Sunday, July 10, 2016

Aquaponics and Greenhouse update July 2016


By my count, this is the 3rd year of the aquaponic experiment, and things are looking really good. If you recall, my dad and I built the greenhouse during a Thanksgiving week vacation that I took and initially, it was just covered in greenhouse film. That lasted only about 6 months before needing to be replaced by the same poly panels we put on the roof.
For the aquaponics part of it, I had one stock tank and 2 grow beds made out of cement mixing tubs from Home Depot. I killed many, many of the fancy fish that I tried and it only seems that the goldfish have survived and thrived. 
I now have 2 stock tanks (100 and 150 gallons) and while I still have the original cement tubs on 1 tank, I actually bought a true "flood and drain" bed for the larger tank. I moved about 1/2 the goldfish over to the new larger tank and as you can see they are doing really good !
These fish are at least 6 inches and about 2 years old. They are very happy and the water has been incredibly clear for over a year now.

The maintenance of the system hasn't been that much, but lately I have been a victim of my own success. The plant roots are growing into the drain holes and plugging them up. Also, the frogs like to sit in the siphon tube and that stops the water from draining properly. Thankfully, I  was here when I noticed water on the floor and the tank water level had dropped.
What a mess!
The drain to the fish tank was completely blocked by plant roots! It took me an hour or more to get the drain unblocked and then figure out the right timing and flow for the water. The pump has a large amount of GPH that it can push so I have to elevate the hose to get the right timing on the flow.

This happened on both grow beds about 2 weeks apart, where the siphon on the other bed got plugged up as well. This is a sign of healthy plants but man, you need to keep on top of it or you can lose all your fish when you aren't looking! Here are a couple of other pictures inside the greenhouse for you. The place has turned into it's own eco-system with not only the fish and the plants, but frogs and lizards to eat any of the bugs that might be in there. Thankfully this summer, I haven't seen the mouse problem that I did last summer! That was disgusting!

These little frogs love spending the summer in the greenhouse. Water and Bugs!

This is a blue-tailed skink hunting in the greenhouse and yes that is his real name. 

And finally, the whole reason for this system is to grow things all year round in a water-saving, and organic method. Okay I was also supposed to be harvesting fish, but that didn't work so good!

Here are a bunch of the tomatoes from the Tiny Tom plant...they don't have much flavor right now. I am hoping as they summer goes on they get tastier.
Cherry tomatoes harvested from the greenhouse
Next weekend, the fish place that I get the fish from is having another open house.. I am tempted to try again and get some fish... but really worried about killing more of them! It causes an inferiority complex of sorts!