard. But tube #3 shows the presence of nitrites! This indicates nitrosomonas bacteria are present in enough quantity to convert ammonia to nitrites. Nitrates however at this point are at 0.
This shows that the ammonia is dropping and the nitrites are rising but still no detectable nitrates.
Finally the nitrates are rising! This can be seen by the last tube turning orange. Tube #3 is deepening purple showing a higher level of nitrites. With fish in the system this would have been toxic. You can also see that the Ph is still dropping, this can be buffered by adding builders lime.
After buffering with builders lime the Ph is back in normal range Tube #1. Ammonia is dropping in Tube #2. Nitrites are rising in Tube #3. And now in Tube #4 the nitrates are rising which indicates a healthy population of nitrobacter.
Here the nitrates in Tube #4 are dropping due to them being utilized by the plants as food. Ammonia in tube #2 is still high but there is no detectable nitrites in tube #3. I believe this is due do the Ph dropping too low which put the nitrosomonas bacteria into a hibernating state. Which you can see in the yellow color in tube #1.
Here you can see the nitrates in tube #4 are still rising and the ammonia in tube #2 are still dropping. There are still no detectable nitrites. But I don't believe that this means they weren't present but rather the being converted quickly to nitrates. Even at this low Ph the nitrobacter bacteria are still doing great.
Finally the system is fully cycled! Tube #1 the Ph is 6.8, Tube #2 the ammonia is almost to zero, Tube #3 nitrates are down to zero and the nitrates are high. (later finding my nitrate test kit is a little off, so they aren't quite as high as it looks)